MI6 got to attend "The Orange Word" Screen Writers Season 2004, and can bring you the full transcript from the interview. In this in depth talk Neal Purvis and Robert Wade discuss Bond, their careers, loves and pet hates of film...

Interview - Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Part 3)
9th April 2004

MI6 got to attend "The Orange Word" Screen Writers Season 2004, and can bring you the full transcript from the interview. In this in depth talk Neal Purvis and Robert Wade discuss Bond, their careers, loves and pet hates of film...


Peter Florence (Chair): One of the great benefits of having written this version that wasn't eventually shot was that it landed on the desk of the people who make the Bond films. What was it about what you wrote that appealed to them?

Neal Purvis: Well I think it was character based and it had inventive action and it had drama.

Robert Wade: It was quite funny as well.

Neal Purvis: Mm, it had a big sequence of when the Thames froze over and a big chase going across the frozen Thames which I think they could have made if they'd have really wanted to. I'm not bitter about that at all, so it ticked all the relevant boxes as far as Bond was concerned and plus Let Him Have It, it just happened to be that they were looking to inject a little more drama into Bond after Tomorrow Never Dies, which had drifted into more total action territory.

'...I particularly liked Goldfinger, From Russia with Love...'

Above: Robert Wade

Peter Florence: I noticed in that rather wonderful additional bit you get in the Bond DVD that you talk a lot about character for Bond. Now forgive me but he, there are going to be two girls, he's going to have a relationship with them. What is there from Fleming that you want to dredge up of his character that you feel you contributed to this?

Neal Purvis: I knew it was going to be difficult.

Robert Wade: It's funny because I always liked the Ian Fleming books and I always liked the Bond movies and I knew that they'd sort of …

Peter Florence: Which Bond movies did you like?

Robert Wade: Well I particularly liked Goldfinger, From Russia with Love and those sort of things I guess.

Neal Purvis: I think people have different favourites depending on how old they are, we found. Some people like Moonraker, I mean I like Moonraker but Man with the Golden Gun or something.

Peter Florence: Well I do like the opening of it actually but …

Neal Purvis: Oh no I mean it's got some good bits.

Peter Florence: … why did you think God I really want (apart from the money, which must have been attractive) to do or we really want to do Bond?

Robert Wade: Well I can't understand you asking that question. To me it is pure cinema and that's what it's all about.

Peter Florence: By which you mean what?

Robert Wade: It's a thing where you come out of the cinema feeling like you've really been to the cinema, you know, you haven't been watching television. You've had music that lifts you, you've been asked to believe very unbelievable things and yet you've gone along with it. I think when it comes off it's terribly entertaining and it's very, very difficult to do.

Neal Purvis: I think imagine that we've shown that it's very difficult. But I think if you like film, I think you like Bond films at least, you like the Connery ones I'd have thought. You know we had, when there was video in the old days, we had clips of bits and bobs of Bond movies that would be amongst the …


Robert Wade: Yeah I think it's up there with Sweet Smell of Success. It's artificial but it's better than life.

Peter Florence: How did you decide, or was it you that decided that you would do Oil Pipeline? You must have got very lucky, well either you got very lucky there was wonderful sort of serendipity that it became a news story at the same time as you writing it.

Robert Wade: Well that's because we're psychic, but no that was kind of funny because we were on our way over to America to start working on this thing and we hadn't had any ideas.

Neal Purvis: They'd announced the release date of the film.

Above: The British Library

'I think what one tries to do is anticipate what is everyone anxious about'

Peter Florence: And they'd hired you.

Neal Purvis: Yeah, I know and you're thinking well they must have other writers as well.

Robert Wade: Yeah, hidden away in some facility.

Peter Florence: And the release date of the film is what like 18 months away?

Neal Purvis: Well I give Rob friendship, which is difficult isn't it?

Robert Wade: Yes it was heading that way but I'd bought this magazine and it had a picture of some oil pipelines in the Caspian Sea and then oddly enough Barbara Broccoli, who's one of the two producers, had seen a documentary about it and we all thought well that's sort of, that is … I think what one tries to do is anticipate what is everyone anxious about. I'm not talking about everyone being worried about oil but it seemed to be …

Peter Florence: They're worried out Russia? They're worried about the collapse of Communism and what's left over?

Robert Wade: Yeah that's right and nuclear proliferation in that power vacuum so I think that one is, what we've done since we've become involved with that whole world is we started to read the newspapers, the big ones you know.

Peter Florence: And what did you think about, given that you followed what is commonly held as being not one of the strongest of the latest Bond films, what did you want to do, because you came as people who'd written a number of quite intimate films, and albeit it that you also admire the big genre Outlaw Josey Wales that has something else within it that you might not expect within a Western, what was it that you wanted to do within the Bond genre that you think you achieved with The World is Not Enough because the clip that you want to show is unlike what you would normally see?

Robert Wade: I mean it was a wonderful thing and terribly nerve wracking to get involved in this.

Neal Purvis: Because you knew that if you blew it, I mean just even seeing the producers in the first place, you're not going to get that chance again and then if you blow it as a film …

Robert Wade: You could kill a franchise, and the most famous one of all so it was terribly nerve wracking but …

'...our original idea was that they were so sympathetic that they were actually dead, but we couldn't really make that work.'

Neal Purvis: Yeah, no one wants to write the last James Bond movie.

Robert Wade: The final James Bond movie - but it sort of, what we wanted to do was to explore within a Bond movie's limitations a kind of psychologically complex villain and …

Neal Purvis: Yeah someone who was actually sympathetic as a villain, because you're meant to have some sort of understanding of why they are how they are.

Robert Wade: In fact our original idea was that the were so sympathetic that they were actually dead, but we couldn't really make that work.

Neal Purvis: No as the final punch up would be a bit one sided.

Robert Wade: But no we had this idea of someone who's got a bullet moving through their brain, which you can't really fit into many other movies, so we had to use it.

Peter Florence: So you needed the Bond vehicle in actual fact.

Robert Wade: Exactly, to explore that idea of a man who's aware of his mortality and what lengths he will go to. So this clip is, we just thought well there's lots of fun things in The World is Not Enough but this is sort of slightly kinky.

[clip of The World is Not Enough shown] Click to see the trailer

Peter Florence: Now apart from writing a part for the luckiest ice cube in history, you created a kind of a wonderful sort of double villainy there didn't you and are you, whilst doing that, I'm always slightly bewildered by the way that all American thrillers of similar kind of size, the Clancy adaptations, all work around somebody in the CIA having nailed everyone, it's all about internal corruption. Are you, when looking at Bond's subjects, always trying to find the world out there and relating it to location?

Robert Wade: Do you understand that?

Peter Florence: What different scenes?

Neal Purvis: No, I mean we're trying to do the world out there and we're trying to go to some locations.

Robert Wade: No I mean definitely a corrupt CIA guy or whatever, although I think we did slip one into the last movie, no was he corrupt?

Neal Purvis: I think we changed it.

Robert Wade: Oh that's right.

Neal Purvis: He was alright.

Robert Wade: But you know a conspiracy, an internal conspiracy is sort of dead. It's so dull and I think that what is the heritage of the Bond movies and what makes them different is that there is something very perverse about these outsiders who Bond ends up killing and punishing for being sort of outsiders and it's finding ways of doing that that makes it seem fresh is the challenge.

Neal Purvis: I mean in that film there were no, I mean although there was Dr Christmas Jones, the nuclear scientist, there weren't really any Americans in it and it was as if America didn't exist in that film, which is quite unusual in a film that can open in America, and we rebalanced that though in the next one.


Above: The World is Not Enough, Foreign Reprint, (1999)
Buy Now £12.99

Peter Florence: There's tremendous pressure isn't there, because presumably you're working at what a million bucks a page for this script are you?

Robert Wade: That's right, yeah.

Neal Purvis: Slightly more than that now, yeah. I mean you are talking about the budget?

Peter Florence: Yeah, yeah. Yeah no rather than your fee, which I'm sure is in many ways commensurate.

Robert Wade: No you can see the way he's dressed that that's…

Neal Purvis: It's great to finish a page and think oh there's a million.

Peter Florence: There's a wonderful British-ness that you do explore. How much of Bond, how much of the suavity do you want to hang onto?

Above: Die Another Day, Teaser Poster (2002)
Buy Now £12.99

'It's great to finish a page and think, oh, there's a million.'

Neal Purvis: Well you know I think Pearce Brosnan is very good at doing that. He sort of manages to do it without being too 'corny', is that …

Robert Wade: It's very difficult, because if you lost that it would be aspect that is quite important to him, that's the thing.

Peter Florence: 19 films in, as this was, you need the Aston Martin, you need the gadgets, you need the drink, I mean there's even a sub-title 'shaken not stirred' in the DVD here where you use all the familiarities as a, I'm surprised you don't make a joke of them at all it seems to me, of the drink, which is …

Robert Wade: We did a gag about it in the last, in Die Another Day actually, but it was so clever and subtle that it wasn't funny. There was a bit where he gets handed his drink and he's on the plane …

Neal Purvis: It was meant to be turbulence wasn't it?

Robert Wade: Yeah there's meant to be a bit of turbulence but I don't think that even at a million a page they could afford the turbulence and so the girl handed him the drink and he says, "I'm glad I asked for it shaken" so you can see that is was a very high class gag.

Peter Florence: We do actually have here two Vodka martinis and what I would love you to do, each of you, one of these is shaken and one of these is stirred and I would like you to tell me, because I know which is in which glass, I would like you tell me if you can which one is which.

Robert Wade: Now hold on, you've just turned it round.

Peter Florence: No, no, no, no I've been watching it very carefully and actually they're marked, but terribly subtly.

Robert Wade: Oh okay.

Peter Florence: Which one is which?

Robert Wade: Okay well thank you very much. Well I'm glad I didn't shake it then.

Neal Purvis: Well of course we were going to put into the last film why it's better to have it …

Peter Florence: Oxygenating.

Neal Purvis: Well I'm not saying.

Robert Wade: Well we might as well all go home after this …mm, I mean if that's shaken, you know …

Neal Purvis: You're um …

Robert Wade: Unstirred by it. Well I prefer that one.

Peter Florence (Chair): Yeah that's very good. He knows his shaken and his stirred this man, I'm deeply impressed, congratulations.

Robert Wade: Oh good!

Related Articles:
Interview - Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Part 1)
Interview - Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Part 2)
Interview - Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Part 4)
Interview - Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (Part 5)
MI6 "The World is Not Enough" Coverage
MI6 "Die Another Day" Coverage

Many thanks to Peter Florence, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Ellie Ward, The Orange Word and The British Library. Transcript courtesy The Orange Word. Image courtesy Amazon Associates and The Orange Word