MI6 takes a look back at the World Royal Premiere
of Die Another Day in 2002 with producer Simon Harries...
Interview - "Premiere Bond" Producer
Simon Harries (2)
22nd March 2006
MI6 chatted with Producer Simon Harries to discuss the making
of ‘Premiere Bond’ for ITV (UK) in 2002.
here to read part 1
What was it like to interview the Bond
As it happens we never got too close to them. We never met
Barbara Broccoli although I did get the chance to interview
Michael G. Wilson for five minutes and he seemed perfectly
pleasant in that time scale. It’s all down to the
way MGM, and all other film companies, arrange the interviews.
You are given a very strict six minute window with each
person you meet, you try to get through as many of your
questions as you can and then you’re out!
Each actor or producer/director sits in a different suite
with a dedicated two-camera crew, and you are whisked in
for your questions and then straight out, so the people
from Film 2006 or CD:UK can get in after you, or maybe the
journos from Germany, France or Spain. You never get a good
sense of what the person is really like. I’m sure
they must be bored out of their wits sat there all day meeting
fifty total strangers, one after the other, being asked
practically the same six questions. Our challenge as interviewers
is to try to think laterally and be different from other
journalists, intriguing them with questions that they may
not have heard before or which are a bit quirky.
For example, there’s a scene in Die Another Day which
I noticed at the advance screening where Brosnan is breaking
into an airfield. His watch gadget has failed to work and
the only means he has of getting through the chain-link
fence is to squirm around in his pockets and pull out a
pair of gardening secateurs. As if this famous secret agent
had just been tending to his rose bushes or something! When
we got to meet Brosnan we asked him why he had been sent
on a top secret mission into North Korea with a pair of
secateurs, which made him laugh out loud. This is also the
reason why our presenter Julia had the idea of bringing
along her rubber ducky! It was purely intended as a means
of getting a cheap laugh!
We asked Brosnan how his Bond would use it to kill an enemy if
no other objects were handy. He said he’d shove it down
their throats. I think Halle Berry said she’d shove it somewhere
else, but we didn’t use that clip! I can see why people
who saw the interviews think the rubber ducky question was a bit
naff – but I stand by it because it just made a change.
In fact, Brosnan protested because it didn’t squeak.
The stars seemed to be on good form. Toby Stephens was dry and
amusing, Halle Berry seemed to be good fun. Rosemund Pike was
a little nervous when Julia asked her about her sex scene. It
is an obvious tabloid question and we all probably know what a
sex scene must be like to film. But as a journalist you feel you
need to ask it just to gain some kind of reaction, so that you
can judge the interviewee based on his or her reaction. Experienced,
charismatic stars can easily laugh off questions like that or
find entertaining ways to answer them, but I don’t think
Rosamund Pike cared for that one at all. She became rather edgy
and kept looking at the publicist to see if the question could
be dropped. But Julia persisted and we eventually got an answer
delivered so excruciatingly through gritted teeth that I couldn’t
even hear it and I’m not sure we even used it.
Were there any funny moments on the red carpet?
Not really, no! Of the cameras we had working on the red carpet,
we had one guy who was shooting steadicam, walking alongside and
in front of the stars as they met their fans. When Brosnan arrived,
we ended up with several shots of some very young girls who were
totally overcome with excitement. It was like watching archive
footage of 60s teenage girls when they saw the Beatles in concert,
crying and tearing their hair out. Very funny!
There was a company that had arranged a whole wall of fireworks
to explode upon Brosnan’s arrival. A sheet of flame was
supposed to flash some 12 feet into the air along the whole length
of the red carpet. We had filmed their technicians wiring up all
the pyro effects, but unfortunately all their efforts had been
for nothing. When the police opened up the barriers to let the
paparazzi into the compound, and these guys came tearing down
the red carpet in order to seize the best vantage points, some
of them hit the kerb and ripped out a lot of the pyro cables.
The effects didn’t go off properly. Instead of being a wall
of flame, it was just a puff, with three or maybe four sparkles.
So the paps ruined Brosnan’s big pyrotechnic entrance!
One of the best reactions we got through filming on the red carpet
was from John Cleese. He had recorded those voice-over lines about
the “Best of Bond” for me and he vaguely remembered
doing it. He hadn’t been briefed in advance that he would
be asked to do something with us on the red carpet, but he very
gamely played along when Julia asked him to look down the camera
at his special effects! It was like: “I think there are
some gadgets down there John… Are there? Are there really?!”
So what was it like working with the
It was weird, because I really, really admire John Cleese
and always have, mostly because of Fawlty Towers which –
again – reminds me fondly of the 70s but still stands
up today as hilarious, bittersweet comedy. I think Cleese
The idea that we might have been able to do something specially
with him came about very late in our schedule, and it was
suggested by the PR from 20th Century Fox, Stephanie Wenbourn.
I think her angle was that there would be a cool exclusive
video to be played on the big screen outside the Royal Albert
Hall, and I agreed because it would mean that I would have
a cool exclusive segment to go in my ITV programme, which
was my priority all along. So that’s what happened.
I think the original idea from Fox was that they would ask John
to think of 20 great clips and write some funny gags to go with
them. Well I knew there was no way he was going to do that. Why
should he? When would he have time to do that on his junket schedule?!
This kept being bounced around as an idea, and there was lots
of fretting because Eon Productions insisted on vetting any script
before John read it. It got to the afternoon before the shoot
with John and I said, “Look, why don’t we just write
something and you can get it cleared? Then you can send it to
John and see if he likes the script?” So I wrote all that
stuff with Debbie, my associate producer, e-mailed it over to
Stephanie, who in turn e-mailed it to Eon and at about 7pm we
heard back, “yes that’s fine, that’s going to
happen.” No comment though about whether John liked it or
Finally at about 9pm I got an e-mail from Eon saying that he
was fine with it, he had no problem with it at all. His only request
was that we should put it on cue cards for him, so that he wouldn’t
have to learn it? So I rushed out first thing the next morning
to buy some large sheets of card. His sequence started with an
in-joke about “Birds of the East Indies” which is
the bit we put on cards, and since the rest was voice-over only,
he was able to read that straight off the sheet of paper.
When I turned up, I did my interview with him and then we filmed
the Best of Bond lines. John was absolutely charming. I think
I actually got more value out of that meeting with Cleese, for
our programme I mean, than I did from any of the other interviews
because I think we got about fifteen minutes with him, instead
of just six. Plus, Julia’s schedule meant that she couldn’t
be present to interview John, so I did it, and I loved every minute
of it. One of the questions I asked him was about being a Bond
fan, because when Dr No came out, he would have been at Cambridge.
“Oh God yes!” he said. He really went for that answer.
But I don’t think I found a way to use it in the show. We
did use his Q Girls joke though.
Was Roger Moore straight for every second?
I think we had just 40 seconds with him on the red carpet, one
of those occasions when you have just one question and you can’t
blow it. Since I had no means of communicating with Julia via
an earpiece, I could hardly whisper an idea into her ear while
she was in mid-conversation with him. I had to rely on her. When
he finally turned up in front of our camera she asked him something
like, “So what was your favourite Bond scene?” A question
that, frankly, no one should ever ask except in desperation. It
isn’t very special!
But he gave us a good answer, bless him. “Well I suppose
the one I remember the most was in The Man with the Golden Gun,
when I had to say to the man ‘Speak now or forever hold
your piece…” Julia replied, “And did he?”
Roger giggled back, “Yes he certainly did.” In an
American accent for some reason! With that he moved on to the
We caught up with him after the premiere too. I’d had to
leave for the LWT studio to start assembling the programme, because
it was due on air in just twenty five hours. So I asked one camera
crew to stay back and film vox-pops with people leaving, ideally
famous people. They somehow found Roger on his way out and asked
him: “10 out of 10, Roger?” He replied: “11
out of 10.” As I said before, I think the man is fantastic.
Frankly I could watch him reading aloud the telephone directory.
Not only was it the biggest Bond premiere,
it was also attended by The Queen. What was the atmosphere
There was a real buzz in the air. Everyone knew that it
wouldn’t be just the stars of Die Another Day turning
up but also all the old Bonds - except Connery. Even George
Lazenby was there. Lots of the old Bond girls were there,
Shirley Eaton, Lois Chiles, Maud Adams, and villains like
The Queen had a hard task to follow that lot! So it gave
the whole evening a wonderful air of celebration and excitement
that I’ve not experienced at a premiere before or
since. I think it was Timothy Dalton who compared the evening
very favourably with The Oscars, in terms of scale and guest
I kept asking the crew, who were rigging the rooms where the
Queen would meet the cast, to rig some microphones up so we could
hear what the Queen would be saying to the actors. But I was met
with looks of horror from all concerned, even from the first meeting
at LLN. They had to keep reminding me that such behaviour was
forbidden, due to protocol. One is just not allowed to record
Her Majesty speaking to anybody. Eventually I gave up mentioning
it, for fear of being sent to The Tower!
It ended up with me and Julia sitting with a representative from
Fox PR in a small room behind the main presentation room. Julia
had a small monitor and a sports mike and had been briefed to
deliver a live official voice over to explain to the audience,
both inside the hall and members of the public outside, who was
meeting the Queen at any given moment. Julia had thought up a
comment for each person and it worked quite well. I thought it
was all a bit cheesy really, but then I’ve probably seen
too much of Armando Iannucci’s comedy to tolerate such deferential
voice-overs on footage of celebrities! So it was terrific to be
there, standing in my hired dinner suit a matter of yards away
from The Queen of England, struggling to make this programme and
having the time of my life!
Did Madonna refuse to give you a sound bite or did you not
Madonna had spent quite a bit of time outside talking with fans
and I think she had met Pierce Brosnan on the carpet. We weren’t
quite sure which of them was going to walk in first, but it was
Madonna and she had quite a pace on her! Julia yelled out from
the mike to try and get her attention, something like, “Madonna!
Madonna! Did you enjoy learning how to fence for your fencing
scene?” Madonna ran past, determined not to speak to any
crew if she could help it, but she yelled out, “I already
So we couldn’t really use that answer, it was almost spat
at us. So I put it to the PR representative from Fox who was accompanying
her that perhaps Madonna should come and say something to us,
since we were the crew who were covering the event for the big
screen inside and fans outside, as well as the official premiere
TV programme. I think they persuaded her to come over and wave.
Julia tried to get another question in, but asked Guy Richie,
“What’s it like having a great Bond star as your wife?”
He mumbled, “This is her evening, not mine!” Then
they rushed off again.
During the middle of the night did you ever wake up in a
cold sweat about the rubber ducky question?
Like I said before, I’m completely unashamed about it. It
always makes me laugh when I see it, partly because I know it
annoys so many serious Bond fans. It’s just meant for a
bit of light relief, and I didn’t intend to annoy people
with it. It’s just there.
How were you involved in the Bond series?
1) I was lucky enough to make a program about the
premiere and meet some of the people who were in the
What was your first ever Bond experience?
2) Watching Bond sometime on ITV in the late 70s when
I was probably 8 or 9 and loving Roger Moore because
I grew up with him.
What did you think of the last film, "Die
3) I enjoyed it! But I did feel that the middle part
sagged a bit. I felt that there were too many villains
and I hated the CGI effects. After that great opening
surf board stunt, the later one involving Brosnan
escaping from a tidal wave looked pretty awful. Like
something out of a bad Blake’s Seven episode.
You could see the fuzzy lines around him!
What is your favourite Bond film?
4) The Spy Who Loved Me.
Who is your favourite Bond?
5) Roger Moore.
Which Bond girl should come back?
6) I’m not sure. I think Maud Adams perhaps
should come back
What is your favourite Bond moment from the series?
7) I like a lot of Sean Connery’s quips and
reactions in “Diamonds Are For Ever, like the
one where he asks Plenty O’Toole if she’s
named after her dad! I also like the classic scene
in Goldfinger: “Do you expect me to talk?”
Gert Frobe is so easy to imitate down the pub.
Harries - Website
Harries - Personal Premiere Bond Coverage
Premiere Bond - Simons
Harries Interview (1)
Die Another Day Royal Premiere Report
Die Another Day" Japanese Premiere
- Day Another Day - Coverage
Many thanks to Simon Harries