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Rockets & Gulags

11th May 2020

No Time To Die production designer Mark Tildesley spills some beans

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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When Danny Boyle was tapped to direct the 25th James Bond film, he brought onboard production designer Mark Tildesley for his first 007 adventure (recent regular Dennis Gassner was busy with '1917' for Sam Mendes). Although having never worked on a film with a budget and scope as big as Bond before, Tildesley quickly impressed. When producers split with Boyle over 'creative differences,' Tildesley remained on the film.

In a recent media studies interview, Tildeley discussed the work that had been done on Bond 25 until the plug was pulled on Boyle and writer John Hodge's vision for the film. He reveals a 350-foot rocket was being built on the famous 007 stage, and a Russian Gulag set was being constructed in the Canadian mountains.

MI6 previously reported on a Russian prison setting for Boyle's Bond 25 over a year ago, as well as a casting search that began for a Russian villain and his wife.

Fast forward a couple of months and Bond 25 was now being helmed by Cary Fukunaga but EON Productions were still renting the 007 Stage. Tildesley explains that to make use of the expensive stage, they used it for construction workshops and they built a 'tiny' set in the tank. That tiny set was the lab that exploded in the teaser trailer. The same explosion that ripped the roof and side panels off the 007 Stage causing a high-profile incident covered by the world's press. Tildesley explains that the nature of the concrete tank, having a solid floor and four sides, forced the explosion straight up in a manner that was not predicted.

Talking about the Fukunaga version of the film, Tildesley notes that they plundered the back-catalog of iconic Bond sets over the decades and pulled out components they really liked in an attempt to both honour the series as it marks its 25th entry, but also to ensure audiences leave with some indelible images 'burned on their retinas.'

The one standing set that Tildesley put new touches on was M's classic office. He notes that he allowed Ralph Finnes to pick out a new picture for the office, and also treated the famous red leather door to an update that created a richer, darker leather. He also notes the office is now extended with some additional exterior rooms for MI6, which were seen in the Royal visit photographs.

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