By Drew Taylor | The Playlist November 8, 2012 at 10:05AM
This weekend the latest James Bond entry "Skyfall" opens nationwide and will be rocking people's socks off from coast to coast. Directed by Sam Mendes (read our interview here) and starring Daniel Craig in his third outing as the super-spy, it's a very different movie than the previous two installments ("Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace"), with more color, humor, suspense, and melancholy. While attending the film's press day, we learned the principles – Craig, Mendes, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, Javier Bardem and Bond girl Naomie Harris -- detailed the making of the movie, and the various aspects of the production. Be warned, though: MAJOR SPOILERS follow. Read this piece after you see the movie. Seriously.
Daniel Craig Isn't Nearly As Tough As He Seems
While Craig comes across in the films (and, to be honest, a little bit in person) as something of a bruiser, in real life he's much more demure and, when outfitted in one of Tom Ford's beautiful custom suits, sort of a dandy. He was surprisingly open about this. "I'm not a fighter," Craig said. "I pretend to be. It's called bullshit boxing. We talk about camera angles and with all that stuff with the train at the beginning. It's very carefully worked out and Roger knows where to put the camera. It's constant work and skilled people." However, there was one aspect of the character that Craig was ready to jettison by the time filming was done. "I had to do a lot of running in this movie, which I hate," Craig noted. "Bond doesn't usually walk through a room. I'm going to have to change that."
One Major Plot Twist Was The Only Thing Retained From Peter Morgan's Script
Somewhat infamously, before veteran Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (and, later, Tony-winning playwright John Logan) intricately crafted "Skyfall," Peter Morgan, the vaulted writer of "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon," wrote a draft of the screenplay. (He later quit during the film's prolonged, bankruptcy-induced downtime after clashing with Mendes; early reports that Purvis and Wade would incorporate elements from his draft proved untrue.) However, the death of M, played by Judi Dench, remained intact from Morgan's early work on the project. "It was the one thing that was in the Peter Morgan treatment that I thought worked," Mendes said, somewhat bluntly. "I thought, generally, that the treatment wasn't an entirely successful document. But it was there." Not that the two sequences came were executed in the same way. Mendes explained: "It was done very differently but it was the one thing I inherited before I came on. The way it happened in the treatment was very different but the idea was very present."
While the air of a MI-6 style security lockdown is one that is perpetuated in the press, producer Michael Wilson, a longtime shepherd of the franchise, said that it wasn't strictly under lock-and-key. "We always try to keep the scripts confidential," Wilson said with a shrug. But due to the massive size of the production, there were literally hundreds of scripts distributed (each one a source of potential leaks). There's no way to keep an eye on that many screenplays. "We had 300, 400 scripts out to all the technical people, actors, but we had no extra security or anything." However, producer Barbara Broccoli, daughter of series originator Cubby Broccoli, kept the film's major death even from her immediate family. "I'll tell you how secret it was – my daughter, who's 20, sat next to me at the premiere," Broccoli explained. "And when M dies she turns to me and said, 'Mama, how could you do this to me?'"
Daniel Craig Found A Unique Place To Relax On Set
"Skyfall" comes complete with a pair of thrilling underwater sequences – one towards the beginning of the film (at the conclusion of a breathless pre-title action sequence) and one near the end, when Bond finds himself tussling with a baddie under a frozen pond. Daniel Craig, he welcomed the opportunity to get wet, and in fact, he would sometimes hide in the underwater tank to get away from the hustle and bustle of the production. "The great thing about doing those underwater scenes is we have safety divers off camera and they have oxygen tanks and that's my favorite bit because no one can find you," Craig said. "When we weren't shooting I would swim to the bottom, put the respirator in, and hide." Although Craig did occasionally did a little too comfortable down there. "Sometimes I fall asleep as well. And then you'll hear a voice like 'Where's Daniel?'" Wilson then chimed in: "Barbara always makes sure that there's a scene where Daniel gets wet."