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10th Anniversary 2012-2022


Once Upn A Spy - Skyfall 10th Anniversary 2012-2022

In the year that the cinematic James Bond franchise celebrates its 60th anniversary KEVIN HARPER looks back at the production of Skyfall, released 10 years ago as the twenty third entry in the long-running Bond series. Starring Daniel Craig in his third film as 007, Skyfall is still the most commercially successful film in the series when not adjusted for inflation.

Daniel Craig as James Bond 007 in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008)

Following the controversial casting of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond in 2005, his first appearance in Casino Royale (2006) proved beyond a doubt that he was the right choice for the role, and the film went on to become a critical and commercial success, reinventing the franchise for a whole new generation. The follow-up, Quantum of Solace (2008), was equally successful at the box-office, although not as well-received by fans and critics - suffering from the lack of a coherent storyline. Despite its brief running-time (106-minutes - the shortest of all the Bond films), Quantum was ultimately hampered by its darker, more realistic tone, and the script lacked the clarity of Casino Royale, which naturally had the advantage of being based on Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel. Casino Royale co-screenwriter Paul Haggis delivered his Quantum of Solace draft shortly before the 2007/08 Writers Guild of America strike began, and it was then rewritten by a number of people including director Marc Forster and producer Michael G. Wilson - with even Daniel Craig having some input into the storyline.

Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan

ABOVE: (left) Skyfall (2012) would mark the fifth consecutive James Bond film co-written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade. (right) American screenwriter John Logan, whose previous writing credits included Any Given Sunday (1999), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), The Aviator (2004), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Hugo (2011), collaborated with Purvis & Wade on the script for Skyfall (2012).

In June 2009 it was announced that regular screenwriters Neal Purvis & Robert Wade would collaborate on a script for BOND 23 with award-winning British scriptwriter Peter Morgan – best-known for writing The Last King of Scotland (2006), The Queen (2006) and Frost/Nixon (2008), which was based on his 2006 play. The trio worked on a treatment entitled Once Upon A Spy, which was based around the character of M, elements of which ended up in the final film. However, production was suspended throughout 2010 because of MGM's financial troubles. Pre-production resumed following MGM's exit from bankruptcy on December 21, 2010 - and in January 2011 it was announced that Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes had agreed to direct BOND 23, and American screenwriter John Logan had now collaborated with Purvis & Wade on a new script.

Skyfall press conference at The Corinthia Hotel, London

ABOVE: November 3, 2011 - Skyfall press conference at The Corinthia Hotel, London. (L-R) Javier Bardem was announced as the main (as yet unnamed) villain, with Naomie Harris (who according to rumours was the new Miss Moneypenny, but revealed at the press conference as playing a Field Agent called ‘Eve’), Daniel Craig returning for the third time as James Bond, Judi Dench in her seventh appearance as M , director Sam Mendes, and Bérénice Lim Marlohe who would play the pivotal role of Sévérine in Skyfall.

On November 3, 2011 - exactly 50 years since the casting of Sean Connery as James Bond was announced, a press conference was held at the Corinthia Hotel in London where the title Skyfall was revealed and the cast presented to the media. Joining Daniel Craig and Judi Dench as the returning cast members, Spanish actor Javier Bardem was announced as the main (as yet unnamed) villain, with Naomie Harris, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, and Ben Whishaw rounding out the distinguished ensemble of actors attached to the project.

Filming Skyfall in the Old Vic Tunnels and National Gallery, London

Principal photography on Skyfall began on November 7, 2011 - in the Old Vic Tunnels in London, followed by 10 weeks of shooting in Central London. In addition to the interiors of MI6 and Whitehall filmed at Pinewood Studios. Ben Whishaw filmed his introduction as the new Q in The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square on November 11, 2011. The exterior of  M's London home was filmed at 82 Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge, once owned by John Barry, and included in the film as a tribute to the late composer. The appearance of John Barry's former home in Skyfall (2012) was one of many references and ‘in-jokes’ celebrating 50 years of James Bond in the cinema, and unlike much of the material shoehorned into the 40th anniversary film Die Another Day (2002), far more subtle and obscure, with many (like the Barry example) going unnoticed by the majority of the cinema-going audience.

Shanghai skyscraper set Pinewood Studios | The Royal Naval College

Although Shanghai featured in the story of Skyfall, none of the principal actors filmed there, with only second-unit footage shot in the city incorporated into the final edit. The spectacular fight between Bond and Patrice was filmed on the ‘007 Stage’ at Pinewood Studios from November 21st, in a standout sequence that showcased the Oscar-nominated cinematography of Roger Deakins. On January 6, 2012, the funeral of the eight murdered MI6 agents was filmed at The Royal Naval College, Greenwich (pictured below). Judi Dench and Rory Kinnear were the only two cast members present on location. The scene included Michael G. Wilson's cameo appearance as one of the mourners. Ultimately, the bulk of the sequence ended up on the cutting room floor. All that remains in the finished film is a brief glimpse as Tanner (Rory Kinnear) opens the chapel door to find M (Judi Dench) looking at eight coffins draped with the Union Jack. Production stills show Judi Dench watching the funeral with Michael G. Wilson sat to her left.

The Royal Naval College - Skyfall (2012) Deleted Scene



Read more about Skyfall in 007 MAGAZINE OMNIBUS #5