What really happened with the script of Quantum of Solace?


Daniel Craig recently gave an interview to Time Out magazine where he said he and Quantum of Solace director Marc Forester had to rewrite the film’s screenplay because it was only “the bare bones of a script” because of a Writers Guild of America strike. In the process, Craig told the magazine, the process turned Quantum into much more of a direct sequel to Casino Royale than originally intended.

The quotes from that interview keep turning up LIKE IN THIS POST on the Yahoo! Movies Web site. So by now, “Craig Had to Rewrite Quantum of Solace” has become an established narrative among fans.

Except, three years ago, while the movie was being filmed, writer Joshua Zetumer was supposed to be polishing the script during filming, according to stories LIKE THIS ONE FROM APRIL 2008 and AND THIS ONE.

Both of those appear to be based on a ROTTEN TOMATOES STORY. That story read in part:

Forster and (producer Michael G.) Wilson both revealed that an earlier idea for the film was scrapped when Forster came aboard to helm. “Once I signed on to do it we pretty much developed the script from scratch because I felt that it wasn’t the movie I wanted to make and we started with Paul Haggis [the Oscar winner who rewrote Casino Royale] from scratch,” Forster recalled. “And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say, what’s important to me. And we developed it from there together. Then Barbara and Michael said they liked where we were going and they liked the script.”

The Writers’ Guild strike, which began just as Quantum of Solace was gearing up for production, did not impact the production as much as the industry trade papers had speculated. “The good thing is that Paul and I and Daniel all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with,” Forster said. “Then we started shooting and the only problems I had with the script we were shooting in April, May and June so as soon as the strike was over we did another polish with someone and it worked out with all this stuff coming up. So I was pretty happy with all the work we’d done in January and February so [there won't be any need for reshoots].” (emphasis added)

Now bear in mind this passage is referring to the same Writers Guild strike that Daniel Craig says in 2011 meant Quantum had only “a bare bones of a script.” And once the strike was over, Zetumer was around to help do last-minute polishes, although you wouldn’t know that if you read the Time Out interview.

And what was the script that got rejected, causing a race to get a new script done before the Writers Guild strike? Forster revealed details in a post ON THE VULTURE BLOG OF NEW YORK MAGAZINE.

“Haggis had an idea they weren’t fond of, and I didn’t know if it would work or not,” says Forster. “The idea was that Vesper in the last movie, maybe she had a kid, and there would be an orphan out there. It wasn’t anything to insult the franchise. But they felt it wasn’t particularly Bond — him looking for the kid. I think Paul thought he just leaves the kid, he doesn’t deal with it. But [the producers] thought that would be really nasty, too, because Bond was an orphan himself. If he would find a kid, would he just leave it? They were so vehemently against it. That was the only time I saw, really, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ They said, ‘Once he finds the kid, Bond can’t just leave the kid. It’s not right.’”

So let’s recap. Haggis had an idea that Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli rejected. Haggis turns in another script just ahead of the Writers Guild strike in fall 2007. Marc Forster says in spring 2008 that script was fine, while some polishing was done after the strike by Joshua Zetumer.

Now, in 2011, Daniel Craig says he and Forster did all the work on the final script, with no word of any contributions by Haggis, Zetumer, Neal Purvis or Robert Wade.

Needless to say, all of this can’t be true. You be the judge which (if any) of these tales is the truth. But next time you hear how Skyfall will be “Bond with a capital B,” or will be a “classic Bond” or how director Sam Mendes is “working his arse off,” remember those are mere words.

Maybe Skyfall will be a classic Bond. If it is, it won’t be because of words uttered by cast and crew members during filming. The verdict will be determined by the finished film. Words change before, during and after filming. It’s the film that endures and is the ultimate report card.

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14 Responses

  1. Once again, you all have said what needs to be said as we anticipate another James Bond film into production.

    Of course, there have always been degrees of mythology. Stories that conflict, then perpetuate unresolved in perpetuity. As a result, I’m convinced anything new we may yet here about the 007 legacy of the 1960s is certainly lost; all no more than spun wool.

    Feels like its accelerated in the last decade, though.

  2. Can anyone think of a dumber plot for a Bond movie than Haggis’ idea about Bond looking for Vesper’s kid?

  3. “Quantum of Solace” has the hallmarks of a film that did not have a finely-tuned screenplay. And I say this as a fan of the movie. So I’m more inclined to lean towards Craig’s story. Though the truth, no doubt, lies somewhere in the middle.

  4. Is it really axiomatic (“no doubt”), Paul, that the real story is somewhere in between? Sadly, I’ve found this too often not to be the case. Moreover, the further in time from the event being characterized, many times, the less accurate the story.

    Except, you know: When it does to anything related to US politics.

  5. Can anyone think of a dumber plot for a Bond movie than Haggis’ idea about Bond looking for Vesper’s kid?

    Yeah, Justin Bieber playing the kid.

  6. I’ve seen Moonraker, Stuart.

  7. “Moonraker” gets a bad rap, but for years it was the #1 Bond box office draw, and the effects hold up very well. I’ve witnessed live space shuttle launches, and Derek Meddings nailed it pretty much like they happened two years before one was launched.
    As for Quantum, it fell, in my opinion, into what many movies do today – set pieces from a formula. There has to be A,B, and C so D can explode. A real lost opportunity with that movie, as “Casino Royale” had taken those set pieces and turned them upside down and made original entertainment. The Bond producers have a habit of a real strong, film quality debut for a new Bond and then the next one will fall back to the campy, stunt laced bits that a viewer can see on almost any cop show.

  8. Agree with Shelby on “Moonraker” here. In a lot of ways, it’s not only under-rated (it scored higher than 3 other Eon Productions 007 movies in my own ranking), but also a reality splash of cold water in the face of those who worship at the alter of box office receipts.

    “Casino Royale” (2006)–? Ranks number 10, just behind “The Man with the Golden Gun.” Both of the James Bond movies starring Timothy Dalton beat it, too.

  9. [...] But Eon didn’t exactly know where to proceed from that point. For Eon’s next movie, multiple ideas were considered, including Bond encountering Vesper Lynd’s child before opting for a “direct sequel” that didn’t really match up with the [...]

  10. [...] a James Bond movie is undoubtedly a lot harder than it looks, something Paul Haggis found out when he returned to write a second 007 film, Quantum of Solace. Still, Eon kept bringing the duo back, even if they hired others to revamp their [...]

  11. [...] of Solace for World War Z, substitute the figure $230 million for $200 million and substitute multiple writers including Paul Haggis and it sounds like you could be talking about Quantum of Solace, the 2008 James Bond film. Star [...]

  12. […] do you mean by that? Well, when Marc Forster was hired to direct Quantum of Solace he wasn’t wowed by the script work that had taken place until then. That doesn’t mean the same thing will happen with Logan and Bond 24. But until a director is […]

  13. […] That is usually blamed for problems with the film. However, various accounts later surfaced indicating script problems occurred earlier, including time wasted on a rejected script about Bond’s search for the child of Vesper […]

  14. […] posts: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THE SCRIPT OF QUANTUM OF SOLACE? (December […]

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