Bond 24’s Rorschach test

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

“Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony…and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche. I can’t do shtick, I’m not very good at it. Unless it kind of suddenly makes sense. Does that make sense? I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it.”

Daniel Craig AS QUOTED BY THE VULTURE BLOG of New York Magazine About Bond 24.

That’s not a lot of detail, but since that interview was posted Aug. 23, various publications and Web Sites have been interpreting it. Those interpretations vary a bit, somewhat like a 007 Rorschach test. Some examples:

Yahoo!: 007 TO CRACK WISE IN `SKYFALL’ SEQUEL.

The U.K. Telegraph: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO LIGHTEN UP BOND 24.

IGN: DANIEL CRAIG: BOND 24 WON’T BE CAMPY.

Entertainmentwise: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO SEE MORE DRY HUMOR IN BOND 24.

Dark Horizons: CRAIG WANTS IRONY, NOT CAMP, IN “BOND 24.”

Not much is known about Bond 24, scheduled for a fall 2015 release. Even some of what is known, such as the fact Skyfall co-scribe John Logan will pen the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25, was initially denied by one 007 partner (Eon Productions) before being confirmed by another (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Thus, any word about Bond 24 — especially coming directly from the movie’s star — is going to be analyzed.

Irony is defined as “the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.” Or: “a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.”

But which “old irony” did Craig mean? It’s not detailed explicitly in the Vulture article. The quote about irony comes after a passage where it’s described how Skyfall was “lifted by a late ‘humor pass’ on the script.” The actor also says it was his idea to have Bond straighten his cuffs amid mayhem in Skyfall’s pre-credits sequence. It’s a Bondian moment, similar to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond straightening his tie in the middle of GoldenEye’s tank chase and The World Is Not Enough’s pre-credits sequence.

Presumably Craig’s irony comment wasn’t referring to the Roger Moore era (1973-1985), known for an expansion of humor relative to earlier 007 films. But even the Sean Connery era of the Eon movies (1962-67, 1971) had quips such as “She should have kept her mouth shut,” and “Shocking, positively shocking,” not necessarily the most subtle bits of humor. Connery’s non-Eon 007 film, Never Say Never Again, had a slapstick British diplomat, Nigel Small-Fawcett, and jokes about urine samples.

So perhaps Bond 24 will have a lighter tone. But there are other signs that humor may still be limited. John Logan was quoted in March by the Financial Times as saying words he “hopes to build on Skyfall in examining the complexities of Bond’s character.” We’ll see.

Earlier posts:
NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT BOND 24

AN EARLY BOND 24 ACCURACY CHECKLIST

MGM MAY BEND ON BOND 24’S SCHEDULE

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 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.

Joel Edgerton offered Kuryakin role, New York blog says

Actor Joel Edgerton has been offered the role of Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in Steven Soderbergh’s planned movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., according to A REPORT in Vulture, an entertainment blog of New York magazine.

The post also includes this passage:

This has post has been corrected to note that our sources just clarified that Bradley Cooper is still weighing the role of Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn’s old part), but is waiting to commit until seeing who WB gets to play the role of Illya. If Edgerton signs on and Cooper approves, the A-Team star may still play Solo.

David McCallum, who plays Ducky on NCIS, was Kuryakin in the original 1964-68 series. The character was created by Sam Rolfe (who got a “developed by” credit in the original), and expanded by writer Alan Caillou.

The Vulture blog earlier this year published a list of everything Soderbergh had watched at home over a year’s time. It included almost all first-season episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., an indication he was researching the original pretty thoroughly.

UPDATE: If you read the comment section of the Vulture post, it originally had some errors, calling the agents Nathaniel Solo and Ilya Kuryakin. A New York magazine staffer wrote, “@duckysgirl – Yep, we got the names wrong. Tongue lashing has been appropriately self-administered and spelling corrected.”

Steven Soderbergh catches up on his U.N.C.L.E.

Director Steven Soderbergh, who has said he’s “obligated” to direct a movie based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., at least has been getting acquainted with the likes of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Sodbergh kept a list, starting in February 2010 and running for a year, of the movies and TV shows he would watch. The list is online (we can’t put in a link right now, but will do so later). It includes 27 of 29 first-season episodes of Man From U.N.C.L.E., an indication Soderbergh is taking the prospective movie seriously. He also read Jon Heitland’s 1987 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. book. He watched the U.N.C.L.E.s starting in late October 2010 through mid-January 2011.

Other things of interest on his list were the three Harry Saltzman-produced Harry Palmer movies (The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain) as well as movies directed by the late Sidney Lumet that starred Sean Connery (The Hill and The Anderson Files Tapes). He also watched some episodes of Mad Men, the acclaimed drama that’s set in the 1960s and Soderbergh reportedly wants his U.N.C.L.E. movie to be set in the ’60s. Coincidence? Probably (he watched the Mad Men episodes in the summer of 2010). But who knows?

More interesting? No James Bond movies. Perhaps that’s a sign Soderbergh won’t try to make an U.N.C.L.E. movie into a warmed over 007 film, similar to the 1983 television movie, The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.

UPDATE: To view Soderbergh’s list of movies and TV shows he watched for a year, JUST CLICK HERE. Warning: it’s a PDF file. The existance of the list was first disclosed by the Vulture Web site in a post IN A POST YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. The Vulure site, in turn, is part of New York Magazine’s Web site. You can view the main page of the magazine’s Web site BY CLICKING HERE.