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IT'S PAINTING AND DRAWING HERE From Monday 25th. April
Merry Xmas, 007! The JBIFC would like to wish all our readers, members and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a ‘Spectacular’ New Year. Many thanks for sticking with us and being so loyal. The past year started off relatively quietly when it came to James Bond news but we think 2014 is now ending on a real high. The new James Bond adventure SPECTRE began principal photography in December, after an eagerly-anticipated press call was held at the famous 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios, and since then news has been flowing weekly. This edition of the JBIFC newsletter is a SPECTRE special, and is part of our continuing in-depth coverage of all things Bond as the exciting new movie takes shape. As we enter 2015, get ready for things to heat up even more. Agent 007 has definitely reported for duty again. "Welcome back, Mr. Bond. We’ve been expecting you" From a View to a Thrill After months of speculation, Thursday December 4 at 11.00am GMT saw Sam Mendes take to the stage at Pinewood Studios, where he revealed to the world that Bond no. 24 in the long-running EON franchise was titled SPECTRE. Mendes explained, with a twinkle in his eye: ‘Those of you who have some knowledge of the Bond franchise and the legend of Bond will probably have some idea what that refers to, but I couldn’t possibly comment!’ Standing alongside Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, Mendes also revealed the distinctive logo for the new adventure and also Bond’s new car for the movie, the Aston Martin DB10. In addition, he also confirmed the new movie will have (00)7 months of main shooting, and this will include location shooting in Austria, Morocco, Italy, Mexico City, and London. Within seconds, the news had very quickly gone around the globe, such is the intense interest in one of the most iconic fictional figures in literary and movie history. Bond was back! After Mendes had unveiled the new vehicle, an Aston Martin that has been developed specially for the movie (Mendes called the new car a ‘thing of beauty’), the second-time Bond director then proceeded to introduce the principal cast members to the audience. The atmosphere was electric. First of all, key members of Bond’s MI6 support team were introduced: Rory Kinnear (as Bill Tanner), Ben Whishaw (as gadgets expert ‘Q’), Naomie Harris (as the ever-loyal Miss Moneypenny), and Ralph Fiennes (who became the new ‘M’ towards the end of Skyfall). Live and Let High Sam Mendes then proceeded to introduce, one by one, the new principal cast members: Andrew Scott (who plays a high-ranking Whitehall official named Denbigh), Dave Bautista (who plays Mr. Hinx, who is, in Bautista’s own words, ‘a badass’), Monica Bellucci (who plays Lucia Sciarri), Lea Seydoux (who plays Madeleine Swann), and Christoph Waltz (who plays Franz Oberhauser, a character with close links to Bond’s past). Last, but not least, James Bond star Daniel Craig took to the stage, looking relaxed and very happy. Although he was not present on December 4, a few days later it also emerged that Jesper Christiensen (who played the mysterious ‘Mr. White’ in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) is also reprising his role for SPECTRE. Soon after the main introductions had been officially made by Mendes on stage and the live event was over, the director, his producer, and the main members of the cast then spoke in more detail to the waiting members of the press and TV. At one point, Mendes explained his thinking behind his decision to direct a second Bond move, after initially declining to do so. He said: ‘I felt I had introduced new characters in Skyfall and I hadn’t finished telling their story’. He said he still felt ‘a connection with them’ and, after taking some time to reflect on this, he said he felt he wanted to continue their story. Speculating on SPECTRE Mendes also went into a little more detail about the reasons for the title. He told the press: ‘I was able today to say that the title of the 24 th movie is SPECTRE, and for those who know their Bond – which is quite a lot of people – SPECTRE is the name of a criminal organisation that featured in Ian Fleming’s novels from a very early stage. Beyond that, I can’t really say much more, but I love the fact that it’ll lead to endless speculation and it also is going to feel as if some big shadows from Bond’s deep past are going to resurface’. The SPECTRE organisation, of course, as many Bond fans are aware, has played a prominent role in the Bond universe, first appearing in Ian Fleming’s novel Thunderball (1961), which had been based on a screen treatment the 007 author had originally worked on with Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham in the late 1950s. In one sense, ‘SPECTRE’ had been the Bond author’s replacement for ‘SMERSH’ (‘Death to Spies’), the ruthless Russian intelligence and assassination organisation which Fleming had previously used in his writings. Whereas SMERSH had been ideological and a product of the Cold War, SPECTRE was more about private profit from crime, and also about the villainous ambitions of a single individual. Instead of having a murderous state-sponsored organisation (as with SMERSH), the new concept (so to speak) in Thunderball was now an enterprise called the ‘Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion’ (or SP.E.C.T.R.E. for short), a private-sector criminal syndicate based at a secret HQ in Paris, and run by arch-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The Nature of SPECTRE The SPECTRE crime syndicate’s managerial executive in Fleming’s fictional Bond world consisted of 21 main members, each known by their number from 1-21. According to Fleming, SPECTRE was staffed by a combination of people from a variety of previous outfits: ex-members of SMERSH, the Nazi Gestapo, the Mafia and the Chinese Black Tong crime network of Peking. The concept of SPECTRE, of course, was also used in the early EON Bond movies (starting with Dr. No in 1962), together with the character of Blofeld (who first appeared - in profile only - in From Russia, With Love in 1963), but both the organisation and the character of Blofeld later became the subject of a complex legal tussle between Kevin McClory and EON/Danjaq in the mid-1970s. Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, who had by then taken on the role of solo producer when Harry Saltzman departed after The Man With The Golden Gun, had originally intended to have Blofeld return in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). But the legal objections and claims to ownership of the character of Blofeld being made by McClory at the time had forced a reluctant rethink by EON, much to Cubby’s frustration. However, Cubby Broccoli was able, in a sense, to still make a point about the character and have a subtle dig at McClory: Blofeld appeared in all but name in the pre-credits to For Your Eyes Only in 1981. McClory finally realised his vision of a rival Bond movie with Never Say Never Again (1983), when Blofeld was played by the respected actor Max von Sydow. However, a number of critics noted how von Sydow’s interpretation lacked menace, possibly the result of severe pruning of the script during production on a movie that was fraught with creative differences and financial and other difficulties (one version of the script had Blofeld dying as a result of being scratched by the poisoned claws of his own white cat). Ever the showman, McClory also continued to harbour dreams of a rival Bond franchise, and regularly announced new titles to keep himself in the movie news. At one point, ironically, McClory even announced that he intended to make a Bond film titled ‘Spectre’! A New Perspective on SPECTRE? In November, 2013, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Danjaq issued an official announcement from Los Angeles that, after negotiations with Kevin McClory’s estate, they had reached a settlement of the long-running legal dispute and had now acquired all the Bond rights belonging to the late Irish producer, who had died in 2006. The news from America led to numerous pieces by commentators around the globe speculating on whether this might herald the return of Ernst Stavro Blofeld to the EON Bond series at some point in the near future. What fuelled this speculation even more was the fact that John Logan, one of the scriptwriters on Skyfall, was known to be something of a Blofeld aficionado. Indeed, the speculation had been given a fillip in the run-up to Bond 23 when Logan made a teasing remark that he thought Blofeld was a worthy adversary to Bond: ‘Bond should always fight Blofeld’, he said. It would appear that with the 2013 legal settlement Logan was given a green-light to use the SPECTRE and Blofeld concept for Bond 24. And he was clearly in double-0 heaven about this. So, what can Bond fans expect from these developments? Well, Mendes is right: there continues to be endless speculation, which is excellent news for the Bond marketing people: it helps keep 007 firmly in the news. All the JBIFIC can say is, expect a radical re-invention of the organisation and its founder. You Know the Name The main biographers of James Bond creator Ian Fleming have argued that the 007 author ‘borrowed’ the name ‘Blofeld’ from Tom Blofeld, a Norfolk farmer who was chairman of the Country Gentleman’s Association in England and also a fellow member of Boodle’s, the London club where Fleming often went to eat. Tom Blofeld had also been a contemporary of Fleming’s at Eton public school in the 1920s. Tom Blofeld’s son is the famous English cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, who is now retired but is still in demand on the lecture circuit to talk about his favourite sport (something no doubt the cricket-loving Sam Mendes is well aware of!). There has also been some interest in Ian Fleming’s evident fascination with certain words, or variations of the same word, in his Bond novels, including the word ‘spectre’. In Fleming’s fourth Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956), at one point Bond’s cover as a diamond smuggler is blown and he is kidnapped by Serraffimo Spang, of the ‘Spangled Mob’, and is locked up in ‘Spectreville’, a ghost town outside Las Vegas. And in a variation on the word, in Fleming’s adventure From Russia, With Love (1957), Tatiana Romanova offers to defect with the coveted ‘Spektor’ coding machine. Skyhigh: Wide Media Coverage of SPECTRE Launch There was widespread media coverage of the launch of the new Bond movie. Newspapers and TV in both the UK and around the globe reported in considerable detail on the events at Pinewood and, inevitably, there was intense interest in the new members of the cast. Such is the fascination and love of James Bond in the UK that a number of British newspapers placed coverage of the SPECTRE launch on their front pages. Typical headlines included: ‘We’ve been expecting you Mr. Bond... 007 is back’ (Daily Express); ‘Bond’s triple glammy’ (The Sun); ‘007 – and Blofeld – return for highbrow 24 th Bond film’ (The ‘I’-newspaper); ‘Bond is back for the 24 th time and he’s got a new motor’ (City A.M.); ‘Bond’s new girls’ (Daily Mirror); ‘The sexiest Bond ever’ (Daily Star); and: ‘Bond is back! Oh Oh heaven’ (The Metro). Most other newspapers devoted eye-catching stories to the new Bond movie, with large stills of the key cast, especially Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux. How many other movie franchises today could generate such interest? Not many. There were also some notably thoughtful articles on SPECTRE in some of the British press, including in The Daily Telegraph (December 5) and The Guardian (December 5). Ben Child in TheGuardian argued that the introduction of the SPECTRE organisation ‘marks a definitive return to traditional 007 territory’ on the part of EON. Robbie Collin, in the Telegraph, noted in particular all the behind-the-camera talent also returning to the movie, which ‘bodes very well’. At one point Collin also noted that former James Bond, Sir Roger Moore, had tweeted excitedly during the press conference: ‘So Blofeld is back!’ From London with Love Principal photography on SPECTRE commenced at Pinewood on Monday, December 8, 2014. In the same week, set construction in preparation for some London location shooting also began, with a small crew building some platforms on scaffolding on a section of the Regents Canal at Camden Lock. Week 2 of principal photography thus began with some central London filming and, in a sense, Bond returned to some very familiar territory – the famous River Thames (which was previously used heavily for the pre-credits of The World Is Not Enough in 1999). Monday, December 15 thus saw some sequences shot on the UK capital’s main river which involved both Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear (who plays the MI6 chief-of-staff Bill Tanner). In what appeared to be a water-borne trip to the MI6 headquarters, which is located near Vauxhall Bridge, the two actors were filmed travelling as front passengers in a speedboat as it sped along the river. They were taken at some speed to the area directly outside the real-life MI6 HQ, with the boat at one point going directly under Vauxhall Bridge itself. Along with Craig and Kinnear, the speedboat was manned by two extras in helmets, who were piloting the boat as 007 and Tanner stood in front of them and looked straight ahead as the boat whizzed along the river. A camera crew, with Mendes on board, travelled alongside the speedboat in their own special boat, filming from a short distance. Both Bond and Tanner wore dark overcoats over suits, with Bond also in black gloves and a scarf (which was undoubtedly needed on a bright but crisp morning on the breezy Thames). After filming the trip up to the MI6 HQ area of Vauxhall, the two actors were then given an even speedier ride back down the river, much to their delight. Both men were in high spirits, swapping jokes and comments with each other as they took in the sights along the embankment. The MI6 building and Vauxhall Bridge also featured, of course, in the previous 007 adventure Skyfall. Dame Judi Dench, as ‘M’, and Rory Kinnear, as Tanner, were seen being stuck in heavy traffic on the Bridge and then witnessing a dramatic explosion at the Secret Service HQ. Nightfall: Bond and Moneypenny in Notting Hill Later that same day (Monday, December 15), the London location shooting continued in the evening, but this time in another part of the capital. This involved Craig as Bond and another key member of the MI6 HQ support team, the ever-loyal Miss Moneypenny (played once again by the lovely 38-year old Naomie Harris). The night-time shooting took place at a plush apartment located in the more up-market area of London’s Notting Hill. A small team of crewmen, arc-lights, cameras, cranes and trailers had arrived in the relatively quiet and exclusive W11 area at the weekend, and took up temporary positions in the residential parking bays outside various townhouses in the nearby streets. Filming then commenced on Monday evening inside an upper-floor apartment in a large former townhouse located on the corner of Stanley Crescent and Ladbroke Gardens, and also outside in the adjacent street. The scenes involved Miss Money penny in the street below, while Craig (as Bond) could be seen through the large window of the apartment. At one point he was filmed looking out of the window, wearing a coloured dressing-gown and gazing down into the street outside the flat. The residents of the elegant townhouses in the area have become quite used to seeing film-makers over the past few years, as a number of movies have made use of the streets. Ironically, in early 2014, Naomi Harris herself shot some scenes in the very same street used by the SPECTRE crew when she filmed for another spy movie, Our Kind of Traitor, which is based on the best-selling espionage novel penned by John le Carre. Harris stars in the gritty film alongside Ewan McGregor. It is understood that the scenes Naomi shot with Craig on the Monday evening are connected with some interior scenes shot at Pinewood in the first week of filming. Return Another Day The very next morning, on Tuesday, December 16, the London location shooting returned to the waterways when Sam Mendes oversaw some SPECTRE filming with the speedboat seen on Monday, but this time on a section of the Regents Canal, at Camden Lock. The scenes once more involved Bond star Daniel Craig and MI6 Chief-of-Staff actor Rory Kinnear. A large section of the waterway was closed off for the day as Craig and Kinnear were filmed standing once again in the front section of the speedboat, in a sequence where their boat went across the canal water at (what is known locally as) West Yard and then travelled under an arched bridge, taking them under a large building on the canal-side. Both actors wore dark overcoats over suits, with Bond again in black gloves. While some parts of the canal have good light, other sections do suffer from shadow at certain points in the day. A large back-screen had been put in place to help reflect light, and large floodlight had been suspended from a crane on the opposite bank of the canal. Canal Royale Both actors were again in high spirits in between takes at Camden, and also shared comments and jokes with Mendes, who spent part of the day in his own small boat close by, overseeing the canal filming. Mendes also watched footage of the takes carefully at one point on small monitor screens. The back-screen, various platforms, some elaborate scaffolding and lights had been put in place a few days previously by crew members, some of them wearing distinctive SPECTRE stunt-crew jackets. Some members of the crew also wore these on the filming day. Inevitably, as word went round among locals and shoppers at the nearby famous Camden Lock market, quite a few onlookers gathered in the area at times, eager to try and catch a glimpse of the action. At one point Craig gave a big smile and wave to the enthusiastic public, but also a less pleasant sign to some of the more over-zealous paparazzi with their zoom-lensed cameras! Did You Know? Christoph Waltz, who is Franz Oberhauser in SPECTRE, was briefly associated with the world of Bond once before. He played the role of a German spy in the Anglia TV movie Goldeneye (1989), which was a carefully-observed and largely faithful biographical study of Bond author Ian Fleming. The movie was based largely upon the biography of the Bond author written by his former journalistic colleague John Pearson in 1967 (Pearson had first met Fleming back in 1954). The well-received 1989 TV movie starred Charles Dance as Fleming. Ironically, Dance himself had also had a small role as a ‘heavy’ in the Roger Moore 007 adventure For Your Eyes Only (1981). Bond Bits: Brief Items of News You May Have Missed More gadgets for ‘Q’? Actor Ben Whishaw, who is making a very welcome return as MI6 gadgets expert ‘Q’ in SPECTRE, gave a brief interview to the ‘Heatworld’ website during his appearance at the December 4 launch at Pinewood... The 34-year old actor, who is the voice of the popular bear in the new Paddington movie, which has just stormed the UK box office, was asked at one point what new devices might be in store from ‘Q’ branch in the new movie. He responded: ‘I’m definitely not allowed to say anything, but there’s a few more than last time’... Intriguingly, when Whishaw was asked a cheeky question about his dream song artist would be for the movie, he said: ‘I actually know who it is, but I can’t say. If I did I’d be hauled into someone’s office and given some very stern looks’... Whishaw’s comments appeared to be confirmed a few days later, when director Sam Mendes revealed to Entertainment NOW! that he also knows who will be singing the theme song to SPECTRE. But Mendes added: ‘When will you find out? You’ll have to ask Barbara Broccoli, but I would say – on the basis of the last one – very, very late in the day’... Double-0 heaven: the beautiful Italian actress Monica Bellucci, who is joining French actress Lea Seydoux as one of the two new Bond women in SPECTRE, was given a detailed profile in the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper (December 7), and the paper commented that ‘for millions of her worshippers the news that the Italian bombshell is to star in the latest Bond film is the cause of unmitigated rapture’... As many Bond fans know, and as the SPECTRE-related coverage again reminded people, it is not the first time that Monica has been linked to the world of 007. She first auditioned to be a Bond woman for 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, when she was considered for the role of Paris Carver... However, after behind-the-scenes pressure from MGM, Bellucci lost out to American actress Teri Hatcher, the preferred choice of the main studio (which caused much disappointment to the then-007 star Pierce Brosnan). So, it must be doubly-satisfying for the 50-year old Italian star to have finally secured a role in a Bond movie. Bella!... Irish actor Andrew Scott, who played the criminal mastermind Moriarty in the BBC’s popular TV series Sherlock, has said he will give nothing away about his role as Denbigh in the new James Bond film. He told the London Evening Standard (December 8): ‘I’m quite good at keeping the secret’... Speaking after winning the best supporting actor award for his role in the film Pride at the Moet British Independent Film Awards, Scott added: ‘You learn how to nod and smile. It’s great fun. It would be so weird if I started giving plots away. People would be aghast. I just keep schtum’... According to the Standard, Scott declined to be drawn on ‘completely speculative’ deductions about the relationship of his character, Denbigh, to Daniel Craig’s James Bond. Quite right, too. It would be very unwise to upset the SPECTRE syndicate. Remember what happened to Count Lippe in Thunderball?!... Bond’s favourite car firm, Aston Martin, now under new boss Andy Palmer, is planning to raise millions in new income to make manufacture new models. Palmer is working on plans to issue new shares or bonds to raise up to £150 million for the launch of new Aston Martin models. The unveiling of the new Aston Martin DB10 on December 4 was part of this bold new plan... The loss-making car manufacturer, which sold 4,200 cars in 2013 compared to the 7,300 it was able to sell in 2007 (before the recession hit in), hopes that the new Aston Martin DB10 (which has been designed for SPECTRE only and will not go on general sale) will provide a badly-needed publicity boost for the company. The signs are very encouraging. There has already been considerable interest from around the world in Aston Martin’s new turnaround efforts. Fingers crossed, 007... Naomi Harris, who has reported for duty again as Miss Eve Moneypenny for SPECTRE, was interviewed for the ‘Upfront’ page of ES magazine, the free magazine of the London Evening Standard newspaper (December 12) and, at one point, referring to her role as Moneypenny, she said she has had to ‘put in some serious time and effort practising walking in high heels’... Naomi also commented: ‘When I’m filming Bond the most important thing is getting enough sleep’. Hmmm. We wonder how she felt about her recent night-time shooting in Notting Hill?!... Chistoph Waltz, who will play such an important role in SPECTRE, has recently played the husband of artist Margaret Keane in the movie Big Eyes, directed by Tim Burton. Waltz gave a Big Eyes tie-in interview to the Metro newspaper (December 18) and described some of views of acting and the interpretation of roles... When asked about his role as ‘Walter’ in the new film, Waltz told the Metro: ‘I don’t describe characters. I play them. I find it very counterproductive if actors put themselves and their opinion in... Actually, I’m interested in what you tell me’... Waltz was also (inevitably) asked at one point about how he felt about being in the new James Bond film. He replied: ‘It’s great, although I haven’t started working on it so there is nothing to feel great about yet’. That will soon change, Mr. Waltz...