Wanna show off how much of a smart martini drinking gentleman you are?
Well, here’s some random facts and figures about James Bond, the longest-running film series in history. Of course you might already be familiar with these statistics, but we’re sure you could use a quick refresher…
Daniel Craig is back as the 6th James Bond for the 4th time in the 24th film of the 007 franchise, Spectre. And he’s contracted for one more.
The other five gentlemen who have played Bond are: Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.
So far, Bond has killed 378 people (onscreen, of course). Pierce Brosnan was the deadliest, having killed 135 people; and George Lazenby was perhaps the kindest, with just five.
Skyfall was the first James Bond film to win multiple Oscars and make over US$1 billion worldwide.
Skyfall is also the first James Bond movie to drop the F bomb, uttered most memorably by Dame Judi Dench, our favourite gal.
The character of ‘Q’ in the movies is based on a pistol expert who wrote Ian Fleming fan letters.
A martini, shaken, not stirred was the drink of choice for both creator Ian Lancaster Fleming and the character — the two shared the belief that stirring would bruise the gin in the cocktail.
15 BMW 750iLs were destroyed during the making of Tomorrow Never Dies. That’s a couple of million in SG dollars, not inclusive of C.O.E. some more!
In Spectre, Craig will drive a custom-made Aston Martin DB10, his fourth Aston in a row. The villain will drive a Jaguar C-X75. (I actually prefer the Jag though…)
50-year-old Italian screen icon Monica Bellucci is the oldest actress to portray a Bond girl in the 53-year-old film franchise.
Léa Seydoux is the 10th French actress to portray a Bond girl. Claudine Auger was the first in 1965’s Thunderball.
That’s all? Well, that’s the space allocated, and if you can remember them all... Oh we forgot, you already knew these facts! Right, so go ahead and uncover more in our exclusive interviews with the ever-suave Daniel Craig and new Bond babes Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci. For the gadget geeks, we’ve also put up a little feature focusing on Bond’s trusted Quartermaster throughout the years!
Also inside are the usual first-hand news and features about movies that matter. Not that you don’t already know.
Enjoy, see you at the movies, and go easy on the martinis, Mr. Know-It-All!
Bond-ing with Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig talks F*** through Spectre, his fourth outing as everyone’s favourite ultra-cool super-spy.
As he approaches his fourth big-screen outing as 007, Daniel Craig feels very comfortable in the role. He has made the part his own, rebuilding James Bond as a 21st-century hero, a man with great emotional depth to accompany his remarkable skill-set.
“I am a big fan of James Bond,” begins Craig, “and when I did Casino Royale, if I had been presented with a script that had lots of gags and jokes in it, I would have said, ‘No, I can’t do this movie, because that is not my thing. I don’t know how to do that.’ I can’t pretend to be someone else, or to mimic someone else.”
Thankfully, the script for Casino Royale and the films that followed were very different beasts. “It was very stripped-back,” says Craig. The far stronger, grittier sense of realism infused in his incarnation of James Bond reflects Craig’s own acting methods. “That is an actor’s job. The fact is, that was the way I was taught to act and that’s the way I like to act. If it feels real, then it is right.”
The only thing that isn’t so realistic about Craig’s incarnation of Bond? He doesn’t do the driving himself – not even of the brand-new Aston Martin that will feature in Spectre. “I am not James Bond and there are guys who are superb drivers, just eye-wateringly brilliant drivers and I’d be an idiot to not let them drive,” explains Craig with a laugh. “They drive and I just pretend. Sorry. I know it may be a hard thing to hear but I am just acting.”
The decision to remix the James Bond cocktail for the Daniel Craig movies was a shrewd move, shaking up the franchise and stirring up the audience.
The world’s most famous secret agent remains as popular as ever — Skyfall took over US$1.1 billion at the worldwide box office — and the interest in his latest outing, Spectre, is staggering. The second trailer for the movie, which was released in late July, notched up 3,000 views per second during its first days online.
When asked if he felt any pressure to repeat Skyfall’s box-office success, Craig replies, “Not really, because how do you do that? You’d be chasing your tail. The success was amazing, although I can’t really conceive what those figures mean. They’re beyond my understanding, but it is a very high-class problem. We had great success on the last movie so we had to make this better, and that for me is the challenge. That’s the best way to be working – when you are challenged.”
Fortunately, the stars seemed to align for Spectre, with the pieces falling into place both on camera and off. “Hubris is the enemy of filmmaking,” notes Craig. “To say, ‘Yes, we’ve got a great movie’, would be foolish. But, with Spectre, I think we’ve done the best we could. That’s pretty good. And when you consider who we’ve got in the movie and who directed it, it’s a special collection of people.”
Spectre, which is directed by returning Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes, not only features Craig but also Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, two characters reintroduced to the series in the last film. Ralph Fiennes also appeared in Skyfall and, in taking on the role of M, is set for greater involvement this time around.
“Sam is great at casting and he got Ben Whishaw into these movies, and Ralph and Naomie. We couldn’t be better set with those three. I have a lot of trust in Sam. I think we’ve put the money in the right places and we tried to make the best movie we could. If you can’t get excited about making a film with these people, you shouldn’t be doing it!”
This time around, Craig, Whishaw, Harris and Fiennes are asked to join forces to defeat at least two thoroughly intimidating, and very different, villains. There is actor Dave Bautista, who plays muscled henchman Hinx; and also Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz, who stars as his superior, the mysterious Oberhauser. Waltz’s character, in particular, looks like another stellar entry into the actor’s pantheon of memorable on-screen bad guys.
“Christoph has so much acting talent and we were so lucky to have him in the movie,” says Craig. “I think he has done a wonderful job. The part is complicated and I can’t really go into it. He has just done a wonderful job.”
French actress Léa Seydoux and Italian star Monica Bellucci also join the line-up as two very different, and very modern, interpretations of the classic ‘Bond girl’. Craig smiles. “She’s a consummate professional and brilliant and beautiful, and all of those things,” he says of Bellucci, who, at 50 years old, defies any traditional stereotypes. “I loved working with her, and Léa Seydoux, who is a phenomenal actress, too.”
The first-class cast looks set to deliver a firstclass story, which, like Skyfall, delves deeper into 007’s backstory. This is something of a departure for the James Bond films. How did Craig feel about it?
“I wasn’t sure to begin with,” he concedes, “but I am really pleased with the way things have turned out. There was a conversation I had with Sam, who said, ‘You starred in Casino and then Quantum of Solace, and that was a direct storyline.’
So when Skyfall came along, we thought, ‘What else happened in his past?’ And that really informed the story. It seemed right to continue that. Each time, Bond is affected by what’s come before so it’s good to explore that.”
The latest film has shot in some wonderful locations and, according to Craig, the shooting schedule was littered with ‘pinch me’ moments. “Shooting in Mexico City, that was like nothing I’d ever seen before on a film set,” he says, referencing Spectre’s beautifully choreographed Day of the Dead sequence. “Also, there was Rome,” the actor adds, “because of the way we were shooting. I have stayed there many times, without doing a Bond movie or doing tours. I have stayed with friends and had a great time. It is a city I’d love to live in one day… There were many, many moments. It did really feel like the first time again.”
This enthusiasm is endemic, and both Craig and his fellow filmmakers have worked hard to make Spectre the best film it could be. “Every day, we’d look at the script, and we’d say, ‘Okay, this is good. Can we make this better?’. We’d work on the script on the set with the other actors, and we would try to make things better all the time. It was those sorts of challenges every day.”
“I felt on this movie that it was like my first time,” enthuses Craig. “Sam [Mendes] and I would get to set and then we would go, ‘Is this as good as we can make it? Is this what we want from this?’ And, for this challenge, I had locked everything out. I said, ‘I am not dealing with any production issues. I am not dealing with anything else. I am just dealing with what is happening on the set.’ And it was just like a really, really great acting job. When I was on set and not working, I would just listen to my iPod.”
For Craig, the past 10 years have proved to be an invigorating experience and he says that he owes an awful lot to the long-standing custodians of the James Bond series, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
“I said to Barbara ten years ago that I needed the confidence to walk on set and to pretend to be James Bond,” says Craig, “because I am not James Bond. I’m a long way off being him.
“But if I was given the confidence to be a part of what was going on and to [provide] input into what the films were about, and if we could collude and collaborate, then I could give it a go. And they were receptive. They opened their arms. I think they listened to me and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone.”
In an exclusive interview with F***, sultry French actress Léa Seydoux talks about her unconventional role in Spectre and switching between arthouse films and blockbuster movies
French actresses have a strong connection to the James Bond films, stretching back to Claudine Auger’s turn as Domino in 1965’s Thunderball, and France takes centre stage once again in Spectre. This time round, it is the highly regarded Léa Seydoux who comes to the fore, starring opposite Daniel Craig in the role of Madeleine.
Seydoux follows in the footsteps of French stars Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only), Sophie Marceau (The World Is Not Enough) and Eva Green (Casino Royale), to name but a few Bond Girls.
Why is it that French girls figure so prominently in the series? Seydoux offers a coy smile. “Maybe the French girl is often seen as the sexy girl,” she laughs, “the stylish girl. French girls are maybe known for being elegant.”
Elegance is certainly a word that applies to Seydoux, the 30-year-old Parisian who came to international attention with her César-nominated performance in 2008’s The Beautiful Person. In 2009, she won the Trophée Chopard, an award given to up-and-coming actors at the Cannes Film Festival. She has since earned three more César nominations and has appeared in a number of high-profile English-language movies, including Inglourious Basterds, Robin Hood and Midnight In Paris.
She also starred in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, another film that features highly skilled secret operatives, though she says that her turn in Spectre was an especially rewarding experience.
“They are both big franchises,” she says, “They are very different. You can’t compare the two films. One is American and the other one is more British… But the Bond one really is very exciting. It is witty and it is funny.” She smiles. “It is also very sexy.”
Bond is sexy, she says, because of the cars, the film sets, the gadgets, the costumes and the locations, “which are all very exotic”. And then, she notes, there’s the man himself, one of cinema’s most debonair gentlemen, James Bond.
“He is strong but, at the same time, with Daniel Craig and also Sam Mendes [the Skyfall director who returns to shoot Spectre], they have made changes to this man.” When Craig was first introduced in Casino Royale, he was a little rough around the edges. Over the years, he’s become more human and more refined. “He is now nobler,” she adds. “He shows his emotions much more and we have access to his interior and his depth.”
There is a great deal of depth to the supporting characters, too, including Seydoux’s Madeleine, a complex woman with a complicated past and an uncertain future. She has her own journey through the film and, to begin with at least, she and 007 share a frosty relationship.
“It is true that women in this film have a new position,” the actress says with authority. “They are strong. My character, she doesn’t need Bond. She is extremely smart. She doesn’t want to be part of his world. She doesn’t need him.”
Madeleine has a social position of her own, working as a doctor in the Hoffler Klinik. “She does not need her clothes or her appearance to seduce him,” Seydoux says. “You will see that my character is not what you might expect from a Bond girl. She is a doctor, an intellectual and very well educated.”
That said, the actress still found herself involved in the action. “I did do some stunts,” she says. “I did one piece of action where I jumped from about eight metres high, attached to a wire.” She recalls the scene and her eyes widen. “It felt very high and was very scary,” she says. “That was my big stunt, and then, afterwards, I have a few fights and I trained with the stunt guys.”
Her training was important. “I did some boxing. I fight with one of the villains, a really mean guy, Hinx [Dave Bautista].” She pauses as she remembers the moment. “Yes, I had to fight with him and he is really big,” she chuckles.
Seydoux is no stranger to action, having showcased her fighting skills in Mission: Impossible, and she says that she hopes to continue thriving in action-packed blockbusters as well as in arthouse movies. With the latter, she earned strong reviews for recent outings like Blue Is The Warmest Colour and The Lobster.
“I always try to adapt myself to the film… to be a part of the material and to adapt myself,” she explains. “I like to be a chameleon. I can adapt to different kinds of films. I like to disappear while I appear [on screen] at the same time. It is a contradiction and that is what I like about it.
“I will still do some French films, and why not some American films? I liked being in Spectre, certainly. It is a blockbuster, obviously, but I felt very comfortable. I have really, really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel out of place.”
With glowing reports from her director and co-stars, she won’t look out of place either. Craig describes her as a very talented actress and the appreciation is mutual. Growing up, she says that it was Craig’s James Bond films that inspired her most of all.
“Casino Royale came out in 2006 when I was 21, which was at the beginning of my career,” she says. “I am a fan of cinema and am curious about films in general. This was the new Bond with Daniel and Eva Green, who is French, and I like her as an actress.
“I remember that the film had a huge impact on me. I loved the film,” she beams, “and I think it is still my favourite. And the love story, I really loved. For me, Daniel is James Bond and I am so happy that I got to work with him.”
ACTING HER AGE
50-year-old Monica Bellucci charms F*** as she gives us the exclusive lowdown on being the most mature – and arguably the sexiest! – Bond Girl in the history of the franchise
For Monica Bellucci, Spectre is a thing of beauty. The celebrated Italian actress features in the latest James Bond film as a widow, Lucia, a striking woman caught up in a dangerous world. “This film is a beautiful example. It demonstrates that a woman of 50 can still be desirable. Actresses during the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, even though they were talented, they no longer worked. Now it is different.”
Indeed, the Bond series’ long-serving producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, were incredibly keen on casting Bellucci, having missed out on her in the past due to scheduling conflicts. Director Sam Mendes, too, was adamant that she would prove a fine addition to his stellar cast.
“My agent called me. He said, ‘Do you want a laugh? Do you want to feature in a James Bond film?’ It was funny because when I met Sam Mendes, I said, ‘What am I going to do in James Bond? I am 50!’” recalls Bellucci with a broad smile. “But, actually, the role was so interesting and I was so happy to play this lady, Lucia.”
Bellucci’s Lucia is not the only woman whom 007 meets during the course of his adventures in Spectre. He also encounters Madeleine, who is brought to life by French actress Léa Seydoux, and Bellucci believes that these two women represent very different worlds.
“Léa Seydoux, playing Madeleine, represents youth,” says Bellucci. “And I am not referring to just her age. She represents a modern woman, a woman of action, someone who wants to be equal to men.”
Lucia, meanwhile, is a more mature woman who holds many secrets. “She is an Italian widow with secrets, in black, so everything follows the tradition. She belongs to a world where it is only men who have the power,” the actress adds. “She symbolises the women who have to learn from the past to enter the future. It is not a coincidence that she is Italian, because Italian women have to learn how to be liberated.
“Italian women, as in many other countries, have to learn to be more independent,” Bellucci explains. “It is a big fight and it is a struggle for them, because it is an internal struggle, not an external one. A bird is in a cage for a long time and, even when the door is open, it does not escape immediately. It takes time to learn how to be free. In that sense, Lucia is fascinating.”
Bellucci, too, is fascinating, a woman with a highly regarded international reputation, built in both American and European cinema. She has featured in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, as well as Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, though her most popular critical hits include the French movies The Apartment and Irréversible.
“So many people ask me how I feel about this,” she says of her casting in Spectre. “It was great because I shot in Italy and in London. In Italy, it was a really big thing. It is so funny now, whatever places I go to – right now, I am shooting in Croatia – I am asked about Spectre. I have done so many films and still they ask me about this. It is an incredible thing, James Bond.
“People say, ‘You have been in films like Irréversible, so how do you feel about playing in a movie which is very different?’ But I am so honoured to be in a franchise like this, with such a great tradition.”
She has enormous respect, she says, for many of the women who have already appeared in the James Bond films. “The past actresses like Rosamund Pike, Sophie Marceau, Halle Berry and Eva Green are all beautiful women who are talented and sexy,” she explains, highlighting some of the recent stars from the series.
“And, also, there are images like Ursula Andress coming out of the water. Like Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, they are images that last forever. So I think that the filmmakers have created something that has roots in all our imaginations. James Bond is not just part of a great tradition in England, but rather it is universal, even in Italy.”
Bellucci has watched Bond films throughout her life, and she thinks that actor Daniel Craig and, more recently, director Sam Mendes, have been instrumental in adding extra layers to the world’s most famous secret agent.
“With these films, Daniel Craig and Sam have created a wonderfully modern James Bond. He has changed,” she says. “Previously, he was interesting but more predictable. He loves, he kills, he has no problems and he is always in control of situations. This James Bond is in conflict because he is a man looking inwards.
“He does kill but, at the same time, an atmosphere of death surrounds him, and this makes him more dangerous, more mysterious and sexier,” she adds. “Also, this Bond, not only is he an English gentleman but also he has an attitude of a man released from prison. This duality makes him interesting. It is a new James Bond. He will kiss you or kill you.”
The filmmakers responsible for the current Bond films all concede that they are standing on the shoulders of giants; so many brilliant actors, directors and heads of department have worked on the series across the years. Bellucci, for one, understands this truth.
“I have seen so many James Bond films,” she says. “And I must say Sean Connery was always my favourite, my love. He is so handsome and so sexy. If you were with Sean Connery, you felt really protected. I have never met him in real life, but he conveyed a fine masculine attitude.
“And, while Daniel Craig is more modern, and he has created something special, Sean Connery epitomised the past of James Bond. He gave him this power and strength. Daniel Craig is where he is because Sean Connery created the traditional Bond.”
The whole experience of making Spectre was a thrill, she notes.
Bond films often reflect the world in which we live, and Spectre is no different, especially when it comes to modern attitudes about women. “I have not been to Hollywood and I have never lived in America. All the American films I have shot have come through Europe, so I am not in the Hollywood system,” says Bellucci. “But what I see in France are incredible actresses like Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve and Nathalie Baye and Charlotte Rampling, even though she is English, still having the chance to play sexy, beautiful roles. So there is a new way emerging of seeing women in general and actresses also. Life is so long now and I hope that 50 is just half of my life. I would like to live to 100, if possible!” One thing we know, Monica Bellucci will surely remain a much-loved star of the silver screen.
SOME INSIGHTS ON THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES
You mentioned feeling protected – is that a male feature that attracts you?
It is complicated because my inspirations are more women than men. Maybe I will have to learn how to deal with men in a better way. I have two girls, no boys, so I know more about women than men. When I think about films, I think more about films with ladies. Maybe if I think of an Italian actor who really inspired me, it must be Marcello Mastroianni, for sure, because he was masculine but had this femininity at the same time. That is something I found really touching; it gave him a sweetness. If I think about an American actor who I like, it is Bill Murray. I love him. He is masculine, and he can be rude but, at the same time, he has something that is so funny. He has a wonderful sense of humour. I like him very much. I like this duality.
Is there an explanation as to why you are better with women than men?
I don’t know. It is my karma, maybe. When I think about my father, he is a nice man and he is very sweet, but he could be unpredictable at times. I loved him so much and he taught me so many things and he made sure that I knew how to protect myself. Maybe that is why I have been very independent from a young age. Maybe that is what I started to work at a very young age. Even when I was at school, I worked. My father really helped me. I remember that he told me, ‘Every time you go out with a man, take some money with you because you don’t know what can happen!’
That advice is very practical…
Yes, it is practical. Because you never know! If a man leaves you in the street, it is frightening so it is always good to know you can get a taxi to come home. For that, I thank him!
We pay some attention to James Bond’s trusted Quartermaster
By Jedd Jong
The Bond films have always been packed with adventure, danger, glamour, women… and, yes, gadgets! The nifty devices at James Bond’s disposal have always been part of the series’ appeal, and there would be no gadgets without Q, the head of MI6’s Q Branch, who arms Bond with all the tools he needs for each mission. It became customary for Bond to visit Q’s lab, where Q would demonstrate his inventions and sigh disapprovingly at 007’s immaturity and recklessness. While the focus is usually on the gadgets themselves, with Spectre’s release imminent and Q set to play a fairly significant role in the proceedings, let’s place the attention on Q himself.
Ian Fleming’s original novels, Q himself did not appear, though Q Branch gets mentioned. Continuation novels by other authors did include Q. The novel Dr. No introduces MI6 service armourer Major Boothroyd, who was named for firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd. He had written to Fleming saying he was a fan of the character but not of his choice of weapons and, as a result of their correspondence, James Bond came to use the Walther PPK, a gun which has become indelibly linked to the character. Moral of the story: complain about your favourite books and shows on internet forums and your points will definitely be taken into consideration!
Major Boothroyd was played by Peter Burton in 1962’s Dr. No, the first official EON Productions Bond film to be released. Boothroyd replaces Bond’s .380 ACP Beretta m1934 pistol with a .32 Walther PPK, noting that the Beretta jammed on the last job. Burton was unavailable to return for the second Bond film, From Russia With Love. This turned out to be a stroke of bad luck for Burton, because his replacement went on to play Q from 1963 to 1999.
The actor who played Major Boothroyd in From Russia With Love and who would go on to become the definitive screen incarnation of Q was none other than Welsh actor Desmond Llewelyn. From Russia’s director Terence Young had previously worked with Llewelyn on the war movie They Were Not Divided, in which Llewelyn played a tank-gunner. In real life, Llewelyn had served in the military in World War II as part of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, surviving five years as a German prisoner-of-war.
In From Russia With Love, Boothroyd supplies Sean Connery’s James Bond with what is considered the first true “Bond gadget” of the movies, a tricked-out attaché case. Disguised as an ordinary briefcase, it contains a folding AR-7 sniper rifle, holds 40 rounds of ammunition, a removable throwing knife that pops out of the side, a bottle of tear gas disguised as a bottle of talcum powder and 50 gold sovereigns. Not exactly cutting-edge, but definitely very cool for the time.
In Goldfinger, the character was first referred to as “Q” and would be known by that title in the films that followed, with one notable exception: In The Spy Who Loved Me, Soviet agent Anya Amasova calls Q “Major Boothroyd”. Q is characterised as somewhat of a curmudgeon, often impatient with Bond’s juvenile antics. Goldfinger introduces Q’s immortal line, “I never joke about my work, 007”, which is Q’s response to Bond’s incredulous reaction when he is told that the Aston Martin DB-5 has been equipped with an ejector seat. Q is also prone to muttering an exasperated “Pay attention, 007!” or “Oh grow up, 007” on many an occasion.
Far from a stereotypical harsh taskmaster, one gets the impression that Q grows very fond of 007 and would just rather not admit it out loud, taking on the role of the disapproving but ultimately kind old uncle. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Q shows up to Bond’s wedding, visibly sad that Bond would be leaving MI6 and, in both Octopussy and Licence To Kill, Q goes out and about in the field. Octopussy has the silly but lovable scene of Q flying to Bond’s aid in a hot-air balloon and teaming up with Octopussy’s bevy of circus troupe beauties. Licence To Kill takes the more serious tack of Q assisting Bond behind M’s back after Bond has been disavowed by MI6. “Remember, if it hadn’t been for Q Branch, you’d have been dead long ago”, he tells Bond with that trademark blend of warmth and stern fatherly authority.
Despite insisting that he never jokes about his work, Q does have a sense of humour – gadgets that are onscreen solely for a visual gag become one of the staples of the Q Lab scenes. In The Living Daylights, we see Q working on a ‘ghetto blaster’, a boom box that can fire a rocket. In Goldeneye, Q enters the scene wheelchair-bound, revealing that his leg cast hides a missile launcher. Surprisingly enough, Q also utters one of the most blush-inducing double entendres in the whole series. At the end of Moonraker, Bond and Holly Goodhead are aboard the space shuttle, partaking in some zero-gravity love-making. Bond’s superiors inadvertently witness this via the shuttle’s on-board cameras, with Minister of Defence Fredrick Gray exclaiming, “My god, what’s Bond doing?”
“I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir,” Q answers slyly.
Q has also donned disguises when meeting Bond, posing as a car rental agent in Tomorrow Never Dies, a Mexican priest in Licence To Kill and a Greek Orthodox priest in For Your Eyes Only. The latter results in this amusing exchange:
Bond: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”
Q: “That’s putting it mildly, 007!”
While he played a technical whiz in the Bond movies, Llewelyn’s aptitude with gadgetry in real life was a far cry from that. “I am hopeless with gadgets,” he admitted in an interview. “I can’t even get a ticket to work in one of those confounded machines on the London Underground. And I can hardly put on a kettle, let alone set a video.” Llewelyn also saw the character of Q and his gadgets as enabling the crucial escapism that became associated with the series, which leads one to think he might not be the biggest fan of the more straight-faced approach the recent Daniel Craig-starring films have taken. “You must keep fantasy with Bond, and not only fantasy, but pure relaxation, enjoyment. What you see on the screen is something that you don’t have in this world today. You can just sit back and enjoy it,” he has said.
By the time 1999’s The World Is Not Enough rolled around, Llewelyn had appeared as the Quartermaster in a whopping 17 Bond films, including that one, and had dispensed gadgets to Bond as played by five different actors. The World Is Not Enough introduces Q’s assistant R, played by Monty Python’s John Cleese. Brosnan’s Bond quips, “If you’re Q, does that make him R?”
Carrying on his mentor’s disdain for Bond’s smart-mouthed tendencies, R retorts, “Ah yes, the legendary 007 wit, or at least half of it.”
R was being set up to take over for Q after the latter’s retirement. “Always have an escape plan,” Q tells Bond as a platform lowers him out of his lab. Sadly, that scene would take on a far more sombre tone as, just weeks before the film’s release, Llewelyn died in a car crash while driving home from a book signing. He was 85. “There can be forever many Bonds, but only one Q. I’ve lost a great friend, someone who I will miss dearly, someone easy to cry for. And I think the whole world will feel the same. He was a gentle gentleman, this lovely man,” Brosnan said of Llewelyn.
Cleese was promoted from R to Q, holding this post for exactly one film, 2002’s Die Another Day. This Q has the ignominious honour of introducing one of the most widely-mocked Bond gadgets, the nigh-magical invisible Aston Martin Vanquish. Die Another Day was the 20th Bond film, released 40 years after Dr. No, thus containing far more references to the franchise’s storied past than usual. In the Q Lab scene, classic gadgets including Rosa Klebb’s bladed shoe from From Russia With Love, the jetpack from Thunderball and the “croco-sub” from Octopussy, can be seen.
While Judi Dench retained her role as MI6 head M from the Brosnan films, Q and Q Branch were nowhere to be seen come 2006’s reboot, Casino Royale, with Craig in the lead. Its follow-up, Quantum of Solace, was also Q-free. During a 2008 press conference for his film Defiance, Craig expressed his desire for Q to return to the series. “We’ve finished this story as far as I’m concerned,” he said, referring to the plot that stretches from Casino over to Quantum. “Let’s try and find where Moneypenny came from and where Q comes from. Let’s do all that and have some fun with it.”
Both of Craig’s wishes would be granted come 2012’s Skyfall. Naomie Harris took on the role of the reinvented Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw was cast as Q. Aged 32 at the time of Skyfall’s release, Whishaw was by far the youngest actor to play the Quartermaster. It’s a move that makes sense, given how the tech-savvy geniuses in Silicon Valley these days tend to be in their 20s. The dynamic between the characters was reworked, with Bond now being the disapproving uncle to Q. In the character’s introductory scene in the National Gallery, Bond gets to say, “You must be joking” – although this time, it’s his reaction to Q’s youth instead of being told his new car has an ejector seat. This Q still seems tweedy and old-fashioned in the most charming of ways, but it’s now wrapped up in a geek chic package, with an unruly mop of hair and vintage-style glasses. Q’s mug, with Q10 on one side and the official Scrabble letter distribution score chart on the other, was just the right accessory for this take on the character. This Q, while still a genius, still slips up on occasion – plugging the villainous Silva’s laptop into the MI6 mainframe inadvertently allows the baddie to hack into the system and escape captivity.
“It was such fun for me to play an expert in an area where I’m completely not an expert. I’m really hopeless with technology — I don’t even have a computer. But I had to reel off all this technological information as if it were second nature,” Whishaw told The Telegraph, apparently continuing Llewelyn’s legacy of being a technophobe in real life. “It’s great to play someone who has this mysterious understanding of things that are so complex. I also really enjoyed his relationship with Bond. I’m very excited about future films and where we will take that,” he continued.
At the time of writing, the release of Spectre, the 24th Bond film, is right around the corner. While some fans were disappointed by Q stating that Q Branch didn’t really go in for “exploding pens” and the like anymore, we will be getting a specially modified Aston Martin DB10 in Spectre, and the trailer features the long-absent “Q showing Bond the new car” scene. The character will have a larger role than in Skyfall. “Moneypenny, M, Q, all find themselves in a surprising situation, which Bond helps them escape from,” Whishaw told French movie news site AlloCiné cryptically. We will apparently also get to see Q in the field again, since Whishaw was spotted on location in Austria shooting a scene in a cable car.
“Make me disappear,” Bond asks Q. Like in Licence To Kill, Bond’s going off-books and needs the assistance of his trusted Quartermaster.
Many long-time Bond fans are pleased that Q has not disappeared and that, while the character now comes in a new flavour befitting the times, the intrinsic appeal of the gadgetmaster remains. Bond may be the guy most men want to be, but there’s no way he could’ve done it all alone, with Q proving across the decades to be one of his most faithful allies, repeated admonishment and pleading with Bond to “pay attention” notwithstanding.
Spectre opens on 5 November 2015.
[Source: F*** OCTOBER 2015 ISSUE 069. P.1-4,26-43,87. Copyright © 2015 Sterne & Lears Global Pte Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Front Cover Image: © Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved. All names, trademarks, illustrations and images used, with or without attribution, are copyrights of their respective owners.]