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SKYFALL

About The Film
In approaching Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond adventure, the filmmakers were very attuned to the fact that 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on film. They were determined that this entry in the longest-running film franchise in history would deliver everything that has made Bond, Bond: heart-stopping action, scene-stealing villains, beautiful Bond women, exotic locations, a killer theme, the Aston Martin DB5… and, of course, 007 himself, played by Daniel Craig. But a Bond film is not a collection of puzzle pieces; these elements combine - like gin and vermouth, shaken, not stirred - to serve the story. For Skyfall, bringing it all together is Academy Award -winner Sam Mendes. "I knew that Sam would put everything behind it," says Craig, who marks his third film as Bond in Skyfall. "He would put all of his knowledge of movie making behind it, but also his knowledge and love of Fleming and Bond."

While Mendes might be best known for directing a different kind of movie, he says that high entertainment and artistic integrity are not mutually exclusive. "I have my own, personal relationship with Bond, which began when I was 9 or 10 years old - when Live and Let Die came out," he says. "We happen to be living in a time when it's possible to make a big, entertaining, glamorous, escapist movie that also says something about the world we live in. With Daniel's performances in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, James Bond feels like a real man in a real situation again. It reminded me of the way I felt when I watched the Sean Connery movies."

For the producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the anniversary brings with it added expectations. "It's our 50th anniversary and 23rd film so the pressure's on to make the best Bond ever. We have an extraordinary cast, an incredibly talented creative team and an emotionally charged script," says Wilson.

Broccoli adds that Mendes' relationship and history with the Bond films adds a personal element from the very start. "With his knowledge and history, he identifies with the audience - he knows what works and what an audience is expecting. And, frankly, that's great to watch on set," she says.

Throughout these 50 years, it has been the Broccoli family -first Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and partner Harry Saltzman, and then Cubby's children, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli - who have been the overseers and caretakers of the James Bond film franchise. "Michael and Barbara are extraordinary because they work very well as a team," says Mendes. "Barbara has a remarkable skill for making people feel like she knows their name and knows what their issues are, and if there's ever a crisis, she's the one who will handle it. Michael brings an enormous amount of experience and wisdom, combined with such a gentle presence on the set - he never bullies or lectures. If you have an idea and are wondering, 'Has Bond done this before,' ask Michael - he knows."

It was Craig - with the support of Wilson and Broccoli - who invited his friend, Mendes, to direct the film. "When we started talking about it, I felt a connection with someone who had exactly the same enthusiasm and respect for the Bond films that I did," says Craig. "And, of course, I deeply respect Sam as a director. I said to him, 'This is going to be a new experience for you - trust me, because I made two of them and it was a very new experience for me. Nothing can quite prepare you.'"

SKYFALL welcomes back screenwriters Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and introduces Academy Award -winner John Logan to the Bond writing family. Logan explains, "I felt greatly encouraged by Sam and Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson to make the screenplay as unique as I could, using my particular strengths as a writer. Coming from the world of theatre, for me, it has always been about character and dialogue. When you look over the vast panoply of Bond films, things tend to emerge, like a lightning bolt: great moments of dialogue, great moments of character interaction - whether it's Bond and Goldfinger, Bond and Blofeld, or Bond and Vesper Lynd. Those are the amazing scenes that just stop your heart because they're unexpected in what's considered a genre movie."

Of course, for each individual Bond film, it is the director who guides and shapes the picture. Mendes says he felt the freedom to put his own stamp on the legendary franchise. "I have been given an enormous amount of freedom - and I've never felt constrained or hidebound by the genre or the franchise," he says. "Part of that is Daniel and Judi Dench, both of whom I already knew well. Frankly, I'd love the two of them to be in any movie I directed. But part of it is also the enthusiasm with which the Producers greeted new ideas about Bond and M and the franchise as a whole."

Dench, returning for her seventh film as M, says that her relationship off-screen with Daniel Craig has mirrored the on-screen relationship between M and Bond that was developed in the two most recent films. "Bond and M are two people who work well together. She's obviously very fond of him, and she's often accused of being preferential towards him - but she can also be ruthless about him," she says. "Daniel and I struck up a good relationship the first time we worked together, and the relationship has developed as each script requires something a little bit more from us. That is especially true with Skyfall."

Barbara Broccoli explains that Skyfall explores the relationship between Bond and M - perhaps more than in any of the 22 previous films. "We wanted to really mine the relationship between Bond and M, because it is the most significant relationship he has in his life," says the producer. "M is the only person who represents authority to him. You have two extraordinary actors, and we just thought - let's go all the way. It's worked extremely well. It's a very emotional story."

"Their relationship is based on mutual respect," says Craig. "They both know that every time the chips are down, one of them will have to make a sacrifice - it's difficult to have a touchy-feely relationship with someone under those circumstances. But at the same time - and Sam was very keen on this - Bond's always had in the back of his mind that there's a bit more. It's something he never shows, but the connection is there - and I get a kick out of that as an actor, to play a life you can't show."

007 faces a dangerous journey in Skyfall - one that shakes MI6 to its core as the agency comes under attack. Mendes says that in directing action sequences, character is as important as stunt and camera work. "If you're not engaged with the characters, the action is meaningless, however good it is," he says. "To me, you have to put the characters in a credible and believable situation - you have to make it almost impossible for them to survive - and then show how they survive. That's the challenge."

Javier Bardem plays Silva, the man who puts MI6 at risk. The actor is no stranger to playing dark and complex characters, having won the Oscar for his role as the unforgettable Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. "When I read the script, I was immediately drawn to the story and the character's possibilities. To work with Sam Mendes and to be a part of his incredible cast and crew, I couldn't say no to an opportunity like this," says Bardem.

Mendes says that the key to a great Bond villain is to strike a certain balance. "The performance has to be real enough, but also have flamboyance," he says. "The great ones - the Dr. Nos', the Rosa Klebbs', the Goldfingers' - are ever-so-slightly theatrical and yet are all the more frightening because of it. For Silva, Javier allowed himself to be playful and mischievous, but never lost the danger, the mystery, the strangeness, the otherness. I think he's done something wonderful."

Bond audiences expect that a Bond film will deliver plenty of action, and as Wilson explains, 50 years of Bond action represents an enormous challenge for the filmmakers: what could Bond do that he's never done before? "We have an incredible team - including Gary Powell (Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale), Chris Corbould (Dark Knight Rises, Inception, seventh Bond film), Alexander Witt (X-Men First Class, Casino Royale, Bourne Identity). They get together with Sam and formulate the most exciting and interesting sequence we can dream up while still telling the story. And Daniel contributes a great deal to designing the action - he's the one who really pulls it off. He does as much of it as he possibly can - I think the reason the action works as well as it does is because he sells it. That's our one rule - it has to feel real."

And no Bond film is complete without a Bond theme, and for the producers, there was one singer who seemed to be a 21st century heir to the legacy laid down over the past half-century by Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, Nancy Sinatra, Madonna as well as many others. "The only person that we wanted was Adele," says Barbara Broccoli. "She came to meet with us, she read the script, and she took it very, very seriously. With Paul Epworth, she's written a beautiful song that delivers on every level, and of course she has the most extraordinary voice - she's delivered a classic Bond theme. It's a dream come true to have Adele on board."

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