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SKYFALL

About Casting
At the head of the cast of Skyfall are, of course, Daniel Craig as 007, Judi Dench as M, and Javier Bardem as Silva, a man hell bent on revenge.

Leading the way is Daniel Craig in his third film as James Bond. "Bond is actually remarkably difficult part to play, because he says very little, and the moment you make him say too much, it's not Bond anymore," says Sam Mendes. He operates on instinct a lot of the time. He has his own inner demons and he doesn't reveal them to other characters, and yet the audience needs to be aware of them, especially in this particular movie. In Skyfall the audience has got to see him, in a sense, fall apart and put himself back together again, but none of the other characters see what's really going on behind the curtain. Daniel's done that, I think, brilliantly."

"Daniel's one of the greatest actors that we've ever had," says Barbara Broccoli. "He has inhabited the role of Bond and he's pushed it in directions that one wouldn't have thought possible. Starting with Casino Royale and going into Quantum, and certainly in this film, he really reveals Bond's inner life in a way that we've never seen before, in a way that Fleming does in the books, where you really feel as if you understand the inner turmoil and complexity and conflicts. With this screenplay and with Sam, we've unearthed a lot of the emotion connected to Bond's own past and mined the dramatic tension that stems from that."

Dench, who returns for her seventh film as M, has left an indelible mark on the character - simultaneously filling a classic role and making it her own. For Skyfall, the chance for the actress to re-team with Sam Mendes was irresistible. "Sam directed me in 'The Cherry Orchard' when he was very young - it might have been the second or third thing he did - so I know him very well and we have a very good working relationship. We tease each other - we each give as good as we get."

Dench once was able to meet with her real-life counterparts. "I once actually went to lunch with MI6, with Sir David Spedding. And suddenly there they were in a room, six people - it gave me a taste of this organization and what they have to do. Every time I pass MI6 at night and see the lights on, I think, there is a building where the lights just aren't unnecessarily on. They're on because people are working there all the time."

Javier Bardem describes his character, Silva, as "An angel of death - a very clean-shaven person who happens to be rotten on the inside."

The Oscar -winning actor explains finding the character inside the villain. "He has a very personal objective - he's not trying to destroy the world," he says. "And he is on a straight line to that objective: he is a man seeking revenge. It's about being focused on the one person he wants to eliminate."

"It's always about who's the person behind the character," he continues. "It would be very difficult for me to play a role that I just saw as some kind of symbol. In this case, there is a man suffering, a man full of pain and frustration, who simply wants to fix the situation. Within that journey, there was room to be funny or aggressive, but I could perfectly understand who he was, and that helped me to portray him."

Surrounding the three lead actors is an extremely accomplished and varied cast, and it was Mendes' reputation as a filmmaker and background in theatre and film that attracted the finest actors in the business. Producer Michael G. Wilson credits Mendes: "It's a great cast, and that's down to Sam - he attracts really great actors, because they want to work with him."

For Craig, the most important element he looks for in his fellow actors is commitment to the project. "You have to take the time and the effort to find the right people, enthusiastic people," says Craig. "We've just been blessed with every character whether it's Ben, or Fiennes, or Bardem, or Finney, or of course Judi Dench. And then the casting of the girls: Naomie and Bérénice - finding two exceptionally beautiful women who are very serious actresses and who are intelligent and work hard. For me, it has been a joy."

Naomie Harris plays Eve, a MI6 field agent. "In recent years, the Bond films have featured two girls - one an exotic type and the other a home-grown type. Naomie manages to be both," says Mendes.

Eve is a brilliant field agent who's very independent, intelligent, witty, fun and courageous," says Harris. "She's not afraid to stand her ground with Bond, and I think that makes her so much more interesting. Playing Eve really allowed me to highlight the more adventurous side of my personality, which was a lot of fun."

The filmmakers were pleasantly surprised by the extra layers that Harris brought to the role of Eve. Wilson and Broccoli explain, "The character written was basically a field agent with a lot of sass, but it wasn't until Naomie came in, that we really saw the potential that this character could be something entirely new in terms of a Bond film. She's very resourceful, she gives Bond a really hard time, but you still manage to have a tremendous affection for her and there is a wonderful flirtatiousness between them. She can hold her own with Bond. We think that audiences are really going to relate to her. She's an extraordinary actress."

Casting director Debbie McWilliams officially started work on Skyfall one year prior to filming, but she's always looking out for new and interesting undiscovered talent. "I think I am in a unique position of being able to introduce new talent in leading roles without the usual commercial constraints," she says. "Audiences want to be surprised and the expectation is always high. We have the world to choose from and it is my job to go out and find those special actors that people may not have heard of before. Submissions were received from all over the world and casting sessions took place in locations as diverse as Shanghai, Stockholm, Madrid, Sarajevo, Athens, Istanbul, Beijing and beyond. "

Another key role in Skyfall is that of Severine, played by Bérénice Marlohe. "If I could have invented a Bond girl, it would be Bérénice," laughs Mendes. "I wanted to find somebody with all of the classic components of a Bond girl: voluptuous, sexy, a woman and not a girl, mystery. Bérénice is half-Cambodian, half-French. She gives us that mystery. On top of all that, she happens to be a fantastic actress."

Marlohe explains that she was encouraged to make Severine unique, "I felt I could use my own personality and imagination to create my character's style - I had the freedom, knowing that this kind of movie allowed me that space."

Writer Robert Wade describes the idea behind Severine, "She's a survivor. Like many of the women in the Fleming books, she's toughened herself up because she knows what it is to have been abused at the hands of men."

Of her character, Marlohe says, "Severine is the link between Bond and Silva," says Marlohe. "She's a very mysterious woman. I wanted her to have a lot of substance."

Ralph Fiennes plays Mallory, a government official with oversight of M's agency. Fiennes explains, "On the surface, Mallory has a charm, an old-world courtesy, but underneath, there's a steel there. He is absolutely able to stand up to M and go head-to-head with her."

Michael G. Wilson adds, "You're not sure where Mallory's loyalty lies in the film - whether he's going to be a help or a hindrance to M and to Bond. He seems to ask a lot of difficult questions and be very critical. It's a very ambiguous character."

In Skyfall, Ben Whishaw becomes the fourth actor to play Bond's quartermaster, affectionately known as Q, who makes a welcome return to the Bond franchise. The role began with Peter Burton as Major Boothroyd in Dr. No, followed by Desmond Llewelyn (in 17 Bond films between 1963-1999), and John Cleese (who appeared as Q's assistant, R, in The World is Not Enough and was later promoted to Q in Die Another Day).

Producers Wilson and Broccoli describe why Ben Whishaw was the man for the job: "When it came to trying to reintroduce the character of Q, it made sense that he would now be a young technical genius and the character was written with that in mind. Ben was the obvious choice because he has this wonderful kind of openness to him, and a real intelligence and wit."

John Logan says, "When Bond meets Q, there's initial suspicion of 'Who's this kid, with spots and why is he telling me about my job?' But they quickly develop a mutual respect."

Whishaw adds, "Q represents one of the central conflicts in the film - the old versus the new. It's a battle and a theme that runs through Skyfall, between the way the world is going now and the way that the intelligence services are traditionally run."

That's especially true in an age when espionage takes place in cyberspace as much as anywhere else. "The new Q is a sort of computer genius, one of only six people in the world who has certain knowledge. He's quite a mysterious person with a sly sense of humour," says Whishaw.

Albert Finney plays the role of Kincade, an endearing character from Bond's mysterious past. "Albert Finney is the most extraordinary man; sexy, wonderful and delightful," explains Broccoli. "I think he is going to be very well remembered in this role because the relationship he has with Bond goes way back and he appears just in the nick of time. It's delightful to have him in a Bond film because Cubby desperately wanted to work with him, and of course I've wanted to work with him, but we have never had the opportunity until now. He is a legend, a fantastic actor and just funny, charming, extraordinary and dead sexy. Be still my beating heart!"

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