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SPECTRE

About The Film
When approaching the 24th James Bond movie, SPECTRE, from Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment, the filmmakers were keen to ensure that the film followed on closely from its predecessor, the $1.1 billion global smash Skyfall. Daniel Craig, of course, is back for his fourth outing as 007, while the characters of Q (played by Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) both return after their reintroduction to the series in Skyfall. The new M (Ralph Fiennes) also returns.

The chance to explore all these characters' stories was of vital importance to Sam Mendes, who is back for a second stint in the director's chair. "It all starts from character with me," begins the Academy Award-winner, "and I wanted to explore all sorts of different aspects of the characters that I'd left behind in Skyfall. We had populated MI6 with a whole new generation of people - a new M, a new Moneypenny and a new Q. I wanted to let those relationships develop and grow."

For actor Daniel Craig, the remit for SPECTRE was even simpler. "We wanted to be better than Skyfall," he says. "It is as simple as that. We didn't have a choice; we had to be bigger and better. With Skyfall, we set something in motion and we wanted to go a bit further with it and experiment a bit more."

Bond was rejuvenated at the end of Skyfall. "He had a sense of new beginnings," continues Mendes, and this had a profound effect on SPECTRE. In the new movie, the world's most famous secret agent is an entirely proactive character, in control of his own destiny. He has a focussed mission from the outset and nothing, and no one, is going to stand in his way.

"Skyfall was an entirely reactive movie as far as Bond was concerned," explains Mendes. "In the first sequence he was pursuing somebody with all his old focus and drive, but he gets shot before the credits even roll and for the rest of the movie he is one step behind Javier Bardem's character, Silva. You could even argue that at the end of Skyfall he has failed. He has not kept M alive, and though Silva's death is a victory for Bond, there are other elements that are failures. Hence, with SPECTRE, I wanted to give him a chance of redemption."

EON Productions' Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, long-serving producers of the franchise, agree. "I think this film is very much about the empowerment of Bond," says Broccoli, "and with Daniel portraying the character, he does this with such enormous integrity that we really feel what he is going through, emotionally as well as physically."

Bond's proactive nature has given the filmmakers plenty of scope in terms of location and narrative ideas. The film sees a cryptic message from the past, which sends 007 on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the widow of an infamous criminal. When overseas, Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of a sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

This infamous organisation has featured in six previous Bond films - Dr No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever - introducing a whole host of villains. The latest film, however, sees the organisation reimagined for the 21st century.

"What we've got here is a kind of creation myth at play," says Mendes. "We are not adhering to any previous version of the SPECTRE story. We are creating our own version. Our film is a way of rediscovering SPECTRE and the super villain, setting him up again for the next generation."

Craig concurs. "Having SPECTRE in the film opens up lots of avenues for us to explore," the actor says. "Having this organisation allows us to be both traditional while also bringing in something very new."

The filmmakers are also excited by the narrative developments at MI6. Even as Bond learns more about SPECTRE, he also has to contend with problems closer to home. In London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), codename C, has been appointed the head of the Centre for National Security, and challenges the relevance of MI6.

"There's a school of thought in the movie that says when it comes to national security, everything should be centralised, that we should be almost entirely dependent on surveillance and should let drones do our dirty work abroad," says Mendes. "C questions whether we need to send people out into the field. MI6 is, therefore, at risk; in particular the Double-0 section."

With MI6 at risk, 007 enlists the help of both Q and Moneypenny, and embarks on a mission that carries him to a host of locations, some of which he has never visited before. Mendes explains, "Given the fact that Bond is much more engaged in his own journey, we were able to play around with much more widespread locations. There is much more variety and a far greater physical and geographical journey in this movie than in Skyfall."

"We couldn't really do that in the last movie," he adds, "because we were very London-based. Yes, there were sequences in Shanghai and Istanbul but the second half of the film took place almost entirely in London and Scotland."

In SPECTRE, the filmmakers were able to move a little closer to the Bond films of old. "We could work with a slightly different style from the other Bond films I've done," says Craig. "This film is very individual but also harks back a little to what has gone before in the Bond films of the '60s and '70s."

Mendes says that SPECTRE recalls the classic Bond films in terms of the cars, the tone, the lighting and even the cut of 007's suit. "Also, I wanted to get back to some of that old-school glamour that you get from those fantastic, otherworldly locations. I wanted to push it to extremes."

The filmmakers wanted to immerse Bond in a magnificent festival in a Latin American city. "And it doesn't get any bigger than Mexico City and the Day of the Dead," says Mendes.

Indeed, the producers regard the pre-title Day of the Dead sequence as one of their career highlights. "Though we have worked on the James Bond films for more than 35 years, we both felt that the opening sequence to SPECTRE was something magnificent to behold, and that it sets the tone for an exceptional picture," says Michael G. Wilson.

"When audiences see these scenes they will be watching good, old-fashioned filmmaking rendered on a gargantuan scale. The Mexico scenes are truly epic."

Broccoli adds, "The Day of the Dead sequence stands as a reminder of what a James Bond film can achieve. Here we were in the middle of a foreign capital city with thousands of beautifully dressed extras and a world-class stunt team executing jaw-dropping scenes. That is one reason why we feel that SPECTRE is such a special moment in the James Bond series."

It doesn't stop there. The filmmakers wanted to shift environments, from hot to cold, and they went back into the snow for the first time since 2002's Die Another Day. "We've had some amazing sequences set in the snow," recalls Wilson.

Bond has had six previous adventures amid snowbound landscapes - On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.

"And we were very conscious of what we've done in all these films," continues Wilson. "That meant we wanted to do something different from being in bobsleighs or using any of the usual winter sports. Hence, we had a different kind of chase, with aeroplanes and 4x4s."

The filmmakers also wanted to send Bond to one of Europe's great cities at night. They chose Rome, says Mendes, because of "the history and an atmosphere of darkness and foreboding - particularly if you're dealing with 1920s and 1930s Fascist architecture. There is something dark and intimidating."

When developing the romantic aspect of the film, the filmmakers opted to have Bond's most intimate relationship blossom in North Africa, in Tangier and the Sahara desert. "If you want this incredible immense landscape, this emptiness, then where better than the Sahara?" asks Mendes. "So with all these locations you have these tones that are quite different, and quite extreme."

And no Bond movie would be complete without scenes set in London. "The challenge was to try and find a way of shooting London that felt fresh and new and yet which was also a continuation of Skyfall," says Mendes. "We tried to find a way to look at familiar locations and familiar places within London from a different perspective and I think we found some great ways to do that.

"These five locations give you a clue as to why the movie was technically so hard to achieve," he continues, "and why it was so exhausting, why it took so long to shoot, and why it has taken no prisoners. But what we have is really special, I think."

Similarly, no Bond film would be complete without a special theme song. The filmmakers were delighted to recruit multi-platinum selling artist Sam Smith who writes the title track, 'Writing's On The Wall', with fellow Grammy Award-winner Jimmy Napes.

This is the first James Bond theme song recorded by a British male solo artist since 1965. Broccoli says, "Sam and Jimmy have written the most inspirational song for SPECTRE and with Sam's vocal performance, 'Writing's On The Wall' will surely rank as one of the greatest Bond songs of all time."

Smith, meanwhile, is honoured to be contributing to the world's longest-running film franchise. "This is one of the highlights of my career," he says. "I am honoured that I am singing the Bond theme song. I am so excited to be a part of this iconic British legacy."

THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

As Skyfall drew to a close, the filmmakers introduced the man who would take over the role of the iconic character M: actor Ralph Fiennes inheriting the part from Dame Judi Dench. "I'm very aware of the legacy," says Fiennes. "I grew up with Bernard Lee's M and then Judi Dench made such a fantastic impression. She brought a real toughness that I'm keen to carry on."

Fiennes grew up an avid reader of Ian Fleming, John le Carre and Graham Greene and feels that the character of M is moulded by the image of the Cold War spy. "And though I know that's not our era," he says, "I feel this M is a child of that spy-slash-film world. Sam Mendes follows the demands of the Bond franchise but also allows us the opportunity to give more shade to our characters. With M there is a doubt and uncertainty that you get in the literature of that period."

M's doubt and uncertainty arises early on in SPECTRE when he comes under serious pressure from within the intelligence services. "M's role as the head of MI6, as well as the Double-0 section - where you're licensed to kill - is under threat," says Fiennes.

"There is a rethink of how the security services manage themselves. Andrew Scott plays the role of C, or Max Denbigh, who is the head of MI5. He is about to head up a merger of MI6 and MI5. In this merger, C will become the boss. So we're looking at the possibility of the Double-0 section being nixed, which will mean that Bond and M will be out of a job."

For actor Andrew Scott, the pressure exerted by Max Denbigh/C is a delight to play. "My character is a very charming man, and a very intelligent guy," he says. Not only is he stewarding the merger between MI5 and MI6, he is also overseeing a new facility that is being built. "It is an extraordinary new building. The cutting edge of global surveillance."

"The idea is that surveillance will now be stepped up," the actor continues. "He has the opinion that one man in the field, even someone like Bond, cannot really compete with the huge technological advances that we've made in the 21st century."

Scott notes that his character's ideas are incredibly relevant to the modern world. "The idea of people losing control of their digital ghost and their online legacy, is central to the storyline in SPECTRE," he says. "It's something I think we can all relate to - our privacy and how much information we feel is right to keep to ourselves and how much we need to be protected. That's a big question and it's very relevant right now."

The ideas extolled by C not only threaten Bond and M, but also their support team, Moneypenny and Q, two long-running characters who were reintroduced to the series in Skyfall.

"I felt relieved that the previous film was such a success, and that people have accepted me in the role," says Ben Whishaw who returns as Q. "That was a relief, and so I felt some degree of confidence but also the character is in a different place in this film. All the characters are, in fact, because of what's happening with their jobs, and their environment.

"This merger is happening and there are big changes going on. Everyone's futures are being called into question, so everyone feels scrutinised and under pressure."

In spite of the threat to his position, Q proves himself a real friend to 007 and puts his neck on the line. He disregards orders in a bid to help Bond achieve his own mission objectives.

"I think that there's a respect for Bond," Whishaw says of his character's relationship with 007. "He is still slightly wary because Q sees that Bond has this strange magnetism and power over people and indeed over Q himself. So Q has to try and control that. Yet there is a great loyalty towards him as well."

Also returning from Skyfall is Moneypenny, brought to the screen for a second time by Naomie Harris. After accidentally shooting Bond during the early stages of Skyfall, she surrendered her position as a field agent to work for Fiennes' character.

"Moneypenny in this film is behind the desk again; she's not out with Bond in the field," Harris explains. "She is still assisting him, but this time doing something much more secretive."

One of the key themes in SPECTRE is the issue of trust, and that is brought to the fore in the Bond-Moneypenny relationship. Early on in the narrative, when 007's trust in his organisation is diminished, he still believes in Moneypenny.

"What's really great about SPECTRE is that their relationship has really developed and they've become a lot closer. They really trust each other," Harris says of Moneypenny and 007.

"And Bond is someone who doesn't really have friends as such. That he would class Moneypenny as his friend is a real honour for her and she feels really proud of that. He's not someone that you get close to very easily. Of course, there is still a lot of flirtation on both sides."

Bond, of course, is drawn to women and in SPECTRE proves that he can still woo them. The first female to fall under his spell is Estrella, whose company he enjoys while working in Mexico City. Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman plays the role.

"The opening scenes of the film starts with Bond and Estrella celebrating the Day of the Dead in this amazing location with thousands of people," says Sigman. "It is a beautiful scene because it's very close to the reality of how we celebrate that day in Mexico. That was very nice for me, being Mexican, and it wasn't difficult to get fully immersed in the scenes."

Bond also encounters the beautiful widow Lucia Sciarra, played by Italian Monica Bellucci, an actress that producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli had tried to recruit in the past, denied only for scheduling conflicts. "We're delighted to finally get her," says Wilson. "She is terrific in the role."

Bellucci, meanwhile, says that she was delighted to finally join the series. "I said yes right away because I was very happy to work with Sam Mendes and to be part of this project," she explains. "I have so much respect for the James Bond films in general because I think they are such a big part of cinema history. And I respect so much all the James Bond girls; I think they are beautiful actresses and talented and it was very interesting for me to be part of this history."

The character she plays is a seductive Italian woman who holds a number of secrets. "Her Mafioso husband is killed and she risks the same thing happening to her," Bellucci explains. "When she first meets Bond she doesn't trust him because she comes from a world where only corrupt men have the power.

"But the chemistry and the attraction between them is so strong and she realises her feminine power over him. Then she trusts him. He saves her and she gives him the information he needs." She laughs. "And they find an interesting way to sign a contract with each other!"

Another woman playing a pivotal role in SPECTRE is Madeleine Swann, who is brought to the screen by French actress Lea Seydoux. "She's a doctor and she's a strong woman," Seydoux says of her character. "She is intelligent, independent and she doesn't want anything to do with Bond when she meets him for the first time. She's not impressed."

As the story progresses, however, events force a change in their dynamic, and their relationship softens. "She understands Bond very well because she has an insight into the world that he lives in," the actress continues. "For his mission he needs to understand things from his past and he needs Madeleine for the information she can provide. Eventually, it is a very strong relationship between them."

While the new women in Bond's life prove a good influence, his relationship with the men in the film is much more troubled. During his penetration of a SPECTRE meeting he comes face to face with an enigmatic and chilling character, the organisation's leading man, Oberhauser, played by two-time Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz.

"In this film it's the classic, and the classical, protagonist/antagonist dynamic," Waltz says. "The dynamic is that the hero's major existential quest needs to be thwarted, and every obstacle needs to be set up to the degree that endangers not just the achievement of this quest but endangers the existence of the hero himself.

"Everybody was very aware that this dynamic is, to say the least, very desirable in this context. That dynamic is what makes these stories really interesting."

Waltz is especially happy to star in one of Daniel Craig's Bond films given their grittier and, on occasion, darker tone. "With Daniel, some of the jocular tone from the earlier films evaporated and that was very much on purpose," says the Austrian star. "During the course of Daniel's films, Bond has emerged a more troubled soul and less of the ironic prankster type. Whether that continues in this film, or shifts again, audiences will have to wait and see."

As is often the case in Bond films, a very distinctive henchman supports the main villain. One only need consider Auric Goldfinger and Oddjob, or Francisco Scaramanga and Nick Nack, to name but two. In SPECTRE, the filmmakers not only introduce Oberhauser, but also Hinx, his muscle-bound field agent, played by Dave Bautista.

"I think this film has something of an old-school feeling, especially when you consider the history of SPECTRE," Bautista says. "They're this large, mastermind organisation that is everywhere. They're very mysterious and it's important that they remain that way.

"I always thought it was really cool to be the bad guy," he adds, "but being a member of SPECTRE, specifically, is really great."

Hinx, he notes, is a great match for Bond. "The character is really, really strong which you notice in one fight scene in particular. When you think of Bond you don't often see him losing in a fight. But it happens in this film."

Another important man in the SPECTRE story is Mr. White, played by Jesper Christensen. The character was responsible for Vesper Lynd's betrayal of Bond in Casino Royale and he also appeared briefly in Quantum Of Solace. "He appears to be a crime boss of some kind but it turns out he's not completely at the top because there's someone over him," says Christensen.

The man at the top is Oberhauser. "White has fallen out with his associates and he's been in hiding," Christensen continues. "Now, though, he has been found, and he's being slowly poisoned."

When Bond finds White, the latter is almost at death's door. "He doesn't really know what to do," says Christensen, "but Bond makes White help him in his investigations into SPECTRE. Bond hits on White's love for his daughter. White has one daughter and that is the only thing in his life that he really cares about. To protect her, he lets Bond in on some secrets."

Through the revelations made in SPECTRE, it transpires that there is one man behind all the tragedy that Bond has faced during the last three films.

THE PRODUCTION DESIGN

Oscar-winning production designer Dennis Gassner returns for his third Bond film, and his fourth collaboration with Sam Mendes. "Working with Dennis is like a bit of magic; he's got such a soul," says Mendes. "You get more out of a drawing that Dennis would have done on the back of a napkin than out of 70 pages of technical drawings. And then his sense of colour and light, architecture and style and his taste, all these things are impeccable."

What the filmmakers dreamed up for SPECTRE, Gassner says, was guided by what they created in Skyfall. "That was a beginning and then SPECTRE is the continuation of that," he says of the production design. "In my initial discussions with Sam I said, 'Where do you want to go with this film? What's your direction?' and he said, 'Can you find me something hot and then something cold?'"

Shifting Bond through contrasting environments, from hot to cold, the film opens in Mexico amid a wild Day of the Dead celebration. "When the Day of The Dead came up I was extremely happy because it's been something I have been watching for a long time, coming from California and therefore being very close to Mexican culture," says Gassner.

"We started doing our research and when we reached the right tone and started designing it, it worked out really well. The Mexicans were absolutely wonderful to work with and are obviously passionate about displaying what their culture is invested in. Working on the Day of the Dead section of the film was one of the most exciting things I have done in my career, ever."

The parade included 10 decorative skeleton maquettes and floats, the tallest of which towered 11 metres high. The carnival centrepiece was 'La Calavera Catrina' skeleton, inspired by an etching from Mexican illustrator and lithographer Jose Guadalupe Posada, which wore a hat that was 10 metres wide.

Elsewhere, when searching at a contrasting, colder environment, Gassner and Mendes settled on the Alps, which feature some key scenes, including Bond's introduction to an important character at the Hoffler Klinik.

"The Klinik was really the beginning of the adventure for me,' Gassner explains. "We went to the Alps in Switzerland and Austria and Italy. Luckily, I found Soden in Austria, and a restaurant, the ICE-Q, at the top of this ski lift, which became the foundation for what we needed. The Klinik is a little bit of an ice jewel in the middle of the movie!"

Gassner says that the ICE-Q structure had the perfect clean and clinical Alpine aesthetic for the Hoffler Klinik, and its position atop the 3,000-metre Gaislachkogl Mountain made it especially attractive. With key scenes set inside the Klinik, however, the filmmakers built the interior at Pinewood Studios in England, the traditional home of the James Bond films.

Knowing Sam Mendes' penchant for the symmetrical, both in set design and composition, Gassner tried mirroring the existing architecture to form a 'butterfly' shape. As the idea developed the new footprint was mirrored again to form a final design that was made up of four cantilevered wings radiating around a central courtyard.

To balance the symmetry of the new building, a central concrete entrance tunnel was built, both on location in Austria and on the stage at Pinewood, allowing the actors to transition seamlessly between the exterior and interior sets.

When looking for a key European city, the filmmakers selected Rome, impressed by the sense of power and scale, which fits so well with Bond in general, and SPECTRE in particular.

"All cities are challenging," says Gassner, "and Rome was no different. But what we wanted to transfer to the screen was the sense of power you get from the architecture in that city."

A key scene set in Rome, which was shot at Pinewood, is the SPECTRE meeting that introduces the film's primary antagonist, Oberhauser. "Again, when designing that scene, it was all about power; that was what we were looking for," says Gassner. "The original location that we modelled our interior on was the Palace of Caserta in Naples."

"There was a sense of scale that was massive and we wanted to convey that during the SPECTRE meeting," he adds. "We were able to do that on the sound stages that we had available. I think that we achieved what we needed and it is a great entrance for Oberhauser. That's a key moment in the film."

Another key location was Morocco, including the city of Tangier. "That was an exciting place to go," says Gassner, "Tangier generally has a romantic image and that carried through to a number of very important scenes."

In London, meanwhile, Gassner designed some very specific locations, including M's office, Q's lair and Bond's apartment, to name but a few. "For M's office we of course went back to the 'red door' room which is classic," he says, referencing the archetypal, very traditional Whitehall environment that housed Bernard Lee's M across the years, "and then we went from there to Q's lab and his workshop."

According to producer Michael G. Wilson, Q's working environment in SPECTRE showcases his interest in inventing. "Q is back to having lots of mechanical devices and he's fixing things but also there is some high tech behind it. It's a bit like the mad professor's lab!"

As well as giving Q a new environment, SPECTRE also reveals Bond's London apartment. Producer Barbara Broccoli explains, "At the beginning of pre-production I said to Dennis that Bond's apartment will be one of the most difficult sets to get right, and after we shot it he said, 'You were right about that,' because everyone has an idea in their minds about the kind of place where Bond would live.

"When you actually sit down and figure out what that should be," she adds, "everyone has different expectations. We knew it would be tricky but Dennis did a great job. And Daniel was also very involved in that set design because it indicates a lot of about the character of Bond himself and what he calls home."

THE LOCATIONS AND STUNTS

Every location in SPECTRE features spectacular stunts and set pieces, starting with the Day of the Dead scenes in Mexico City, which employed 1,520 extras, dressed and made up by 107 different make-up artists, 98 of whom were local. On each working day it took three and a half hours to get the crowd prepared.

The filmmakers shot in three different locations in the city - The Gran Hotel, Plaza Tolsa and the Zocalo, which is the main square in the centre of town. The stunt team replicated a massive explosion involving the hotel at Pinewood Studios in England, although the Zocalo itself played host to a huge sequence involving an out-of-control helicopter piloted by the world-famous Red Bull aerobatic pilot Chuck Aaron.

The Red Bull helicopter is built especially for barrel-rolling and free-diving. Due to the altitude in Mexico City, Aaron was limited in the aerobatics he could preform. However, he still pushed the boundaries, flying just 30 feet above the extras with two stuntmen re-enacting the fight while hanging out the helicopter.

The stunt co-ordinator, Gary Powell, says, "The world of stunts has changed a lot and we're very story-orientated with all our action scenes, which is great because a lot of films forget the story and just do 'crash, bang, wallop!'"

The Mexico helicopter scene, he notes, is integral to the story. "We don't just blow stuff up because it looks good," he says. "With all the action in a James Bond film, we tell a story while we're doing it."

As much action as possible was shot in-camera, as is the case with every Bond film. "We try and do as much as we can for real," says special effects and miniature effects supervisor Chris Corbould, "and then the visual effects guys come along and make what we've done look better, tweaking it, painting things out, adding things in.

"But everything is based in reality. In Mexico City, you can see thousands of people in the Zocalo responding to this amazing helicopter sequence unfolding in the sky above them."

There is more airborne action unfolding in Austria, where the filmmakers worked in Lake Altaussee, Obertilliach and Sölden, the latter being the home of the ICE-Q restaurant and the cable cars that feature in a tense sequence with Q.

According to Corbould, the main action sequence in Austria proved very complicated, technically. "We had planes hanging on high wires coming down the valley approaching one of our villains and his men who are in Range Rovers," he explains.

"Then the plane wings hit a tree before it lands. It's going down the hill using its engines to propel itself but it's on the ground. Hence, we built planes that had skidoos inside so they are actually being driven."

Corbould and his team used eight different planes that were involved in a number of separate rigs. Two of the planes could actually fly, while another two were fitted to the wire rig. Another four planes were carcasses fitted with hidden skidoos, which the stunt team could use to drive the plane down the mountainside, ensuring total control.

"It is a matter of getting the right vehicle for the right terrain and incorporating it and hiding it inside the relevant vehicle," Corbould says. "In SPECTRE, our sequence sees the plane smash into a barn and it explodes out the other end, dropping from 20 feet."

When shooting this sequence, the SPECTRE team added ten sheds and a barn to the area in which they filmed. Eight of the sheds were found in the local mountains nearby and were bought and rebuilt on the set. A total of 20 miles of reclaimed wood siding was used to create the remaining sheds and the barn, which the plane smashes through.

The biggest challenge in Austria, however, lay elsewhere. "Initially, in Austria, there was no ice or snow," Corbould says. "All our preparations were delayed and we had to travel quite a few miles to a different location to test the plane rigs and skidoos."

Indeed, so unseasonal was the weather in Austria that the filmmakers had to make 400 tonnes of man-made snow to cover the hillside, which would normally be blanketed in white. "Austria was a full-on sequence," notes Corbould, "and then we went straight into Rome."

In Rome, the filmmakers shot for four days at the Museo della Civilta Romana, which doubled for a cemetery where Bond first sees the widow, Lucia. The second unit then spent a further 18 nights over the course of three weeks shooting the stunning night-time car chase sequence, where Bond in his Aston Martin DB10 and Hinx in a Jaguar C-X75 race through the city streets.

"We always try to do things on screen that have never been seen before," says producer Barbara Broccoli, "and the result is that in Rome we had the most spectacular car chase. It is something that we feel very proud of and I think also that the Romans will feel very proud as well."

The logistics, however, were difficult to marshal. "In Rome we saw a load of roads we liked and sometimes the road is specific to a stunt because it had a feature which would be really nice to jump," says Gary Powell.

"A lot of the time when we asked for permission we would get a yes, but some of the time we'd get a no, so we would have to try and find other roads. It was a constant process to find the right location to fit the stunts. There was a lot of toing and froing in Rome."

In the end, the filmmakers were able to shut down key portions of the city, including a section alongside the Tiber, looking towards St. Peter's Square and the Coliseum. Though the audience will only ever see two cars on screen, the second unit used a total of eight Aston Martins and seven Jaguars to shoot the chase.

Corbould, meanwhile, points out that the Rome car chase allowed no room for error. "The stunt drivers were driving around Rome at 100mph, so absolutely everything had to be perfect as far as their performance was concerned," he says.

"We didn't want the drivers to get injured and also we didn't want them damaging buildings that are thousands of years old. The stakes were pretty high. We spent a lot of time testing the cars, making sure they could cope with the punishing regime that the guys put them through."

For the filmmakers, the most punishing location was Morocco. Here the main SPECTRE team filmed in Tangier and Erfoud, while the Second Unit also shot in the city of Oujda in the northeast of the county. While the cities were pleasant places to work, the Sahara desert outside Erfoud was much more challenging.

When out in the desert, the filmmakers had to make sure that everyone within a 20-mile radius knew to expect loud explosions, the locations department driving out to speak to villagers and the nomad tribes. Indeed, local nomads were hired as guides and security throughout prep and filming.

To make things even more challenging, a huge sand storm blew in on the first day of filming in Erfoud, shutting down production for the entire afternoon; there was no visibility. The crew had to take cover in their vehicles as winds reached 50mph. The temperature in Erfoud was an average of 113 degrees Fahrenheit and reached 50-degrees on the hottest day.

Here the special effects team oversaw what might well be the largest movie explosion ever. The team brought in over 2,100 gallons of kerosene to fuel the massive blast. "It is most definitely the biggest explosion of my career," says Corbould. "It was complicated to plan and to pull off but it was more than worth it."

Back in England, the filmmakers faced a number of very different challenges when co-ordinating their scenes in London. Key external locations included City Hall, The Home of the Mayor and London Assembly - which appears as the Centre for National Security - as well as a number of bridges along the River Thames. Westminster Bridge, in particular, plays a pivotal role in the climax and a section of this was built at Pinewood.

Supervising Locations Manager Emma Pill explains, "We have a river sequence that was all set at night, and involved a high-speed boat and a low-flying helicopter chase, which raised many organisational challenges."

For each of the six night-shoots the filmmakers had to seek the support of the Port of London Authority. "The scheduling was very complicated," says Pill, "due to the amount of events taking place in London at the time, including the General Election, the State Opening of Parliament and three weekends of Trooping the Colour."

In order to complete the scenes with low-flying helicopters, the filmmaker had to send out 11,000 letters to residents and businesses that fell within the fly zone. "The biggest challenge, however, was to light the river at night," says Pill. "This involved weeks of preparation. We lit under each arch of Vauxhall, Lambeth and Westminster Bridge, 17 arches in total.

"These lights then remained in position for five weeks. We also lit the river from 10 rooftops along the bank of the Thames from Vauxhall Bridge to Hungerford Bridge, working with Lambeth Palace, Tate Britain, and the Royal Parks to gain permission. We also worked very closely with the House of Commons, County Hall and The London Eye to keep various lights on/off, or to change the colour of their lights for each night-shoot."

Each night-shoot involved a location team of nearly 200 personnel that included marshals, security, traffic management and police officers. "That's a lot of radios to hand out and coordinate on a night," laughs Pill, "but it ran extremely smoothly each time."


The latest Bond vehicles

The 24th James Bond movie, Spectre, marks a milestone in the 50-year relationship between the film series and the car manufacturer Aston Martin who, for the very first time, have built a car specifically for the film. The likes of the iconic DB5, which debuted in 1964's Goldfinger, the DBS from 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service and the V8 Volante from 1987's The Living Daylights - to name but a few - were all cars that were available for public purchase. The new DB10, however, is something else entirely.

The DB10 is a concept car. It has a chassis that is based on a modified V8 Vantage, though with a longer wheelbase, and it boasts a 4.7-litre V8 engine. It has an estimated top speed of 190 mph and can get from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds. The sleek car features a shark-inspired nose where the grille sits in shadow, tucked back beneath the main feature line. This new interpretation of the classic Aston grille hints at the car's stealthy character

All of the car's body panels are carbon fibre, which is exposed on the sills and diffuser, and it features a full clamshell bonnet with a heat mapped perforation pattern, ensuring that there is no need for a vent surround. In a move designed to recall the DB5, the designers worked hard to make sure that when seen in profile, the DB10 has one elegant shoulder line, running from front to back.

The DB10 is the sixth different Aston to appear in a James Bond movie, and only ten of these concept cars were built. Eight were employed to film key scenes in Spectre, while the other two were manufactured for promotional use. One of these extra vehicles will be auctioned off for charity next year.

When designing the car, Aston Martin invited Skyfall and Spectre director Sam Mendes to offer his input. "I felt very involved," says the Oscar-winning director. "I don't know whether it was Aston's brilliance at making me feel that way or whether I genuinely was. But I went and saw the initial model and I was particularly concerned with removing unnecessary details.

"I wanted a car that had clean, clear lines," he adds, "something classic where it is almost impossible to place its year of birth. The car felt like it was born anywhere between the early '70s and now."

The car features in a breath-taking night chase that careens through the streets of Rome, as Hinx (played by Dave Bautista) gives chase in a Jaguar C-X75, another high-tech concept car. Jaguar also has a strong relationship with the James Bond films and the C-X75 proves a great match for the DB10.

"The C-X75 programme represents the pinnacle of Jaguar's engineering and design expertise," says Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar's Global Brand Director. Indeed, the C-X75 has a combined power output in excess of 850bhp thanks to its state-of-the-art, Formula 1-inspired, 1.6-litre turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder powerplant.

With its seven-speed transmission, the car can sprint from 0-100mph in less than six seconds. The very first C-X75 prototype exceeded 200mph in testing, and the car has a theoretical maximum velocity of 220mph. Spectre's stunt co-ordinator, Gary Powell, was blown away by its power. "The Jag was so powerful that we had to tone down the engine so the throttle response wasn't so aggressive," he says. Seven Jaguars were used to film the Rome chase sequence.

As it happens, the Jaguar C-X75 isn't the only car that Hinx drives. The muscled henchman also clambers into a Land Rover for a scene that unfolds in the Alps. A number of Land Rover vehicles were used in the scene and each had to be fitted-out to make sure it was safe for the stunts that ensued.

Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould explains, "We had to fit safety roll bars into all these vehicles when we were in Austria. We then had to give them back to Land Rover to do all the interior trim, so that the roll bars are hidden from view."

The black four-wheel drives feature in the snow during a stunt sequence with an aircraft, the Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, a 1960s British light utility aircraft that Bond uses to chase after Hinx during a crucial action sequence. Although designed in the 1960s, several hundred BN-2 Islanders are still in service with commercial operators. The British Army and police forces in the United Kingdom also use the aircraft to this day.

In all, eight aircraft were used on a variety of stunt rigs. Two of the planes were fully operational. These were hired machines and were painted with a washable black paint. A further two shells were built for use on a wire rig, which guided the plane over the top of the 4x4s and crashed it through a specially constructed barn. Four planes more were built as carcasses and then fitted with internal skidoos.

"This means that when the plane crashes in the film, our stunt team could drive the plane downhill with the skidoos," says Chris Corbould. "It looks as though it is out of control, but we are in fact steering the plane, which has lost its wings, from inside the carcass."

Other notable vehicles in Spectre include three different helicopters. A light utility McDonnell Douglas MD500E features in Morocco while a lightweight, twin-engine AgustaWestland AW109 forms an integral part of the climax on Westminster Bridge in London.

The most notable chopper, however, is probably the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 another light, twin-engine machine, which stars in the thrilling sequence that unfolds in Mexico City. The Bo 105 was piloted by the Red Bull aerobatic helicopter stunt pilot, Chuck Aaron, whose machine was built especially for barrel-rolling and free-diving.

Due to the altitude in Mexico City, Aaron had to rein in his aerobatics though in the exciting scene above the city's main square, the Zocalo, he flew just 30 feet above the extras while two stuntmen hung onto the exterior of the machine trading punches.

"The Mexico City sequence climaxes with a spectacular fight inside a helicopter that is out of control," says Mendes. "It is being flown by an incredible stunt pilot, Chuck Aaron, who does amazing things. It's a spectacular moment and unlike anything we've ever seen in a James Bond movie."

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