Prepare for a return to James Bond's more comic roots. That's the tantalising glimpse into the changing tone of 'Skyfall', the spy's 23rd adventure, offered by Daniel Craig as Yahoo! visits the film's Pinewood Studios set.
“You have to have a script that has the bones of comedy,” Craig tells us. “Comedy in Bond films, for me, comes out of the situations people get into. They're exciting, and hopefully heart-stopping, and the comedy comes out of one-liners and things. When Sam [Mendes] came in, it was key for all of us that there's a lightness of touch in the writing that's not been as evident in the past two.”
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Producer Barbara Broccoli agrees. “It's got those situations where you think, 'You could only see this in a Bond movie,'” she adds. “That's where the wit comes into it.”
Four years have passed since the character's last outing, 'Quantum of Solace', and Craig says the time has been well spent tightening 'Skyfall''s script. “We've all been working for at least two years, in some aspect of tossing ideas around, which you need to start playing around with those things, because you can't make them up on the day.”
It's a key change of pace for Craig's Bond, renowned for its darker, edgier approach to the character. But as the series celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, the desire to honour that legacy is palpable amongst the cast and crew. “We all want this to be the best Bond ever,” declares Broccoli. “And I think it's going to be; I really feel that.”
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It's a typically iconic moment we watch Craig shoot on set. In an impeccably recreated London Underground station – complete with moving tube trains – Bond faces off against the villainous Silva, played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem, by taking aim with his trusty Walther PPK. But before he can go for the kill, Silva detonates an explosion; sending debris flying as the smell of gunpowder fills the 007-Stage.
Craig says he recruited Bardem for the role at a party. “I met him at some fundraising function and I just went, 'Would you be in the next Bond movie?'” he says. “No-one told me that's not how it's meant to happen! He's an incredibly precious actor, but he's not precious about his acting and so he's thrown himself into what he's doing. I smile every time he's on set.”
For Bardem, becoming a James Bond villain meant dealing with his own aversion to guns and violence. On the set of 'No Country For Old Men', the Coen brothers dubbed Bardem “The Spanish Ballerina” because of his distaste for weaponry. “I like peaceful people,” he laughs. “I've worked 28 years and Skyfall will be only the third movie with a gun in my hand. But it's more than having a gun in my hand. It's about creating a profile of a person that would justify that, and that's the tricky part. There aren't many opportunities to construct something behind that violence.”
There are even fewer hints at the film's plot on offer – as Bardem put it, “it's a James Bond movie, everything is top secret” - and Dame Judi Dench is remaining especially tightlipped amidst rumours that her character, M, might die. “How can I possibly tell you that?” she laughs.
But she did say she'd shot her last scene for the film, noting that her final day was announced by the crew with a “Thank you, and seventeen years later...” Perhaps it signified a grand send off for the legendary thespian, who joined the franchise with 1995's GoldenEye. “Seventeen years is a long time,” Dench reflects. “And I don't like the thought that they're going on. If you're in a play at least you're all finished on the same night. Here they're all getting on perfectly well without me!”
Whatever happens, expect 'Skyfall' to be a roller coaster from the start. “We've got a great story, a great cast and a great director,” summarises Craig, “and we're making something that's exciting and is hopefully going to move people.”
'Skyfall' is released in the UK on 26 October 2012.
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