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The pressure is high. Sam Mendes is on his fourth day of shooting Spectre in Mexico City when press arrived on the set, and rain was derailing the day. The crew already shot earlier sequences involving Daniel Craig’s 007, Stephanie Sigman’s Estrella, a fierce explosion and an on-foot chase sequence. Mendes still has a lot to do before he jets off to film in London, and the production schedule leading up to the film’s November 6 release is just as hectic. But the filmmaker and his producers are determined to raise the bar after Skyfall.
When Mendes revealed the next James Bond movie would be titled after the franchise’s most notorious supervillain syndicate, expectations were already high. How will Spectre, which was involved in multiple Bond films of the past, be modernized? Will we see the return of classic characters? Will the infamous Blofeld pop up? Will it be Christoph Waltz? Spectre continues to play in the shadows, and the cast and crew are still keeping their biggest secrets under lock and key. However, we did pick up a few things straight from the set, in an attempt to shed some light.
Spectre Will Up The AnteWhile Quantum of Solace was arguably the worst installment of the Craig-led Bond films, Mendes came in with Skyfall and brought the films back to their glory. "When you come off a successful film, we all felt that we had to keep the momentum going and not rest on our laurels," said producer Michael G. Wilson. "The pressure is there." Production designer Dennis Gassner echoed these sentiments. "Do you see what we’re doing out?" he exclaimed, citing all the extras and set pieces. "I mean, look at that. That’s amazing!"
Keep An Eye On Mr. WhiteWilson and producer Barbara Broccoli were hesitant to speak about any connections Spectre might have with the films that came before it. When asked about any bridges to Quantum of Solace, she bluntly stated, "You have to see the movie." But there will be lots of connections to the previous installments, and as Wilson teased, it has something to do with Jesper Christensen. "I think that we saw that Mr. White showed up [in the Spectre trailer] and he's been there since back in Casino Royale, so something's going on here."
Spectre Won’t Be Two PartsRumors have been buzzing around the blogosphere about Spectre’s alleged connection with Bond 25. It’s been reported that Spectre could have a bigger role to play in the Bond world moving forward and that the story for this film would spill into the next. However, Wilson and Broccoli were adamant that Spectre is a one-film ordeal. "I suppose people feel that there's been a lot of films that don't want to stop, so they double themselves up to make two movies. But this is not the case," said Wilson. When asked how far in advance they typically start thinking about the next installment, Broccoli replied, "I think so much focus is on what we're doing at the moment. The next movie seems very far away."
So Much Detail Went Into The Day Of The Dead Costumes"We did the Carnival down in Rio and that was a big project, but this is much bigger," said Wilson, in reference to the Day of the Dead. Fifteen-hundred local extras were costumed for the opening sequence, and each of them were painted with traditional skeletal makeup and 1,000 were outfitted with costumes. At least 20 people were tasked with designing the skeletons for the affair, while a team of 60 made the costumes and 30 others worked on masks. The makeup process for each of the extras took upwards of two-and-a-half hours to complete — sometimes three. But the scenes will look even grander on screen. With the magic of computers, they will be duplicated around Zocalo Square to give the impression of 10,000 extras.
On That Idris Elba-Bond RumorThere’s been an online campaign to get Idris Elba as Daniel Craig’s 007 successor. That infamous Sony hacking fiasco resulted in a leaked email from Amy Pascal that revealed the former Sony exec thought the Heimdall actor should be the next Bond. In an interview with the press, Wilson said, "I think he’d make a great Bond." Even if he is a contender, though, the decision is far from official. As Broccoli described, "I think it's always like asking a woman, who is going up the aisle, who her next husband is going to be. Daniel Craig is Bond. So ask me when we're looking for a new Bond, which will hopefully not be for a long time."
Daniel Craig Has An Open-Ended ContractMuch like a contract with Marvel, which typically entails signing up for multiple movie appearances from the start, the Bond contract doesn’t have too many actors racing to pick up the torch. "People have to be talked into it. It takes over your life," said Wilson, while Broccoli revealed that Craig was one who needed convincing. Though Craig placed a mist over his future in the Bond franchise, the producers said he has an "open-ended contract," which implies that he can decide on a case-by-case basis when he wants to permanently park his Aston Martin.
Will There Be Any Cats In Spectre?When Bond fans think of Spectre, Blofeld usually comes to mind. The leader of the counter-intelligence syndicate is a master of disguise and is hellbent on world domination. However, Wilson and Broccoli were not about to make any sort of declarations when they still had a ton more filming to do. That said, a journalist asked if there were any cats in the movie — a valid question. Blofeld is famous for stroking his white lap cat. But this isn’t the producers’ first merry-go-‘round with the press. They saw right through it. Although, their answer raises some questions. "That's a good question. I don't think we can say," said Wilson. "You wouldn't think of a white one with a little diamond collar." Did they just answer the question by not answering it?
Rome And Mexico City Were The Most Challenging To FilmSpectre still has a great deal left to film -- and in other exotic locations, no less -- but so far Rome and Mexico City brought the biggest challenges. Alexander Witt, second unit director of photography, explained how they had to (1) section off highly trafficked zones of Mexico City in order to create a contained space. And (2) the crew had to find a way to fill said space with all the extras. In Rome, however, they filmed in 12 different locations and "closed down some streets that haven’t been closed for I don't know how many years." Plus, they only had a limited amount of time to film the scenes they needed, which applied an even greater pressure to get everything right in the first few takes. But these challenges also imply that these spots will host some of the film's bigger scenes. Wilson later told the press that there's a big nighttime car chase in the streets of Rome.
The Mexican Government Did Not Influence The ScriptOne of the more recent Bond rumors centered around a leaked email that revealed Sony was accepting a whopping $20 million paycheck from the Mexican government to incorporate changes in the script. This allegedly included casting a Mexican actress, highlighting the Mexico City architecture and changing around certain characters and settings. Broccoli assured press that these accusations were false. "The script had been in existence for a long time. The Mexican part had always looked good," she said. "In the script it was always the Day of the Dead, and we've had tremendous cooperation from the departments and, more importantly, the public."
Fans Have Been Correctly Piecing Together The PuzzleThe title Spectre unleashes a flurry of questions, and the first teaser trailer created a lot more. What's the real deal with Christoph Waltz's Oberhauser? Who are those people in Bond's old photograph? What's the backstory between Bond and Mr. White? What did Oberhauser mean when he said, "It's been a long time"? Fans already have attempted to piece together the grander puzzle, and according to Wilson, some of them are right on the money. "We wanted to create something that was a teaser and a bit of a puzzle and a mystery. From what I saw online, people are putting it together in a clever way," he said.
"Never Say Never" To A James Bond Jr. MovieAs Sony recently won the film rights to Spectre, it opened the door to potentially include other classic Bond characters and storylines in future installments. But what about something as crazy as James Bond Jr.? The nephew of 007, Bond Jr. first appeared in a 1967 spinoff novel and he later appeared in an animated series in 1991. Though Broccoli got a good laugh out of this question from the press, she said, "Never say never." However, the producers are positive Bond won't endure the "shared cinematic universe" treatment. "Like Bond and Mission: Impossible?" asked Wilson. "I think that's the stuff for comic books. More power to them."
We'll have more coverage from the set of Spectre, including interviews with the cast, as we get closer to the film's release.