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That Time Quantum Of Solace Pulled An Iron Man And Started Shooting The James Bond Movie Without A Script

Daniel Craig in the desert looking banged up in Quantum of Solace.

It’s insane to think that in the case of a movie like 2008’s Iron Man, there was barely a script to speak of when it came time to shoot. Though that wasn’t the only film released that year that kicked things off with a similar lack of foundation, as Quantum of Solace, the big James Bond follow-up to the blockbuster that was Casino Royale, found itself in a similar predicament. Which, of course, led to EON Productions pulling an Iron Man and shooting without a script.

At least, that’s what James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli admitted during the interview at the heart of Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story. Recalling how the industry knew that the 2007-2008 Writers Strike was around the bend, Broccoli told the story of how Quantum of Solace saw itself affected by that historic setback. And that wasn’t the only potential strike that could have affected the film, which forced a rather impromptu start:

We knew it was coming, and we hadn’t quite gotten the script right. We didn’t have a director yet. And on the other end was the, there was supposed to be an actor’s strike, the SAG strike. So we were like, 'If we don’t go now, it’s gonna be never-never land.' So we basically started shooting without a script, which is never a good idea. But the script was turned in, and I remember the writer who turned the script in and then picked up his check, and then picked up his placard, and stood outside the studio striking. Anyway, so we were kind of screwed, and we had to all kind of muddle in and try and make the story work, and it wasn’t really working that great. But you know, I look back at the movie, and you know, it’s still a good movie.

If the records of Quantum of Solace’s troubled production are correct, the writer in question that Barbara Broccoli is talking about might have been Casino Royale co-writer Paul Haggis. Noted in an piece that ran in The New York Times in December 2007, Haggis handed in his draft two hours before the WGA strike was to begin, which is absolutely cutting it close in terms of a James Bond movie. Without any chance of a rewrite, it would be up to Daniel Craig, director Marc Forster and the actors to reshape the story on a constant basis.

The end result is something that, at worst, has seen Daniel Craig curse out the circumstances that befell Quantum of Solace in past interviews. But looking at the situation in Being James Bond, the sixth actor to play 007 in the official franchise has a more relaxed look at how things went wrong. Continuing the story of the odd scenario that was Quantum of Solace, Craig sums up the film’s frustrations as follows:

We had a script, it wasn’t completed. It was nearly completed, and then we had a writer’s strike. I mean, the movie kind of works. It’s not Casino Royale, and that was always gonna be... it was, like, literally, 'troubling second album' syndrome. In a way, we could not top Casino. It’s easy to say that. Of course we wanted to top Casino, but, you know…

Unfortunately, Quantum of Solace has become the James Bond movie that few talk about, and unfairly so. While there has been some issues taken with how the story unfolds, the editing of the action sequences that are key to a James Bond movie, and even some of the characters that were presented in the film, there’s still somewhat of a vocal audience that still enjoys the film. But even then, it’s hard not to agree that Quantum of Solace is no Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig and Judi Dench standing in the snow in Quantum of Solace.

Were it the first Daniel Craig film in his James Bond run, the lack of proper script may have played better. Much like Iron Man, Quantum of Solace would have been an unknown quantity being introduced to the world of cinema. But with the expectations of Casino Royale in place, the situation wasn’t ideal for a rosey outcome. Still, Craig and producer Michael G. Wilson don’t write the experience off, as they honored one of the unsung films of the modern era, while also pinpointing what they think went wrong:

Daniel Craig: There’s some really special moments in that film. Very special. I don’t know if that movie adheres together as well as it should, that was just because the story, it wasn’t solid.Michael G. Wilson: We just didn’t get Bond’s journey right in it, which is the key. It wasn’t totally focused on his journey, and I think sometimes we can get too wound up in plot rather than keep to the story, which is an issue for these kind of films.

James Bond’s journey arrives at its epic conclusion, at least in terms of the Daniel Craig run of films, when No Time To Die hits theaters on September 30 in the UK. US fans will only have to wait a week later, with early showings starting on the evening of October 7; the very same day Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig story ends its free rental promotion. So head over to Apple TV and get watching!

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.