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A Vengeful Bond Seeks Solace

With Quantum of Solace, director Marc Forster takes up where Casino Royale left off. Tormented by the loss of his one true love, Vesper Lynd, Daniel Craig-as-James Bond is out for revenge, no matter where it leads him.

Olga Kurylenko

The Ukrainian bombshell weighs in on the evolution of the Bond girl.

Olga Kurylenko is a new kind of Bond Girl


What inspired you to become a Bond girl?
Olga Kurylenko: When I heard they were casting for the film, I remembered how great Casino Royale was. [With Daniel], I thought, "They just started a new era of Bonds," and that really inspired me.


I also thought the Bond woman character had changed, become more interesting. Vesper Lynd [Eva Green's character in Casino Royale] had a real personality. [I thought], "It must be so much more interesting to play a Bond girl now than it was before."


Were you disappointed or happy that Camille is the first Bond girl who doesn’t have any love action with 007?
OK: I was happy. I think it’s totally logical in this particular film, knowing the story and what they are driven by and what they are going for, and also knowing what James Bond just came out of. He just lost this woman he loved. He is not really ready to fall in love again. Camille is also unavailable because she is just focused on getting back at that person who caused the death of her family. She can’t break it now, by going into some romance with some guy.


Was that woundedness something that attracted you to Camille?
OK: She is a character with her own mission, she has her own story. She’s strong and independent. At the same time she is vulnerable; she has this internal scarand an external one, too, actually.


How are you handling the pressure of such a big film?
OK: It’s just very exciting, and it’s also a lot of work. Daniel is my inspiration. He just deals with this so well. He is the star of this movie, and he keeps his cool, and he says we should enjoy it. He’s right. For me, it happens only once! He will be Bond in other films. But Bond girls never come back.

Bond. James BondWhat makes this Bond different from all the rest? With fire in his eyes and one track on his mind, Daniel Craig is smoking hot as this vengeful iteration of our favorite British agent. In his quest for vengeance, Bond goes rogue on a global manhunt, and doesn’t even seem interested in getting into the pants of his should-be love interest, a different kind of Bond girl with the can’t-quite-place-it look of a multicultural chameleon. [Spoiler alert: Don’t worry, ladies. Bond has not been completely de-sexed. His dalliance with fellow-agent Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton)—one of the best Bond girl names ever—is indeed consummated.]


The first-name-only Camille (a supposed Bolivian played by Ukrainian stunner Olga Kurylenko) doesn’t seem to be under Bond’s spell either. Her eye is similarly focused on revenge, so when she and Bond join forces, they are virtually unstoppable.


To capitalize on the narrative set up by Casino Royale, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were looking for a filmmaker with a knack for storytelling. For this scorch-and-burn Bond, they recruited Marc Forster, the director of such narrative films as Finding Neverland and The Kite Runner. The result is a sympathetic 007 who makes women want to take him home, soothe his broken heart, and listen to his sad, sad tale of love gone wrong.


With Quantum of Solace set to explode on screens November 14, Tribeca sat down with Forster to talk about the new direction this film represents, both for the Bond franchise and for Forster's own career.


Marc Forster on Bond


Quantum of Solace
is quite a departure for you. How did you get involved?

Marc Forster: I got a phone call one day, “The Bond producers want to meet you.” Really? That’s a weird call. I said, “Look, I really don’t want to do it, but I am very honored.”


Then I was at home reading an interview with Orson Welles, where he said at the end of his life, his biggest regret was that he “never made a commercial movie.” Hmmmm. Quite serendipitous. So I asked [the producers], “Why me?” They said they didn’t want an action director—they wanted an emotional storyteller.


Were you not interested because of having to follow the other films?
MF: I was not interested because I felt like living a year and a half with that pressure would be intense. And if the film fails, it could really hurt my career with the smaller movies. If it succeeds, the only upside would be that I could make other big Hollywood blockbusters, which is not necessarily my goal. It would be fun once in a while to do a movie like this, but I am completely happy to make smaller films.


What were your terms?
MF: I said, “Look, if I were to do the movie, what would my creative freedom be? I don’t want to be the keeper of the flame, in constant conflict about our visions of Bond. I don’t want to be someone just managing a production; if I do it, I want to direct it. Put my vision and standpoint on it, bring my crew.” They said, “No, that’s why we want you.” Then I met Daniel Craig, and I decided, "Yes!" This man really inspires me. As an actor, he’s creative, interesting, and multi-layered.


But sure, I was nervous. This is the 22nd film in a very successful franchise. Will Ferrell [star of Forster’s Stranger than Fiction] sent me an e-mail that said, “How are you going to sink that boat?” [Laughs.]


Bond Strawberry FieldsIn this film, Bond is very much a wounded animal. He’s in mourning. How did you balance that emotionalism with the dry humor that is the staple of any Bond film?
MF: When we left Bond off in Casino Royale, he lost the love of his life, and there was this pain and this emotional tissue that needed to be a texture of this movie. It gives us more of a glimpse of who Bond is.


But we needed to not take ourselves too seriously. I knew the film would be so intense and so fast, so I thought there wouldn’t be much room for humor. But wherever there was room for it, I tried to inject it, especially in his relationship with M—Judi Dench could be funny and witty. The relationship with Gemma [Arterton, the other Bond girl] is also sort of humorous.


The place with the least amount of humor is with Olga. The two of them [Bond and Olga] are sort of mirror images of each other. They both have that pain, and they are both out for revenge.

How did you create your villain?
MF: Mathieu Amalric, who plays the villain, Mr. Greene] first came to me and said, “Can I have a scar, or a hook, or something?” I said, “No! I have seen that in all these Bond movies, and I just want you to be plain!” He said, “But can’t I have a crutch? It will make me more evil!” So I said, “No, let’s not make it easy on you. We really have to find that evil side with just pure, plain acting.”


Mr. Greene Mathieu AmalricToday the villains and the good guys have shifted. It used to be in the Cold War very clear in those Bond movies. But now Bond and the villain are much more overlapped. I wanted the villain to look like this normal guy, because it’s like, “Who can we really trust these days?” And I thought trust was such a central theme.


Camille is also a departure from other Bond girls.
MF: The women in early Bond movies used to just be the objects of beauty. I felt like it would be good to change the girls a little bit. [See sidebar.]


How important is the plot to you?
MF: I feel like the plot is always a little bit secondary in these movies, [but] it’s important to have a wallpaper of a theme. Having the backdrop of a political reality makes Bond more real. [This film] has a reference to the reality of today—the politics, the environment, natural resources [and the fact that] if someone is green it doesn’t mean they are necessarily good. Like big oil companies who claim they are “green”—totally absurd! That’s why the villain is called “Mr. Greene.”


What did you learn from making such a huge movie?
MF: It doesn’t matter what size of movie you do. All depends on the character, and the connection you make with your character. You can make the most spectacular action sequences, but if you don’t connect with your lead character in an emotional way, it will still feel empty.


Will you direct the next Bond movie?
Cornered BondMF: It was a great experience, and they asked me to come back, but that type and amount of work and pressure for a year and a half is not really a lifestyle I desire. I’d rather do smaller movies, stay at home, have no pressure [smiling]… not be in the microscope of the world media.


Ultimately, life is too short. When I die, if I have twenty DVDs on my shelf or ten, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the lifestyle you lead, the people you love, the people who love you back.


So, since Bond 23 is not in your future, what’s next?
MF: I don’t know. Probably a film of two people in a room talking.


Find your
Quantum of Solace this weekend at a multiplex near you.


If you can't wait until Friday, watch the trailer and download Daniel Craig pictures today.


If you want a Mathieu Amalric double feature, you can also see A Christmas Tale at the IFC Center ths weekend.


She Said/He Said:
I saw this film with a (female) Daniel Craig fan of the highest order. She kept grabbing my arm throughout the film, I think just to reiterate the fact of Craig’s hotness, underscored for her by his soulful despair. She loved this movie.


My other companion, however, was a Bond fan of a more purist bent, and he (note the gender) was not as sold on the emotional narrative. To him, there weren’t enough gadgets (but there really are plenty) and Craig didn’t have enough moments of debonair Bondness, of the shaken-not-stirred variety.

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