In 2006, the interpreter of Vesper Lynd had agreed to tell from the inside his adventure on this film – rebroadcast this evening on Canal + – which was to change his career. Flashback.
That’s it, all James Bond are visible on MyCanaland this weekend, Dying can wait, the very last episode of the saga, will be broadcast on Canal +. To wait, the channel is programming all of Daniel Craig’s opuses tonight: Casino Royale at 9:11 p.m., then Quantum of Solace at 11:33 p.m., Sky Fall at 1:16 a.m. and Spectrum at 3:34 a.m., as well as a special episode of the show Tchi Tcha devoted to 007. So if you like the famous British spy, Eva Green and/or watch movies until the end of the night, this special evening is made for you! To wait, First invites you to reread the logbook of the interpreter of the unforgettable Vesper Lynd.
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ARRIVAL ON THE PROJECT
When the cast of Casino Royale started, I knew the producers wanted to see me, but I had some reservations. Not wanting to be a James Bond girl, for example… But when my agent managed to get hold of the screenplay, I immediately shared his enthusiasm. In fact, I was very surprised because, generally in Bond, the role of girls is confined to the cliché of the submissive Barbie doll. This glamorous aspect makes people dream. From the reading of Casino Royale, I feel a new tone. Vesper Lynd’s character is anything but a bimbo. The remarkable screenplay by Paul Haggis reminds me of the world of films with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in the 1940s. It’s human and romantic without falling into sentimentality.
I get an appointment for a casting. And, from there, everything goes off the rails. The tests take place the next day in Prague, where filming has already begun! I have to learn a text pad in less than 24 hours. Panicked, I can’t sleep at night! And a few hours later, I find myself face to face with Daniel Craig… In the room, I am greeted by producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, apparently very happy to see me. I come out of it with the feeling that everything went well and I leave for New York where I live at that time, with a light heart. But as soon as I set foot in JFK, I get a phone call. I have to take the first plane to Prague for new tests. So I get back on the plane and watch the cast again, this time with a scene on a train. The atmosphere is extremely professional, all filmed in 35 mm. I admit that, again, I’m a little freaked out. Barbara and the team do everything to make me feel comfortable. Daniel also supports me as much as possible. But that’s not enough for me. I’m nauseous, I feel bad. Daniel then takes my hands and says: “Don’t worry, I’ve been there too and I know how terrible it is”. And there, I gradually understand, faced with the debauchery of the means used, that the tests carried out two days earlier must have been technically of poor quality: because of the sound and the light, they had not been able to judge me! Not to mention that they also want to make sure that my level in English is sufficient.
The result comes three days later. The answer is positive… So I have to fly the next day to the Bahamas, where filming continues. The prospect of this new adventure delights me and stresses me at the same time. I’m starting to tell myself that I’ll never have time to prepare properly, given the amount of dialogue to play.
Here I am in the Bahamas. We are at the end of February and my first week on site is devoted to costume trials. In parallel, I also work thoroughly on English with my coach of Kingdom of Heaven. Vesper Lynd being English, my accent must be perfect, with specific intonations and phrasing. And my coach is ideal for that: very precise, very boring in the good sense of the term, intuitive about acting, she knows how to adapt. She is anything but a frustrated actress.
This week of work also confirms my first impression: what immediately seduced me on reading the script was the role. Vesper’s dialogues are full of puns. As such, she is truly Bond’s equal. Like him, she plays a lot on irony. They almost look like twins. When one starts a sentence, the other finishes it. This is the first Bond where the dialogues are so important. Bond is as smart and charming as ever. But we discover a new facet in him: his emotional side. He is suddenly human. And Vesper, while glamorous, is not an icon. They are both down to earth. The love story that unites them will build the Bond that we have known through the other films, the seductive, heartthrob Bond, very little invested in his relationships with women.
After a week of intensive work, the day of my first scene arrives. It is supposed to take place in the city of Venice… so recreated in the Bahamas! Bond announces to Vesper his desire to give up everything for her. And a love scene ensues. Not the easiest way to jump into the water! When I arrive on the set, I am shocked by the number of paparazzi present who try to shoot me in a bathing suit.
In the Bahamas, we do not live behind closed doors. Daniel like me have echoes of what the press has been reporting on us for several months. Daniel is very affected by it. It puts extra pressure on his shoulders: Bond is like the Queen in Great Britain, a national monument! For my part, everything that is written seems stupid to me. He is criticized for being blond and not knowing how to drive a car… I’m sure all this will seem surreal afterwards but, at the time, he has difficulty taking it.
For my part, I learn soon enough from my mother (Marlène Jobert) that, shortly before my first shoot, this same people press announced that the studios wanted to fire me while giving precise details on the way in which I was playing, even though I hadn’t shot a single shot! That’s Bond too. It attracts gossip! This is the arena of circus games!
After three days of filming in the Bahamas, we are leaving for Prague where we are going to stay for two months, with a few visits to Karlovy Vary. In this city, the whole team is gathered in a hotel similar to that of shining smaller and not recommended for claustrophobics. But it brings us closer. Because Bond is also a family with Barbara Broccoli in the role of mama! She does not only have a financial relationship with this project. She puts her blood in the fight! And probably because she’s a woman, I finally talk to her more than to Martin (Campbell)!
At the level of the game, I take a lot of pleasure. I, who am not at all physical, find myself running in high heels, I wield a pistol and I also have the right to underwater sequences for which I took diving lessons and learned to hold my breathing. But Vesper is however more a cerebral than a action girl. So there are a lot of actual game scenes. And there, Martin fully trusts Daniel. He lets us. Before each scene, we agree on the acting intentions, especially since Martin is above all an action director. He knows exactly what he wants and how to do it. On the set, behind the monitor, he looks like an overexcited child.
From day one, Daniel is very “paternal”. He keeps asking me if everything is fine and I hardly dare to answer him so shy I am. Our report recounts the friendly and family atmosphere of the shoot. The big machine aspect of Bond, I discover it especially with the promotion. Never have I done so much press during a shoot. On the set, the journalists do not stop scrolling with a question in their mouths: “So what does it feel like to be a James Bond girl? “Each time, I explain again who Vesper Lynd is. But that’s part of the game
After Prague, we leave for Lake Como. A magical place. At the precise location of the scene of Attack of the Clones where Natalie Portman walks in a pre-Raphaelite setting. This house that seemed fake does exist. It belonged to an explorer without an heir and has been transformed into a museum that looks like something straight out of a dream
Once the scenes of Como are in the box, we go to Venice to shoot an action scene outdoors. And, of course, the paparazzi are back! As we are on a boat, they machine-gun us from the bridge. It looks like a photocall in Cannes. It’s complete rubbish ! Obviously impossible to stop them but it makes it difficult to concentrate
On set, I often ask for extra takes. And, each time, Marin gives them to me. He does a lot himself because he multiplies the angles of shots. Sometimes 30 or 40! This shooting allows me to learn how to keep freshness in my acting. And, as the days go by, I feel more and more at ease. I know myself by heart. Each time, at the start, I am always very stuck, anxious not to be up to it. It’s pretty masochistic, I admit. But the adrenaline of these moments boosts me. I need to work a lot, like I pass exams every day
Once the shots in Italy were finished, we left to finish the shooting in London on location and in Pinewood studios: scenes where a “nice” gentleman threw me into an elevator, locked me in a Venetian house that was leaking and where Bond tries underwater to save me. It is in this last straight line that it is the most difficult to keep your momentum. We are late, there are more action scenes than pure acting. We are often summoned for a whole day without ever setting foot on the set. It’s human that the team loses a little of its energy, in such a marathon shoot. But not Martin! I don’t know what he swallows in the morning but he never weakens. He really is an army general!
Throughout filming and even in this home stretch, every day, I rehearse with my coach. This work is only centered on the dialogues and the rendering of a very posh English accent. She is also a voice teacher thanks to whom I learn to control my breathing. Playing in English requires very different music from French. And for that, we even work on Shakespeare whenever we have free time. Nevertheless, the doubts do not leave me and it is my coach who will see the rushes for me and note the takes where the result is the best. She will even then work hand in hand with the editor and I will never be able to thank Martin enough for having accepted this situation. I have a lot of trouble looking at myself on the control screen. It paralyzes me in my game. It’s negative narcissism, I know. But I can’t help it. The total confidence I have in my coach allows me to avoid this torture
And then comes the last day. And as in all shootings that go well, I’m sad to leave those with whom I had created links
As I finish this diary, I have yet to see the film. I only hope that it will be faithful to the scenario and that the action will not prevail over the rest, even if necessarily it will occupy a significant place. In any case, the mere presence of Daniel Craig reassures me. Being in the front row, I found him incredible and so invested in his character that we felt very well on the set that Bond was dangerous and sexy at the same time. An explosive mix that’s the best answer to all the bullshit we’ve heard
Even before the film came out, I felt a renewed interest in myself. There, I will leave to turn At the crossroads of the worlds, the kingdoms of the North by Chris Weitz. I’ll play a nice witch in it. And since this witch flies, I will have to work on her gestures. I think I’m having a lot of fun. Once again !
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