Veteran James Bond screenwriters have shared some of the secrets to writing 007’s memorable lines.
Neal Purvis and Robert Wade took part in a rare interview for the British Film Institute’s (BFI) celebration of the spy’s 60th birthday on screene anniversary as they looked back on their shared career bringing Bond to life – often, they explained, with another writer to give their words “a polish”.
The couple’s first outing for 007 was for The world is not enough, the third film in the franchise starring Pierce Brosnan. On this occasion, the American writer Bruce Feirstein continued the work. Later Casino Royale – Daniel Craig’s debut – he was given to Paul Haggis to complete. And on last year’s epic, no time to die, Flea bag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge was invited aboard.
“When we’ve finished our work on the script, it’s basically goodbye Rob and Neal,” Purvis told the BBC in London. “With Casino Royale, for example, Paul Haggis took over. And with celestial fall it was John Logan, but he was obviously still working with the director.
The couple’s 15-year collaboration with Daniel Craig as 007 has seen them create a complex narrative, even if it wasn’t cast when they first put pen to paper. Purvis explained:
“So in this case we were writing our story without an actor in mind, but from the original by Ian Fleming Casino Royale novel [published in 1953]. We wrote to his conception of the story as faithfully as possible. Daniel then inhabited the role and of course over time we saw what Daniel could do.
“Daniel’s Bond might have the strength, determination and bravado that Pierce had before him. But the actual dramatic scenes were different, so inevitably the dialogue continued. As soon as Casino Royale the tone has changed.
Asked on this anniversary of the release in 1962 of Dr. Nowith Sean Connery in the lead role, the couple were asked what made this first Bond film so special and the herald of a 60-year-old franchise.
Wade admired Connery’s charismatic presence, but added, “There are other really basic things, like the editing. It’s hard to remember now how revolutionary editing was: it completely changed the way a certain type of film was made.
“If you look Dr. No now – the colors, the cutting, the cinematography, the locations and of course the wonderful music – it always jumps off the screen towards you.