Fresh from completing his latest book The Spy I Loved, Bond screenwriter and novelisation writer once again gives us his thoughts on Casino Royale, the selection of Daniel Craig, his new book and many other things.
1. Welcome back to Universal Exports Mr Wood. Thanks for granting us a second interview. First up, what inspired you to write your latest book, The Spy I Loved?
‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.’ Thus spoke the excellent Doctor Johnson and I have to confess that I would probably not have embarked on my book had I not become increasingly aware over the years of the incredible worldwide interest in all things Bondian and associated this with the approaches I have received from fans worldwide for any relics/mementos/reminiscences etc. associated with my participation in the making of the films.
2. Could you tell us a little bit about the book?
The Spy I Loved
I wanted to write something that amused me, as well as the reader, something – perhaps – that in revealing details of the past told me a little more about myself. I have always found writing a splendid form of self-analysis. Novelists/screenwriters seldom need psychiatrists. I had never thought that Timothy Lea, the hero of the Confessions series of books and films that I created and James Bond had anything in common – until I started writing JBTSIL….
3. Can you tell us who designed the cover art for your latest book?
I suggested the cover design. I have never been assailed by crippling attacks of modesty.
4. Now if we may just reflect on some of your past achievements. The Spy Who Loved Me went through a notoriously long winded writing stage. As this is the case, how much of the final version is your own, and how much was conceived by the writers who had worked on it previous to you?
Who wrote what and how in TSWLM is covered in my book. Suffice to say that once I sat down with Lewis Gilbert it was a totally new departure from what had gone before – whilst retaining the character of Jaws.
5. The Bond scripts are usually very collaborative affairs. Therefore, when a line or a scene you liked is cut, is it upsetting or do you just take it on the chin?
I like to think that I can always come up with another line or another scene if something has to be changed. A screenwriter cannot afford to be wedded to a ‘this is carved in stone’ mentality – especially with Bond. Thus, if there was anything that I was particularly attached to that had to be changed – I cannot remember.
6. Had any prior work or scripting commenced on For Your Eyes Only before it was replaced by Moonraker?
James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only???
Tom Mankiewicz had drafted the outline of a story that I was given to read. If this had any influence on the final script I cannot remember.
7. Did you work much with Roger Moore on these two pictures? And if so, what were your impressions of him? Did he cope well with the burden of Bond stardom?
The director works with the star rather more – much, much more - than does the writer (my book recounts an unhappy incidence of writer/actress involvement). I always found Roger approachable and good company. He had no ego and was an excellent team player well-liked by everybody on the crew. My only personal quibble is referred to in my book.
8. If you could rewrite any scene from either of your Bond scripts, what would it be?
There are several scenes in TSWLM and, especially, Moonraker that, with hindsight, I would like to write again. I discuss this in my book and describe alternatives. If limited to one scene it would relate to the appearance of Jaws at the Rio carnival in Moonraker. My 'new, improved' version is set out in James Bond, the Spy I Loved.
9. Were you in the frame to write any more Bond scripts?
Was I in the frame to write more Bond scripts? You need to ask Michael Wilson this – he who has a co-writing credit for several of the movies that succeeded Moonraker.
Rockets play a prominent role in Ian Fleming's Moonraker
10. Other Bond movies have departed radically from the original novels, but (after Spy) Moonraker is perhaps the least influenced by the novel. Why is this?
The stakes in Bond movies had got bigger and bigger. In the book of Moonraker, Drax was planning to take out London with a rocket. Nasty. But nasty and globally-menacing enough after Stromberg’s dastardly scheme to destroy the world in TSWLM? Again, I deal with this point in my book.
11. Last time we interviewed you Daniel Craig had not be selected as Bond number 6. Having witnessed the poor media surrounding his selection, do you expect it to have a negative impact on his acting? Or will it only drive and motivate him further towards success? [Univex note: this interview was condcted before the release of CR]
I imagine that negative criticism will make Craig come out fighting. But, how he plays the part must surely depend on his relationship with the director and, quite possibly, the producers.
12. If you've by any chance been visiting any of the major Bond fansites as of late you'll notice the major rift between those in favour of Craig and those against. With websites such as 'Craignotbond.com', many fans
(in favour of Craig) are angered by media reports suggesting the entire Bond fan community dislikes Craig. What are your thoughts on not only the website (if you've heard of it in the press), but also Craig himself?
The now-closed CraigNotBond.com
I have visited ‘Craignotbond.com’ and been intrigued by the vehemence of its output. It made me wonder who was behind the site – and why? Craig is an excellent actor.
On the other hand, I am totally unaware of any pro-Craig activity – which surprises me.
13. Now that we also know Casino Royale will be the next film, as a Bond fan are you excited about where Bond currently stands?
Even before Brosnan quit the ship I had seen Clive Owen in something and decided that he would make an excellent Bond. He has the physical presence and cool, sardonic, qualmless edge that – for me – 007 needs. Like many others I was surprised that he did not get the nod.
I feel apprehensive rather than excited about Casino Royale. As I have said to you before, I only have happy memories of my time with 007 – something that I hope comes out in my book – and I sincerely hope that Craig and the new movie will be a huge success and carry on the most successful franchise in the history of film for many years to come.
14. And finally, do you have any future projects in the pipeline after the publication of The Spy I Loved'?
At the moment I am working with a couple of actors on an idea for a two-part TV movie – precursor to a series hopefully - that would capitalise on their huge success in a series that ran for six seasons a few years back. We will see. Hopefully, we will see.
A word from the interviewer:
Once again, this is another informative interview from our friend Christopher Wood. I have two people to thank though. Firstly, Fred Piechoczek of Twentyfirst Century Publishers, who offered and organised the interview. Thanks so much Fred! Secondly, and obviously, Christopher for answering a few more questions for us.
Christopher's latest release is the book James Bond, The Spy I Loved, published by Twentyfirst century publishers. The book deals with Christopher's move from the 'Confessions' films to his time as screenwriter of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
Questions written by Adam Farrington-Williams
Buy Christopher Wood's Novels