UNI-versal presents: Shaken Not Stirred – Bond: Past, Present & Future
by Anttoni James Numminen
In a once in a lifetime event, students, staff and members of the public were given an opportunity to hear from and speak with a select cast and crew of the James Bond films at King’s College Conference Centre.
photo courtesy of UNI-versal
‘Shaken Not Stirred – Bond: Past, Present & Future,’ organised as part of the University’s brand new UNI-versal festival series, brought actress Martine Beswick, legendary director John Grover, and renowned cinematographer Phil Meheux together for an evening of questions and conversation.
Martine Beswick, who appeared in an iconic fight scene in From Russia With Love (1963) and later starred in Thunderball (1965), talked about her relationship with Sean Connery, describing it as 'total mischief.' But she admitted that though many leading ladies were involved in ‘scandal’ with Connery, that 'was not the case with me.'
Editor John Grover also shared his experiences working with Bond stars, describing Roger Moore as ‘extraordinarily generous’. He told the audience how well Moore would treat all members of the cast and crew: 'John Glen would be getting upset because we were running behind time, and Roger would go out and buy sweets for everyone… very different to Timothy Dalton.'
His career includes classics such as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965), lesser-known films such as The Wild Geese (1978), as well as editing several Bond films, from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) to The Living Daylights (1987).
photo courtesy of the author
Grover, who worked alongside production designer Ken Adam on The Spy Who Loved Me, which had one of the biggest film sets in cinematic history, was asked by The Gaudie whether it was true that Kubrick had secretly come in over a weekend to help with lighting, as various accounts have claimed. He replied that if Kubrick did come in, it was a very well-kept secret as he did not know about it, but he did not rule it out either.
Meanwhile, Phil Meheux talked about his work as cinematographer on some of the most renowned Bond films of the past decades, including both Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s debuts in the film franchise, Goldeneye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006), respectively. He had previously worked on The Long Good Friday (1980) and The Fourth Protocol (1987) with Brosnan.
Meheux described how he ended up working on Goldeneye, admitting that it had never been his ambition to be a part of the film series.
'I’d done a number of films together with director Martin Campbell, and we were working on No Escape (1994), after which he got offered the chance to direct Goldeneye. So, he rang me up and he said, "what do you think?" I said, "if it’s going to look like the other ones, I’m not interested," because the last two films didn’t have much visual interest or creativity, photographically speaking.
'And the producers said that as long as I worked within the bounds of the script, I could do whatever I wanted, so I said "OK."
'After that, we got all the other 17 Bonds which were available on VHS and DVD, and Martin and I sat in a room in Los Angeles with two bottles of wine and some takeaway pizza and we picked apart what we liked and thought we should keep, and what we thought we should move away from.'
Beswick, who was born in Jamaica, recalled her joy at being able to travel abroad when filming Thunderball. Although she described the huge press interest as 'wonderful,' she also admitted that the intense media attention played a part in Connery’s departure from the franchise.
She also rejected suggestions that Bond girls 'were taken advantage of:' 'We had a lot of fun, we made money and each girl is individual, feisty and we’re a real family.'
Grover concurred on the idea that there was a sense of community among those who had been involved with the Bond franchise, with Meheux adding that even though filmmaking 'is about money,' art still plays a part: 'if you give it your all, you’ll get it back.'