SKYFALL EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With Producer Michael G. Wilson
With Skyfall - which has by far become the most successful 007 movie ever -having debuted this week on Blu-ray and DVD, we sat down with producer Michael G. Wilson for a brief - but exclusive - interview to discuss the enduring nature of Bond. James Bond.
Interview conducted by Edward Gross
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Obviously it's the 50th anniversary of Bond on film and SKYFALL was the 23rd movie, but is it nonetheless amazing to you that this legacy continues?
MICHAEL WILSON: It IS amazing. I don't think anybody thought we'd be talking about the same company making these for 50 years. I think once a fictitious character becomes part of the culture, they'll come back like Sherlock Holmes does or Superman or Batman, but usually it's sort of waxes and wanes and is not a continuous thing. It IS amazing, though it's not something anyone would have predicted - although they did start out making a series of pictures. Who would have thought [laughs]? it would have been very ambitious to think it would still be going on.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: One of the things that's always impressed me about what you guys have done, and I'm just curious what triggers it, is knowing WHEN to shake things up. MOONRAKER, for example, was a very successful movie. DIE ANOTHER DAY was enormously successful, but then you shifted gears like you did after MOONRAKER and became more serious. What triggers that; makes you say it's gone as far as it's can?
MICHAEL WILSON: When you start down a particular path, being a more fantastical or more of a fantasy, what happens is that you realize that you start to unconsciously try to top yourself. You get to a point where you have to realize to go on like this is ultimately going to lead to disaster. There's the old expression "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," well that doesn't apply to these kind of situations, because you have to reinvent yourself BEFORE it gets broke. Do you know I mean? CASINO ROYALE was a complete reinvention after DIE ANOTHER DAY, and GOLDENEYE was reinventing itself after the Cold War in a different way, becuase there the question was is Bond still relevant? And as you pointed out, after MOONRAKER, again a very, very successful film, to sort of go back down to Earth with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and being more rooted in reality was something important for us to do.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: The pattern with each of those shifts seems to be to make the series more grounded, but as they continue from that point it has tended to more to more and more escapism. Is it tough to avoid that; where you don't slip back into that area?
MICHAEL WILSON: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. That's what you have to do, because if you don't, you will meander off and when you do that, you start jeopardizing the future. With a guy like Daniel Craig, in a film like SKYFALL, he's a very grounded guy. I think because he's such a great actor in that, you want to give him challenges, more of what he can do. You want to give Bond an interesting, emotional story. That's the challenge that we give the writers, and we've managed to keep on track with that. I think SKYFALL is a very down to Earth piece. It's rooted in reality the way CASINO ROYALE was.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: In the history of the series, it's taken the actors several movies to sort of lock into the character completely, but Daniel seemed to do it right out of the gate.
MICHAEL WILSON: He's an excellent actor. I think SKYFALL really establishes him. From CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE, he needed to get over Vesper and get out of that dark space he was in. By doing that, it does allow him to become more of a Bond.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Obviously SKYFALL was the biggest Bond ever. What do you think Sam Mendes brought to the film as director?
MICHAEL WILSON: First of all, because he was the director, we got an incredible cast. It's the best cast we've ever had. And then they put themselves in his hands, because he's a good director. I think the performances are outstanding and that brings a lot to the film.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Are you guys ready to keep going now at this point?
MICHAEL WILSON: We would have been out with one two or three years ago if MGM hadn't had their financial difficulties, but now we're ready to kind of pick up where we left off.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: We've spoken a number of times over the years, and one of the recurring themes of the conversations has been the challenge of writing these things and keeping the series going. Has that challenge changed at all?
MICHAEL WILSON: No [laughs]. It's still very hard. I think if you're ambitious about making it more than just an action fantasy, then the writing challenges are very hard indeed. And always will be.
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