IN NEWS that will stir (and shake) the imagination of Bond fans around the world, it has been announced that 007 will be returning for his 24th outing on the big screen – to be named Spectre, and directed by Sam Mendes.
The British agent – who will be played for the fourth time by Daniel Craig – is to take on a sinister organisation with links to his past in the next instalment of the blockbuster spy series and will face a showdown with one of his most enduring enemies.
The film is named after the shadowy terrorist organisation created by Bond author Ian Fleming, which first appeared in his 1961 novel Thunderball. It is an acronym for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, and is led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Brit director Mendes – who helmed the previous Bond film Skyfall, the most lucrative in the series to date – unveiled a new cast at the official launch at Pinewood Studios yesterday and even a souped-up car; an Aston Martin DB10. He also hinted that Bond will have licence for “a little more mischief”.
“We’ve got to be bigger and better than Skyfall. It’s as simple as that,” Craig said during the launch.
The actor revealed that he had had a role in shaping the script along with Mendes and the writers, adding: “I’m allowed free rein – what a gig.”
Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, the sadistic villain Col. Hans Landa of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, is to play a character called Oberhausen – the name of the climbing and skiing instructor from Fleming’s books, who taught Bond while he was a pupil at Edinburgh’s Fettes College.
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It is not yet clear whether there is any connection between Waltz’s screen role and Blofeld. Bond producers regained the rights to the use of the name Blofeld a year ago, so the expectation is that the character will appear in the film.
Sherlock star Andrew Scott will also feature in the movie. The 38-year-old Irishman, best known for his maniacal performance as arch-villain Moriarty in the BBC1 drama series, is to play one of the Whitehall staff, Denby.
Italian actress Monica Bellucci and French actress Léa Seydoux, who shot to fame last year in Blue is the Warmest Colour, for which she was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, will be Spectre’s Bond girls, Mendes said.
In a teaser description of the plot, Sony Pictures said Bond will receive a cryptic message from his past which will send him on a trail of discovery.
It said: “While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind Spectre.”
The latest film in the Bond franchise, which has grossed more than £4 billion worldwide since its debut, is scheduled for release in November 2015.
Along with Craig, Mendes presented returning cast members Ralph Fiennes, who plays M – having assumed the title after the death of Judi Dench’s character at the close of Skyfall – as well as Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear.
Mendes said shooting would begin on Monday at Pinewood and other locations would include London, Rome, Mexico City, Tangier and the Austrian Alps.
Ajay Chowdhury, who edits the journal of the James Bond International Fan Club, welcomed the announcement and said: “For Bond fans, this is the best Christmas present.”
Speculation has begun as to who will perform the film’s theme song, following Adele’s track for Skyfall, with bookmaker William Hill putting Sam Smith as favourite at 4/1, with Ed Sheeran second at 6/1, while Lana Del Rey, Rita Ora and One Direction are at 8/1.
Mendes said the team were “very excited to be on the verge of shooting” the next instalment.
He added that he was going to keep his head down and not read speculation around the film, as production gets under way.
He said: “The pressure is to not let down the audience. The mark of success of a movie is if the audience loves it, they’ll go and see it and tell their friends.
“My only real job from now on is to not read the internet for a year and just get on with making the movie, because otherwise you get caught up in the white noise.”
He said the new film would have “everything you would expect from a Bond movie but, in terms of the last movie, maybe a little more variety – global, maybe a little more mischief, and hopefully we can tell a story that is fit to stand alongside the others”.
Dave Bautista, a former WWE wrestler who was in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy film, will play henchman Mr Hinx.
He said at the launch: “When I first met Sam, I didn’t have access to the script at the time and I said ‘Is Mr Hinx a badass?’, and he said ‘Absolutely’.”
“Growing up, Sean Connery was my ideal Bond and I think that’s what I like about Daniel so much. He brought back a lot of toughness to Bond,” Bautista added.
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