It's fair to say that Marc Forster wasn't overcome with enthusiasm when he was asked to direct the 22nd Bond movie. "I thought, Maybe you have the wrong director," he laughs. "I actually wasn't interested at first." Best known for small, character-driven dramas like Finding Neverland and The Kite Runner, the Swiss director was worried a big-budget flop could ruin his career. Then he met Daniel Craig. "I felt he was such an interesting actor that with him it could be really inspiring," Forster says. "Plus, I'd just read a quote from Orson Welles; someone asked him his biggest regret in life and he said, 'That I never made a commercial movie.' "
How does the film build on Casino Royale?
At the end of the last film, Bond was in a very vulnerable position, betrayed by the person he loved – which is a great setup for this sequel which starts 20 minutes after the last one ended. Obviously he has that revenge motive driving him forward, but I wanted to take him deeper into his character and emotion – what it does to an assassin to lose someone, what that death means to him on a psychological level. I don't want to psychoanalyze Bond; the mystery of Bond speaks to why he is so successful, but emotionally you want so much to connect with him.
How did you make Bond your own?
I always loved the early Bonds – Dr. No, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service – so I really wanted to create a film that is slightly retro with a '60s-'70s style, a bit of Hitchcock thriller and Parallax View influence, but with a modern twist so it's still very 21st century. To mix the two. I used location juxtapositions, like between the famous Siena horse race and a car chase, and there's a very Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse game with a DC-3 in the desert that speaks to North by Northwest. In terms of framing, there is a stylistic nod to conspiracy films of the 1970s.
Why do men still identify with James Bond?
Daniel Craig brought that identification back, made him human again. It had become harder to identify with Bond because he was not on the ground anymore – like in the last Pierce Brosnan movie, when the cars became invisible. But with Daniel, he's one of the boys. He's not perfect; he has these dark sides and demons inside him that he's struggling with. At the same time, you want to be him, because he gets to live that life of adventure and has all these beautiful women around him.
Has Bond evolved over the past 40 years?
During the Cold War, there were clear lines between "good guys" and "bad guys." Then, you served God and country; today, who do you serve? Times have changed so much it's unclear who the villains and heroes are. It's interesting to have an agent who is part of a secret agency, but what does that agency stand for – protecting the people of a country or its own selfish interests? How much can you trust it? It's more true since 9/11 than ever. Bond is a good guy, following what he believes is the right thing to do, even if he goes against the authorities. We live in times where we easily give in to authority, not like the '60s – that spirit doesn't exist anymore. I think this movie is the most political Bond ever made.
We're dealing with natural resources. With the price of oil rising at the same time as a water crisis, all the natural resources that we took for granted have become such a huge issue. There's a scene in the film where a foreign minister basically says to M, "If we didn't do business with villains, who would we do business with?" I believe we have to be conscious about where the world is at this moment. It's a ticking time bomb we're sitting on, and if we don't wake up, we're going to destroy ourselves.