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Lee Tamahori Talks Die Another Day
Part One: Playing with the 007 formula

It used to be that one director would make several James Bond movies, but starting with Goldeneye, each entry in the series became an opportunity for a new director to try their vision on a 007 film. For Die Another Day, that director is Lee Tamahori.

Tamahori (photo right) toyed with some of the series' conventions. Right at the beginning, the traditional opening iris shot features a CGI bullet zooming towards the camera. The film also includes a lengthy Bond torture scene, which most of the other films have avoided. Of course, there are still the staple action scenes.

A rapid-fire speaker, Tamahori called for an interview from his room at the Four Seasons hotel. Some mild spoilers and plot details of the first act follow, but I've been careful to be as vague as possible and nothing ruins the film's surprises.:

What was the decision to enhance the opening iris shot? That I flung the cartridge, the bullet. Well, I decided to have a lot of fun on this movie. I said, "Guys, can I change some things? I only want to do it for one movie. I don't want you to do it for all of them." When I always saw that shot, I always felt like I was being shot, which you were supposed to feel. I thought, can we for the 20th movie and 40th anniversary, can we fire a bullet straight at the audience and put it in the surround speakers and make people feel like they're being shot? They said, 'Sure, you can do that." It's really done with a touch of love and reverence of the old movies and just shaking up them, but I hope they don't continue with it because I don't think it should become a staple of the movies that follow.

Were you involved with the talk of including Blofeld's daughter in this film? No, I don't know anything about that.

What about the rumor of a Sean Connery cameo? I was very involved in not the rumor, but I wanted a Sean Connery cameo. Michael [G. Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli], with some well-reasoned thought behind it, it was one of the few ideas that was rejected. I think they thought if we put Connery in it with Brosnan, they thought [audiences] were going to get too confused. I'm not so sure that that's accurate. If they had followed my approach, which I think was a very good approach, it would have explained exactly why there were two Bond's in one movie. But they have a very loyal fan base and after 19 pictures, I'm not the guy to come in here and say that my idea is right and theirs is wrong. Some caution and some wisdom prevailed on that one.

What was the idea? My idea was basically that there have been several Bonds. It's just a prefix and a code name Even James Bond is not the guy's name. That's the way I've always been able to view these things from when Connery left and Lazenby and Moore took over, right up to Brosnan. How could this guy be so young still? Of course to me, it is just a prefix and a code name. That means that Connery either died or retired, Moore died or retired and so on. Following that, that allows you to have possibly two James Bonds in a movie. What happened to the others? Were they retired from active service or were they killed? That's where I came from. I thought what if there was a scene where Bond meets one of the originals, an older 007 who got out of the service and acted as a mentor to him, taught him some stuff about what was about to happen to him because he was being left behind and he was out of the secret service and people were trying to come and kill him. It was a different script at that stage, but I thought it was an interesting idea and I thought an audience may love it.

Awesome idea, but I have to bring up a fanboy point. Why are the other James Bonds mourning the same dead wife? Well, they don't.

Moore visits her grave in For Your Eyes Only. Oh, he does, does he. I didn't know that.

What would your answer have been had I not brought that up? I was not aware that he visited it. I thought if you sprung that on an audience, it may open up a whole new avenue or way of viewing Bond movies. Another reason I was proposing that as an idea was for future movies, when Pierce leaves and someone else comes on board, you may actually be able to do that as an introduction. You might be able to introduce the new guy as a new guy and look, there have been several before you, you're a new one. Don't rock the boat and don't do this and don't do that.

Part Two - Making Die Another Day

Previous action/adventure stories

(Photos provided by MGM)

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