Interview With Bruce Feirstein, Bond Writer
Posted on Friday November 19, 2010, 18:25 by Ali Plumb in Infinite Lives
With both the Goldeneye game reboot and a brand new Bond gaming adventure (Blood Stone) out on the shelves, we took the chance to speak to the always-charming Bruce Feirstein, the man behind both game's scripts, as well as those of Goldeneye, The World Is Not Enough and Tomorrow Never Dies. Guess what? It's mainly about Bond. So for anyone who's not a 007 fan, click away now. Or don't. It's up to you, really.
Why does Bond remain so popular?
Bond is a classic archetype character, a character that’s embedded in our heads forever, one of a lone warrior setting out to avenge a nation – and you find that character across cultures. That character that wants to avenge the king is a character that strikes deep in culture around the world – I think that’s what originally made it work.
It also helps that he’s not American, as this makes him much more relatable across the world, as a lone British spy who lives by his wits – backed up by Q branch and M, rather than by B52 bombers and the Pentagon – and I think that’s part of what makes him so endearing.
Then there’s the work of the Broccolis as producers, who have an extraordinary sense of what works, keeping the character true to Fleming’s original whilst changing it slightly as time went on.
If you look at Connery, he was the perfect Cold War spy, whereas Roger Moore reflected the age of bell bottoms, shall we say, and Daniel Craig has created with the producers the right Bond for the time in this age of terrorism.
How much did you get to work with Daniel during the game’s production?
First of all, Daniel’s performance is amazing. Secondly, the way these things work is that I’m there in the session where he does his thing, but the script was purposely written for the Bond that Daniel has helped create. And as a Bond fan, I loved the Bond he brought to life as it harkens back to the original Ian Fleming creation.
What do you make of the situation MGM is currently in?
My take is this: “It’ll be there on the day.” Bond is going to turn 50 in 2012 so I’d be surprised if they don’t sort themselves out by then. I think this is an unfortunate hiccough but it’s not the first time this has happened.
Do you feel more pressure on this game, acting as a stopgap between Casino Royale and the next, as yet unnamed film?
If the game provides the Bond dose needed in this period, that would be great – but we all know, as good as it might be, it doesn’t replace the movies, and that was never our intention to do so as such.
So the objective was just to make another good Bond game in the tradition of Goldeneye…?
We wanted it all, we wanted a great story, we wanted a great villain, we wanted exotic locations, the works. You have to live up to the standards of the movies, and fortunately with Bizarre, the developers, we had a wonderful situation where each side challenged the other one to do better. To make the story and the gameplay more involving.
Can big Bond fans look forward to clever references to the movies within the game itself?
Well, there are always echoes in it to the early movies, subtle echoes, but what this game has that I really enjoyed was the little conversations and overheard moments that you always wonder about – you know, two of the nameless henchmen whinging on about their pay, or their job, what they’re going to do with the money they make from this gig… That kind of thing. So we put some of that in that you can overhear in the game. We don’t want to go into Austin Powers territory, but it’s stuff we always used to joke about, the producers and I. It’s a way of getting you involved in this world a little more.
Did you feel pressure walking in the footsteps of such a great game as Goldeneye?
Well, whenever you do anything with Bond, you’ve got Cubby Broccoli and Sean Connery looking over your shoulder. The thing is with the Goldeneye games of that period is that I was completely unaware of the impact it had had on young kids, until I went to a friend’s house and his two daughters were completely consumed by it. Now they’re 20 and they’ve said to me that playing Goldeneye with their dad was really important for them when they were growing up!
I’d be lying if I told you I realised how seminal it was at the time, but I realise it now. Updating the game now posed some serious challenges – how to refresh the game using new technology without ruining the feeling of the original game. The trouble is, many baby boomer reviewers review the new Bonds having grown up and watched the originals as a boy – and believe me, it’s impossible to meet those expectations, of anything people loved at a young age. Having your first erection at the sight of a nude girl painted gold? You can’t beat that. You just can’t.
Is it difficult as an American to get the English inflection right when you’re writing?
Well… I’m a pretty good mimic. And when I was doing Goldeneye, I had Connery’s voice in my mind the whole time. And coming forward to this game, well, now I can heard Daniel Criag’s voice as I write. Like when I wrote Judi Dench’s character, M, I had Maggie Thatcher’s voice in my head – also, maybe a little Churchill. Then of course she picks up the script on they day and completely makes it her own – she’s brilliant like that, occasionally changing a word here or there, but making it ten times better.