A Royale Premiere

Bond bedlam as Casino Royale hits London

A Royale Premiere

by Willow Green |
Published on

London’s Leicester Square has seen some lavish premieres in its time, but surely nothing quite like last night’s Bond extravaganza. With three cinemas, 4,500 people, a gleaming Aston Martin DB5, oodles of red carpet and a heaving throng of fans, the international opening of **Casino Royale **proved to be something very special indeed. And Empire was there, vodka martini in hand (I wish), poised for the official rebirth of the world’s most famous secret agent.

Just in case you’ve been trapped in Blofeld’s secret volcano base for the last year, the news is that James Bond is well and truly back. And yes, he’s blonde. Tonight marks 007’s glorious return to cinema. Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench, the rest of Bond 21’s cast and crew and a host of celebrities, from Elton John to Jason Statham, shook, stirred and Casino Royale-d central London at the World Premiere of the most anticipated movie of the year. The result? Oh James…

For a man who regularly risks his life for Queen and Country, it’s rather fitting that Bond’s return to the big screen also marks the 60th anniversary of the Royal Film Performance. Yes, even the Queen is going to have an opinion on Daniel Craig as the new Bond. This is not the first time HM has met “a Bond” – at the Die Another Day premiere in 2002, attended by former 00’s George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, she told Pierce Brosnan, “so you’re the modern day James Bond are you? I’ve met the other three downstairs”. But tonight there were words to be had with the movie’s main players before the Royal arrivals added the final British flourish to the evening’s proceedings.

First up was the all-running, all-jumping Sebastien Foucan who plays Bond’s nemesis in the vertigo-inducing opening chase: “It’s just fantastic to be here because I grew up with Bond movies. I never thought I’d end up playing a Bond villain!“ From one baddie to the next… Mads Mikkelson plays the optically challenged banker to the terrorists, Le Chiffre. Was it easy for him to slide into such a criminal role? “It’s easy. It just takes Daniel to piss me off”, he chuckled. Mikkelson is also part of the film’s most notoriously eye-watering scene: “I was looking forward to the [torture] scene…I think we did about forty takes. And because I was blind in one eye I kept losing my perspective, so I sometimes heard a different scream from Daniel".

Of course, James Bond just wouldn’t be James Bond without an encounter (or five) with an array of beautiful women. Casino Royale’s Bond girls, the elegant Eva Green and the sassy Caterina Murino, were both keen to enthuse about becoming part of the 007 universe. As Green explained, “I was a approached a year ago and I just loved the script, so I immediately flew to Prague to audition for the role and then they called me two days before shooting. I didn’t think twice about accepting”. It was then the turn of the incredibly excited Murino – had the whole experience sunk in yet?: “Oh not yet. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll tell you. I’ll wake up and it’ll feel like just another dream. I’m so proud to be part of this movie.” For Judi Dench, who’s role in Casino Royale marks her fifth outing as M, future dealings with Mr. Bond seem certain. Would she return to MI6 once again? “Yes, if I’m asked and if I’m upright”.

So we have our Bond villains and our Bond girls; how about a Bond song? Chris Cornell has provided Casino Royale’s signature tune in the form of ‘You Know My Name’. Considering the song’s orchestral-rock tendencies, it’s unsurprising to find out that Cornell’s favourite Bond theme is: “’Live And Let Die’. And I love Tom Jones’ ‘Thunderball’, although I hadn’t heard it until after I recorded mine”, said the Audioslave frontman. It also seems there may have been some disagreement surrounding the inclusion of Cornell’s finale of guttural roars: “Well, I had to fight for those”, he grinned, “but I won”.

Casino Royale was Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel. Written in 1953, producers Barbara Brocolli and Michael G. Wilson were keen to highlight the importance of 007’s creator: “It’s so great that Ian Fleming’s story can still resonant with people fifty years after he wrote the book”, said Brocolli. “We certainly are happy with the initial reactions [to the movie]”, added Wilson, “now there’s a sense of ‘how do we top this one’?”. The pair also added that they would "love to shoot [the next movie] in London if possible".

Which leaves us with the new 007 himself. With screams of “Daniel!” erupting from the phalanx of fans, Daniel Craig – being buffeted between the crowd and press – had these few words to say on preparing for the shoot: “I just immersed myself in the role. I did as much work as I could, got to the centre of it and figured it out.” Taking a brief look around him, he revealed that the reality of his newly acquired 00 status hadn’t really sunk in yet. “All this is helping…a bit”. And with a explosion of flashes and a flurry of speedy PR and security personnel, the sixth James Bond headed for the theatre. What’s the best thing about being a 007? With a quick smile and a glance back to the shiniest Bond star in the Square, Craig’s answer was simple, “That car”.

*Casino Royale is released across cinemas on Friday (November 17th). *

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