Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of Sid Man’s incredibly unique story detailing his time on the set of his 2nd Bond film, SPECTRE. Read on for Sid’s fascinating insight into working on the set of the very latest James Bond film. If you haven’t read Part 1, I invite you to do that. There may be some very minor SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen SPECTRE yet, but nothing game changing. No major plot revelations are given so it is relatively safe, but for those who want to know absolutely nothing about SPECTRE before seeing it, there may be a sentence or two that may be of concern.
My last article outlined my time on the 50th Anniversary Bond movie, Skyfall, specifically for the casino scene. This article will detail my time on the latest Bond movie, Spectre. Having been heavily featured in the last Bond movie, I knew that if I did get onto Spectre, the chance of me being heavily featured again would be rare and I was happy to accept that. After all, how many people get to come back for a second Bond in a featured role, other than recurring cast?
This time round, the call came late in 2014…’We’re checking your availability for a new project. Please indicate your availability…’ Well, of course I’m available – after which I turned round to my boss at work and said I’d need to take 10 days off work (with only 9 days left! Oops!)
The fitting instruction came – please go to Pinewood Studio for your costume fitting. You’ll be playing a boss for the Palazzio meeting. Fitting day comes along, and as soon as I get into the fitting tent, I hear my name being called ‘Sid! The star of Skyfall’…turns out they kept the same team together from Skyfall for costuming, so Paul had remembered me and introduced me to the rest of the newer faces as the man who got his costume on screen. It really seemed like I’d made an impression last time round! Having hauled in my own suits, they decided they’d fit me with their stuff. Initially, they wanted me almost as a Mafioso, to make me stand out more from a crowd of similarly suited bosses. Unfortunately, the shirt and suit didn’t fit well enough, so it was down to a grey pinstripe with tie to stand out instead.
In early February, I made my way to Blenheim Palace to take my place as a boss. This, as with my first day on Skyfall, was a nightshoot and was to show Bond entering the Palazzio and infiltrating a high powered meeting – another pivotal moment in the movie. Alas, to say, I
wasn’t used in this scene but some of my colleagues were kept behind to film exterior shots where Bond jumps from a window and escapes in his DB10. Gordon, DC’s main stunt double this time, ruptured his Achilles tendon performing the jump but was to be back later in the shoot as production felt he looked like DC enough to keep around for later scenes.
Back to Pinewood, they built an Italian Palazzio for a key scene. As with Skyfall, they had thrown lavish attention to detail to the set and had mocked up Italian architecture with columns, marble walls and floors and two floors…which would be utilised for a stunt later in the week.
I reintroduced myself to various members of the crew who I’d gotten to know from Skyfall and other productions. I mentioned a wild theory of mine that people were likely to recognise me if I was seen, so wouldn’t it be a good idea if the lowly casino manager had managed to get himself promoted in the grand scheme of things to a boss. After all, we were representing Chinese crime concerns, so perhaps I had progressed. A wry smile told me not to get my hopes up and that I’d had my chance on the previous movie…What did I know!
We were told that the background would be split into 2 groups. There would be the general mob who would occupy the top floor and the conclaves around the ground floor and a ‘hero’ group of bosses and henchmen who would be sat around the meeting table. I prepared myself for a week of standing just off camera, thinking I couldn’t be lucky twice in a row. Ten groups of background were selected to be the main bosses, representing the likes of Germany, the Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Taiwan and the Chinese. Having called everyone, they left the Chinese group till last. Having their pick of 30 or so Chinese extras, ‘Sid, it’s you again!’…lightning really can strike twice!
We were placed nearest the end of the table with the Spanish representative. Away from the entrance and where Oberhauser would enter. In the centre of the table sat the German representatives who would be giving a report on matters in their country in German. The main bosses, who sat at the table would be listening in on their translators. I, as one of the other bosses, who be sat slightly further back.
The scene, as shot, would introduce Oberhauser, Mr Hinx and out Bond as hiding in the crowd. Along the way, there would be a demonstration of Mr Hinx’s strength and a definite menace in Oberhauser’s behaviour, despite his mild demeanour.
DC was spotted wandering through the set, even though he wasn’t due to shoot anything on the first day and if he noticed or remembered me, he didn’t stop. Sam Mendes did do a double take when he wandered past me which was amusing. As with Skyfall, Barbara Broccoli came to set on Valentine’s Day when we were all on set…she must have heard about the chocolates I gave out to the makeup and costume teams!
The first of two stunts were filmed whilst we were there. There would be a call to challenge the Spanish delegate for control of Mexico, following the antics of Bond in killing Sciarra. As no one at the table wanted to challenge, there was a challenge from elsewhere in the form of Dave Bautista’s Mr Hinx. He was physically intimidating with metal thumb tips. His introduction would be to eliminate the Spanish delegate by slamming him into the table top and then gouging his eyes out with his thumb tips. Dan, who was Benito’s stunt double (and looked more like Ryan Reynolds), prepared himself for several hours of head slamming on the prepared surface and looked very much shaken, if not stirred, following the day of stunt work. The second stunt would involve a large guy being thrown off the balcony just after Bond is rumbled. As with the head slam, the stuntman endured being thrown off with wirework at least 10 times during the shoot…each time, he got up slower and slower and with less enthusiasm!
Each side of the meeting table had their close ups with the camera tracking down each side. So it’s entirely possible to spot me, as it is in the 3 trailers that were released recently.
The German actress was the only one really speaking in the scene other than Benito Sagredo, who played the Spanish delegate. Initial rehearsals didn’t take into account Christophe Waltz as Oberhauser, so when he came in for the first time, there was a definite rise in tension and willingness of everyone to try to get it right. The number of times we stood up and sat down was incalculable. I definitely felt sorry for the guys on the upper level who had to stand all day once they were in position.
Once my week was up, I was again called in to take part in a scene that was shot on Westminster Bridge. Again, it was a night shoot and we were really required to be part of the traffic jam more than anything. Unfortunately, I was only able to see the back of ambulances, police cars and the SWAT team who turned up. The whole of the Thames up to the MI5 building was lit up and I believe there was a boat chase of some sort. This was quite literally the last London based shoot before they all took off to finish the second unit stuff. If you’re able to see a black Alfa Romeo coming off the BFI IMAX roundabout on Westminster Bridge (or Waterloo Bridge), then that’ll be me!
So, observations from this one: Barbara Brocolli is still stunning. Dave Bautista is a gentle giant and is over 6ft tall and 6ft wide! Christophe Waltz is going to be superb as Oberhauser. The attention to detail this time round matches that of Skyfall, even down to the dates on the paperwork which I believe was for the London premiere date.
BTW, whilst we had a break for camera repositioning during the Palazzio scene, I took a good look at the table we were sat at and mentioned to one of the guys that a there was a good camera shot looking straight down the table at Oberhauser…10 minutes later, Sam and his DoP, Hoyte van Hoytema, turned up to discuss a shot looking down the table – my exact shot! So I’m taking credit for this shot in the movie!
Article by Sid Man