Quantum of Solace--We interview the director--Plus a video clip of Bond in action

By Amy Chen
October 3, 2012
Courtesy Susie Allnut/Columbia Pictures

You can keep your Bourne Identity, your Mission Impossible. This week on, we celebrate the best secret agent. Bond is back with "Quantum of Solace". The title may be odd, but the plot is familiar. The film picks up where it left off in the hugely successful "Casino Royale". Bond seeks revenge after his lover is killed. But the movie has twice as much action as its predecessor. It opens tomorrow, Friday Nov. 14.

Director Marc Forster recently spoke with me about filming the 22nd Bond movie in six countries: Austria, Chile, Italy, Panama, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Q: The opening sequence starts with James Bond (Daniel Craig) in a gray Aston Martin speeding through a tunnel under a hail of bullets. It ends with Bond chasing an assassin through the streets of Siena. I understand that this scene took eight weeks to shoot in three locations in Italy. What were some of the highlights?

A: The foot chase starts underground, goes through the cisterns and pops up in the center square of Siena where the Palio race is happening. The interesting thing is the cisterns. When I was shown the underground city, I thought it was fascinating that we were walking under the city. We shot the real horse race in August 2007 when there are actually 50,000 people there. Then we came back in May 2008, re-enacted it and had 1,000 people that surrounded Bond [for the close-ups]. From the square Bond runs across the roofs, up the bell tower and then crashes into an art gallery. We shot them chasing each other on the rooftop in Siena but once they jump in the bell tower, that scene was built on a stage made of the same material.

Q: There's a terrific scene at the Bregenz Festival House that required more than 1,000 extras in black tie. Was that one of the more difficult scenes to coordinate?

A: The scene is basically Bond spying on the Quantum organization as the opera "Tosca" is going on. There's a great blue eye on the floating stage that's built on the lake. You see what's happening with "Tosca" on stage intercut with what's happening behind the scenes backstage. It's easier to work with so many extras. I find it's much harder to do intimate scenes.

Q: One of the most exciting scenes is a skydiving scene. How was that filmed?

A: There's a cat and mouse game. Bond and Camille are in the plane and they are getting shot down. The organization Quantum wants them dead. They need to get out of the plane, but they only have one parachute between them. Directors always shoot actors against a green screen but I feel like it doesn't feel real. In the air tunnel at Bodyflight (see more details below), where skydivers train, you have the same effect and feel because it's the same air pressure. The actors aren't on cables and are floating. Their face configurations are really real so they can just focus on acting. We had 16 cameras around the cylinder, and we motion-captured the entire flight. We were then able to rebuild the environment so it would very real. And we had a cameraman in there on some takes for close-ups.

Q: Was it difficult getting Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko (Bond's co-conspirator) to do their own stunts for this scene?

A: They wanted to do it. It wouldn't have been possible for stunt people to do it because you can see their faces. They had no other choice! Olga trained for three weeks prior; Daniel didn't train that much—only a few times. It was the first time skydiving for both.

Q: Did you get into the wind tunnel as well?

A: I wanted to, but didn't get to it. [See below on how you can try out the wind tunnel yourself.]

Q: What are some of your most travel-inspiring movies?

A: "The Parallax View" because it has the beautiful Space Needle in Seattle. I always wanted to travel to Seattle because of that movie. And in "The Talented Mr. Ripley", Anthony Minghella has some beautiful locations in Italy.

Q: Of your own movies, is there one that made you want to travel the most?

A: "The Kite Runner," filmed in Kashgar in western China, is very special. It's a town on the old Silk Road about 30 miles from the Pakistani border. The landscape is the most breathtaking.

For a video outtake of Bond's plane being shot down, plus tips on how to travel to the scenes from the opening sequence in "Quantum of Solace," check out this video:

Want to plan a trip to see the sights Bond visits in "Quantum of Solace"? Here are a few stops you can make:

Siena, Italy

In the fast-paced opening scene, Bond chases a spy through a warren of medieval aqueducts in Siena. In the summer, you can take a tour of the subterranean cisterns through La Diana Association ($13, 011-39/366-358-8181).

Bond eventually pops up through a manhole in Piazza del Campo—directly in the path of the Palio horse race. If you want to catch next year's horse race—which is free—you need to make plans now. It happens in July and August.

Wind Tunnel Surfing in Bedford, England

In one key scene, Bond’s plane is shot down. He has to share his parachute with his latest paramour, Camille (played by Olga Kurylenko). The scene was actually filmed in Bedford, England, at Bodyflight, a skydiving center with a wind tunnel that simulates free-falling at 120 miles per hour. There aren't cables in the wind tunnel. You’re literally floating! (, from $70)

Lake Constance, in Austria

Bond tracks down a villain at the Bregenz Festival House, a 7,000 seat concert hall with a floating stage on the banks of Lake Constance. You can attend an opera there. Tickets for next summer start at $40.

Looking for Bond action that's closer to home? Head to Miami tomorrow. You can indulge in some Sean Connery nostalgia there. The movie Goldfinger (1964) was filmed at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel. The 22-acre property re-opens tomorrow, November 14, with a spectacular 40,000-square-foot spa. Designed by architectural visionary Morris Lapidus and opened in 1954, the Fontainebleau takes center frame of the famous aerial shot that opens Goldfinger. Later, the dourly amused Bond (Sean Connery) catches the greedy Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) cheating at cards by the hotel's pool.

The place: Sadly for fans, the hotel scenes were a ruse. To save money, the actors performed on a replica of the hotel's pool deck at Pinewood Studios in England. Fictional CIA agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) did, however, drop by the actual hotel in northern Miami Beach for some exterior and establishing shots. The Fontainebleau has recently undergone a half-billion dollar facelift. 800/548-8886,, from $245.


Where to drink Bond's signature martini, the Vesper

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Paris: Eating on the wild side

Once upon a time in France, hunting was a privilege reserved for nobility. Forbidden from la chasse, everyday people were powerless to procure the woodland creatures that scampered around them. Prohibition gave rise to a serious proclivity—a sort of national longing for tail. This pent-up desire was unleashed in 1789, when the French Revolution granted hunting rights to all citizens. Chefs and family cooks alike were suddenly free to serve the sauvage. Centuries later, the consumption of wild things continues unabated. To cater to this national obsession, most traditional restaurants serve game during the autumn-and-winter season. Some cheat with frozen supplies. But no shortcuts are taken in restaurants serving haute cuisine. Places like Taillevent and Guy Savoy take extreme pride in their selection and preparation of gibiers (wild game). But for those who don't have money to burn (the cheapest dinner menu here costs around €300/$385), here are some other addresses where you can taste this tradition at a bargain price. Le P'tit Bougnat: One of the least expensive options, Le P'tit Bougnat has more game than Justin Timberlake. Menus start at €17 ($21) and feature partridge, pheasant, and wild boar, all served with classic sides like blueberries and chestnuts or pears cooked in wine. 118 boulevard de Courcelles, 17th arrondissement, 011-33/1-47-63-97-11. Le Repaire de Cartouche: The name translates roughly as "hunter's hideaway," signalling Rodolphe Paquin's affinity for cooking the freshly caught. A reasonably good restaurant year-round, this place becomes a sure shot during game season. 8 boulevard des Filles-du-Calvaire, 11th arrondissement, 011-33/1-47-00-25-86. Chez Michel: Thierry Breton is a master fish cook, but also likes to show off during game season. His good-value blackboard menu includes forest friends for a small supplement. Save room for dessert because his Paris-Brest is the best in the city. 10 rue de Belzunce, 10th arrondissement, 011-33/1-44-53-06-20. La Régalade: Help yourself from the sideboard to a slice of game terrine with onion confit, then settle back to ponder your choice between partridge, wood pigeon and wild boar stew. This convivial and inexpensive bistro is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. 49 avenue Jean-Moulin, 14th arrondissement, 011-33/1-45-45-68-58. Le Cerisaie: This restaurant is the size of a shoebox and always packed with dedicated diners. Specializing in the cooking of southwest France, Cyril Lalanne is also something of a game nut. Try his pâté of mixed game in a crust, served with sour cherry preserves. 70 boulevard Edgar Quinet, 14th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-20-98-98. Selection of game at these, or any other Paris restaurant, will vary according to what's being hunted in the moment. Birds appear early in the fall and are followed by rabbit and later deer. Some of the most common gibier that feature on restaurant menus are translated for you here. Flying Game becasse - woodcock caille – quail canard - duck caneton - young male duckling canette - young female duckling colvert –wild mallard duck faisan - pheasant grouse – grouse palombe - wood pigeon perdrix, perdreau - partridge pigeon -pigeon Hopping Game lievre - hare lapin - rabbit lapereau - young rabbit Hoofing Game biche - doe, young female deer cerf - stag, older male deer chevreuil - young male deer bison - bison caribou - caribou sanglier - wild boar marcassin - young wild boar MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Check out our handy one-page France Menu Decoder for 2008.


Movie Quest! Q&A with editor of On Location Vacations

Celebrity sightings often make for great gossip. Christine Bord takes it one step further as the editor of the blog,, which highlights where movies or TV shows are currently filming. Q: How do you get your tips? A: I have a loyal fan base, and they contribute about a dozen tips a day. People will see posted permits that say the street will be closed for filming. Then they'll send me the street names and times. We don't usually get tips too far in advance, maybe a day or two. What's cool about my site is that draws attention to areas that wouldn't normally be seen as tourist destinations. For example, on Nov. 19, the new Rob Schneider movie, "Virgin on Bourbon Street", will be filming a street party scene on Monroe Street in Greektown, Detroit. "High School", starring Adrien Brody, began filming Nov. 10 in Howell, Mich. The primary filming location for the shoot will be Parker High School in Howell. And "Edge of Darkness", starring Mel Gibson, is filming in the Boston area through the end of the month. Recent locations for this movie have also included Rockport and Northampton, Mass. Q: Where are some of the hottest TV shows shot? A: In New York City, "Gossip Girl" has a huge following. Recent locations include the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn and the Upper East Side around 5th Avenue and 79th Street. If people go to a set, they'll send me pictures, which I post. And "Ugly Betty" is big since it moved to New York this season. In Los Angeles, "Prison Break" and "Heroes" are very popular. Like New York, I usually don't get L.A. locations until a day or so before filming actually begins. Q: Any tips for successful celebrity "stalking"? A: The main thing is to have patience. Sometimes they'll film for 12 or 15 hours in one location. Get tips from the production assistants hanging around the sets. They'll know who is around that day. If you are at a movie set, talk to a P.A. to get a good idea of what your chances are. To meet someone, ask a P.A. nicely and they'll help you out as much as you can. Wait and be polite. If you approach a celebrity, be polite and don't bum rush. Q: What else does your blog cover? A: My website also has road trip itineraries, like an Alfred Hitchcock tour through California. It's part of the celebrity obsession. I think we feel like we know those people. People want to go and stand where Tom Hanks stood to feel more connected to him. And now people are realizing they can be there while it's happening. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Movie Quest 2008! We Stalked George Clooney


This weekend: Mile-high fun in Denver, 150 years young

Denver, the town of Buffalo Bill and Rocky Mountain highs, is celebrating its second annual Art Week, beginning this weekend. There are more than 150 events packed into nine days; it all kicks off with free admission to some of Denver's museums on Friday evening. "Night at the Museums" goes from 5 to 10 p.m.—visit venues such as the Denver Art Museum or the Colorado History Museum. You can search the events calendar for a ton of other events going on—Art Week runs through Nov. 22. The Denver Film Festival is also happening this weekend (it goes through Nov. 23). Get your camera phones ready for a possible celebrity encounter: Star-studded film The Brothers Bloom will have an opening, as will the Mickey Rourke comeback-vehicle The Wrestler. Tickets start at $11—see all pricing and scheduling info. Denver is turning 150 this year, and the city is taking 15 days to celebrate. One highlight: the official birthday celebration, complete with cake, is Nov. 22, where the Colorado History Museum will unveil Denver at 150: Imagine a Great City. With all these events going on, you could stay awhile. In the Mile High Holiday promotion, 20 area hotels are offering a starting nightly rate of $52.80. (Curious about the number? Denver sits 5,280 feet above sea level.) Better act fast; the rates are based on availability (and exclude New Year's Eve). PREVIOUSLY Denver's a Green City MORE See Denver's city magazine, 5280 Get Real Denver, the nightlife blog Find more travel blogs at Alltop


Best "letter to the editor" of the year?

In our recent special issue with the "Best Places You've Never Heard Of" cover story, we published a letter to the editor that I'd like to share with anyone who may have missed it: I had a good life—a beautiful wife, two daughters, a house, and a job. But despite all that, my life had become boring. I'd forgotten that there's so much out there to explore. I picked up Budget Travel at the supermarket. That week, I told my wife, Tammy, that it was time we started seeing the world. Our first trip was to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Tammy and I watched the sunset every night, and I fell in love with her all over again. That was in 2001, and we vowed we would travel whenever we could. We took our kids to San Diego; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Gulf Shores, Ala.; and Florida, going even when we could barely afford it. Our trips brought my family together in ways that I will never forget. For our 15th wedding anniversary, Tammy and I wanted to go to the Florida Keys. Money was tight, but we went anyway. We came back amazed—it was so great. Not long after, Tammy died in a car accident. She was my best friend, and I wake up every day missing her. But I also think of how glad I am that we didn't put off traveling: Every day, the setting sun reminds me of her beauty and how fortunate I was to experience so much with her. Last January, 42 family members and friends joined me in Puerto Vallarta for a sunset toast to Tammy. Some of them had never left our town, so taking a trip was a new beginning for them, just as it was for Tammy and me seven years ago. I wanted to thank you for all the wonderful times I shared with my wife because you brought these places up close each month. You have changed my life and my friends' lives forever. We will always travel! —Zac Fowler, Janesville, Wis.