Quantum of Solace is, by far, the biggest, most commercial film Forster has ever directed. The budget was around $200 million which was five times larger than any budget Forster had worked with before. And as Forster says, with that amount of money came "100 times the pressure" of his previous films. "It has to succeed in a commercial way, otherwise I'll be on a vacation for a few years," joked Forster at the film's Los Angeles press junket.
Being a Part of the Bond FranchiseForster wasn't a big Bond fan going into Quantum of Solace, but did respect and appreciate the franchise. And Forster found doing his first, and maybe only (he turned down an offer to make the 23rd film of the franchise), Bond movie surprisingly creatively satisfying. "A lot to do had to do with the two producers," said Forster. "They really gave me a lot of freedom and supported my vision on this journey. I was much more prepared for a lot of conflict, but it wasn't the case."
"I didn't really have any preconceived notion what it means to make a Bond movie," added Forster. "I didn't realize that the intensity and the media attention would be so enormous. But I definitely felt like I think The Kite Runner was a very good preparation for me on this because I had enormous pressure there. The book sold 8 million copies and people said, 'Oh this is my favorite book ever. You better not ruin the movie.' So I felt like suddenly with Bond that tension was so much more intense because everybody…. Casino Royale was the most successful Bond ever, box office-wise, but it was critically a huge success. So to follow up to that, the expectations were extremely high. And that pressure I definitely felt while making the movie."
Although Quantum of Solace seems to be completely different from his other films which are more character-driven pieces, Forster says Quantum of Solace and his previous movies do have something very important in common. "I realized that I have to treat the film, ultimately, like it's all about character. It's all about Bond. It's keeping the character in line and following this character. If I can't connect with the character, I can't connect with him emotionally, the movie doesn't work. All the action, everything else will not really be successful if that doesn't really work," explained Forster.
Casting Quantum of SolaceForster was given a lot of freedom to cast the roles that weren't already in place. Of course, Daniel Craig would play Bond, Dame Judi Dench returned as M, Jeffrey Wright reprised his role of Felix, and Giancarlo Giannini came back as Mathis. Jesper Christensen was back onboard as the bad guy, Mr White. But Forster handled the casting of the new characters introduced in Quantum of Solace. "You know, I had pretty much freedom with all the roles that weren't cast. So it was the villain, I wanted Mathieu Amalric. With the girls as well, I wanted Gemma [Arterton] and Olga [Kurylenko]. So that was a very positive thing."
So why did he pick Olga Kurylenko to be the new Bond Girl? "I basically, you know, saw hundreds of tapes, chose 20, and brought them in to read for me," answered Forster. "From the 20 I chose four, and from the four I had them read with Daniel. I put them in a room for a day and played the scenes through, and then see who connects the best. And I felt like who had the best qualities for the character and was the most, I felt, had the most depth and best actress of them all – I felt Olga was the best for the part."
Working with Returning Bond, Daniel CraigCraig knows the part of Bond having first played him in the hugely successful Casino Royale, so Forster's job of directing Craig was more about analyzing the character's motivations in this sequel. "Basically we met very early on and just went over the script and discussed the character. I said, 'Look it, what interests me is the last 5 minutes of Casino Royale, where this character was left off, and the emotional state of this character. And that he just lost the love of his life.' I felt like I wanted to dig into his pain more, into his demons. And obviously the success of Bond is sort of that he's a mysterious character, but at the same time in that mystery that you sort of can connect with him or see glimpse of his inner pain or emotional life," explained Forster.
In addition to the emotional side of Bond, Craig had to tackle a lot of complex action scenes, many of which he did himself instead of opting for a stunt person. "As a director it's great to have a lead actor who wants to do his own stunts because you really capture the sort of intensity from him, which I love," said Forster. "But then on the other hand… Like he wanted to stunts where I'm like, 'You sure you want to do that?' And I'm sitting on the edge of my seat thinking, 'Okay, I hope this one goes well.' So, you know, he really pushes for it."
"They let him do a lot. I mean, every time… Like, even Olga did a lot of her own stunts, you know? Just alone on the boat chase sequence, there were the two of them on the boat, I mean, and you are on real waves. We were like driving parallel with the camera boat also in high speed over those waves and it's dangerous. And the boat is wood, you know? If they fall, they fall…"