LONDON (AFP) - French actress Lea Seydoux, Italian star Monica Bellucci, and German Oscar winner Christoph Waltz will star alongside Britain's Daniel Craig in the new James Bond film Spectre, the producers said on Thursday at the historic Pinewood Studios.
The film – titled after a global criminal organisation featuring in the early Bond films – promises a strong dose of 007 nostalgia and will be shot in Mexico City, Rome and Tangier. Bond will drive a new sleek Aston Martin, which was shown off to reporters by director Sam Mendes.
Bond will also return to the ski slopes in Austria and spy chief "M" will be played by Ralph Fiennes.
"We start shooting on Monday," Mendes said.
Speaking on a stage built specifically for the Bond films in the 1970s, Mendes gave nothing away about the plot as he unveiled the casting of what will be the 24th film in the hugely successful series based on author Ian Fleming’s fictional Secret Service agent.
Waltz, best known for his expert turns in the Quentin Tarantino movies Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, will play the villain in Spectre, which is due to hit screens in October next year. Bellucci, who starred in the Matrix sci-fi trilogy, will also appear, along with newcomers including French actress Lea Seydoux (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) and Andrew Scott, best known for his role as the villain Moriarty in the BBC’s Sherlock series.
Returning actors to the latest Bond adventure will be Ralph Fiennes, promoted to spy chief M, and Ben Whishaw, who played the Secret Service’s technological whiz-kid, both introduced in the last Bond film Skyfall. The Filipino-American wrestler and actor Dave Bautista is also in.
Mendes said the cast had begun rehearsals and filming would take around seven months. Bond will be back behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, a British sportscar long associated with the debonaire 007, Mendes said. The latest model being used, a DB10, was shown on the soundstage alongside the actors.
The title of the new movie harks back to the sinister SPECTRE organisation battled by Bond back when he was incarnated by Sean Connery and then George Lazenby and Roger Moore. SPECTRE’s boss, evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld, was Bond’s nemesis in films from the 1960s to the early 1980s. The acronym stands for “Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion”.
This will be Craig’s fourth time playing Bond after Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall. “We’ve got an amazing cast,” the 46-year-old told the BBC. Following the huge box office success of Skyfall, he said the cast and crew were “a little nervous” about trying to match its performance. But he added: “Having a challenge like that is pretty good in life”.
He also gave little away about the film’s plot saying: “I read the script this morning.”
Waltz was equally tight-lipped about his role but said it was an honour to take part in the Bond “legend”. “Everybody’s seen the Bond movies from childhood on. It’s legend. It’s practically modern mythology. To participate in that, come on, you don’t have to think, you just do it,” he said.
Seydoux, 29, has been in several high profile arthouse and blockbuster films, working with big names including Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson. She won critical acclaim for her role in Blue Is The Warmest Colour, a lesbian coming-of-age drama which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
Bond has been one of the highest-earning film series ever. The serial seducer, a government assassin employed by MI6, has been played by Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Craig infused muscular new energy into the role since taking over in 2006’s Casino Royale.