This story first appeared in the Oct. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The last time audiences got a glimpse of James Bond’s apartment was in 1973’s Live and Let Die, when 007 made an espresso for M in his kitchen while a naked Bond girl hid in a closet. But creating the ultimate bachelor pad for today’s modern superspy was the least of the challenges facing Spectre production designer Dennis Gassner. “In my initial discussions with [director] Sam [Mendes], I said, ‘Where do you want to go with this film? What’s your direction?’ ” recalls Gassner, 66, adding that he and the director came up with the look of the 24th Bond film (opening Nov. 6) in a fairly simple way. “He said, ‘Can you find me something hot? And then something cold?’ “
Daniel Craig as 007
For the cold part, Gassner designed an icy Alpine lair — the “Hoffler Klinik,” where Bond meets psychologist Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) — on a mountaintop in Austria. For the hot, he created a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City, the setting for the film’s opening chase scene. There also were shoots in Rome, Morocco and London, where along with Bond’s apartment, Gassner reimagined Q’s subterranean gadget lab at MI6. Spectre‘s sets also offer a nod to the past, referencing the midcentury aesthetic of the very first Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No, created by legendary 007 designer Ken Adam. “In the end,” says Gassner, “you always go back and respect the history. We are always trying to redefine the past and learn from it.”
The Hoffler Klinik, aka Ice Q restaurant atop Austria’s Gaislachkogl Mountain. “The Klinik is a little bit of an ice jewel in the middle of the movie,” says Gassner.
Q (Ben Whishaw) in his gadget lab. “It was an opportunity to give insight into Q’s world,” says set decorator Anna Pinnock, “including the cat-litter tray.”
The Mexico scene required 1,500 extras, 10 giant skeletons and 250,000 paper flowers. “We had to make everything,” says set decorator Daniela Rojas. “Nothing was in season.”
Gassner (left), whose first film job was 1979’s ‘Apocalypse Now,’ with director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema.