Stunt coordinator Lee Morrison is no stranger to working with Daniel Craig’s James Bond – he has not worked with the actor on five tours as a spy, having previously been his stunt double.
For “No Time to Die” in theaters, Morrison not only worked closely with Craig, he also collaborated with director Carrie Fukunagara on working on the film while he was at the center of the story. An important sequence sees Bond riding a motorcycle in a small Italian town, stumbling and jumping onto a rocky street as he tries to get back to Leila Seddox’s Medellin at the hotel.
Here Morrison talks about stunt work in the film and his relationship with Craig.
What did you discuss with both Daniel and Carrie about the bike sequence?
We tried to design that sequence and also got all the points of the story. It was important for Carrie and Daniel, fulfilling this journey. He must return to Madeleine as soon as possible. Daniel thought it would be a good idea to get on a motorcycle. Instead of chasing after her, it wants to go back to Madeleine.
Does choreography go to plan such a sequence?
It was Daniel driving for a certain order but the surface in Matera, Italy was the worst I ever shot. The stone is ancient so we thought it would be bad to shoot in the winter, so we shot there in the summer. I installed a road burner on the street, but we saw it was really dry and the surface was the worst. The polished sandstone was treacherous and slippery. We also had to get permission to shoot on sidewalks and stairs so we could climb at high speeds.
You are not only dealing with treacherous surfaces, you are dealing with uneven roads. What happened to filming the sequence where he rode a bike on a steep hill and avoided the procession?
The jump in Guillermo Square was originally meant to move him to another building, but we couldn’t make it in time. The story came late from Carrie and Daniel and I worked with Mark (Tildesley, production designer) to design a stunt that drove the story and justified him going there. It was important not to act in the interest of action.
It took three days to shoot the motorcycle jumping scene. We got a two-day lead-up and then jumped into the square. On the day of the shooting, the wind played a huge factor. I was observing the wind conditions because that jump, like you’re jumping, you’re not traveling too fast for a flight. The wind was coming from the square and it was going in the wrong direction and it pushed the stunt driver away from the landing and he fell a few times during the rehearsal. I had to constantly keep an eye on the wind to make sure it was perfect for the jump and then the clouds and rain would start which would make that surface treacherous.
What was discussed about donating to the square when Bond and Madeleine were being shot?
It has been sitting with Carrie, Daniel and Chris Corbold (Special Effects Supervisor). We wanted to play this moment where you realized Danielle had been betrayed and doubled over, and he was willing to let them shoot. Chris is someone I have worked with for 20 years. We wanted to play with the first few rounds of shots while exploiting the bond situation.
We need to find a place that basically puts them in that position during the chase – Safin’s boys have cornered him. We called it Donut Square. We knew he would make this donut, add guns and smoke machines.
How did you see CG change your job?
I started my bond career by working with Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”). Every time you read on a written page, “A collapsed house or” We’re ruined, “I know we’re actually doing it. As the previous bond double, I know it’s going to do it. We use effects to improve what we’re doing. Always argue that we try to use as little as possible. That’s what you expect from Bond. He’s not a superhero or a superpower. That’s what we need to recognize – he’s an exceptional man and in many cases well-trained. The important thing is to give Daniel’s bond a lot of credibility and show the hurt and show a slightly older bond.
We talked early on about designing actions around what he was able to do. Daniel and Carrie wanted to tell the story of where he came from and where he came from and that’s what makes this story so emotional.