‘Quantum of Solace’ is Marc Forster’s 007 art film

Marc Forster was hesitant.

The director of low-budget hits like 2004's "Finding Neverland" and 2001's "Monster's Ball" had never been asked to helm anything with a studio-size budget, let alone a James Bond film, when he was approached to take on the 22nd outing in the franchise.

And then he remembered Orson Welles.

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"There was a quote he made at the end of his life," the Swiss-born Forster says. "His biggest regret was that he never made a 'commercial movie' or a 'mainstream movie.' So I thought I would like to make a movie more people will see than any of the six films I have done put together."

That was the beginning of a massive adventure involving 23 weeks of shooting (13 on location); scenes with 1,500 or more extras; work in places as far afield as the Piazza del Campo in Florence, the Paranal Observatory in Chile and the Kornmart Theatre in Bregenz, Austria; and a budget estimated at $230 million.

Had "Quantum" been merely another entry in the Bond series, Forster might not have been on the shortlist to direct. But producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson wanted a helmer who could handle the emotional aspects of the film.

That's because longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade intended a multifilm arc that could play across the five films for which Daniel Craig was contracted.

"We realized that we'd left Bond in a very interesting place emotionally," says Wilson, referring to the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), in the previous Bond film, 2006's "Casino Royale." "There was still story left to be told. His relationship with Vesper was so intense that to suddenly forget about it wouldn't have done the first (film) justice."

In attempting to humanize Bond, Purvis and Wade found themselves racing against the clock, with the WGA strike imminent. Oscar winner Paul Haggis was brought in to tweak the screenplay and wrapped just in time to avoid the work stoppage, which began in November 2007. 

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