*Exclusive* Director Martin Campbell talks Memory, Goldeneye and working with Daniel Craig on Casino Royale

What attracted you to the script of Memory?

Well, it’s interesting. You know, it’s a film already? 

I didn’t actually..

It was a Belgian film made in 2003 and a good film. Someone gave it to me in 2013 on DVD and I looked at it and thought the film was really good,  unfortunately, the rights weren’t available and someone else had them or should I say they had the option for three years, so I forgot about it. Then three years later, I remembered it and  checked up on the option, but the option had expired. So, I managed to get it. I got some Finance together, got the script written. The first person I went to was Liam Neeson because he just seems so perfect for it and as luck would have it he really responded well to it and said, yeah, I’ll do it. Based on him, we managed to get it set up. 

Neeson was perfectly cast, he’s got the action background but then he’s also got the ability to act as well. This movie required both, but relied heavily on acting, Neeson sold a great performance on both.

Yeah, he’s very good. I know he’s done a lot of action stuff since Taken, some of them seem to be similar to Taken.  I think this was an opportunity for him to showcase his acting and action skills with Memory, I think it’s got more depth. I think there’s more subtext in there in the piece. I like and also the fact, you know, as a hitman, he’s a bad guy, right  from the word go. I mean morally, reprehensible, you know, he kills people for money. He doesn’t check out who he’s killing and and also is getting Alzheimer’s, so that combination is what I think Liam found very interesting and he’s excellent in the movie. 

A fourth? I didn’t know there was a third! 

Neeson has recently expressed interest in returning to Taken, with a fourth entry. Would you be interested in directing the sequel? 

*laughs*  they’ve done Taken 3 and also a prequel Taken TV series.  

I saw the first taken which I loved. I thought it was really good and the second one not so good but good in the sense that there’s a lot of kicking ass and Liam doing what Liam does in those movies. I haven’t seen three so I don’t know. But I think critically people felt it was going downhill if you see what I mean. 

Yeah, of course…

To be absolutely honest. I would do anything with Liam but it’s got to be a good script and so forth. He’s such a terrific actor and he brings empathy to his roles, you like this guy on-screen. He’s got the Tom Hanks syndrome, I think that’s what it’s called, even if he’s playing a bad guy you’re gonna like him and I think the same goes for Liam, he has that quality.

I couldn’t agree with you more, Martin. What was the shooting schedule like for Memory? 

shooting was 55 days. I shot a lot of the Interiors here in Bulgaria and went to El Paso. Did some shooting there. El Paso was chosen because the border wall goes right through El Paso and you’ve got Juarez, which is just over the fence. I mean, literally over the fence it was perfect and you’ve seen the film so you know that the the background to the film really is sex trafficking and obviously that’s a place where an awful lot of it goes on and particular people crossing the border, you know, immigrants from Mexico, coming across the border and so forth. The place is ripe for this sort of subject. 

Guy Pearce and Monica Bellucci were the second Headliners. What was it like working with them?

Well, first of all Guy Pearce I love. I mean, I’ve never seen that guy do a bad performance.  He gets very involved and everything he says and delivers, I  believe every word he says.  He’s one of those guys that could read the phone book quite honestly and have your attention, when you have an actor of that caliber and you get somebody like Monica who is so interesting. Some of those villain roles can sometimes be a little mundane and though Monicas is not in that much of the movie, you certainly remember her role. In the original It was a man, not a woman as the lead villain. So we changed it to a woman. We felt the relationship with her son, which is quite weird, almost more than a son. It just made it more interesting to have a woman in that part. 

She killed it, she was superb in the movie!

Yeah, you just like watching her. I mean some of those parts can sometimes be fairly boring, if you know what I mean? But she just brings so much extra to it and that’s why we cast her.  

Before we wrap I have to ask about Bond. You directed GoldenEye which was the start of Pierce Brosnan’s amazing succession as Bond and the same goes for Daniel Craig with Casino Royale. What did you make of the finale of both Pierce and Daniel’s final movies as 007, and will you step up to direct the next entry?

They’re two entirely different tones from those movies. Pierce was very much the Connery kind of Bond, there were wise cracks there. I thought the villainess was terrific and I thought that it had all sorts of classic Bond elements in terms of villains and Bond had the wisecracks ETC. Whereas clearly, when we did Casino Royale, we had to come back to earth again quite honestly and both the producers Barbra and Michael felt that the previous one which did very well at the box office just needed to come right back to Earth because You know, with invisible cars and ice palaces and snowboarding off ice floes, and so forth It just got too fantastic I think.

They had only got the rights to Casino Royale, I think the year before so it seemed a perfect fit. In a way It’s a prequel to Bond, he doesn’t become Bond until the end of that movie. So between all of us we decided we have to just make it more real and more gritty, much more like the books. The books have no humour by the way, if you have ever read a Bond book. The guy smokes too much, he smokes 70 a day and he also drinks too much and there’s even a reference, I think, in the novel of Casino that his liver is a bit dodgy, of course, it was based on Fleming himself, who drank too much and smoked 70 a day. So anyway, the idea was to bring it right back to here, that was the directive we had. That’s what we did.

What did you make with the finale? Especially Daniels

I liked it,I thought it was fine. I had no problems with it at all. I enjoyed the film a little long perhaps but well-acted and well-directed. Daniel has made a terrific Bond very much for now, if you see what I mean. It’s a very cynical world we’re living in and that’s precisely the kind of talent that movie had, I thought it was absolutely spot on. Daniel has made a great Bond series. 

Thank you for your time and congratulations on the release of Memory, Martin. 

Thank you, we’ll talk to you on the next one.