Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bang, Bang, Vroom, Vroom

The first time I saw Daniel Craig on the Skyfall set as James Bond he was coming out of a metallic Land Rover in a silver-grey suit firing a shiny gun. He was very sexy, surprisingly short and wearing very tight pants. For days my Facebook status was all about Daniel Craig’s tight pants. To be fair, the tight pants were part of a tight suit. I guessed Brioni (the suit just felt Italian to me), but I was wrong, very wrong. It was, in fact, Tom Ford. (And just an aside: Can Tom Ford do no wrong? I think probably not.)

The suit looked amazing on Daniel Craig’s James Bond. The silvery steeliness reflected something in his eyes and in his persona. The suit seemed to dance on his body, the fabric caressing and releasing his thighs as he walked. To me the suit seemed to balance the essence of James Bond – a loaded gun and a sensual lover.

I have been thinking a lot about fashion and style of late – how fashion is about desiring something and (your) style is about defining something, claiming something, saying it’s yours and that you are somehow what you are presenting. I don’t think the suit was a casual choice – how could it be? For me, it was a perfect choice and not only because I was crouched down only a couple of feet away from those pant legs. The suit gave structure to Daniel Craig’s beautifully muscular body, enhancing it in a way jeans and a t-shirt would not have done. It gave him a context too. I am not a crazy man firing into a crowd – I’m a man in a suit. I’ve got a job to do. Bang, bang, I am doing my job. Vroom, vroom, off I go.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the difference between men and women. Why is it that women don’t write more about masculine beauty? (Ok, sure, romance novels, but I mean, c’mon.) Seriously, women, look at this.

I know the first impulse is not to write about it (maybe not even the 192nd impulse.) I also know women are not as visually driven as men, but really, look at that man’s back. And also, c’mon, write about it. (This Bond Girl looks for cigarettes and some Scotch.)

It’s all about beauty and desire, so back to the tight pants. I think every man should have a great suit and a pair of tight pants. For the record, Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime called the look ‘body conscious’. Yes, very. You may not want to go underwearless like James Bond – (there is a really slight chance he was wearing whisper-thin boxers, but I doubt it – I was crouched down by his legs a long time. I looked. I saw everything. I’m just not debriefing you on everything I know. So sue me.) But for the record, gentlemen, when you do get your tight pants, just make sure when I see you I immediately think bang, bang, vroom, vroom. Thanks.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I Was A Bond Girl, Kinda Sorta

My time on the Skyfall set was mostly fun, though I did moan a lot about my “costumes”. It all began with a little error in translation – I was told to wear ‘pastel’ to the set and to me that means baby blue, pink, maybe even coral. Soon I got a dressing down from the wardrobe mistress who threatened to send me home for my totally inappropriate outfit.

“Have you never been on set before?” she asked angrily.

No, actually, I haven’t and as often happens when people start yelling at me for reasons I don’t quite understand, I got all deer-in-the-headlights and froze.

Erica, my soon-to-be on-screen wife, who had also been yelled at for wearing inappropriate clothing charmed the wardrobe bitchtress mistress and off we went to get our costumes.

It was about 7 in the morning (and late by film crew standards), most people were already on set so all of the costumes were already picked over, but the wardrobe mistress noticing perhaps my dazed-and-confused expression decided that she would now be nice to me.

“This is your lucky day,” she said. “You get to wear the Joseph jacket.”

The Joseph jacket was yummy, except for two things. One, I cannot wear the color stone (that’s beige, folks) and two, the extra 75 desserts I had had the month before prevented the wardrobe mistress from being able to zip it up. Goodbye, Joseph jacket, it was nice knowing you.

What I ended up wearing made me feel like a (male) New York City cab driver. I am not a girly girl by any stretch of the imagination, but really I need to feel at least a little bit feminine. Everyone assured me it didn’t look so bad, but I felt awful in it – but it lent itself to my first storyline.

Erica, my partner in wardrobe inappropriateness became my on-screen partner. Here she is (out of costume).
In the scene we filmed near the Halkbank, we were a lesbian couple from Brooklyn on our honeymoon. She was the Julianne Moore to my very macho Annette Benning. Our two kids (are all right) at home in Brooklyn. We stood on that street corner consulting a map as a Land Rover with Daniel Craig’s stuntman zoomed by. Here is a photo our fan John took of us.
The next day I was called to the set I had gathered that what was meant by ‘pastel’ was actually neutral, as in beige, grey, black and brown. Since I have black and grey clothes, the next time I was able to act in my own clothes. In that scene I spent the afternoon with my former roommate Gennady. I told him to first look at the camera, then look at the zooming Land Rover. It was a word to the wise and he kept looking in the camera’s direction in all the shots. We, of course, had a backstory too. I was his professor’s younger wife and he was a Ph.D. student and we had run off for a romantic weekend in İstanbul. In the scene we were standing near a cart that had cleaning supplies and rope and other strange odds and ends for a pazar in the heart of Eminönü Square.

“Should we get some rope and a feather duster to take back to the hotel room?” I asked.

Gennady knows me well and didn’t answer, he knew I would just run with whatever he said so he just conserved his energies for looking at the camera.

I don’t have pictures from that day, and that was also the day that a seagull sent a load of good luck raining down on us – and our own, personal clothes.

This is how the Daniels (that’s Daniel Craig and the stuntman also known as Daniel – but is Freckles to me) remember me. By this time I had made friends in the wardrobe department – and since they liked me, I got to wear something that actually was feminine and gave me a waist. I wore this outfit when I was crouched near Daniel Craig's...well, more on this soon.

The last outfit I wore was this one.
And here I am with my on-screen husband James. (I am nothing if not versatile.) James was everything you could ever want in an on-screen husband – kind, patient and not easily thrown. We did the scene 50 or 60 times and he was always in character, good naturedly asking if I was hungry or if we needed to get anything else for our kids at home. (We had three. Will, 14 and the twins, Rebecca and Lisa, 12.)
Really, there’s a lot of time between takes and standing around can get boring. That’s why it was fun to play fight with the Iranian stuntman behind me.

“Hit me. Hit me.” I told the Iranian stuntman.

“I cannot hit a girl,” he said.

“Dude, you’re a stuntman. Pretend to hit me and I’ll pretend to hit you.”

My on-screen husband patiently watched me karate chop and play kick the Iranian stuntman until they (finally) called a wrap for the day.

So that is a brief look at my time on the set as a Bond Girl. Now that you know what I look like, keep your eyes peeled for someone with short brownish-reddish-blonde hair somewhere in the opening sequence in Skyfall. If you see me, let me know.

Friday, November 9, 2012

(My) Secrets from Skyfall

One of my very first posts from my Hürriyet Daily News blogging gig was this funny piece about Skyfall. And now the time has come for me to tell you all the things I didn’t tell them.

First of all, you should know that I was picked up more than a cranky two-year old on that set. And for the record, no, I don’t want to see your tattoos, ride on your motorcycle, go to your house in Bodrum, protest something with you or hear your Michael Jackson cover band, but thanks for asking. Actually, the first three “offers” came from the same guy who called himself Eddy. When you’re working long hours on a film set with lots of people standing around waiting, chit chat is normal. I was chatting with a lot of different people, but Eddy had an agenda. I had only shown polite interest in him, but I guess he liked me – or more likely, wanted to get into my pants – so he proceeded to show me the tattoos on his neck and on his forearms. When I didn’t show enough interest, he showed them to me on his cell phone because, you know, in New York we never really get to see tattoos, do we?

Eddy had also chatted with my former roommate Gennady that day and Gennady is the kind of guy that can talk to anyone about anything. I kept trying to tell Gennady not to encourage him, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. When Gennady left to do his scene, Eddy gave me several backhanded compliments including how I did not dress like an Italian (Yeah, because this is my costume. We’re on a movie set, remember?) and the all-too-accurate guessing of my age, which I found less than charming. (For the record, a woman likes to think that she can shave 5 – 10 years off her age on a good day – and dude, if you want her to like you, feed her vanity. That’s like womanizer rule # 1.) He had told me he worked in the resort/hospitality business, which translates into a womanizer’s playground – but he was the absolute worst womanizer ever. When he insisted I take his phone number, I found it easier just to put it in my phone under “AnnoyingEddy” and not pick up the next day when he called and the next day after that. Thankfully, he got the message. And you know how it is when someone’s annoying they’re usually not just a little annoying, but a whole lot annoying? Eddy was a whole lot annoying. He couldn’t even just be normal in the scene, but had to ham it up with double and triple takes. The next break we got I went over to where Gennady was and hung out with Tom and Jeremiah who were grad students. Tom was reading Delueze or Guattari or quite possibly both. It’s funny they don’t come up more in real life (Delueze and Guattari, not Tom and Jeremiah) because they say things like desire is a machine. You know on a good day desire is a beautiful machine and on a not-so-good day (like around Eddy) desire is a bad, bad machine.

Actually, sometimes it is a funny machine, like the guy who wanted me to protest with him at the Hilton.

“What will we be protesting?” I asked him.

“Art,” he replied.

I kinda really like art, so I asked, “But what about art?”

“It’s a protest about art and it’s at the Hilton,” he replied.

And yes, the guy did have a good command of the English language, we had spoken at length the day before. If only he had said we were going to protest against Paris Hilton I would have been all over that in a hot second.

But my favorite guy was Kurdish Peter Lorre. Like his name suggests he was Kurdish and looked like Peter Lorre (Peter Lorre in M or Peter Lorre in Ninotchka, but most definitely not Peter Lorre in Casablanca.) When we met we had the usual broken English/Turkish conversation where he told me he was Kurdish and I was Italian and American. The next day for no explicable reason he started speaking to me in French. I know I did not mention I spoke French and yes, it is a Romance language, but not one that I speak. He went on and on and when he was done I smiled and said, “İtalyan.”

But he just kept speaking French. Unfortunately, everything I know in French just leads to french so that was of no use whatsoever. For the first few days I just smiled and nodded, but then after a while I learned the be-distracted-by-something-on-the-set-after-you-wave technique.

I met a lot of people on the set. Here’s a photo of some of the non-Turkish extras.

Ok, and here is a contraband photo of the waiting area for the extras.
And the restaurant at the Sirkeci train station – we all had breakfast there at 5:30am every morning.
I took it as a good sign that we breakfasted under the watchful gaze of Sean Connery (even though it was in Murder on the Orient Express and not To Russia with Love) and there was also a picture of one of my all-time favorite actresses Wendy Hiller who was also in the movie.
So stay tuned for my next two posts in the James Bond Series: Bang, Bang, Vroom, Vroom (or What He Wore) and I Was A Bond Girl, Kinda Sorta (or What I Wore) coming soon to an RSS feed near you.