by Hans ten Cate
Saturday, 27 April 2002

John Cleese (as Q) and Pierce Brosnan (as James Bond) examine the new Bond car... the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish... seen here in a "secret" MI6 location somewhere in the London Underground. Source:

John Cleese told the Calgary Sun recently about his time on the set of the new James Bond film, Die Another Day. "I am Q now -- I actually have a name," says Cleese.

Cleese takes over the role from the late Desmond Llewelyn who died in a tragic car accident December 1999. The fact that "Q" would be taken over by Cleese had not been official until this past January. The film also stars Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, and Rick Yune and will be in theatres in November.

Filming Die Another Day

"It was terrific fun," says Cleese of filming his part on the set of Die Another Day. "I like the new director [Lee Tamahori, who also directed Along Came a Spider] and I always got on with Pierce." Both Cleese and Brosnan appeared in a comedy sketch together (in their roles as Q and Bond) for this year's BAFTA Awards in London. See No BAFTA Win for Harry Potter, But Cleese Featured, 25 February 2002

"He's a very clever actor," said Cleese of Brosnan. "He's fascinating because when you're working with him he seems to be doing nothing at all, but then you see him on-screen and he's fantastic."

Q Division

The role of "Q" has historically been a small but important one, adding both comic levity and a "coolness" factor to the films, since it is Q Division where Bond gets all of his life-saving gadgets.

In The World is Not Enough, Cleese (then in the role of "R," the assistant) introduces James Bond to MI6's new BMW Z8. Die Another Day features Cleese once gain playing the over-protective car salesman, this time with an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. The recently launched Aston Martin will be the fourth that Bond has driven, the first having debuted in 1964 with the film Goldfinger when the DB5 was fitted with "optional extras" such as ejector seats and rockets.

Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli say, "James Bond and the British Aston Martin car have had a long and successful partnership in our films, and we are delighted to welcome the latest model, the Aston Martin Vanquish, to appear in the 20th film of the series."

Dr. Ulrich Bez, chief executive of Aston Martin Lagonda, said, "I am sure James Bond will recognize some of the styling cues on the Aston Martin Vanquish. He will find it technologically advanced and perfectly suited for the type of work he does today."

The V12 Vanquish combines an aluminum and carbon fibre body, Formula One-style gearbox, and 460bhp V12 engine. The car has a price tag of $228,000 U.S.

Eon Productions is using a whole slew of Aston Martins and Jaguars to film the customary Bond car chase. Four Astons will be used in the shooting. There are also four Jaguars plus another four pristine versions for close-up work together with three more perfect Astons.

However, Andy Smith, one of the Bond crew responsible for the cars, is doubtful whether the untouched cars will get much of a chance to work. "Looking at the story boards, it’s a fairly brutal car chase. There's going to be a lot of damage."