It might seem like March everywhere else, but in Mexico City’s Plaza de la Constitución, it’s already the Day of the Dead. The plaza, known as Zócalo, is currently host to EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Spectre, the 24th James Bond adventure that features the return of both leading man Daniel Craig and Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes.
ComingSoon.net was lucky enough to have spent the day on the set of Spectre, which marks the production’s sixth day in Mexico City, filming the November 6th release’s massive opening sequence. Set during the city’s Día de Muertos celebration, the scene will shoot for an additional four days and will make use of more than 1,500 extras, all covered in elaborate make-up.
Check out seven new photos from Spectre in the gallery viewer below!
“It’s more [a challenge] for the city than for us,” says second unit director Alexander Witt. “For them to shut down a square where all the roads come together and traffic converges. Especially having the White House – or the Mexican White House – across the street. Logistically and from a security perspective, that’s a challenge.”
In the scene, Craig’s Bond meets Stephanie Sigman’s Estrella in the middle of the festivities, which, in addition to the massive crowd, include giant skeleton floats and other bigger-than-life decorations. Making their way through the parade, Bond and Estrella enter the Gran Hotel De La Ciudad De Mexico (which was also featured during production on The Living Daylights). Although Estrella thinks she’s seducing Bond, he’s instead fixated on her window, watching two men have a conversation.
We’re not sure exactly what happens, but we were told that Bond “stops something really bad from happening” and, killing one of the men, chases after the other man on foot. That man, played by Alessandro Cremona, is named Sciarra and, although he attempts to flee via helicopter, Bond does not give up pursuit, taking the fight into the air.
Although we didn’t get to see any of the helicopter stunt work, action fans should be very pleased to hear that the stunt pilot, Chuck Aaron, is the only man in the world insured to do 360 degree flips in his helicopter!
“Day of the Dead has been such a magical experience,” says production designer Dennis Gassner. “When we decided to do this, I was so happy… What you’re seeing is my imagination. You’re seeing inside my head.”
Gassner, who likens his job to creating a fine meal out of the best ingredients, took in the best visual elements of Day of the Day celebrations all around the world to craft the film’s massive parade sequence.
“I came back here with all of this,” he says, showing off walls and walls of production art. “I said, ‘Can you do it?’ They looked at me and [smiled].”
“We’ve pushed it a little bit, glamour-wise,” says makeup artist Naomi Donne. “…We have 107 people painting faces and we have body painters doing flex dancing on stage now.”
Five of the body painted dancers actually slept in their full makeup which, due to innovations that Donne says wouldn’t have been possible five years ago, only comes off through a special process. They can even shower! That’s a huge boon for production because there’s no need to worry about the makeup rubbing off through the long hours (or in this case days) of production.
“The Mexican decorator went out and she found 1,700 of these,” Gassner says of the red chrysanthemums that fill the parade. “As the work started and the work grow and as imaginations and excitement grew, we ended up with 350,000 of these… All from Mexico. All handmade by people who care about this movie. That’s this culture. This culture is saying something here. This is a statement about their world and how they want the rest of the world to see it. This is a format that the world can see it in… That’s what all these people are doing. They’re passionate about what they want to do and they want to share it with the world. They want to show people that they should come to Mexico.”
Of course, being a Bond film means that Mexico City won’t be the only exotic locale spotlighted in Spectre.
“When Sam and I talked about filming, a year ago in January, I asked him what he wanted,” Gassner continues. “He said, ‘Can you find me something hot and cold?’ I went, ‘This is a great start!’ I said, ‘Okay, let’s go to Morocco and let’s go to Switzerland! …I want to make something better than ever. It has to be better than ‘Skyfall.’ I did ‘Skyfall,’ too, so I’m pressuring myself. I want to top myself and so does Sam and Daniel and Barbara and Michael. There’s such a great family that’s bringing this to you and giving you the best experience when you sit in a movie theater.”