Commander James Bond France

[Divertimento] Interviews with Götz Otto and Ola Rapace

Version française : ici et ici.

On the occasion of the promotion of the new short film of the director Keyvan Sheikhalishahi, Divertimento (with Kellan Lutz, Torrey DeVitto, Ola Rapace and Götz Otto), Commander James Bond France had the opportunity to interview Götz Otto (Stamper in Tomorrow never dies) and Ola Rapace (Patrice in Skyfall). The perfect opportunity to go back with the two actors on their respective James Bond, and talk a little about this new non-Bond film with its director.

Note that the Club James Bond France has already spoken at length with the two actors a few months ago, in issues 56 and 57 of their magazine Le Bond. We recommend that you read to it since we will ask different questions for not be too redundant.

Interview with Götz Otto

CJB : Hello Mr. Otto. This is your second movie with Keyvan Sheikhalishahi, you must like working with him. What kind of director is he? What’s the atmosphere/mood on the set?

GO : Keyvan is a hard worker and make others work hard on set. He drives everyone to perform accordingly with what’s in his head… It’s just great working with him.

CJB : I know this is a 31 minute short film and therefore it might be difficult for you to answer my question without spoiling, but what can you tell us about your character in Divertimento?

GO : My character is the “conscious” of the game that’s played in the film. He is constantly collaborating with the “sub-conscious” of the audience. Since he’s a Chess-Player.

Ola Rapace et Götz Otto in Divertimento.

CJB : As our website is called Commander James Bond France, you can imagine we also have some questions about a certain movie released in 1997… Your hair looks black but in this movie you are blond. Was it your idea to make “herr” Stamper blond or did it come from the production (like the costume department)? Have there been several attempts to create you a villain look (maybe they tried to put a scar on you or something else?)? Was that an hair color that you enjoyed wearing?

GO : My character was South African originally. The Managing Director of the “Landmark Hotel” where Bruce Fierstein and Michael Wilson stayed whilst working on the script was called Mr. Stamper and was from South Af. The last-name “Stamper“ is not at all existing in Germany. But since we were improvising a lot on set… Jonathan Price as Elliot Carver made me German by coming up with the sentence: “So much for german efficiency”.
And since my character is standing around a lot in the film. Observing. I came up with the idea to give him two different colors of eyes to create some sort of menacing look. We had a couple of contact-lens settings… and voila. Stamper “looks“ weird. It’s funny, that nobody ever realized that. It’s probably because the hair issue is so dominant.

CJB : Sometimes it happens that some scenes are put aside during the editing. Do you remember filming scenes that were ultimately cut/deleted in Tomorrow Never Dies? What did they contain? (There is one in which you brutally kill a guard who is a little too idle on Carver’s boat, I believe).

GO : There is a scene, where Stamper is killing many sailors who survived the sinking of their ship in the beginning of the film. I sung “Alle meine Entchen schwimmen auf dem See…” a german lullaby – because I thought this would be really crooked. But in the end they got rid of it. My singing was probably too harmonic for the character.

CJB : At the end of filming, there were only three blank (understand : “unedited”) pages left on the movie’s script. How much have your scenes changed over the incessant rewriting? (In the novelization, the end of your character is different: Bond and Stamper fight to the death on the roof of the stealth ship). What is it like to work in this atmosphere? On the one hand it must be annoying to not know in advance your lines, but maybe there is a pleasant side to have every day the surprise of discovery new/better lines/scenes?

GO : I really liked this. In the morning you came to the Studio-Lot and Bruce Fierstein was sitting in the catering tent, re-writing the scenes for the day. It gave us a lot of freedom to improvise on set. But sometimes I really had to fight for my character, because I really wanted him to be as evil as possible. The positive/good characters improve if the contrast to the bad characters is as obvious as possible.

CJB : In France there was a fairly popular German show that was on TV in the early 2000s: “Le Clown” (Der Clown), a part of my childhood. In 2005 you played the evil Zorbek who kills Claudia in the film which concludes this TV show (Der Clown: Payday). How did you get the role and what are your memories of this movie?

GO : I was actually in France, in Saumur, where my parents are living when the director called me and said. “Götz, do you want to play the part, we start filming tomorrow”. – And I said “Wow… but I’m in France…” and the answer was: “Don’t worry, we’ll pick you up with a helicopter”.

The entire shoot was like this… crazy.

CJB : Like in a James Bond, there are plenty of stunts in this film, whether on foot, by cars, motorbikes, trucks or even in the air. We guess that there is a little army of professional stuntmen to double the actors on such a production, despite this: did you get the opportunity to perform some of the safest stunts yourself? Are there really noticeable differences between such a production and Tomorrow Never Dies?

GO : I’m a peacock. I always try to do as many stunts as possible myself. It is absolutely stupid and does not make the film better, rather worse. But it’s fun to dive down from an 8 story house into a card-box cushion. And to compare a german production with Hollywood… I would say: They all cook with water. But the Pot is bigger.

CJB : I don’t know if I should ask this one: please don’t feel obliged to answer it if you’re not comfortable with it. Is it financially profitable to play in a James Bond movie? Do they pay well (beyond usual) or is the salary grid pretty the same than in other productions in general?

GO : I was put on a weekly rate, that was rather “normal“. But since I was booked for more than 20 consecutive weeks… it payed the rent. And I was not at all working every day! But they wanted to have the freedom to have me at disposal.
But to be frank… I would have given the money to play this part.

CJB : What are your future projects? With all the films whose release/shooting dates have been postponed lately, how the COVID-19 is impacting your career currently?

GO : I recently was invited to “Cannes Series” with a Chilean/German Co-Production series about the “Colonia Dignidad”… a former German Sekt in Chile where I got to play “Paul Schäfer“ its leader. As you know, “Cannes“ didn’t happen… and we won’t make the second season… and… and… and… we are all in visual flight mode.

CJB : To conclude, could you give us an anecdote about Divertimento and Tomorrow never dies that you wish to tell?

GO : You wanted to ask questions that have never been asked… this question is so worn out, that I’m simply not answering… 😉

CJB : I would like to thank you for giving us so much of your valuable time for this interview, it was an honor to welcome you in our website. We wish you to have a success with Divertimento and wish you the best for the future.

GO : Thanks a lot. Stay safe and break a leg.

Interview with Ola Rapace

CJB : Hello Mr. Rapace. How do you choose your films among all those that are offered to you? What made you say “yes” to Divertimento?

OR : I look for talent and interesting artists. Keyvan was obviously super talented and the script very interesting.

CJB : I know this is a 31 minute short film and therefore it might be difficult for you to answer my question without spoiling, but what can you tell us about your character in Divertimento?

OR : My character is refusing to let go of and move on from defeats of the past. He is powerful and intelligent which makes him a dangerous opponent.

CJB : How was the shooting?

OR : I enjoyed every second of the shooting. One of Keyvan’s greatest gifts is his extreme presence which made the process very rewarding. There was a lot of talent among the other actors as well.

Götz Otto and Ola Rapace in Divertimento.

CJB : As our website is called Commander James Bond France, you can imagine we also have some questions about a certain movie released in 2012… Sometimes it happens that some scenes are put aside during the editing. Do you remember filming scenes that were ultimately cut/deleted in Skyfall? What did they contain? Maybe a dialogue line (your character is mute in the movie)? (There is notably one in which Bérénice Marlohe gives you a briefcase (?) at Shanghai airport, actually shot at Ascot racecourse, I believe).

OR : Nothing that I filmed was actually cut or deleted. My character didn’t have a single line in the script.

CJB : Rewritings are commonplace on James Bond films, how did your character/scenes evolved during theses? Were there some rewritings about your character/scenes?

OR : There were no rewrites in my scenes. As they were pretty complicated action scenes they were planned in extreme detail.

CJB : Did you have the opportunity to take anything for yourself during/after the shooting? Like a costume or something?

OR : I actually got to keep my costume. I appreciated that!

CJB : You also appeared as Patrice in the Skyfall section of the 007 Legends video game released alongside the film. How was the process which lead you to be modeled in a video game? They called you to scan you in 3D, didn’t they?

OR : Yeah, I was called to scan in 3D which was very interesting since that was my first time doing it.

CJB : If you play this game, how would it feel to play against “yourself”? Do you still feel satisfaction in finishing the level when it means killing “yourself” in the game?

OR : I would never kill myself! I’m too much of a survivor.

CJB : In the sequel of Skyfall, Spectre, a picture of you appear on a computer screen. How’s it going? Do they contact you to ask if they can use the picture in this movie ? Or when you signed for Skyfall, was there a clause that meant they can use a picture of you in the following Bonds? Did you get some money for this ‘cameo’?

OR : I didn’t get any money, sadly!

CJB : What do you like the most in the acting profession ? And what do you hate the most ?

OR : I love to meet interesting people and I hate the early mornings.

CJB : I don’t know if I should ask this one: please don’t feel obliged to answer if you’re not comfortable with it. Is it financially profitable to play in a James Bond movie (and in a Bond videogame)? Do they pay well (beyond usual) or is the salary grid pretty the same than in other productions in general?

OR : The money’s way better than the deals I’m used to.

CJB : What are your future projects? With all the films whose release/shooting dates have been postponed lately, how the COVID-19 is impacting your career currently?

OR : I just finished writing a book about my life as an actor, I can’t stand being out of work.

CJB : To conclude, could you give us an anecdote about Divertimento and Skyfall that you wish to tell?

OR : My first day on set on Skyfall, Daniel Craig knocked on the door of my trailer and gave me a bottle of an excellent red wine.

I almost fell in love with Keyvan’s mother while filming Divertimento. She’s an adorable lady who took care of us all in an absolutely fantastic way.

CJB : I would like to thank you for giving us so much of your valuable time for this interview, it was an honor to welcome you in our website. We wish you to have a success with Divertimento and wish you the best for the future.

OR : Thank you !

Interview with Keyvan Sheikhalishahi

CJB : How would you present yourself to our readers who don’t know you? What is your background? How did you come to make your own films? (And you wrote about Bond in a blog, aren’t you?).

KS : I have made three short films for now. I had the good fortune to work with actors from the James Bond films each time. Götz Otto for Vesper, Brigitte Millar for Nox and once again Götz Otto with Ola Rapace for the new one Divertimento. When I was younger, I started with two blogs including indeed one on Bond, I shot amateur films at the same time and during one of my high school’s year, I told myself that I had to take the leap and transform my last film project into a truly professional ‘real’ film. I said to myself that if Götz Otto agrees to do it, it would be crazy!

CJB : Tell us: what should we expect with/in Divertimento?

KS : I tried to juggle with both the schema of American blockbuster-type productions and author’s films with complex content. It’s a subtle balance that you have to achieve, which is eased when you have the chance to work with stars and well-known names, because the audience is immediately hooked into the film and want to decipher the story. So for Divertimento I tried to push the limits of the short film as far as possible.

CJB : Where did the shooting take place?

KS : At the castle of Champlâtreux.

CJB : In your opinion, what makes a film successful or not?

KS : The most important thing when you see a film, in my opinion, is to be able to forget your daily life and to immerse yourself in the particular universe of the film, even if it is a realistic one. For this, I work very hard with each department head to create an atmosphere that immerses the viewer. I also like to make a mainstream action film that has deep content and requires thought. Finally, I think that a successful film is a film which doesn’t bore you.

Kellan Lutz and Keyvan Sheikhalishahi on the set of Divertimento.

CJB : As a director and screenwriter, in addition to a fan, what do you think of the latest Bond films and their production? What do you expect for the next one(s)?

KS : I love them but each time perhaps I expect a little more from the content and the script. Other than the perfect first one of the Craig-era, this is maybe something missing a bit. For the next ones, I would like to be surprised, some novelty, not a feminine or non-British James Bond, which would be a big misinterpretation, but novelty in the stories being told and their atmosphere.

CJB : What are your future projects? With all the films whose release/shooting dates have been postponed lately, how the COVID-19 is impacting your career currently?

KS : I’m studying the possibility of making a film in the United States. You need to have lots of energy and be demanding. It would be great to realize this possibility.

CJB : Speaking of COVID, any idea about where (theaters, VOD, DVD?) and when we can see Divertimento (the release date)?

KS : Originally I had scheduled the premiere for the day that was after the James Bond premiere in Paris because Ola Rapace, Götz Otto and I were invited there. The premiere date is disrupted for the moment. But I will surely make the film available for the fans of the actors and anyone who wants to see it, either for mid-August or after the summer.

CJB : To conclude: an anecdote about Divertimento (or something else)?

KS : The film takes an unexpected turn in the last part, centered around responsibility and justice. There is a major scene which is kind of a judgment in a court. It was not at all intentional, but the statue that overlooks all the actors in this scene is the one of Mathieu Molé. There were several Mathieus in this family, they are mostly all magistrates and two were ministers of justice in the 18th and 19th centuries.

CJB : Thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview all of you.

Clement Feutry

Clement Feutry

Fan passionné de l'univers littéraire, cinématographique et vidéoludique de notre agent secret préféré, Clément a traduit intégralement en français le roman The Killing Zone et vous amène vers d'autres aventures méconnues de James Bond...

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