There’s a certain level of expectation when it comes to the opening action sequence in a Bond film. Dump the gadgets? Fine. Take John Cleese out of the rollerdex? Okay. But Bond brings with it an expectation of adrenaline pumping action that showcases something special.
So when Casino Royale scribblers Neil Purvis and Robert Wade sat down to craft the opening chase scene, their minds flicked back to a documentary called Jump London. The programme featured the art of Free Running, or Parkour, as it’s otherwise known. If you’re going to feature this light-footed, obstacle-leaping art form in your movie, you may as well shoot for the moon and try to get the fella who invented it to star. So they asked and Sebastien Foucan accepted.
When TF catches up with Foucan on a building site set in the Bahamas, he is clearly chuffed to be going up against 007. The foot chase you’ve seen slices of in various behind the scenes TV spots unfolds in front of our eyes and, clearly, Foucan has been given licence to thrill.
Your first film and you’re in a Bond film, following in the great tradition of Bond villains – that must be a buzz?
Yeah, it’s fantastic. My friends are very excited.
And here you are in the Bahamas, that can’t be a chore?
Well, it’s beautiful of course. But it’s work, without a doubt. We work six days a week, early mornings so we can finish by 4pm. Plus, I’m cut off from my family here and it’s very difficult to contact them - the internet and phones are difficult from here. Despite all that, it’s incredible. I am very thankful.
How did you get involved in Casino Royale? Did you literally just get a call one day saying, “We want you to be in a Bond film?”
Yes, that was it exactly!
Not the worst phone call you’ve ever had, we’d imagine?
Oh no! I got a call and they said, ‘Okay, first, we want you in the film. This is the character you’ll play.’ They explained I’d be playing a villain. ‘Is that okay for you?’ and I said, ‘Yes, why not.’ That’s it. Then after we went through the possibilities, I showed them all the things I can do. I had a lot of input, I brought things to Gary [Gary Powell, Stunt Coordinator] and he had his own ideas, he is so talented. He’d done a lot of research, very thorough research, on Parkour. We worked together to work out the set ups and what you’re seeing, this is what I can do mixed with the input from Gary’s team to make it cinematic.
Do you find this work quite restrictive, being on a wire and hitting your marks?
No, it’s just a new form, a new way. You just adapt to it. It’s not restrictive, it’s something to get used to and I have to, because it’s part of the job. It’s about safety, security and also I have my part where I can do my proper stuff, so I’m very happy.
You’ve already filmed a lot of scenes in Prague with Daniel, then production moved out here. How was it working with him - he’s a physical guy, isn’t he?
Oh yes, very much so. He is brutal with himself when it comes to the action scenes. We filmed the embassy scenes in Prague, then came out here to shoot the foot chase. We met weeks ago in rehearsals so we’ve been shooting together, fighting together, eating together! We play on a crane together – I say play but I don’t think it was playing for Daniel - but it was a good experience.
There’s been a lot made of him being afraid of heights but seriously, who wouldn’t be a little wary 200 feet up?
He is a professional. He was still able to give me acting advice up there. He would say, ‘Okay now Sebastien, you have to look here and do it like this.’ All this helped me and it was very good of him.
What you do seems to be geared more towards stunt work. If you had to choose in the future, would it be acting or stunts?
I can say I respect the job because I now know what it takes to be a stuntman. It’s not about crazy guys, it’s a real job. You have to be focused but it’s not something I would want to do. It’s a different discipline to what I’m used to but there is something very close between them, something in the mind - controlling the adrenaline and being able to express yourself. They have to think about safety and also to be so good, you have to know everything – wires, jumps, driving, fire, fighting – there’s so many things, it’s very complex. I couldn’t do that.
So it’s acting then…
Yeah, I think I can do it. I have to get a coach to teach me more but definitely I feel I can do more. It’s seemed to work very well so far! I’m in a James Bond film, what more do I need?