While the twenty-third Bond flick Skyfall enjoys its record-breaking box office debut, the auto and lifestyle online magazine Web2Carz is featuring an exclusive interview by Steve Karras with the man who’d shaped the look of the franchise in its earlier years – award-winning production designer Sir Ken Adam.  Adam has seven of the Bond films to his credits in addition to films like Agnes of God, The Madness of King George, and Dr. Strangelove. In the interview Adam discusses his family’s escape from Nazi Germany, his time in the RAF, 007, and his work with Stanley Kubrick.

On filming Dr. Strangelove:

“We had an incredible relationship because were both pretty young. I used to drive him to Shepperton studios in my E-Type Jaguar; he didn’t allow me to drive faster than 30mph and when you drive anybody every day for 5 or 6 months you get to know that person very well. He especially liked hearing about my experiences flying Typhoon fighters during the war.”

On Kubrick’s possessiveness:

“Kubrick stood behind me all the time.  He tried to get involved in every aspect of filmmaking. I had initially done a different design of the war room on two levels and when I showed it to him during our first meeting he love it. Then after two or three weeks during our daily drive to work he said to me, ‘Ken I don’t know what to do with all of the people on the second level. You have to re-design it.’ And that shook me after three weeks of already working on the design. So I went through the gardens at Shepperton studios to calm down, took a valium and started redesigning and when he saw the triangle design I came up with said, ‘The triangle was the strongest geometric form.’ And by that time I was willing to admit anything he said. He also told me that he was going to light the entire set with the light over the table that I designed. And while it was a close relationship, at the same time I felt that it was fatal for me to be that close to someone like Kubrick because he became totally possessive.  He was the most possessive director I’d ever worked with and at the time I swore it was the last picture I’d work with him.”

Adam did end up working with Kubrick again, however, on Barry Lyndon, for which Adam won his first Oscar.  Check out the rest of the interview here.

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TNB Arts and Culture Editor CYNTHIA HAWKINS teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Most of what she thinks she knows comes from movies, including how to tango, how to take someone down with a ballpoint pen, how to curse in French, and how to catch a moving train. Her work, on movies and otherwise, has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as ESPN the Magazine, Parent:Wise Magazine, The Good Men Project, New World Writing, Strange Horizons, and numerous alternative weeklies and anthologies. You can find Cynthia on Twitter and at cynthiahawkins.net.

4 responses to “Legendary Production Designer Sir Ken Adam Talks Bond, WW II, 
and Kubrick”

  1. Jena says:

    You should give credit to the author who actually wrote the article and not just use your byline up there.

  2. Larry Levine says:

    Yeah, the Web2Carz link is to a story, not an interview….and you use the same headline they used.

  3. Art Edwards says:

    I’m always amazed by the sets and lighting in Kubrick’s movies. I suspected he was kind of a freak boy about it. I can see him hovering this poor guy, making his opinion known just by his presence. I wouldn’t have worked with him either, and then of course would’ve worked with him again.

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