Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 – Hilary Saltzman interview (exclusive)
Interview by Rob Carnevale
HILARY Saltzman, the daughter of legendary Bond producer Harry Saltzman, talks about the making of 007 documentary Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 and how it helped her to discover things about her father she hadn’t previously known.
She also talks about the continued success of the Bond franchise with Skyfall and her own filmmaking career, including a project about Ruby McCollum that she is starting to get financed. Everything or Nothing is released on DVD on Monday, January 28, 2013.
Q. How was the experience of making Everything or Nothing?
Hilary Saltzman: It was very cathartic actually because I had been carting around for over 20 years these trunks of memories and photos that my mother had taken but I had never had the time to delve in and archive them. So, the filmmakers asked me to do that and it turned into an extraordinary and very personal journey.
Q. Did you find or discover anything you didn’t know that surprised you?
Hilary Saltzman: Yes, of course. My memories, as any child’s memories, start when they are three or four-years-old, so I saw a lot of photos of us as a family with me as a baby and I really saw what a beautiful, strong family unit we were – and that’s very important to me to see my father, especially, in that capacity because by the time I was more aware of things he was already so busy on the Bond films. In fact, I celebrated my 50th birthday last year too so I was born into the very beginnings of this, so it was a really wonderful feeling to see that strong family connection early on, especially given some of the tragedies that followed.
Q. Everyone talks about the Bond franchise as being a family. What was it like for you witnessing it first-hand and being on the inside of all that?
Hilary Saltzman: It was wonderful. The best part of it was being able to travel all around the world because I travelled for all of the films and kind of grew up on film sets until I was 11 when I needed to buckle down at school. But it really was a family – the crew was a repeat crew and they came with their wives and their children. So, we all grew up together and were able to watch these extraordinarily creative people working together on these wonderful films. It really was a gift.
Q. Do you have any particular favourite memories of being on Bond sets?
Hilary Saltzman: One wonderful memory that I have was at the age of 11, when the cast of voodoo dancers from Live & Let Die performed a special birthday dance for me. It was so special and sweet. But I was someone who liked to sit in the corner and watch quietly, so I learned a lot just by doing that rather than wanting to be at the centre of everything. Maurice Binder [the film title designer] was my great uncle and he dressed up as Father Christmas for me as little girl, as well as teaching me how to drive. Everybody has friends of their parents that they get to know and hang out with while growing up and these were the friends of my parents. So, it was the norm for me to be around these incredibly talented people.
Q. Do you look back and realise how special that was now, rather than just seeing it as the norm?
Hilary Saltzman: Oh definitely, I mean it was extraordinary. I grew up around creative geniuses – incredible directors, set designers…. Ken Adams and I are still very dear, close friends. It was a wonderful experience to be able to see an idea being talked about around a table, and then be taken onto the set and subsequently appear on-screen and be able to entertain thousands of people. It was quite a thrilling time. That’s why I became a filmmaker probably [laughs].
Q. You work in independent film, don’t you? How does that differ from the blockbuster world of the 007 franchise? And how hard is it to get films made?
Hilary Saltzman: It’s a very, very hard world – a very tough world. I think about my father and draw on my father all the time. Whenever I’m feeling down or feel that I’m not getting anywhere, I remember how he persevered and pushed through, how he believed in something and never stopped trying to get it made. He was and continues to be my biggest inspiration and I draw so much strength from him.
Q. Are you working on something at the moment?
Hilary Saltzman: I have a film called Ruby McCollum, which is about an extraordinary black woman who lived in Florida in 1952. (See note below). For me, I aim to make films that teach, inspire and entertain. In this instance, I want to tell a story that will help others, especially women world-wide that are abused sexually and find the law turns the other cheek, like in India. I want to create films that make a difference to people’s lives and films that help people to realise they are not alone.
Q. What’s the current state of play with that?
Hilary Saltzman: It’s in the process of being financed. I’ve been looking for financing for a couple of years and I think I may have found people in England, amazingly enough, who are willing to do so. It’s ironic because my father went there to make films too… so, it’s almost like I’m now following in his footsteps. My father taught me to follow my gut instincts and to follow my heart’s desires and always be true to yourself and your creativity. And I admire him so greatly for it. He and Cubby [Broccoli] stuck by those principals and created one of the most extraordinary cinematic legacies that will ever exist.
Q. What did you think of Skyfall? You couldn’t have asked for a better, or more popular, way to honour Bond’s 50th anniversary…
Hilary Saltzman: Absolutely… When I first saw Skyfall the first thought I had after seeing it was just how incredibly entertained I was. And that was what my father always strove to do. He was a person who wanted to keep the audience thrilled from the moment they sat in the char to the time the lights went up. And I think Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli achieved exactly the same thing with Skyfall.
Q. Do you have a personal favourite Bond movie?
Hilary Saltzman: If there’s a personal favourite maybe it’s From Russia With Love because I’m in it with my mother and grandmother. The film was shot in 1961… it came out in 1962 but we filmed in 1961 and my mother was pregnant with me and she’s in the scene with Sean Connery on the train and my grandmother is standing next to her. So, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Q. There’s a lovely photo of you as a young girl with Roger Moore as part of the promotional materials for the film. Is that another special memory?
Hilary Saltzman: That was actually Deborah Moore’s confirmation! Deborah Moore and I were like sisters… we’re still very close today… It’s another example of how close everyone was. Once you’ve been part of a Bond film you join a very beautiful, special family-style club and you don’t forget it. It’s a part of being involved in that world… not many people experience that so you really do hold onto those memories and cherish them. Deborah and I have some very special memories of being together on film sets around the world.
Q. Do you think the Bond franchise has a healthy future?
Hilary Saltzman: I think it’s in a very healthy state. Barbara and Michael have hit their stride now. And we have a whole new generation coming up, so I truly hope that they bond together and continue the good work that has been done. I can see that the franchise has many, many years left as long as they stick to what they’ve been doing. I really hope so.
Q. Finally, the documentary points out that the 007 franchise hasn’t always been in such a healthy state. Albert Broccoli and Harry had to fight at various points to keep it alive and rejuvenated. Did you witness how much that took out of your father and how he responded to the bad times as well as the good ones?
Hilary Saltzman: Absolutely! I remember my father telling stories about it. He never talked about his war days, but he regularly spoke of the wars of making films [laughs]. It was like I said… he persevered because he knew he had something special, which needed to see the light of day. He always fought for what he believed in and he always found a way to succeed. A few years ago I discovered that he had been in the Overseas Secret Services [OSS] and worked in the Special Forces and was a spy himself and it makes so much sense to me now… everything that he did. He never spoke about it, of course, and I didn’t know about it until I moved to Canada and had to find his papers. He and Cubby came out of such a dark time in world history and they created something that allowed people to escape from life for a while, and to travel the world and have a sense of hope. And those are the kinds of films that I want to make… albeit ones that reflect the world that we live in today as well.
Editor’s note: Ruby McCollum became the subject of a famous murder trial in 1952 when she was convicted of killing a doctor she had accused of forcing her to submit to sex and bear a child. The case, in various forms, lasted until her death in 1992.
Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 is out on DVD now and Skyfall is will be released on high–definition Blu-ray on February 18 from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.