"In retrospect, I suppose, what is so odd about the Q
scenes is that they really are the only humourous scenes in
the movie. I mean, there are funny lines, there are always those
little romantic or erotic double entendres, and then after Bond
has sliced someone in half, there will be a nice throwaway,
but these are the only sustained scenes where, in a sense, both
characters are being funny.
"And people like him, I think, because that is such a different
tone from the rest of the movie and the interesting thing is
that supposing Q came in later on, would it work to have the
humour in a later scene?"
Indeed, tampering with the format is something that Cleese was
keen to avoid.
"I could see no reason to change it at all," he explained,
when asked about how important it was to carry over any of Llewelyn's
traits. "I wasn't sure what the writers were going to do
with it. When the script arrived, I picked it up and it felt
"I tend to have an odd split in my mind. I tend to look
at it as a writer and, when the writing thing is OK and I'm
happy with it, then I put on my actor's hat. To give you an
idea of how strangely split I am, when I wrote the 'upside down'
scene in A Fish Called Wanda, it was only after I was happy
with the scene that I thought, 'My God, I'm going to have to
"So once I came to look at it as an actor, I thought, 'why
would I change the basic relationship Q has with Bond?' I could
think of no reason to do so."
So what does Cleese get out of appearing in a franchise such
"A very good daily rate and a lot of nice people helping
to get it right! And that's an accurate answer. It sounds flippant,
but it's a very, very nice job.
"Also, we all had fantasies about being Bond, but that
was real life Bond, if you know what I mean. It's strange, when
I look back, even when I was young, I was aware that there was
a group of English actors who seemed to crop up in smallish
and very nice parts in films, people like David Tomlinson and
Robert Morley, and I remember thinking, 'there's a very nice
living to be made doing that'.
"It's funny, ambling from project to project, but we need
to eat and it's an extraordinarily nice way of doing it, it's
so much better than being down a mine."