Skyfall: Bond’s Locations, Locations, Locations

Shooting in London

Production on Skyfall was based at the historic Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire just outside London.

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Pinewood has become synonymous with the James Bond films over the years, as all but three – Moonraker, License To Kill and GoldenEye – have been filmed there. Thirty-one different sets were constructed on eight sound stages at Pinewood, including the interior of the MI6 underground bunker, the interior of the Golden Dragon Casino, where Bond first meets Severine, and the exterior of the Dead City, an abandoned island off the coast of Macao, where Silva resides.

The 007 Stage was home to the spectacular underground train crash that occurs when Bond is chasing Silva.  For the crash, the crew built two full size train carriages, each weighing seven tons.  It was too dangerous to allow people to stay on the sound stage, so ten remotely operated cameras were placed inside the 007 Stage to cover the crash from various angles.

The paddock tank doubled as the exterior of the Golden Dragon Casino. The set was lit by three-hundred floating lanterns and two thirty-foot high dragon heads. Twelve artisans were flown in from China create the authentic structures. They were made from wound steel cables, silk fabric and lit from within by 400 light bulbs.

Many exterior scenes for Skyfall were shot on location in central London. Mendes found shooting in London to be a great challenge. “It’s my home town,” he explains.  “I focused on giving it a mythic scale – I tried to give it mood and atmosphere and a sense of a threat.  You could say we’ve shot in some of the expected places, but I hope we’ve done it in unexpected ways.”

Nine different London locations were used around the city.

Old Vic Tunnel

The Old Vic Tunnels doubled as an MI6 training ground, an underground car park on Great Suffolk Street near Smithfield Market served as the entrance to the new MI6 headquarters and the entrance to Broadgate Tower, London’s forth tallest building, was dressed and lit to look like an office building in Shanghai, the location in which a fight ensues between Bond and Patrice (OLA RAPACE). The Virgin Active pool in Canary Wharf doubled as Bond’s Shanghai hotel pool.

The National Portrait Gallery

The National Gallery was used as the setting for a covert meeting between Bond and Ben Whishaw’s character.  The filming crew worked at night during the museum’s closing hours amongst a collection of the world’s finest paintings. At sunrise, the unit moved outside to shoot Bond entering from London’s landmark Trafalgar Square.

Department for Energy & Climate Change

The opening of the teaser trailer shows Bond on the roof of DECC – Department for Energy & Climate Change. The locations department scouted various locations, but the view from the top of the DECC supplied the perfect backdrop for this important scene.

With the cooperation and assistance of the Mayor’s Office and Transportation For London, production was able to shut down both Vauxhall Bridge and Millbank for a scene where M witnesses an attack on MI6 headquarters. The explosion was represented by a few fireworks on the day, then an MI6 model was later rebuilt at a third scale on the back lot at Pinewood where Chris Corbould, the film’s special effects and miniature effects supervisor, used twenty-eight explosives to replicate the attack.

 Charing Cross

Over the course of four weekends, production filmed in the London Underground station of Charing Cross. The unit were given access to an out of service line to shoot a sections of the chase between Bond and Silva. The chase continued through Parliament Square up Whitehall, arriving in Trinity Square where the sequence comes to a climax.

Other locations in England that were featured in the film were the Old Royal Naval College and Hankley Common in Surrey.