An Interview with Richard Sammel
Interview by Oliver Bayan
Translation by Heiko Baumann / Photos by Sascha Braun
One of the last cast members of Casino Royale that became known was Richard Sammel, who played the part of Gettler, the one-eyed henchman in service of the mysterious organisation. Oliver Bayan of the German James Bond fan club Bondklub Deutschland (BKD) had the opportunity for an interview with the actor about his experiences on the set of Casino Royale. It first appeared in the December 2007 issue of D-007, the BKD magazine. The translated version is published here with kind permission. To learn more about the BKD and read the original Interview in German, visit their newly designed website at bkd-online.de.
An Interview with Richard Sammel
How did you get the part of Gettler?
It was a normal casting which took place in France. I’m hardly known in Germany, as I’ve worked in foreign countries for most of my career and made myself a bit of a name in France. Debbie McWilliams, who has been casting Bond movies for 20 years, tested me and I was chosen from some 150 actors.
There are pictures of scenes in which you appear that did not make it into the final movie. How much of your scenes ended on the cutting room floor? Do you remember any particular scenes that you would have liked to see in the movie?
Gettler is in Venice as a watchmaker, as there’s a watchmakers’ congress taking place in the hotel—a perfect cover. He should have shown up in the elevator and also near the bank where Bond is looking for Vesper. Those scenes weren’t shot due to lack of time. A scene in which Bond and Gettler get to meet in the lobby was cut, which is a pity as the name Gettler is mentioned here.
Your movie death is rather violent. How was that shot?
Well, that was kind of a shortcut as well. I did two weeks of underwater training as it was planned that Bond and I drop into the water and he kills me there. That couldn’t be done because there was not enough time. One mustn’t forget: I’m being introduced as the last bad guy, two hours into the movie. So it’s understandable that the director wanted to keep it brief for reasons of timing and tension. The next idea was that I get thrown into the water by Bond but land on one of those big balloons which would burst and throw me against the wall where I get pierced by a pole. In the end, we were just looking for a good movie death and ended up with the nail gun.
In the Venice scenes, the briefcase that we saw drop into the water minutes ago, reappears in Mr. White’s hands all of a sudden. Do you know if there were any scenes shot in which White actually picks it up?
The briefcase was a little problem. We were so busy with the fighting scenes that we somehow forgot about it. But Martin Campbell already had that scene in mind where I let it slip into the water. But as far as I know, a scene in which White picks it up was never shot.
Your scenes were shot in Venice and in Pinewood, perfectly edited. Where did you shoot the most? Were there any other problems that could be solved?
I shot in Prague, in Venice and in Pinewood. In Prague, it was just the hotel scenes that were cut in the end. By the way, a part of this was actually used: you can see me in the background when Bond and Vesper exit the elevator. That was the beginning of the cut scene with Gettler. The bigger troubles were in Pinewood. We worked in that famous Broccoli hangar. There was the paddock tank—14 metres deep—in which a huge flight simulator was placed with the sinking house built upon. We worked in this giant cage, everything was slippery and one would sweat about 5 litres a day. Because the director shot every action scene from numerous angles, some of them had to be done up to 40 times. There was a scene in which I get a chair over my head. We did that one about 15 times, and we only stopped because there weren’t any more chairs.
In what way did you benefit from Casino Royale’s success?
The benefit from the movie’s success is that having done a Bond movie looks always good on your CV—but that doesn’t necessarily result in getting into more and better movies. But I do have to answer more fan mail than before. Playing in a Bond movie for an actor is like being in the Olympic Games for athletes: taking part is everything.
What are you shooting currently?
I’m doing two movies in Italy: a 1930s detective/politics movie in which I play one of the main bad guys, the evil chief of police Enrico Silvestri, and one about modern arts business. We’re shooting that one in Rome, Torino and Berlin. I play a successful and highly acclaimed artist who is rarely seen but is much talked about.
Did you dub yourself in the German version of Casino Royale?
I certainly did.
How did you like the final movie and the Bond series in general, and how did you like working with Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Martin Campbell?
Casino Royale is the best Bond that I’ve ever seen. I found the choice of Daniel Craig to be risky but interesting, and I’m very happy about the movie’s success. Working with Eva, Daniel and Martin was relaxed but still intensive, professional, and exciting. One can only wish for every actor to have such an experience.