Whether you agree with those who claim it’s the best Bond of all time or not, there’s no denying Skyfall is the most successful. And two vital elements to that success have been at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival the past few days. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade might not be the first names you connect with ol’ 007, but this scriptwriting duo have been behind the past five of his outings, starting back in 1999 with The World Is Not Enough (which means they were probably responsible for Denise Richards being called Christmas solely for that gag in the last scene).
“When we first met Eon Productions, only two of our screenplays had been made into films,” said Wade at a masterclass held at the festival. “It just seemed preposterous that they wouldn’t have other writers on the project. But they’d read a few of our other scripts and liked our sense of character and action. If there’s action without a story or a character angle, then it’s just boring.”
The duo have been writing together for 28 years since they met while at university in the UK, and said they used to write pop videos to make money during the 80s. “The tragedy is that we were getting paid then when screenwriters are still being paid now,” said Purvis.
They’ve since gone on to pen 41 scripts, 10 of which – starting with 1991’s acclaimed Let Him Have it – have made it to screen. One that sadly didn't make it was a script they were asked to write about Elton John stealing 11 of the world's best footballers to play against a team of robots on another planet. "That was our second paid job," said Purvis.
Despite Skyfall’s monumental success, they pair confirmed that it would be their last Bond, with John Logan – who helped co-write with them on Skyfall – taking up sole scribe duties.
“We’re very happy to have done five Bond movies, I think we’ve gotten it to a good place,” said Wade. “I know that John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with a plot for another one, which takes the pressure off, because these films take up a lot of time.”