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From swashbucklers to super spies
31 October 2005
Director Martin Campbell on the set of The Legend Of Zorro
Director Martin Campbell on the set of The Legend Of Zorro
WE'RE used to hearing stories about tenacious writers and directors fighting for years to get their films made.

But for a sequel to a hugely successful action movie to take the best part of a decade to hit our screens, that's almost unheard of.

But that's the case with The Legend Of Zorro. The original movie, The Mask of Zorro - starring Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins - hit our screens way back in mid-1998, going on to earn around $250million at the worldwide box office.

So why the seven-year wait for the sequel?

"You know, for four years, we didn't even consider a sequel," explains director of both Zorro movies Martin Campbell.

"Then we started thinking that we'd all come back for another if we could find the right story, basically if we found a reason to do it all again."

And when the idea for Zorro to be simultaneously fighting to save his marriage and California from a mad French bomber came up, Columbia Tri-Star - the studio behind the Zorro movies - was more than happy to go for it.

"Every studio wants a franchise, more than one if they can. And I think Spider-Man really got this movie made. They saw the success they had with those two films and were looking for franchise potential.

"Films like xXx2 and Charlie's Angels 2 hadn't made a great deal of cash and they hoped we could create a Zorro franchise here. Spider-Man had a good second movie, so that's what we were aiming for."

But there were problems. After all, Zorro was happily married at the end of the first movie, and there's nothing as boring as happiness.

"Yeah, they were happily married, so we had to unmarry them and put that element back into the film, which led to us taking family as the film's theme - family and the wider family of California."

Likewise, the film's family of actors had to be widened to include Zorro's son, Adrian Alonso - "A great kid who learned English especially for the film" - and Rufus Sewell as the villainous Frenchman Armand.

But one pivotal member of the cast didn't return - Anthony Hopkins, whose character died at the climax of the original.

"Anthony actually wanted to be in the movie and we did consider it. But we would only get one flashback scene with him and we just thought it would be a bit of a cheap trick and exploiting the first movie."

But it's difficult to let Campbell go with out a few words about that other franchise he's working on: James Bond.

Campbell, who is credited with reviving Bond back in 1995 with Pierce Brosnan's debut GoldenEye, is set to direct Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig filling the well-worn dinner jacket of the super spy.

And after the tongue-in-cheek fun of Zorro, he is very clear on what he wants to do with this particular series.

"The last few Bond films all made a lot of money but they got way beyond Bond, I think. It just went too far with invisible cars and all that. We want to strip it back and make it real - more From Russia With Love than Die Another Day.

"It's like they did with Batman Begins. We can go back and reinvent the wheel. There is some fertile ground to go back to and I think we can do something different with it this time around.


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