Part of the appeal of the 007 franchise for many is that the 23 official films have given viewers a snapshot of world travel taking them to all corners of the globe. The list of countries the secret agent has been to is pretty exhausting but as ever in the film industry all is not what it seems. Of course the world famous Pinewood Studios have been used countless times to portray all kinds of exotic locations but there are also many other examples of when James Bond locations have been faked. Cleverly edited establishing shots of a city’s landscape mixed in with the fake locations are a long-used movie trade trick and some of those go un-noticed whereas others are more visible. Here, in alphabetical order, are the details of 15 such places.
Afghanistan ‘The Living Daylights‘ (1987) – For Timothy Dalton’s debut outing as 007 this Central Asian location was actually filmed in the desert of Ouarzazate in Morocco which has played host to many films. ‘Lawrence Of Arabia‘ (1962), ‘The Mummy‘ (1999), ‘Gladiator‘ (2000), ‘Hanna‘ (2011), ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen‘ (2011) as well as parts of the TV series ‘Game Of Thrones’ were all filmed at this door of the desert city.
The standout sequence in “Afghanistan” sees Bond escape from a Russian air base by aircraft. Whilst trying to diffuse a bomb he is attacked by henchman, Necros and as they scrap away the loading ramp opens and a net containing opium bags tumbles out of the back of the plane taking Bond and Necros with it. The net remains attached to the aircraft as the two men fight to the death clinging on to it as it hangs in the wind.
Azerbaijan ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ (1999) – Hankley Common in Surrey, also used to replicate Bond’s family home in ‘Skyfall‘ (2012), is used for close-up shots of the Azerbaijan’s oilfields. Cuenca in central Spain is the site of the oil pipeline. A skiing sequence of events in the “Caucasus Mountains” was filmed on Mont Blanc near Chamonix on the Italian-French border.
Capital city Baku is all fake; the exterior shots of Electra’s palace is Küçüksu Palace in Istanbul, while the interior is the Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa (also used in ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ and ‘Four Wedding’s And A Funeral‘) in the glamorous town of Luton, Bedforshire (UK). The casino bar is Halton House in Buckinghamshire and the airport where Bond exits the country is Northolt Airport, South Ruislip.
Bolivia ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008) – Unhappy with MI6 officer Strawberry Fields’ (Gemma Arterton) choice of hotel as part of their cover, Bond takes her by taxi to a far more upmarket hotel. The Andean Grand Hotel in ‘Bolivia’ isn’t really a hotel but is actually the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (National Institute of Culture) in the World Heritage area of Casco Viejo in Panama City.
The main villain Dominic Greene, holds a party which Bond attends with Agent Fields shortly after he seduces her. The location of this is of course not La Paz in Bolivia but the Old Union Club in Casco Viejo where all the rich people used to go and party. The ruins were scouted out for the film in October 2007 and is (as it was back then) now like an old shell but believe it or not it was completely revamped for shooting which can be seen in the ‘On Location’ dvd extra.
China ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) – Though the aerial shots are real the rooftop pool scene was actually filmed in London in Canary Wharf at the Virgin Active Classic Health Club. Still in “Shanghai” Bond follows hitman Patrice into a high-rise building but yet again its London and the Broadgate Tower at 201 Bishopsgate although its the entrance on Primrose Street which is seen.
Croatia ‘From Russia With Love‘ (1963) – Istanbul’s Sirkeci station plays itself as the Turkish station where the Orient Express departs from and it also stands in for Zagreb.
Cuba ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) – Cadiz in Spain fills in for Cuba’s capital Havana but the cigar factory where Bond goes searching for Zao was actually shot inside Simpson House in Hackney in north London
Haiti ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008) – Due to its diversity Panama doubled up for a couple of countries; the aforementioned Bolivia and Haiti. Colon fills in for Port Au Prince and sees 007 gets into a bit of a tussle in a hotel and rides along a crumbling street to the waterfront docks in another dangerous part of the city.
Kazakhstan ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ (1999) – Sites in Spain, England and Wales were all used to replicate this Central Asia country. Tudela in Spain is where 007 meets Christmas Jones. The pipeline terminal is the Motorola building in Swindon, Wiltshire (UK) but the actual pipeline is Snowdonia in Wales. The explosion was filmed at Black Park colliery in Chirk, North Wales.
Madagascar ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006) – Bond chases bomb-maker Mollaka from a snake-mongoose fight to the ‘Nambutu Embassy’ which was actually Nassau in the Bahamas; a place synonymous with previous Bond films. The “Madagascan” construction site is part of a military base at Coral Harbour on New Providence Island.
Montenegro ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006) – Bond and Vesper check into the Hotel Splendide which is actually the Grand Hotel Pupp in the town of Karlovy Vary, Bohemia on the west side of the Czech Republic.
North Korea ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) – Would you believe it that Aldershot (UK) was used to replicate the world’s most repressive country?! Although it was mostly shot on the backlot at Pinewood, parts of this Hampshire town’s military training area was also used for the opening sequence.
Russia ‘GoldenEye‘ (1995) – The Russia bungy jump at the start was Tusker Dam in Hittnau, Switzerland. Epsom Racecourse doubled up as the St Petersburg Airport, the tank chase was filmed in Leavesden (UK), Hertfordshire, St Petersburg Square was Somerset House (which was used as MI6 HQ two years later in the next Bond movie ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘) in London, the interior of the Russian church is St Sofia’s Cathedral in Bayswater on the aptly named Moscow Road. It’s exterior is Brompton Cemetery near Earls Court and the “Grand Hotel Europe” is the Langham Hilton at Portland Place in London.
Serbia ‘From Russia With Love‘ (1963) – The previously mentioned Sirkeci station in Istanbul was used to portray three stations in three countries including Serbia capital Belgrade.
Siberia ‘A View To A Kill‘ (1985) – The pre-title credits may be set in Siberia but were actually filmed at a couple of places; Glacier Lake in south-east Iceland and the Vadretta di Scerscen Interiore on the border of Switzerland and Italy.
Slovakia ‘The Living Daylights‘ (1987) – Bratislava (now Slovakia but back then it was Czechoslovakia) is where the 15th entry in the James Bond series begins. 007 is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer from a concert hall in Bratislava. This was all shot inVienna which is less than an hour away.
Vietnam ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ (1997) – The caption on screen may say Halong Bay (Vietnam) but it is actually the limestone rock karsts of Phuket Bay in Thailand. It’s capital city Bangkok also stood in for the Saigon high-rise which Bond and Wai Lin abseil down. Many websites state that the building used was the Westin Banyan Tree Hotel BUT it is actually the Sinn Sathorn Tower on Krung Thonbrui Road, a kilometre down the road, where they make their escape on motorbike.
Of course there have been many more ‘faked’ locations in the Bond films, usually with places around the UK filling in for other British and European towns and cities.
Many, many thanks to Tony Reeves