Daniel Craig’s 007 Digital Hand Scandal: The Untold Story

A tale about a costly goof on SKYFALL prompts some digging.

This morning I was pointed toward a video by the estimable Scott Wampler. In the video, a gentleman named Charlie Lyne recounts an apocryphal story about the making of Skyfall, told to him by an unnamed crew member on the film. Due to Twitter time restrictions on videos, the story was tweeted in two parts; you can listen to all four minutes below.

That is a GREAT story! The problem is I don’t buy it. Let’s discuss.

Like all good stories, it mixes in some truth to help sell the fiction. Mr. Lyne begins his story by painting a picture of on-set misery, that director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig were unhappy making Skyfall and generally “over it.” Juicy! That hooks folks right in, recalling as it does the current “I’d rather slash my wrists than make another Bond film” narrative, and sets the stage in which the admittedly hilarious mental image of Daniel Craig showing up on set wearing leather gloves with a tuxedo, only to be met with a bored shrug by an apathetic Sam Mendes, enters your mind. I mean, that's a glorious picture.

But by all accounts, both Mr. Craig and Mr. Mendes were flying high on the making of Skyfall, beaming with pride at premieres and showing up to press junkets all smiles and joviality. Mendes even did a commentary track for Skyfall, a bonus feature noticeably absent from the Spectre home video release. Does the picture of unhappiness Mr. Lyne paints at the top of this story ring true? Red flag!

The story also presents Daniel Craig as a shopaholic who likes to find bits of his 007 wardrobe out in the wild. This is true! On the Nerdist podcast Mr. Craig told Matt Mira as much (after noticing Mira’s Billy Reid pecoat is the same one Bond wears in Skyfall’s Shanghai scene). Lots of the brands currently associated with 007 (Billy Reid, Crockett & Jones, Orlebar Brown) owe their lucrative new visibility to Mr. Craig’s taste in clothing.

So based on what I know, it’s entirely possible that Mr. Craig showed up to wardrobe and presented costume designer Jany Temime with some dope gloves he found on Jermyn Street or wherever. It’s less likely that Ms. Temime, or Mr. Craig, or Mr. Mendes, or the caterer, or anyone with an ounce of sense or taste, would look at the gloves and say, “hey, those would look great with the $6000 Tom Ford tuxedo you’re wearing in the casino scene!" Watch the scene; look at some stills. Do those hands look digital? 

Which leaves us with the question: where in Skyfall would this glove story make sense? Well, Bond is wearing a lovely pair of unlined leather gloves by Dents in the Shanghai scene. It’s the only place in the film he’s wearing gloves and yes, this happens to be a scene where he ostensibly needs to use his Walther PPK-S. Could the filmmakers have “forgotten” Bond’s dermal-sensor gun (“coded to your palm print, so only you can fire it”) wouldn’t work while wearing gloves? The scene begins with Bond removing a glove to test the gun. Is this insert a pickup, filmed later on?

Is it possible Mr. Lyne (or the individual who told him this story) is confused and that it was this Shanghai scene that needed to be digitally rejiggered because of the gun's palm print detail? Watch the scene in question:

For some reason, Bond puts away his gun at one point, and the next time we see his hands - an instant later - he's got his gloves back on, through to the end of the scene. The gloves are very prominently featured in the ensuing struggle.

In the process of watching this scene, I remembered the first official still from Skyfall, back in February of 2012.

Ho ho! So it seems there’s a germ of truth to this story! But the details are a bit misplaced in the name of an entertaining yarn, and carried along on a contemporary current of folks slagging the Daniel Craig era. I’m happy to hold the line on that front.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager the truth of this story involves filmmakers making the glove goof on set, and catching the error in post (as per Mr. Lyne's anecdote). They then most likely added an insert shot of Bond removing his glove at the top of the scene, probably refilmed a shot or two (this looks to be the case in the shots of 007 hanging onto the elevator, and putting the gun back in his pocket), and maybe - MAYBE - a bit of digital hand-painting. (And hey, I apologize if you’ve read this far, but I have a history!)

Oh, and the gloves aren’t bad, but I’ve found out the hard way that a lot of 007's screen-worn items are SERIOUSLY form over function. Caveat emptor.