A Galaxy of Stars


Michael Kitchen and Pierce Brosnan on the set of Goldeneye , 1995.

Michael Kitchen

Michael Kitchen played the part of Bill Tanner, M's Chief of Staff in Goldeneye which we shot mainly at Leavesden in 1995. I'd done a few days with him on The Trial the year before where he played Block. Here, like then, he was only with us for a few days. While feature players one can often build up a friendly rapport - Pierce was always chummy, said good morning, knew our names - the smaller parts we were simply polite and cordial - as they were with us. There were a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, with day players it was just cast and crew.

I only mention Kitchen here because he was the only actor I ever witnessed who totally transformed himself from set to rushes. (Rushes, you will recall, is the footage we shot the day before, viewed on the morning of the following day. As 1st assistant camera I was always there - I LOVED watching rushes - to keep a wary eye out for any soft shots, odd lens or other technical jiggyphobies - and also to answer any questions, Phil, the DOP, might have had. I always took copious notes on set, so with my trusty notebook I could tell him what lens was on what slate, filter, aperture, etc, if needed.)

So anyway, it's usual to do a rough rehearsal or a walk through once we're set up and lit, so Kitchen and Brosnan do their stuff. Some actors give it their all on ever rehearsal, while others do a half-speed canter. Kitchen did a sort of hesitant slow, non-acting sort of rehearsal. All well and good, so then we come to shoot - and Kitchen does the same thing again. A sort of slow, reading the script delivery sort of delivery that seemed utterly unconvincing and well, bad . I looked at Roger the operator and he looked back at me, and Campbell (Martin, the director) clearly the wiser - was happy and we moved on. Kitchen did this all day, to my growing consternation - what was he playing at and just how terrible would he look in the rushes?

As it turned out, he was just perfect. It was there, all on the screen utterly convincing, nuanced, powerful, quirkily correct in every detail. He had aced it, and I couldn't see it. Most - not all - actors deliver on the screen what you see on the day, but not Kitchen. He knew exactly what he was up to, and so did Campbell.

Recalled 10th May 2020

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