James Bond's Special Effects Coordinator Tells All About 'No Time To Die' Car Chase Scenes

One of the highlights of any James Bond film are the action sequences, specifically, the car chase scenes. From Bond behind the wheel of a 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series II in Dr. No to the Aston Martin DBS crash in Casino Royale there's been something for everyone, each film featuring escalating drama utilizing new special effects technology.

Chris Corbould has been the special effects supervisor on nine Bond films and has worked on 15 of the spy thrillers altogether. He's had a hand in many of the car chase scenes that the franchise has played out on screens worldwide since 1977. Die Another Day, the last Bond film, and No Time to Die, the latest installment, presented a new set of challenges.

In an interview with Newsweek, Corbould said, "The car sequence in Die Another Day was particularly challenging as the sequence took place on an ice lake." To create the scene Corbould decided to have all-wheel drive versions of the Aston Martin Vanquish and Jaguar XKR take to the ice. However, there was one big problem - all-wheel drive versions of neither car exist. So, the special effects team "adapted four cars of each type to be a 4x4, totally modifying the front end of each car."

In addition to the cars, the team had to "consider the safety of the drivers on an ice lake where they would be driving amongst explosions and there was the possibility of the car going through the ice," Corbould described.

Aston Martin DB5 No Time To Die
An Aston Martin DB5 takes center stage in "No Time To Die". Eon Productions

"We fitted automatic inflation bags into all the cars whereby if the car went through the ice they would automatically inflate and keep the car afloat. We also fitted both the cars with an array of guns, rockets and mines - always an exciting part of a classic Bond vehicle sequence."

Corbould says that the opening sequence of No Time To Die, which features the classic Aston Martin DB5 from Goldeneye was the most challenging sequence to date. He told Newsweek of his initial meeting with Aston Martin's team regarding the scene:

"We had initial meetings with Aston Martin where we announced we had a sequence with the DB5 in full combat mode and that we needed 10 of them. There was silence in the room at that point and then we got down to details. Do we try and rent 10 Aston Martins from loving owners? Well, if you owned a pristine DB5 would you loan it to a James Bond film to shoot an action sequence?"

Chris Corbould No Time to Die
"No Time to Die' special effects supervisor Chris Corbould poses on the hood of one of the Aston Martin DB5s used in the film. Eon Productions

Eventually the decision was made for Aston Martin to supply two original DB5s for Bond getting in and out of the the car, and driving off. Aston Martin's technicians and engineers would then create eight replica cars to do the stunts and special effects.

The DB5 is just one of the bevy of vehicles that viewers will see in No Time to Die. Each model shown in the film is designed to execute the director's vision of the production and fulfill product placement and location requirements, Carbould relayed.

"In the case of the Land Rover Defenders in No Time to Die where we devised an aggressive off road sequence which required an exceptional vehicle to carry out the rigors of the sequence ... the Land Rover Defender .... perfectly fitted the requirements of our particular scene."

The Defenders used in the film were specified according to Corbould's request. They are based on the Defender X model in Santorini Black, with darkened skid pans, 20-inch dark finish wheels and off-roading tires.

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, Series III Land Rover and Range Rover Classic also feature in the film alongside the new Jaguar XF. The partnership between the Bond franchise and Land Rover reaches back to 1983 when a Range Rover Convertible appeared in Octopussy.

Land Rover Classic No Time to Die
Daniel Craig, as James Bond, drives a Land Rover in "No Time to Die". Eon Productions

Despite having a robust lineup of old and new vehicles in the film, Corbould doesn't initially approach the film setting out that way. He said that the "storyline and script determines what is needed and in the case of Bond, he is linked with the DB5 as his personal car along with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage which have been important in the life of James Bond and therefore seemed appropriate to be featured in Daniel Craig's last film."

Aston Martin is well-represented in the film with the vintage DB5 and V8, modern DBS, and future Valhalla all making the cut.

"The important thing is to create something which is original, spectacular with an emotional aspect to it such as the tank cause in Goldeneye, the ice lake sequence in Die Another Day and now the DB5 sequence in No Time To Die," Corbould said.

Unlike other Hollywood blockbusters that use special effects and rely on computer-generated imagery to pull of scenes, every Bond film strives to be more authentic with its vehicle scenes.

Corbould said, "I think the public needs to know that we strive on James Bond films to do, wherever possible, everything in camera and for real."