This car chase wasn’t even in the original script. But while we were up in Iceland scouting locations, we were by this lagoon where all these icebergs were floating around and I said to the guys, “What happens to this place when it freezes up?” They said, “The icebergs freeze solid”. I said, “Can you drive cars on it?” They said, “Well, no one ever has...”
Vic Armstrong (action unit director): I told Lee, “If we do it, we’ve got to have four-wheel drive.” It came to about one-and-a-quarter million pounds for the four Jags and the four Astons. Everything had to be redesigned, new gearboxes, the whole works.
Andy Smith (special effects technician): You have to have four versions of each because if you had all the gadgets in one vehicle, it’d weigh about two-and-a-half tons and smash through the ice.
Chris Corbould (special effects supervisor): We all had to wear immersion suits, because you wouldn’t have lasted long in the water. Everything had an inflation bag, so if it did go through you could just pull a switch and there’d be enough buoyancy to keep up.
George Cottle (stunt driver): The English perception of ice is: “Don’t go near it! We’re not meant to be on it.” And yet the Icelanders were driving lorries on the lake, so when you see that, it puts your mind at rest. But the ice was tricky, and we did crack one of the Astons because we hit an iceberg. The way the car spun was unbelievable – the iceberg wasn’t even scratched and that opened our eyes. It kept us on our toes.
Armstrong: The challenge was, you’ve got no traffic, no traffic lights, no buses... There’s nothing except the goodie and the baddie. Both have the technology, their weapons cancel each other out, so it takes some doing to make it interesting. I went for this balletic feel and some gags with the weapons to add interest, and I think it works because it’s so different from your normal crash-bang-wallop car chase.
Tamahori: But I said, “Even that wasn’t good enough. Let’s only do half of it on the ice.” I asked Peter Lamont, who was working on the Ice Palace, “What would happen if we took half the chase inside your set?”
Peter Lamont (production designer): A new structure was worked out with ramps that enable you to drive around the Palace. Luckily the 007 stage is big enough to do it.
Tamahori: Something like this hasn’t been done before. Sure, they raced around a car park in Tomorrow Never Dies, but this one... It’s a palace made of ice, it’s collapsing, and it meant that Peter had to re-design it and make it able to take the weight – which put an extra $500,000 on it. A lot of money and energy was spent on this, but it was worth it in the end.