Andreas Wisniewski is an ex-ballet dancer, actor and film director. For film enthusiasts and James Bond fans he is well known for his portrayals of Necros in ‘The Living Daylights’.
Piotr Zajac (bondlocations): How did you got the part in “The Living Daylights”? Did you take part in casting or did you get a call from the producers?
Andreas Wisniewski: It went pretty much the usual way. With the big film projects you don’t meet anybody unless you have an agent, who is already representing you. My agent submitted me but it was not enough to get the job of course. The agent always thinks that you are right for the part (laughing) but there are casting people and the producing site that have to think that you are right. You have to audition so I went to audition. I made a screen test. Escpecially if you are young and new and there isn’t a lot of material that people can see you in they want to know if you can do this.
I’ve heard that according to the script Necros looked exactly like you.
Yes. The character was described like I looked. They were just astonished. That was of course nice but not enough. I still had to convinced them that I could do it. Screen test was just as usual. I did a little scene and they had recorded it, so they could discuss about it later without me.
The first scene that you were filming was the fight in the kitchen with Bill Weston. Did you fight according to choreography or was it rather spontaneous? How long did you train for that?
No, it was totally choreographed. The fight was choreographed to the detail. I had a few days of training before that which wasn’t really very much. I was a ballet dancer and at least I had some sort of physical awarness that I could fake a lot of things. That is what I did.
Did you bring your own ideas to the choreography of the fight?
I didn’t have any ideas at that time. I was blissfully ignorant of it all. I am sure that you know that for a stuntman it is not the greatest experience to be doing this with someone who is not fully trained. Bill broke a finger in the fight. I also slipped once and I hit him on the cheekbone and he was knocked out for a few seconds. That is the hazard of the profession.
Did you film the fight in Pinewood Studios or on location in Stonor House?
We trained in Pinewood, but the fight was filmed at Stonor House.
In the fight sequence there was a parrot present in the room. As far as I know it was exactly the same bird that we could see in ‘For Your Eyes Only”. Is it true?
I’ve never even heard about this. I’ve given fair amount of interviews about this over the years and some of the questions always keep repeating as you can imagine, but I’ve never heard anybody asking about the parrot.
Your character had a walkman. Is it right that in reality when you were filming you were not listening to any music?
There was no music. They don’t want you to do that sort of stuff because you should be receptive to instructions. Who knows, maybe the director wants to shout something at you. They want you to be able to pay attention.
You were filming at Stoner House. Also the scene with explosion. How was it done that the buidling was not damaged?
This is an art in itself how to do make fake explosions. I wasn’t particularly told about it but they must have taken all the windows out and replaced them with special glass. That would have been catastrophy if anything would happen to the Stoner House that is a listed building.
Later in the film we could see you in a scene at the swimming pool. Was it really a mansion that belonged to Malcom Forbes?
Yes. In Tangier. Nice property with a beautiful view.
Did you have an access to the swiming pool only?
No, I think we had a ground floor of the house that we could use. I don’t recall seeing anything else.
It looked like a good place for relax. Was it like on vacation or was it rather hard work only?
It was a bit of both. It was focused work. It has to be because there is a lot of money in stake, but the whole crew was so relaxed with each other that it never felt like hard work. I’ve never heard anybody shouting on that set or anything alike. Of course there were long shooting days sometimes. You know, the good work should always be fun in my book. Working hard doesn’t interfere with that. I remember beeing out in town in Tangier so we had plenty of free time to make some excursions and things like that.
Do you have any interesting memories from Morocco?
Indeed. Tangier was actually not the most impressive. We were filming the desert scenes in Ouarzazate doubling for Afghanistan. That was beautiful. It was my first time in Marocco and it was quite a different world.
As far as I know the film studio in Marocco was different than most of film studios in the world.
It wasn’t a studio at all (laughing). There was just a wall with a sign. It looked like there was gonna be something, but we walked through the gate and then it was just desert again. It was very funny.
What about the banquet scene where General Pushkin was attacked? It looked as it was in Morocco. Was it filmed there?
No. It was filmed in a building in England. It belonged to the Guiness family (Elveden Hall in Elveden, Suffolk). That is how you can be misled. You thought it was Morocco, but it was just up from London a few hours drive.
Another scene that was filmed somewhere else than the audience would expect was death of Saunders. He was squeezed by the door. It was filmed at Pinewood Studios, not at Prater in Vienna.
Yes, because the mechanism had to be built. That type of things usualy has to be done in the studio. They couldn’t shut the Prater park for that sort of things for too long.
Did you go to Vienna for filming?
Yes. There is a scene in which my character is a baloon seller. That was filmed in real location at Prater in Vienna.
Was it closed for shooting? People in background were extras or tourists like on the set of ‘Moonraker’ in Venice?
It was closed. With the real audience when they see the camera they tend to looke at the camera. It doesn’t work.
The last sequence with your character was the fight with James Bond in the air. I know that stuntmen from BJ Worth’s team were filming on location and you were filming in the studio with a mockup of the plane.
They shot the real stunt first. I did all other stunts in this film. Parachuting could be fun. I could learn this, but they didn’t let me do it. That was a good thing. When I saw it in the end I was glad I didn’t do it. It was crazy. They shot the real version first and then we did close ups in Pinewood. There was a mock up as you said. Half of an airplane was hanging there. They’d painted the total horizon and built a landscape from gypsum. Tim Dalton and I were hanging in the net in the air and we were getting down for each shot. In those days there was no non linear editing. Director John Glen had a cut on a Steenbeck and he was looking how to shoot close ups so they would be matching with what stunt guys did. It took three days to do that. That was slow process. That was the hardest work in the whole film because we were just hanging in the net for hours at a time.
So it was even harder than the fight?
Oh yes. The fight wasn’t hard work. You get a kick and then you get a break. That is no sweat. We were hanging in that net for an hours. There were harnesses and things like that so there was just no way to get out quickly. Waiting for the next take was not even comparable to the fight. Much harder work. I remember that we’d spent around an hour in the net and Tim said: ‘Dude, I’m wrecked already’ not knowing that we would be doing this for three days. That was far harder than any of the rest. That was in fact the only hard physical work that I recall. I was young, I was in good shape. I was a ballet dancer. Dancing is very hard physical work.
When was that sequence filmed?
It was filmed at the very end. The last day of that was the end for me.
You mentioned Timothy Dalton. How do you remember working with him?
I really appreciated Tim. I think he is a fabulous actor. I liked what he wanted to do with it, which was obviously important. I’ve been playing sort of smaller parts when you have to fit in what the leads are doing. He wanted to take it much more seriously than had been the case with Roger Moore. I appreciated that. Working with him was super professional. It was big movie making. It was filming until everything was as good as we could get. That was great.
How about the director John Glen. Did you have to stick precisely to his vision or you had a lot of artistic freedom?
He had some ideas that he wanted to see. There are always some things that you don’t know and you have to adjust to it because you will not see it until the day. The director can go and see the set or he can talk to actors and ask them to put on costumes but it doesn’t all come together really until the shoot. There is always some sort of leeway to make the most of it. Of course as an actor I like to have some ideas of my own. I tended to get those with the second unit which I sometimes worked with. The director was letting us to do a bit more stuff because if it didn’t work we just did it again with less stress than on the first unit.
Thank you for the meeting and for sharing with me your stories from the set of ‘The Living Daylights’.
November 26th 2020