Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Longtime James Bond alumni Peter Lamont passed away this morning aged 91, Bond Stars reported. A close collaborator of legendary 007 production designer Ken Adam since the days of GOLDFINGER in 1964, Lamont would become the EON's regular production designer for every Bond film from FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981) to CASINO ROYALE (2006), absent only in 1997's TOMORROW NEVER DIES when James Cameron hired him to do TITANIC, which earned him an Oscar for Best Production Design.
Lamont's work in GOLDENEYE was particularly remarkable and not just for the fascinating sets for Pierce Brosnan's 007 debut in 1995. When the production of the movie couldn't be housed at Pinewood Studios, busy with the Sean Connery film FIRST KNIGHT, Lamont performed a scout to find a suitable place to set up the film's interiors. The disused Leavesden Aerodrome, an old Rolls-Royce factory and World War II aerodrome located in Hertfordshire, seemed big enough for the required scenarios. However, the place wasn't on its best state after years of inutility, so Lamont supervised the whole restoration of the place: dressing rooms for the actors, administrative offices with telephone and fax lines, working restrooms and, of course, the particular sets for most scenes for the 1995 film.
Producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were facing many complications when attempting to shoot the epic tank chase where Bond chases General Ourumov through the streets of St Petersburg: negotiations had to be held in Russian, things frequently changed, the weight of the tank could have severed the city's ancient structure and the traffic had to be halted in order to shoot. While the second unit could do some tank action there, the production cost raised every day. This is where Lamont's creativity saved the day: the production designer built a perfect replica of the former Leningrad city streets in the Leavesden backlot so that stuntman Gary Powell could manoeuvre the T-54 tank without having to worry too much for the broken crockery. According to 007 MAGAZINE founder Graham Rye, who visited the set in June 1995, "the detail on a set of this kind is quite amazing. Should you be transported from your bed and wake on this street, you could be forgiven for believing you were in Russia". It is understood that Lamont's magic saved over one million dollars of GOLDENEYE's budget when the bulk of the tank chase sequence was shot at Leavesden instead of St Petersburg.
Unfortunately, Peter Lamont's incredible task is blatantly ignored by Warner Bros, the current owners of the Leavesden Studios. In their History page, they state that "in 1994, the gates reopened and Leavesden began its new life as a film studio. As its reputation grew, the following years saw it hosting a number of high-profile productions, including James Bond: GOLDENEYE", omitting the crucial fact that Leavesden was an abandoned area turned into a film studio for GOLDENEYE and with Lamont's watchful supervision and attention to detail. Considering that documentaries like BUILDING A BETTER BOND (YouTube link) specify this very clearly, it would be a great act of justice that one of Leavesden's sets would be renamed after Lamont and that GOLDENEYE's legacy would be more stressed in their official version of their history.
Our deepest condolences go to the Lamont family in this sad moment as we remember his great legacy in the world of James Bond and his hard work to make GOLDENEYE a modern classic. St Petersburg never looked more real.