Legendary James Bond Composer John Barry's House Was Used As M's Home In Skyfall

M is a staple of James Bond films; no adventure is complete without the old spymaster debriefing 007 and then dispatching him on his latest challenge. "Skyfall," which turned 10 this year, was the first Bond film to dig into M's character and examine their relationship with Bond in more than a superficial way. M's past sins catch up to her and, like Bond, her way of doing things may just be too old-fashioned. This carried extra weight because the M of "Skyfall," Judi Dench, has the second longest tenure as the character (runner-up only to the original M actor Bernard Lee).

One of the most brief, but important parts of M's humanization happens early in the film we get to see where she lives. M's home is no generic London Townhouse. According to the "Skyfall" commentary by director Sam Mendes, it's one that belonged to another pillar of the "Bond" series: composer John Barry.

Barry composed the classic "James Bond" theme, first featured in "Dr. No." Of the 15 Bond films released between 1962 and 1987, Barry composed for twelve of them (he was only absent on "Live and Let Die," "The Spy Who Loved Me," and "For Your Eyes Only"). Barry passed in 2011, months before "Skyfall" began shooting. However, the crew were able to involve him, or at least his residence.

A pivotal scene

Now, as for the scene set at the house. According to Mendes, the interior of M's house is in fact not Barry's, but a sound stage. The shooting of the scene still has a fascinating story behind it, though.

Let's set the scene. M enters her home; it's well-tended but the liquor tray says the stress is getting to her. Bond, presumed dead, makes his return to life skulking in the shadows. He's already helped himself to some of the booze and castigates M for giving the order that almost killed him in the cold open. She doesn't apologize, but even so, Bond volunteers his service ... The final sign of how M keeps her home and work lives separate? She tells Bond, "You're bloody well not sleeping here."

Mendes called the scene "pivotal" — It's the first time Bond and M have seen each other since the former "died." According to the director, he felt he didn't get the right emotions when first shooting the scene, necessitating a reshoot:

"It was a bit safe, and I also felt it was too long, a bit polite ... I felt Bond wasn't in enough pain and they were too nice to each other. So much of the movie is about the relationship between Bond and M, it's very important it's not resolved in this scene."

And it isn't. Mendes notes M's "relief" that Bond's alive but she remains harsh until the end of the movie. The film's villain, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), also turns out to be one of M's old agents. Silva wants to murder M for abandoning him, acting as a foil for M's current star pupil, Bond.

"Skyfall" celebrates 007's history. Honoring both a fictional fixture like M and a real-life one like John Barry was a perfect touch.