Back in black

Back in black

Daniel Craig on 007, freefalling and unwanted attention

By Ivor Davis 11/13/2008

Bond is back with the craggy, sexy Daniel Craig in the Aston Martin driver’s seat. The sequel to Casino Royale — which bears the unfortunate title Quantum of Solace — finds 007 seeking revenge for the murder of the woman he loved, sending him globe trotting from Austria and Italy to South America as the villains attempt to liquidate him.

The 40-year-old British actor has already stamped his own personality on the legendary big screen spy. Bringing a gritty coolness to the part, critics agree Craig comes closest to the Bond that Ian Fleming originally imagined. He’s the only Bond who seems capable of what 007 was originally hired to do: kill. His Bond is less stylized than that of his predecessors  Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. And that’s not surprising given Craig’s impeccable acting background.

A graduate of the National Youth Theater and the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he established himself as a solid and versatile actor on stage, followed by an impressive number of roles in an eclectic bunch of movies.

Craig seems to work nonstop. Following hard on the heels of the new superspy film, he stars in a big-budget World War II movie Defiance and Flashbacks of A Fool, where he plays a spoiled Hollywood hunk whose life of drugs and celebrity has devolved into loneliness and misery in Malibu. Mr. Craig is indeed looking a little worse for wear, wearing all black and with his arm in a sling.

VCR: What’s with your sling?

Daniel Craig: I’ve tore my shoulder. Bond movies have just aggravated it. During this film it began aching badly. I had to finish the movie then went six weeks ago to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and had the surgery.  I’m well on the way to recovery.

Was it challenging to play Bond as an emotionally tight fellow, as opposed to the witty, playing-it-for-laughs approach of Connery or Moore?

I would never copy somebody else or do an impression of anybody else or try to improve on what they did. That’s pointless. We solidified the relationship with M and with Felix Leiter, and we can do anything now.

Will we recognize your Bond?

It’s a Bond movie. All the subtleties are there: the music, the style and the whole thing. Classically, Bond. It’s just that we’re fucking around with it and that’s enjoyable.  

Is the action stuff more and more outrageous?

Yeah, it’s great isn’t it? That rooftop chase and through-the-glass thing. We set the bar on Casino so we had to try and make this different. That free fall sequence was incredible to do. We learned to free fall.

Are you having fun?

These movies are fantastic, and amazing to shoot and to work with this crew. [Director] Marc Forster has been a joy and I’m a big fan of his movies. That whole collaborative effort is a big deal.

Was this film more physical than the last one?

Absolutely. We learned a huge amount on the first film. The stunt team I worked with knew about how much I can do and what my limit was.  But we’re getting much better at making it look like it’s me. I try to get as fit as the stunt guys and then I can keep my face in there.  I don’t want audiences to be watching an action sequence and then suddenly go, ‘Oh, that’s not him.’

Were you scared by any action scenes?

Never scared, because we rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. I don’t just go stand on a roof and jump off of it. We rehearse everything. I worried I might get it wrong and worried that I would have to do it more than once. Some of them I only did once. The bus jump was weird. I do the stop and jump and that’s all me. 

How are you coping with all the attention you get?

The unwanted attention is different. I’m selling a movie here and I’m happily selling it because I want people to see it.  The unwanted attention from press is a completely separate issue. 

Didn’t you say that this new Bond film will be funnier and less deadpan?

Sorry, I probably say stupid things in interviews. I am not nailing anything down. People kind of want to know what exactly is going to happen in the next movie and I don’t know. Is there more comedy? Yes, there is room for more comedy.

Does everyone understand your low-key humor?

I think it’s the same for everybody. The thing is, I’m not that complicated, I’m a pretty open book. I tell jokes and if people don’t get them, I can’t blame them. 

Would you like to play Bond for another 20 years?

I haven’t got that in me, Jesus Christ. There will be someone else to do it by then. I will do them as long as I can. I can’t see beyond another movie. If they ask me back to do another movie then I would be thrilled. I’m contracted for two more.   

Quantum of Solace, starring Daniel Craig opens at various Ventura County theaters on Thursday, Nov. 13.

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