Interview : Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig may be one of the world’s hottest stars these days thanks to a certain secret agent he plays, but donning the 007 mantel hasn’t been all smiles and roses.

Sporting a shoulder injury but a smile, the affable and eloquent British actor talked to Paul Fischer about the pros and cons of being the world’s foremost secret agent as his latest Bond adventure, ”Quantum of Solace”, a direct sequel to ”Casino Royale”, is about to take the world by storm.

Question: What happened to your arm?

Craig: I got some surgery done six weeks ago to stitch me back up. I got a, I don’t know, rotator cuff or something.

Question: Were you surprised or knew in advance that this would be a direct sequel to a Bond movie?

Craig: It just seemed to me when we came down to it, and we all agreed that to my mind, at the end of Casino Royale, it was sort of the beginning of the story as opposed to the end of a story. He’d fallen in love, he’d had his heart broken, this organization that they’d discovered, they’d just sort of started peeling back the onion skins of. To do another movie and just sort of go, “Oh, there was this chick once,” seemed to be the wrong thing to do. So it just fit. I don’t know when the idea came up. I have no idea.

Question: Is it a great acting challenge to play a more emotionally shut off Bond vs. gregarious witty Connery?

Craig: I would never do that because I’d never copy somebody else. I would never do an impression of anybody else or try and improve on what they did. That would be a pointless exercise for me. I had to find out how I was going to do this and these two movies have tied that in for me. I’m now in a sort of situation, well I think we’ve wrapped up all the loose ends. We’ve solidified the relationship with M. We’ve solidified the relationship with Felix Leiter and we can do anything now. I think he’s going to be probably a little more relaxed in the next movie but he had a deal to do, business to do.

Question: How much fun are you having as Bond?

Craig: I mean, these movies are – -

Question: The arm in a sling?

Craig: This would’ve needed doing anyway. It’s fantastic. These movies are an amazing experience to shoot and they’re an amazing experience to work with the people I work with. Marc Forster on this has been a joy to work with. I’m a big fan of his movies so I’d love to have worked with him on any other movie. The whole collaborative effort of making a movie like this, it’s a big deal. It’s a really, really big deal. There were 1000 people who worked on this movie. At any one time, I’ll be working with 200-300 people. We shot this for six months. It’s a long time since I’ve been on a movie set on the last day of shooting where the first AD goes, “Okay, everyone, ladies and gentleman, that’s a wrap.” And everybody looked around at each other and just went, “Okay, we’ve done something here.” It was a huge thing and I think it’s on the screen. I think it’s up there.

Question: Were you relieved that Casino Royale turned out so well?

Craig: Of course I was. I was amazed, stunned that it did so well, absolutely stunned.

Question: Re: Having fun, you don’t like the intrusion of the press though?

Craig: This is different. That’s separate. The unwanted attention is separate. I’m selling a movie here and happily selling a movie because I want people to go and see this but the unwanted attention from press is a completely separate issue.

Question: How have you deal with it?

Craig: By not coming out and – - There are moments. At the moment there’s a lot of attention so I’m getting some unwanted attention. That’s as simple as that.

Question: They follow you around?

Craig: It’s happened. Believe me, it does happen but I get away. I go away and just get – - I’ve got a very, I’m sure I’ve spoken to you about this, my private life is incredibly important to me and that’s what I protect as much as I possibly can.

Question: Is it easy to do that?

Craig: No. It’s costly.

Question: Bodyguards?

Craig: No. I have to keep myself private by not being too public so therefore I don’t encourage my own publicity. I try, it sounds like ‘I want to be alone’ but it’s not. It genuinely isn’t. I’m not like that. I love this job and I love the whole aspect of if you produce something, you should get it out there.

Question: The British press can be merciless.

Craig: That’s the way it is. I’m not denying their right to publish. That would be – - but there are certain things that are private and I need to protect. Family, friends, as I said, they’re the main deal.

Question: There’s only so much vulnerability people want to see in Bond.

Craig: You sure? Really?

Question: We’ve never seen him that way before.

Craig: I think we’ve finished, we’ve tail ended these. These movies stand up alone. They’re two very separate movies, two stylistically separate movies but we’ve completed the circle in these movies. We can do anything.

Question: Is there a line you worked with on the emotional vulnerability?

Craig: No, I don’t know how – - but again, that’s that thing of saying I would be doing an impression of something that had been done before. I’m just applying what I know and with working with someone like Marc. We know about making movies. But it’s a Bond movie and I think all the subtleties are there which you see: the music, the style, the whole thing, they’re classically Bond. It’s just we’re f*cking around with it. It’s enjoyable to do, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get more – - I feel now we’re in a situation where I do genuinely believe we can have a submarine base in the next one. I’d love it. We could. Now that’s going to be printed. “We’re going into…”

Question: You could sleep with more women.

Craig: I could do, yes.

Question: Would you like a ski chase in the next one?

Craig: I’m not a very good skier, jesus. I think my Bond actually slides down the hill on a blanket I don’t think there’s a lot of that going on.

Question: How were the stunts this time?

Craig: We set the bar on Casino so we had to try and achieve and try and make these different but as good. And things have moved on. Special effects have moved on. We certainly didn’t want to make this a more CGI based movie but the plane sequence which insists that we have CGI. I think the freefall sequence was incredible to do because we went and learned to freefall. We had a conversation about the freefall sequence. I was like, “I’ve never seen a good one.” I think they’re always kind of [naff?] There’s obviously people freefalling and then they have a closeup of somebody with a hair dryer. That always seemed to me the way, and they always last about five minutes longer than they should. So I said, “It has to be quick. They have to look like they’re falling out of the plane.” And someone came up with the idea there’s this 200 mile an hour vertical wind tunnel where people go and learn how to freefall and you can do it. So Olga and I went and rehearsed for about a week on it and we stuck a camera, a guy cameraman with a small camera flying with a controller. We had 20 digital cameras around and I think just, you look at it, it was hell, but it looks like we’re falling out of an airplane.

Question: People seriously reported your jokes about making it funnier. Do people not get your deadpan?

Craig: I mean, I’m sorry. I probably say stupid things in interviews sometimes but I’m not nailing anything down. People kind of want to know exactly what’s going to happen in the next movie and I don’t know. Is there room for more comedy. Yes, there’s room for more comedy.

Question: But it amused me that people took the joke seriously. Do you find people don’t get you sometimes?

Craig: I think that’s the same for everybody. The thing is, I’m not that complicated I don’t think. I’m a pretty open book. I make gags and if people don’t get them, I can’t please everybody.

Question: Isn’t there still a question of the Quantum organization? Mr. White?

Craig: I mean, I don’t know, maybe.

Question: Will there be another SPECTRE?

Craig: Well, I think we’ve set that up. There could be. I genuinely, I don’t like films that tie everything up at the end. I like an open ending. I want an audience to go away asking those questions and hopefully they’ll continue asking those questions into the next movie we do.

Question: How important is it to choose other un-Bond-like characters?

Craig: I don’t consciously try to choose un-Bond-like projects. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t go and choose another spy. That would just seem to me – - because I could go away and say, “Okay, I’m going to do something completely the opposite of that.” That seems to me to be counterproductive. That just means that I’m just going to be, “Oh look, it’s a response.” I’m not a reactionary person so I wouldn’t go, “Oh Christ, I’ve done that. I must do something to counterbalance that.” That’s not my job.

Question: What are you looking for?

Craig: Good scripts.

Question: What will you say no to?

Craig: Nothing at all.

Question: Would you play Thor?

Craig: I said no.

Question: They asked you to?

Craig: I’m not going to tell you that.

Question: Are you signed for three more Bonds?

Craig: Two.

Question: Would you like to go on for 20 years?

Craig: I haven’t got that in me. Jesus Christ. Someone else should do it by then. Look, 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, I would be thrilled. I would be thrilled.

Question: Talk about going toe to toe with Olga during shooting?

Craig: Well, there’s obviously a story about vengeance in this story but actually Bond isn’t on a mission of vengeance. I mean, he’s angry, he’s pissed off and all those things but actually he ties into this title which seems to work better and better the more I talk about it. He wants to find his quantum of solace. He wants to find the peace within himself because he lost somebody. Actually, Olga’s character is on a mission of vengeance and that’s why he can step back and say, “Okay, I’m going to help you out. I’m going to help you get your goal but understand I don’t think it’s the right thing to be doing. I think you’re going to screw yourself up.” In fact at the end of this movie, he gets the one man who’s most responsible for Vesper’s death and he doesn’t shoot him. So Olga’s character I just think is, there’s strength in it. Just like Gemma’s character, Fields, is so great because they get together and it’s lovely and it’s a bit of fun and it’s not because she gets killed.

Question: Which character you’ve played would make a good Halloween costume? Golden Compass?

Craig: I suppose so, beard and a waistcoat. I don’t know, all of them.

Question: Any person from history you’d like to be friends with? Ian Fleming?

Craig: No, I can’t, the smoking, the drinking, the smoking, the drinking. That’s tough. I wish you’d warned me about that one. The kind of people that come to mind, it would’ve been lovely to have met Kennedy. It would’ve been lovely to have met Queen Elizabeth I would have been somebody you would have liked to at least walked into the room and had a peek. I don’t know if you’d have ever gotten 100 yard with her but that would’ve been quite interesting. Certainly somebody… John Lennon.

Question: What are your thoughts on handling of Golden Compass and they might not complete that trilogy?

Craig: I don’t know what to say. It failed here. To their mind I think it failed here, unfortunately. It did fantastically worldwide. Warner Bros. have it so you’ll have to lobby them. I’d love them to do it again because I love the books. I think there’s a great story to tell.

Question: What happened with Invasion? That was creepy and fun.

Craig: I think it could’ve been creepier. Again, I think that kind of got hijacked a bit to my mind.

Question: After you play Thor…

Craig: I’m not doing it, I said no.

Question: They did offer it to you?

Craig: They spoke about it but I just thought I can’t play Bond and Thor. What am I, on some stupid f*cking power trip? I can’t imagine. Blonde hair and a big hammer.

Question: You’d be making some statement.

Craig: It would’ve been too much of a statement and physically, this is kind of as physical as I want to get in movies at the moment. To go and do another role that’s just as physical…

Question: What’s next?

Craig: I don’t know.

Question: How much of the bruises are makeup vs real?

Craig: No, it’s all makeup.

Question: But you do so much, were you ever scared?

Craig: Never scared because we rehearse and rehearse. I don’t just go stand on the roof and jump off it. We rehearse it. Hard to believe, I know, but it is the truth. We rehearsed it. Worried that I might get it wrong and worried that I’m going to have to do it more than once. So some of them I only did once. The bus jump was weird. The bus jump was a strange one. I jumped out of a window, the impact is somebody else I think although I did an impact. Then I do the stop and then I jump off and climb up the thing. That’s all me.

Question: Why?

Craig: Why? Beats working for a living I suppose. Jumping out of a window into an oncoming bus. I kept standing there going… because we didn’t have the bus in rehearsals. We had an idea of where the bus would be in rehearsals. So your mind goes but actually the fourth time I did it actually I was putting in a flourish at the end as I was jumping out.

Question: Like Douglas Fairbanks?

Craig: Yeah, ha-ha!

Question: Would you like to see Q and Moneypenny?

Craig: I’d love to, yeah, love to. I think though you offer it to the best actors you can and you say to them, “Forget what’s happened. Reinvent it. Tell us what you think these characters should be.” That’s where it should come from because what they do is a given. How they are is a given. It’s just…

Question: You seem comfortable working with Judi Dench.

Craig: Very lovely. Every time we do a scene together it’s easy. She just makes my job easy because I have total confidence in her.

Question: She ad libbed?

Craig: She messed around a bit. She did, I think she messed around. I don’t think she ad libbed that much but she did mess around a bit.

Question: How did it feel to do that iconic iris walk?

Craig: That was probably when I was scared. That was probably the moment when I was actually kind of had a, I just went, we did that twice.

Question: 2 walks?

Craig: Well, we filmed it twice. How many times I did it, over and over again. I was watching it on a monitor. I think we got it right.

Question: And when you saw it the first time?

Craig: I just loved because I snap out because I’m not looking. The sound, ba dum, bad dum, bum. We wanted to keep it, there was ideas to sort of f*ck around with that and make it into sort of a bit more graphic and things and I was just like, “No, no, no, no, it has to be like the old ones, almost slightly jerky coming across like it was.”

Question: Any Academy picks?

Craig: I am sadly, I haven’t seen a thing. I’m about to go and sit down and watch, as soon as this is all over, I’m going to sit in a room and watch a ton of movies. I’ve seen The Wrestler, it’s great. I love it. Whether it’s an Oscar performance, I couldn’t tell you.

Question: If Casino Royale hadn’t been so good, would you have been more nervous coming back?

Craig: Yes. Definitely.

- PAUL FISCHER