Seven years ago, with a new century filled with new kinds of problems in the world, the James Bond franchise decided to bring new blood to their British secret agent main character with English actor Daniel Craig. While originally derided by fans for being a blonde, Craig soon proved them dead wrong by bringing the character new life and depth with the films Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace.
In the wake of his success as Bond, he has also starred in films like Defiance Dream House, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now the 44 year-old returns for his third time as James Bond in Skyfall.
Daniel talks about how he had to earn moments to say classic Bond lines like “Bond, James Bond” and “shaken, not stirred” doing Casino Royale.
“I just felt that given the great opportunity to do Casino [Royale], which the conceit was that we’re discovering the character, that we couldn’t just cram in the old gags,” Craig says, “It would’ve felt wrong, and I was not trying to copy anybody who’d come before. They did it so well, and I didn’t want to be that person. I wanted to be me in this, but it’s always been a plan.”
“It’s always been somewhere we’ve wanted to get to,” he adds, “And to try to put them back into the movie in an original, fresh way was just the only issue and the thing [director] Sam [Mendes] and I spoke at length about, because we wanted to make a Bond movie. Eventually, a Bond movie is a Bond movie because of those things. I don’t know if I’ve earned it or not yet.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films, which began in 1962 with Dr. No. Craig talks about what has made them still strong today.
“[Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson], that’s the reason,” Daniel says, “These two are the reason here. To me, it’s a very easy answer. It’s retaining what it always had. It’s making movies for the audience, putting it all on the screen, and this family is the reason for it.”
Daniel talks about his most memorable moment of shooting Skyfall.
“God, there were many,” Craig recalls, “The thing that stays with me most is not really any particular thing, but the fact is walking onto the set with the cast that we had and Sam at the helm and a crew who you did pay good money for, but they were all there and everybody was excited and enthusiastic about making this film. That enthusiasm was infectious. That really, for me, is my abiding memory.”
Craig talks about whether he found any moment of shooting romantic or frustrating.
“Every day,” Daniel says, “All of those things. It was romantic and frustrating. It’s seven months of filming, so it’s like making four movies at the same time. There’s a second unit going on, there’s the main unit. We’re shooting action sequences, we’re shooting dialogue sequences, underwater sequences. There’s nothing like it. It’s a real privilege and an honor just to be around that.”
Daniel talks about how the gorgeous look of the latest Bond film can be attributed to Coen Brothers and Sam Mendes cinematographer Roger Deakins
“He has incredible consistency in his work,” Craig notes, “I noticed that while watching it. Especially on a movie this size, his assurety, and you feel like it’s a Sam Mendes movie but you feel like it’s a Roger Deakins movie as well. It’s a real stamp and it’s not intrusive. It’s just very magical.”
Craig talks about what he has learned from doing action films and whether he finds the atmosphere tense or relaxing.
“Look, it’s a combination,” he says, “Action movies live and die by the story that you’re trying to tell. It’s hard. It’s very difficult to do an action movie that stays engaging. More often there’s a split between the two. You get an explosion and a bit of dialogue as it goes about. Sam put a huge amount of hard work into retaining the story that it’s told all the way. When you do that, doing the action makes all the sense in the world.”
“Suddenly, I’m on top of the train driving through the Turkish countryside and it makes sense,” Daniel adds, “But I know what’s happening. I know what’s happening next. I know where the story’s going and I’m clear. So it gives it a huge amount of freedom and I get a kick out of it. I don’t do all my own stunts. I’d be lying if I said that, but I like the fact that occasionally you’ll see it on screen and it’s my face and it’s me. I think audiences hopefully appreciate that. At least, I hope they do.”
Daniel says his best job in this film was a pivotal scene between him and Javier Bardem, who plays villain Raoul Silva.
“That’s all,” Craig claims, “Just that one. I was tied to a chair. I couldn’t move.”
Craig was asked what was discussed in merging the new Bond he has brought to the table versus the Bond of his predecessors like Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan.
‘Extensive,’ Daniel says, “I mean, nonstop and nonstop throughout the whole filming process. We knew we wanted to do something along those lines, but it’s very easily said, but it’s difficult to put into practice. It takes a lot of talented people to get that right. As I said earlier, you want to do it with a freshness, with a new eye, with something that satisfies.”
Daniel was also asked if he ever worries that they may finally retire the Bond franchise with him in the role.
“No, look,” Craig says, “I get a huge kick out of doing this and I can see doing another film. The whole point of this is they take such a chunk out of your life. I’m contracted to two, by the way, which is fairly common.”
“I can see the next one,” he adds, “Beyond that, there’s so much work involved, bringing it together. I’d love to do another movie. That’s what I’m trying to say in a very roundabout way. I’m just trying to keep my job. It’s hell, you know.”
Craig talks about working with Judi Dench, who since 1995’s Goldeneye, has played MI6 head and Bond’s superior M, and her having the largest amount of screen time ever in Skyfall as M.
“It was about time she did some work because she normally just sits in an office on the phone shouting at people,” he says of her, “She’s an extraordinary woman, actress, just wonderful to be with. I keep saying this but when Judi walks into the room, she lights the room up. It’s incredible.”
“She’s got such an energy about life and she loves doing what she does,” Daniel adds, “For me, I’ve been a fan of her all my life so to get the chance to work with her and play with her, because that’s what she likes doing. She likes playing on set. She takes her job very, very seriously, but laughs all the time.”
Daniel was asked what were his initial thoughts about the direction of the story.
“I’ve got to be careful here,” Craig answers, “We don’t really want to give it away. I certainly don’t want to give it away. I know it’s out, but some people haven’t seen it yet. It made sense. It made a lot of sense and it gave us a chance to use her in a proper way. It was very emotional.
Craig was also asked how much this latest Bond film was a setup for the next film or two.
“It’s a happy accident if it’s a setup,” Daniel replies, “I mean, genuinely, I think so. I think by introducing some new and old characters, I think we have.
Daniel was also asked how big of a decision to have Bond cry.
”He doesn’t cry,” Craig explains, “He’s sweating.”
It was inquired whether or not crying was against the ten commandments of Bond.
“Well, then we broke them,” Daniel says, “Of course, we did. That’s what we’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to mess around with it. It’s interesting. Literally you said he cries, other people, I’ve heard say he doesn’t cry.”
“It’s open, but it’s an emotional scene,” he adds, “It’s worth it. It‘s worth it to play with that emotion. It’s not extraneous. It makes sense in the story, as far as I’m concerned anyway.
Another thing asked to Daniel was whether he saw James Bond as a stage play.
“A musical,” Craig says, “I see a musical.
Earlier this year, Craig got to play Bond alongside none other than the Queen of England during the opening ceremony of this year’s Olympics.
“Working with the Queen, I liked that,” Daniel says, “Look, I got to play a very small part in the opening ceremony of the Olympics in London. That’s for me a real honor, and the fact that we did that was just very surreal and extraordinary. There’s not a lot to say. I would be breaking state secrets.”
It was told to Daniel that one particular Bond actor, Roger Moore, who played Bond from Live And Let Die to A View To A Kill had praised his performance of the character.
“Oh, lovely, I’m a huge fan of his,” Craig replies.