Interview: Daniel Craig

By Katey Rich 2008-11-14 00:42:05discussion comments
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Daniel Craig thinks James Bond should be funny. Well, first of all, he wants to spend the first 40 minutes of the next Bond movie drinking cocktails on a beach somewhere, but after that, he wants James Bond to be funny.

"I'm hoping to fall into a little self-parody very soon," he said during a roundtable interview in New York today. "I've kind of played this very seriously, this role, but only because I think it needed to be played [that way] after Casino, because it needed to be sorted out. We need some gags, I know that."

But Craig also recognizes that Austin Powers has stolen a lot of their thunder. He says on the set of Casino Royale, they had "the Mike Myers klaxon. Because he tipped up the whole thing. Every Bond gag was sort of ripped to pieces."

Those were just some of the many surprises the latest incarnation of 007 had for us at today's interview, after he walked into the room dressed as the sexy college professor you never had. Miles away from the stern, deeply heartbroken Bond he plays in Quantum of Solace, Craig is animated and funny, a guy who clearly feels lucky to be along for this ride of a lifetime.

"There was no point in half-assedly going into this."

So after doing your first Bond movie, were you automatically attached? Were you totally in love with being Bond?
I think I went into it as open minded as I possibly could. Once I'd made the decision to do it, that was it. There was no point in half-assedly going into this.

How is the physical training for this different from your regular routine?
The regular routine, I mean, I go to the gym a couple of times a week to try and keep myself just breathing. But when I'm doing a Bond movie, it's seven days a week. But I don't know any other way of doing it.

Do you see your Bond as different from the others?
I'm a lover of the old lines. I love the Bond lines, I love the martini lines, I love the characters Q and Moneypenny-- but we need to deserve the right to have them. We can't just drop them in as gags. I know it's surprising, but there is a generation of people who haven't seen a Bond movie. They have no idea what it is. I want to entertain them as much as anyone else.

Do the previous Bond movies become back story for you?
It's not back story, no. I wanted to make him part of the modern world, that there's a possibility he could be this, and a possibility he could be that. The Fleming character doesn't exist anymore. He's definitely stuck somewhere in the 50s. 60 cigarettes a day, and a breakfast of four Bloody Marys and scrambled eggs-- as nice as that is, it's not going to get you through the day. It's going to kill you eventually.

"I think we can do anything we want. I mean, not go into space."

With as many films as there are in the Bond canon, there are a lot of traps to fall into. What choices have you made to avoid falling into self-parody?
I don't know, but I'm hoping to fall into a little self-parody very soon. I love the black humor of this. I love that there's a relief. There's a huge action sequence, and you have a quip. I've kind of played this very seriously, this role, but only because I think it needed to be played [that way] after Casino, because it needed to be sorted out. We need some gags, I know that, but they need to be written, and they need to be kind of formed. I remember on the first one, we had to have the Mike Myers klaxon. Because he tipped up the whole thing [in Austin Powers]-- every Bond gag was sort of ripped to pieces. We had to go away from that.

Do you think in the third film you'll go for a lighter approach?
I think we can do anything. I would like to certainly introduce Q and Moneypenny. I would like to introduce them as real characters. I would, personally, like to give them to really solid actors and say 'Make it up. Forget what's been done. Make something up that we can relate to.' I want to spend the first 40 minutes of the next movie on the beach, with a cocktail, just relaxing. I think we can do anything we want. I mean, not go into space.

"To jump in bed with 12 women, it just would kind have been wrong."

Do you have a count of how many Bond related scars you have?
I have a couple. I'm not trying to be macho, I promise you. It happens. The joke of it is, I got 8 stitches in my face in a really kind of asinine fight sequence. I just caught a shoe in the face. But I've been jumping off cranes and not doing anything to myself. I think it's at the end of the movie, we got tired, and I just forgot to flinch.

It looks like that would be part of the fun of the character, being that physical.
There's something that's in me that says there's a movie tradition that says the actor should do the stunt. It goes back to Buster Keaton, it goes back to all those guys. I feel there's a tradition there. I don't do them all, I really don't. I don't want the audience to snap out at the wrong moment. The excitement kind of grows.

Was there a conscious effort to make this movie more feminist-conscious?
It wasn't--no. That would be some sort of cynical move. That's not the way I make movies, it's certainly not way Marc Forster makes movie. But we took the story on-- he'd fallen in love, being betrayed. To jump in bed with 12 women, it just would kind have been wrong. It wouldn't have fit the story.

How did you and Marc Forster communicate on set?
We didn't talk a lot during filming. We talked solidly for two and a half months, probably, every day about the part. We rewrote things, we tried to bash it into shape the way we felt it should be, the stories we wanted to tell, what the parts of it. But during the film we talked so much about it....we would nod at each other, and just sort of go 'It's OK. We've got it.' And if something would go wrong we would stop and discuss it, but it didn't happen often.

"When you're making movies you've got to get obsessive."

What's surprised you most about being on this international, crazy-huge scale of making movies?
Every day. I don't know. I'm trying to enjoy all of it, I really am. Of course I want to make another Bond movie. But I'm realistic. Who knows? I'm just trying to get as much out of it as I can. But it's surprising how well they've gone down. Who could know?

I'm sure it's opened doors as far as other roles and whatnot.
I'm definitely having more conversation. I don't know whether they'll ever be put into practice. Good scripts are hard to find. I know that for sure. There's not some secret locked cupboard somewhere where it's like [angelic, hallelujah noises] you go 'Ah, they're here!' You've got to kind of go looking for good stories. That I continue to do.

You've got all these crazy locations and the physical activity. How do you come down from this experience?
I go straight to Italy. We stayed in a little house down in the south of Italy, and ate myself stupid. Vodka and tonics for breakfast. What time is it? Cocktail hour! That's important. When you're making movies you've got to get obsessive. It's hard work. You're intensely working for six months on these movies, and it's every single day basically, and if you don't get obsessive on it you'll wander off. And I've got very good friends who just take me down a peg. 'Shut the fuck up!' 'But I'm Bond!'

When you signed up for this you knew what you were getting into. Whenever you say something, it's that James Bond said it. Does it still surprise you, how intense it is?
Of course it has. It has surprised me. You could never guess it. The other day, someone came up and said what about Thor, and I went "What about Thor? I turned it down." I have no idea about Thor! I just was having a joke, Then it was, "Daniel Craig turns Thor down!" I have to watch. It's a pain, but...

Is there any idea at this point when another Bond would start up?
No. There's lots to discuss before we get into that. We love each other, but we get sick of the sight of each other too. 'Go away! You go enjoy your family, I'll enjoy mine. We'll come back and talk when the time comes.'

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