Interview: Daniel Craig

The 007 actor talks Skyfall as the Bond film hits Chinese screens

As the Bond franchise continues on the watch of a new director, Alexis Duggins speaks to Skyfall's British star Daniel Craig about working with Sam Mendes and how the movie industry is its own worst enemy

So, Daniel, what sort of place is Bond at psychologically in Skyfall?
He’s in a very good place at the start of the movie. It’s just he ends up getting into hot water. I have to be a bit tight-lipped, I’m afraid. But we have tried to make the story as rich as possible, so he’s in a number of states, some of them happy, some of them sad. It really comes down to his interactions with characters in the movie. So where Javier [Bardem], the bad guy, takes us at certain points, it’s his movie. He’s driving it, and it’s about how Bond deals with that.

Does Bond take a backseat?
No! I knew I’d have to take that back. I’m in every fucking scene so it’s difficult for me to take a backseat. What I meant is that having actors as good as we have in the film, inevitably they’re going to be kind of a huge part of the movie. For me that’s a great relief.

The Bond franchise has been going for decades, and to keep it interesting you have to keep reinvigorating the story. What’s the approach this time?
To do the best we could. I know that sounds like a glib way of putting it, but it’s the truth. There aren’t many movies like this being made, with these resources and talent. If we can do it, then we have to have a great script and we have to have something that the people who work on it can get excited by. It takes six-and-a-half, seven months to shoot a movie like this and that takes it out of people. It’s a big commitment for anybody to make, but I think people were inspired by what we were doing.

What will surprise people about this film?
I think… I hope… it’s the complexity. It’s a good, dense storyline. It’s an adult film but it’s also got a lot of fun in it. People might be surprised by the fact that there’s a lightness of touch in the movie, which there hasn’t been in the last two [Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace], we were telling a different story in those. We had a lot of fun on set, there’s a lot of humour going on. It’s not that there were funny lines but there is humour in the script and we got into that.

There’s so much secrecy and protocol around the Bond movies. Tell us something you probably shouldn’t
I can’t. If I tell you stuff that’s a secret, then Sam will go and cut it out of the movie, and I’ll look like an idiot. So there’s nothing really that I’d want to give away. And you know, I think the film business is its own worst enemy, because it sells movies on ‘behind the scenes’ footage. It’s seeing how the secrets of the movie are made, and now it’s a real struggle trying to keep storylines and plots a secret. I suppose celebrity media has whipped everybody up into this frenzy, second-guessing the movie and plot spoilers. It’s sad, I don’t think people gave a fuck in the past. I think they were just happy to go and see a movie and make up their own minds.

What kind of vision do you think Sam Mendes brought to this Bond?
Acting-wise Sam has it covered. He does that standing on his head. He’s brilliant with actors and he’s brought a passion to it. He’s got a passion about Bond and he’s a proper fan of Bond. He really wanted to create something that he’s proud of, obviously, but also that is going to be remembered. I mean, we said that to each other: that we want to make something that’s classic and classically Bond. And also a good movie, so he allowed me to relax on set and I really can’t thank him enough for that.

How does being Bond affect your life while you’re away from Bond? Does it change the other roles you accept?
It doesn’t no, I don’t think about it. I don’t say: ‘Can’t do that’, ‘Won’t do that’. I’ve never thought in that way about work. I take stuff because I’m inspired by it.

What’s your weekly schedule like while filming Bond?
It’s seven days a week for six, seven months. Filming most of the time, evenings in the gym, rehearsing, and then Sundays or whatever the day off is, I’m usually rehearsing stunt sequences. I try and keep my days off sacrosanct because I need to get rest. But it’s not always possible. And then, there’s always other things to talk about, script meetings to have. It’s very, very intense for that period of time. But any kind of job involves a deadline. This just happens to stretch over a six-month period.

I mean this in the best possible way, but you seem quite tired now.
I’m fucked. I’m not fucked. I’m actually great. It’s just, what happens is that I keep an energy level up through filming and then as soon as it finishes I just relax and drop. We all do. You’ll find most of the crew kind of sitting around staring at brick walls because it’s been full on, all day, every day.

You live in America now. What’s the difference between how Bond’s seen out there and in the UK?
I don’t think there’s a lot of difference, people have a very kind of strong collective view of Bond worldwide. I get shouted at in the street. Sometimes it’s ‘James’ and sometimes it’s ‘Daniel’. But I can walk around London or New York, and unless there’s a pap around and I get followed, people will just wave and say hello. They’ve got way too important things to be worrying about. They’re busy people.

We’ve been hearing that this is going to be one of the more London Bonds in quite a while. How so?
There’s an element to the story of Bond coming back to London. Without giving too much away, MI6 comes under attack. London gets filmed well sometimes, but it’s rare that films get access to places like Whitehall or the London Underground. Thankfully, Bond opens doors, so we were allowed to go a bit crazy. This is really connected to where James Bond is from, which you haven’t seen in a Bond movie for a long time. It’s a small part of the movie but it’s very important. We got to close down Whitehall – and running down Whitehall in screaming cars is very exciting.

Does having a lot of London footage mean that you’re finally showing us where Bond is from?
London must play quite a large part in Bond’s make-up. I would say so. If you read the Fleming books, at some point they all show him at a club or getting his suits made on Savile Row. So it’s a very important backdrop, or at least a good starting point for him in the storyline. It’s the capital, it’s where the seat of power is, what he’s protecting, it’s where the Queen stays, in all of those things. It’s what his job is.

Skyfall is in cinemas around town from Monday 21 January. See Skyfall review.

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