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Exclusive interview with Daniel Craig ahead of James Bond movie, Skyfall
Daniel Craig is promoting the upcoming Bond movie, Skyfall, his third time as the iconic spy. This film is arguably the best Bond movie in many years and brings back regulars such as Dame Judi Dench, and introduces an evil and amusing villain, played by Javier Bardem, as well as Agent Q, played by Ben Wishaw. Craig, 44, is wearing a light grey cashmere sweater over a white shirt and dark grey tie, teamed with a pair of dark trousers. He’s ruggedly handsome and evidently incredibly fit.
Married to Rachel Weisz since June 2011, they have homes in New York City, as well as London. Like Weisz, he is tight-lipped about his personal life, and doesn’t discuss his daughter from a previous marriage, nor her son.
Q: When was the first time that you ever heard about James Bond?
I don’t remember. I think I’ve always known about James Bond, it feels like anyway. He’s been around for so long and all through my life. I remember seeing him at the cinema from when I was six years old, five years old even.
Q: You were not even an actor then, because you started when you were six right?
I started acting when I was six?
Q: That’s what I read.
No. I wasn’t a child actor, no. I didn’t become an actor until I was twenty-one. So that’s bullshit. Most of that is bullshit. (laughter)
Q: What about starting out as an actor – how was it?
Well I don’t know, it’s so far back. I’ve been acting for as long as I can remember now, so it’s like a forever young actor. It’s very difficult, you struggle a little bit, you work rarely and you try and pay the rent and try and make a living and that’s all you kind of can do. And eventually I did start making a living, so it worked.
Q: But it took some time.
Kind of. I left drama class and went straight and did a Warner Brothers movie and then I did some television in England and did some theatre. I’ve always worked, so I’ve always managed to keep the bank manager at bay. (Laughter)
Q: Have you ever met any of the other Bonds?
I know Roger and I know Pierce. I have never met any of the others.
Q: Could there be a time that we could get them all together in the same place?
I don’t know why.
Q: Well to celebrate the 50th Anniversary.
It would be a bit embarrassing. (laughs)
I think it would be very awkward and embarrassing. I don’t think it’s going to happen, we are all very separate people, and different people. I don’t think we have any desire to be in each other’s company more to sort of say hello and socialize occasionally. But to have it paraded out in front of people, I think would just be slightly embarrassing and awkward.
Q: What about a private poker game?
No, I’m not James Bond. (laughter) That guy is somebody else. I’m not him.
Q: Ask.com just selected James Bond as the most influential man, over Obama and real people. What do you think about that?
Well I hope not. I hope Obama becomes a little more influential. (Laughs) Very nice I suppose, I mean, maybe that’s because the movie is coming out, so I’m everywhere. And you should thank Sony for that, because their publicist department is pretty good.
Q: So what is it that you like the most about James Bond’s lifestyle?
I’m not James Bond. The thing is I am really genuinely not him, so therefore, I don’t need any of his lifestyle, I have mine. Really, I mean it’s not something I aspire to be. I don’t have any desire.
Q: There’s nothing?
No. I love cars, I love the things that everybody else likes, but I don’t want to be James Bond.
Q: Do you picture James Bond, married, settled with a family?
No, because he’s a spy. Everyone he falls in love with dies.
Q: James Bond is a really old fashioned guy. He never touches the internet or iPad. Do you think that’s an attractive aspect to young audiences?
I don’t know. We will find out won’t we? I don’t think it’s that he won’t touch them, I just think that he still sort of believes in an idea that he’s a front line troop, and the idea that you kind of fight a battle on a computer, is anathema to him. But that’s why I love the character of Q, because Q is sort of a geek and a computer whiz, and the two of them coming together, there’s a contrast there. I like the fact that the two of them could be a partnership because I don’t think he wants to know too much about that, he wants to talk to people and look them in the eye and ask them the question and I like that, I think there’s still room for that. Maybe not.
Q: This Bond was different because it’s looking back at his roots and how he grew up a little bit. Was that the attraction?
I think in a way. I mean, it wasn’t really a conscious decision but because it’s 50 years, it really ties in nicely to it and what I love is also that we go back and he destroys it. So that we kind of move it out of the way and we dealt with it, and he was orphaned very young so that the love of his parents is something in the past and he’s moved on and the idea that he is kind of, he is satisfied with his life.
Q: Who is the biggest James Bond fan in your family?
They hate it. (Laughter)
Q: There’s got to be somebody, there’s always somebody.
They all like it, they all like it a lot. They are big fans of the whole thing, but they are also very happy and proud of what I do, so they are happy that I am doing what I love, more than Bond.
Q: Did you learn any Spanish with Javier Bardem?
No, the sad thing is I didn’t spend enough time with him, because we were literally working. We both love rugby and I would love to go and watch some rugby with him, eventually, but yeah, my Spanish is pretty bad. (laughter)
Q: Do you know any curse words at least?
Yeah, I think so, but I’m not going to practice them here. (laughter)
Q: There is a line in the movie about the old way is a better way.
Sometimes the old way is better, and sometimes the old way is not better, I think.
Q: So why do you think women like James Bond so much?
I don’t know. He’s dangerous, it’s as simple as that.
Q: And can you talk about Javier? Apparently it was your idea to get him?
Look, I am one of Javier’s biggest fans. I’m a bit of a stalker in fact, because I actually did stalk him to get this part, because I went to a party where he was at so I could ask him to do it. And he said yes, so it was great. So I love working with him. And he makes me laugh, so it’s a joy.
Q: I think one of the themes of this movie is getting older. How long can you play James Bond?
I don’t know, I don’t think about it. I mean, I am contracted to do another two movies, so I am not holding my breath, I will see how this one goes, and then we will see after that.
Q: Are you afraid of aging?
No. I mean like everybody else, you kind of go hmmm, and then it’s like, what do you do? You’ve just got to get over it. You’ve got to kind of enjoy life while you are living it.
Q: The Bond here seems to be less polished than in Casino Royale, the good looking guy who gets the girl. There’s a bit more roughness about it. Is that something that you were looking into?
It’s just me.
Q: Getting older do you mean?
I’m six years older. It’s just the way it is there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s just, that’s me. I certainly didn’t think about Casino Royale while shooting this movie at all.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the stunts and is it getting more difficult for you?
No, it’s getting easier because I’m doing less. (laughter) Yeah, the stunts are just an incredible part of the movie and I am kind of involved with them obviously as much as I possibly can be. It’s more to do with geography than it is anything else if I am not doing the stunt. And then of course the very dangerous ones I am not doing, but the way things are now, it’s so much easier and I’ve got so many good doubles. Robbie, who did all the bike stuff, who is world renowned, we just got to make it good and as real as possible.
Q: With all the physical stuff and this being the third Bond, have you found any skills that you were able to apply in real life?
Nothing. (Laughs) It’s all make believe and there it stays. That’s true. I mean it’s just not anything to do with real life. The skills that I am learning you don’t see on camera, they are to do with working with people and how you interact with people and how are you going to get a job done. It’s nothing to do with me jumping out of an aircraft, I mean, people spend a lifetime doing those things and getting good at them .
Q: How do you deal with the massive fanbase of Bond and the accompanying expectations?
I mean, look, the movies wouldn’t get made unless people liked them, so the most important people in the process are the people who go and see it and we make the movies for those people. But you can’t think about the expectations, you just have to get on with doing as good a job as you can.
Q: How was it shooting in Istanbul and Shanghai?
Well sadly, I mean I had been to Shanghai before, but I didn’t shoot in Shanghai, that was movie magic. Time wise, we just couldn’t do it because it takes six months and you squeeze so much in, so we took a second unit who went to Shanghai, and filmed all of the exteriors and all of the driving and what I did we made movie magic of it. But Istanbul, I love Istanbul. I’ve been there many times before, and I love spending time there. It was exhilarating, especially filming in the Bazan and the fact that we got to race across the Bazan and on these motorbikes and just hopefully kind of show the beautiful side of Istanbul, but the Turkish people are so friendly and so kind of welcoming.
Q: Even though you said there were doing less stunts, obviously you were still working out a lot and there’s a lot of training involved. Was that more or less on this one?
I don’t think it was about the same, it was probably a little bit more different, I had to do a lot of running in this one, so I just ran a little bit more.
Q: Do you enjoy that kind of thing?
No. It’s like, really fucking boring. (laughter)
Q: So what do you think about when you are doing all those boring hours of running?
The weird thing is actually, you can switch off. So I suppose I can get away to doing something mindless so I can get away from what I am doing and actually kind of relax a bit, so that it’s actually….it’s not unpleasant, but it is boring.
Q: Is that your real run? Is that how you actually run?
If I am chasing somebody or being chased by somebody, the rest of the time is not like that really. (laughter)
Q: Were you at the gym every day?
No, it’s kind of impossible every day. I mean, I’d just wear myself out. The analogy I kind of use is like, even if you have ever played soccer, just for fun, I play a game of soccer every day, and I get injured every day, I mean not every day, but every other day. And there’s no recovery time, because I have to play another game tomorrow. So what I have to do is I have to train, to keep my level of fitness high enough and if do get injured, I can carry on. It’s kind of a weird place to be because there’s no blueprint for how you stay fit. You kind of get physically down and you have to pick yourself up, cause it’s six day weeks for six months and there’s no real downtime so you have to learn to pace yourself, and you eat properly. Like I said, it was very boring.
Q: Like Bond, you are also very stylish, and I just wondered, do you enjoy fashion?
I don’t know if I enjoy fashion, but I like beautiful clothes. One of the perks of this gig is that I get sent nice clothes, but I’ve always liked tailoring, I’ve always liked that. My grandfather was a tailor, so that’s always fun in the family, I like nicely designed men’s clothes.
Q: Watching you on SNL, I was just wondering why you haven’t done more comedy. Is that something that you would like to do more of?
Not especially, no. (laughter) The thing is, comedy is really, there are comedians who make films today and they have a process and most of it is to do with improvisation, there isn’t a script. They kind of come along and they have an idea, and they make it up. I don’t know how to work like that. I know how to work from scripts and there’s very few writers out there who write great comedy, who write really funny stuff, and if there is, they get snapped up very quickly, so I need a good script. I need a funny script, like I can’t just yuck it up and make it up. It’s not where I come from.
Q: In what ways are you different than James Bond?
Every way. (laughter) I hear that man has nothing to do with me I think at all, no.
Q: I love that this film is wonderfully British. I don’t know what it was about it, but I just felt like, England rules.
It’s not sort of any flag waving, jingoistic thing, we really just wanted to base it in England. We wanted to make it feel like England. And I am patriotic like anyone is, I’m not overly patriotic, but I believe there’s a sense of Britishness that is a kind of a good thing and we wanted to make sure that came through the movie. I think with Judi (Dench) reading Tennyson, that great piece and I read a bit of poetry so I kind of understand it. I’m not sure everybody gets it. I think the sentiment of it is so great, being brave, being somebody who has to stand up and is brave and protects us and is kind of, I think that sentiment is really moving.
Q: This Bond wasn’t just about huge set pieces but great dialogue and story.
I just think you can combine the two, I think you can have everything. Why not? Who set the rules that you can’t have both or whatever? Nobody, as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t there in that meeting when they said that, so as far as I was concerned, let’s have a story, let’s have the action, let’s have everything we can and more, and let’s have everything, there’s Bond in the movie as well.
Q: Thank you.