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Daniel Craig Interviews in English

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1

Daniel Craig gives an indepth interview about his life post-Casino Royale

For some fans he was too short, too blond, too Northern... yet Daniel Craig's 007 has made him the hottest film star of the year. But before you typecast him, his next role is as the gay convicted killer Perry Smith in the Capote biopic Infamous. Liz Hoggard of The Observer meets Liverpool's shooting star.

Walking around Shepperton Studios, strange creatures loom from the shadows. Witches and warlocks bowl past in hippy dreadlocks; I swear I've just seen a polar bear in full armour. The film lot is currently playing host to The Golden Compass, the first instalment in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, starring Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman and child actor Dakota Blue Richards. By the time I reach Craig's dressing room, I've slightly lost touch with reality.

But as Craig enters the room there's that shock of recognition. Everywhere you go, on buses, on billboards, his face is plastered 60ft high. Overnight, he has gone from being a great character actor to the most famous actor in the world. To date, Casino Royale has grossed $417m worldwide, making it the most successful opening of a Bond film ever. And Craig is the man who has made Bond human, giving him enough interesting psychological flaws to compete with modern icons such as Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne.

So, indisputably it has been Daniel Craig's year - a story made all the more delicious by the fact that he started off 2006 as the potential villain of the piece. But those fans who complained he was too short, too blond and, yes, too Northern to play Ian Fleming's deadly assassin have had to eat their words.

We've met several times before, and I've always found Craig to be hugely bright and sympathetic. But there was always a sense of reserve. His wariness with the press - and especially of talking about his private life - could make interviews slightly combative. 'Self-promotion, for me, is like going to the dentist,' he once admitted.

But now everything has changed: his body language is open, he meets your gaze directly. A new energy crackles in the room. And he looks great, blonder somehow (mysteriously, Craig is one of those actors who can switch his blondeness on and off at will). He's dressed in corduroy and brogues to play Lord Asriel in The Golden Compass. Disappointingly, his new beard - 'my explorer look' - has already gone. 'I grew it for the beginning of the film because Asriel is holed up in a prison cell, so shaving it off symbolises his freedom.'

Daily, it seems, Craig is splashed across the front pages of the newspapers on the flimsiest of pretexts (he's got new facial hair, he's the new male totty or the saviour of British masculinity). It's harmless fun, but he knows things could turn darker. 'If someone in my past decides they want to write about me, there's nothing I can do about it. It's their thing, it's what they're going through. But if it's to do with my present group of friends, my family, then there is a need for some control to be taken because that's private.'

He cites JK Rowling as someone who uses her fame and fortune wisely. 'She's kept her privacy. I think she may have a child, but I don't know, which is good. Now she's using her money to fund things she believes in. But her charity is her own private thing, which I think is incredibly admirable.'

Growing up working class in Liverpool, Craig was arguably the boy least likely to succeed. He failed the 11-plus and left school at 16. He had the wrong look for drama school in the Eighties, which was full of boys in floppy fringes who went to Eton. And yet here he is, the biggest British movie star of the decade at 38. What does it feel like to finally be doing the circuit on shows like Parkinson? 'Exactly what you think it feels like,' he deadpans. 'I was reluctant to go on Parkinson actually, which is weird because when it came to America I was like, "Oh fine, I'll do Letterman, I'll do whatever." I had less fear about it because it's not my town. But suddenly you're at LWT in London and you're at the top of the fucking stairs. The band's winking at you, and all you can think about is not falling down those stairs. Parkinson is delightful though, he came and talked to me before the show, and I thought: "OK, I don't have an act, this is all I can do, this is it, sorry." I admire people who can go and just turn it on. But if I do that, I just look like a wanker. So I try and talk normally with people.'

But then Craig does have a horror of modern confessional culture. 'You watch the mess people get into when they invite people into their homes and say, "This is the stress I'm under at the moment because I'm breaking up with so-and-so, or my child is dying, or my mother is dying, and I'd like to share this grief with you, because it would be good for other people." It may seem a valid statement, but I can only see it damaging you. Later, people will say, "But you shared your grief with us when your cat died, what do you mean you won't talk to us now you've had an affair with so-and-so?"'

But he's savvy enough to know he can't play the reluctant movie star any more. 'At the beginning I said to the Bond producers: "I will do everything you want me to do to sell this film," because I can't do this movie and go "I don't talk to the press" - it defeats the object.'

So, just as he was being declared a major sex symbol Craig went the whole hog and outed himself as 'happily not single', declaring a girlfriend, 29-year-old film producer Satsuki Mitchell. Was that something they decided to do together?

'Definitely, definitely. The thing is, she's been with me all through this, and all the way through filming. So why exclude her? She's up to it; she's an adult, I'm an adult. I'm not going out there purposely holding her hand to say, "We're a couple." But Bond has been too big an experience, it might not come around again. We had to do that amazing thing in Leicester Square, and walk round all that craziness, just because it may never happen again.'

Craig is a little afraid of where this level of exposure might go, though. 'I knew what it would open us up to - God forbid we should split up, but the response will be "Ah ha!", and there's nothing we can do about that. Now that we've appeared publicly we've declared something or other.' Does he fear the curse of Hello!? 'There is something out there,' he hoots. 'I'm sure there is. There's an organisation where they sit in a dark room with hoods on.'

He has three new films due out in 2007: as well as The Golden Compass, there's The Invasion, a modern version of the sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, also with Kidman. But fans may well not recognise him in his next film. Infamous, directed by Doug McGrath, is a million miles away from Craig's suave 007 persona. Playing the convicted killer Perry Smith, who developed a homosexual relationship with Truman Capote, Craig has dyed his hair black, his skin is sallow and he wears contact lenses.

Daringly, he doesn't appear for the first 40 minutes of Infamous. 'But boy, the minute he comes in, he sure grabs everyone,' says McGrath. 'I knew Daniel was right because he is very persuasive violently, very persuasive as a vulnerable person, but he is also totally magnetic. As Perry, you think is he dumb, or much smarter than I thought, which keeps you on a knife edge.'

Infamous, which stars British actor Toby Jones as Capote, recreates the background to Capote's 1965 true-crime tale In Cold Blood. By rights it should be laden with Oscar nominations next month (both Craig and Jones are astonishing). Except for one problem: this is the second film about Capote to be released in 12 months (Bennett Miller's Capote won Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar earlier this year). So how do you get audiences to a film they think they've already seen?

Craig is so proud of the film he's made a window in his schedule just to talk about it to The Observer. 'My feeling all the way along was I wish they had put the two bloody films out together. I wish they'd had the balls to do that,' he insists. 'I love Truman Capote, and I love In Cold Blood so much, I thought, "You know what, whatever happens, this is worth telling." It's worth seeing another interpretation of that character.'

Initially McGrath's film seems lighter, frothier than Capote. We meet Truman's swanky Manhattan friends, from Babe Paley (Sigourney Weaver) to Diana Vreeland (Juliet Stevenson). As Weaver puts it: 'If the other film is like a shot of bourbon, then this is a glass of champagne.'

But after Truman meets Perry, the tension starts to bite. Artist and murderer are mirror images. Both had mothers who committed suicide. Both were sensitive kids who felt out of place and had dreams of becoming artists.

It's too easy to call Infamous a gay love story, but the erotic tension between Craig and Jones has you on the floor. 'There was never any self-consciousness about it,' says Craig. 'I always think that's how a love story needs to play out anyway, because it's just this friendship that starts growing, and if it turns into sex, it turns into sex; but it's not like two young men meet in a bar, go out back and fuck. This is about two human beings really sitting down and trying to figure each other out.'

Nevertheless, poor Toby Jones has been hounded by the American press about what it was like to kiss the new 007. A fact Craig finds grimly amusing. 'What's he supposed to say? "Very dry?" Anyway, it's all over the internet now: "Bond has gay kiss!"'

Infamous nearly wasn't released, but Warners relented when it was shown at the Venice Film Festival to rave reviews. In fact, Craig stayed away from the film festival, citing prior commitments. Now he admits, 'I had this whole awful debate going on with myself. I thought, "I can't go because otherwise it will be all about the new Bond being in town.'

He loves the fact that Infamous is about a writer, not a celebrity chef or an actor. 'Some of my greatest heroes are journalists. I genuinely believe getting to know people, going out and looking people in the eye and understanding the situation, like war reporter Robert Fisk does, that's proper journalism. Maybe that's just a dinosaur way of looking at things. But I don't believe anything I read on the internet.'

He'd love to do more theatre: 'I'm enormously jealous of what Bill Nighy is doing at the moment.' Judi Dench is another role model. 'Bond is a sexist pig, of course he is. But having Judi in the film, well it doesn't forgive it, but it gives it gravity. Because how could Judi Dench be wrong?' I tell him it was a master touch that in the film M lives in a sleek modernist penthouse, not some rose-covered cottage. 'Yeah, and it's great there's some guy in bed with her. I was desperate to get someone in like Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves to do it!'

Craig never took any notice of box-office receipts before Bond. All that changed with the first opening weekend. 'Watching the numbers coming in, and it steadily going up, I thought, "It's OK, we've got away with it." It was like the fucking Blue Peter appeals.'

He's thrilled the two films making money this Christmas are Casino Royale and Happy Feet. Though I don't think they're ever going to make a marketing man of Craig. 'There's this whole thing about demographics,' he groans. 'We're told, "OK, we're a bit low on 22- to 28-year-old women at the moment." What am I supposed to do? Go on telly and make bread?'

And yet you sense how passionately he gets involved. He and director Martin Campbell had a few bust-ups on Casino Royale. He's also working hard to make sure Pullman's subversive text is not watered down too much in The Golden Compass. 'I'm clinging on to it with my fingernails,' he observes. 'I was in Rome promoting Bond the other day and we got asked quite a few questions about The Golden Compass. The thing is, having spoken to Philip [Pullman] now at length - he's such a passionate, great guy - there's nothing anti-religious about this film. It's anti-establishment in a big way and anti-totalitarian and anti-controlling. But essentially it's a film about growing up, and how difficult that can be.'

Craig (who has a 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage) is relishing playing the magnetic but selfish Lord Asriel, who comes across as a thoroughly rubbish parent in the Pullman books. 'I'm a bad dad,' he gloats.

In fact, he sounds pretty paternalistic. He worries that today's teenagers are growing up too fast. 'Nowadays, free time seems to be 10 times more complicated than it was ... there was less to think about for us. Although Sunday night was all about recording The Chart Show on the radio, it was a major technical deal,' he chuckles, 'so it was probably just as stressful as downloading something from MySpace. It fills the same hole in your head, doesn't it?'

Craig may be man of the year - 'Stop saying that' - but for an action hero he's spending a lot of time indoors. 'The truth is I can't really go out at the moment. I can walk round Soho, anyone can walk round Soho, and it's OK in New York. But I just get shouted at. He yells suddenly, imitating the male fans who rush up to him. 'It's not anything bad, and it will die down eventually. And if it stops me walking into too many bars, that's no bad thing.'

He's no time for self-pity. 'It's a great business this. If you work really hard and get it right, then it's incredibly rewarding.' But he's thrilled many critics didn't recognise him in Infamous. 'I may have to wear a longer wig and more teeth in the future. Ah well,' he laughs, 'there's a plastic bag with my character hanging around in it somewhere.'

One senses he'll use his mega-fame to get interesting films green-lit. 'There are a couple of things I'm going to do next year,' he tells me enigmatically as he dashes back on set, 'and they're small and they're independent and they're about movie-making. There are hugely positive things out there which I'm going to grab with both hands. If more people go and see Infamous now because I'm James Bond, that's great. But people should go and see it because it's a wonderful movie.'

2

The actor brings a toughness and edge long absent from the Bond franchise

Daniel Craig was mercilessly criticized when he was announced as the new James Bond. A lot of the criticism was personal and nasty. Well it's time for the naysayers and doubters to eat crow, because Daniel Craig is astonishing in Casino Royale. He brings a toughness and physical presence that's been long absent from the Bond franchise. I think this is the toughest and most dangerous Bond we've seen since the Sean Connery days. Casino Royale is an origin story, the re-launch of James Bond. It's obvious they found the right guy for the job.

This was my second interview with Daniel Craig. He's really animated, very funny and engaging. The personal nature of the Bond criticism really affected him. He gave it his all and was beaming from the results. Casino Royale is a great film, and even though Craig didn't want to gloat, you could see he felt vindicated. Craig's star continues to rise with "The Visiting" and The Golden Compass, both with Nicole Kidman, coming next year.

You were really crucified in the press and online when you were cast. How did that affect you?

Daniel Craig: It happened. People's passionate belief in this and what they feel, how connected they feel with Bond, that's fine. The fact is there was nothing I could do. It did affect me. It affected me for a couple of days, but I got into myself and said, "We have to make this brilliant, the best it can be, or the best I can make it". And that strengthened my resolve. Throw the computer away and don't look on the internet. That's the best thing to do.

Where would you like to see Bond going with his character? What are you going to add to the role?

Daniel Craig: I don't think he's kind of rounded yet. I don't think he's finished. I think he's got more lessons to learn, that for me is where we take it. I'd like to see him get into situations we might not have possibly imagined him in. That's going to be the difficult thing, trying to find situations and scenarios that maybe take us out. In June of this year when I finished this movie, the last thing on earth I wanted was to make a Bond movie. I now feel more pumped up about taking this on somewhere. It's going to be very interesting.

You have a lot of physical action in this film and look very fit. How did you prepare for the action?

Daniel Craig: I've always kept fit. I quit smoking, which was actually the best thing...

Did you stop drinking?

Daniel Craig: No, God almighty no, I wouldn't have gotten through a week. That was Saturday night. I kept fit. I got into the gym. I started running, started bicycling, I pumped weights. It was twofold the reason really, I wanted to look like he was physically capable. I wanted him to look as fit as possible. I knew that to do the stunts I wanted to do; I had to be physically fit to do them. I don't think I would have survived. I was getting injuries all the time, everybody was, and the stunt guys were getting injuries. You have the painkillers, you have the physiotherapy, then they pat me on the backside and say "C'mon, get on with it".

Was it your decision to do as many stunts as possible?

Daniel Craig: Not mine alone, it has to be safe. Gary Powell, the stunt coordinator, tested me out as we went along. He said, "I think you can do this". I nodded and said, "Okay, I'll have a go".

Did you ever say no to a stunt?

Daniel Craig: No, I don't think I did.

How are your balls doing these days? That torture scene is pretty hard to watch. Did you actually get hurt?

Daniel Craig: (laughs) The honest truth is that it was one of the simplest scenes to shoot. It was on the page. It was a great scene in the book and had been adapted so well. Basically a chair is set-up up, I sat in the chair, it has a fiberglass bottom to it and I'm ensconced in that. It did crack. I hit the ceiling and left. (laughs) Martin [Campbell, the director] and I talked about it a lot. We've got to make it real. It's got to be a scene that gets guys squirming and that was the first thing. And then I said to myself that I don't want him to lose. Even though it's all over, and it appears to be, Vesper's getting tortured. There's nothing he can do, so the only thing that can happen is to still beat this guy. I have no idea what that feels like and I never want to find out, but the assumption is the more you get hit, the less it's going to hurt.

Were you self-conscious being naked?

Daniel Craig: Absolutely...(laughs) have you seen my other movies? Self-conscious doesn't really come into it. No.

How many films are you signed for?

Daniel Craig: I'm signed for three films. Now I actually feel we're ready to do another one. What we've set up in this one, we set up this idea that there is an organization out there, maybe there's one person who's responsible. The fact is now he has to go and get them. Obviously there's an element of revenge involved. Hopefully all those things will make it as rich an experience as this one.

How do you feel being a sex symbol?

Daniel Craig: As far as I'm concerned, the sexiness, the sex symbol, it's not a consideration. I didn't go out to play sexy in this film. It's nice...I don't know, I'm embarrassed, I don't know what to say...

Bond is a sexual creature...

Daniel Craig: The important thing in the movie is to see what that's about. He's a driven guy. He likes tasting things, that's the best way to put it. If he can, he will. Given the opportunity, yes, that's part of his character, that's the risk he takes, combined with the way he enjoys life.

This role will stick with you forever, your obituary will say James Bond...

Daniel Craig: Jesus Christ! (lots of laughing) Of course, but it's a very good problem to have. It's not bad. I say that with gusto now, but it's why I did this. I'm very proud of this movie. I'm very proud of what we achieved. It was a lot of pressure to get it right. I think we have, and the Bond aspect of it was all in place anyway. I've got some other things to do in life.

You have two incredible scenes, reaction shots really, that I think defines you as James Bond. Without revealing spoilers, the last shot of you and Mr. White is incredible. Was that your idea or the director's?

Daniel Craig: People ask me about that line. I didn't rehearse it. The first time I said it was on the set. We did it a few times, that wasn't the only take. There was a discussion. He hits Mr. White from the other end of the garden. He's Bond, I don't want a handgun, I want an assault rifle. I want a silenced assault rifle. I want to have that look at the end, which is he means business. I didn't consciously try and be anything. That's not how I approach things. I don't visualize. I just think, what does this feel like? Does this feel good? It's up to Martin to shout cut at the appropriate time.

As a follow-up, the reaction shots from the casino scene, there's no dialogue. How do you shoot that?

Daniel Craig: I can't tell you how complicated that was. We rehearsed everyone on the tables so everyone knew what they were doing. We had like five packs of cards, all in the right order. They were all coded, so we start the game at any point we want, and the cards are going down in exactly the right order. I just went, now let's play poker. Mads [Mikkelsen] and I, he's fantastic a great actor, it was like sparring. It was great fun to do, just to get that dynamic going between the two of them, just looking at each other, it was a fight. We never have a physical fight in the movie. That was our physical fight. The card game, Martin and the editor, getting that together, making that believable. Not everybody knows about cards in the audience, but getting that together, that's poker. That's really what it is, pushing those chips, bringing up the tension of it. It's a whole bunch of people that made it happen.

Die Another Day went clearly over the top. Casino Royale goes completely in the opposite direction. Was that a consideration?

Daniel Craig: Being over the top, Christ sakes, Mads weeps blood. But it's done great, it's kind of a beautiful Bond moment. It's done with a dab. I want it to be as stylish as it possibly can. What I ever wanted to maintain is that you can do anything, if it's in the plot. If it's right and if it feels good, then you can get on, because we are in a fantasy world. That's the fact, this isn't real life.

Bond has some emotional moments in the film. How did you walk the line between being vulnerable and being tough?

Daniel Craig: What did you think? (laughs) You have to answer that question. I tried to walk the line very carefully. To not make it emotional would have screwed everything that had gone on before. It's a Bond movie. I was keen on the idea, this is James Bond, he is somebody, but it's how he is in that situation that's interesting. Its how closed off he is that's interesting. The fact that he's alone at that point, if somebody walked up, he'd dry his eyes and walk away. But the fact is he's alone and we catch a private moment. It fitted. That seemed to be the right thing to do. There were other takes that maybe were a little less emotional, but we played around it.

Did playing an intelligence agent in Munich help you at all to play Bond?

Daniel Craig: No, it's a different deal. There are things about guys who are in the army. They're very particular, they have to be. Bond is kind of like the exaggeration of these things, down to the cufflinks. But it's a particular thing because there has to be a sense of order to these things. Then he can react to it. With that character, there was a sense of that. I promise you I wasn't trying to do something similar. Spielberg would sometimes play the Bond theme.

Have you spoken to Pierce Brosnan?

Daniel Craig: I spoke to Pierce. He's been great. He's been very supportive.

So he didn't curse you out?

Daniel Craig: (laughs) No, he's been great. He said, "You have to go for it".

Getting back to all the criticism, the movie is great. Would you like to tell the doubters to fuck off?

Daniel Craig: No, that's not the way I am. That doesn't interest me in the slightest. I set out to make a good movie. That was never an issue. I stand by that, I've got better things to do.

What's your drink of choice?

Daniel Craig: Depends on how drunk I want to get. I love vodka martinis. I know it's a cliché. I love them, but they have to good. They mix very good vodka martinis in this town, as I've found out.

Are you ready for the fame that comes with being Bond?

Daniel Craig: I don't know. I don't know how you prepare yourself for that. I've never been in this game for that, I've never gone looking for it. I've not tried to physically avoid it, but I've been more interested in the work. There are some very pleasant things, but also some negative things that go along with it. It's sort of juggling those things. Privacy is important. Anybody who doesn't think that, they're crap. But I know I'm going to lose some of that and that's something I'll have to deal with.

What's your favorite Bond film?

Daniel Craig: "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love", they're great, just the best. They're two of my favorite movies. Sean Connery being physical, scary, complicated, bad, all those things about that character. It's a great character, it's something that he created that's lasted this long. Those two are very special.

What does Bond do to your schedule? For a decade you'll have one every other year. Is there time in between to do other stuff?

Daniel Craig: I don't think we'll start shooting until the end of next year. So next year is clear. Why, you got something? My agent is outside. (laughs)

What if Scorsese or Spielberg calls you for a role? Will they wait for you? Or does Bond take precedence?

Daniel Craig: Nothing is stopping me from doing anything. I haven't got a golden handcuff. I'm under contract, but I'm not under exclusive contract.

What do you do in your spare time?

Daniel Craig: Very little, I like fishing, I like painting; I like painting fish. (laughs) I get away. I try to go somewhere. There are a couple of places, which I won't tell you about, that are very private and very nice. I don't see family from one month to the next, so I have to go back and reconnect and make sure they still like me. Do those sorts of things.

Your next film, "The Visiting", is that a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

Daniel Craig: It's based on that.

What else do you have lined up?

Daniel Craig: I'm in the middle of shooting The Golden Compass.

You play Lord Azrael? In the first book he doesn't have much to do...

Daniel Craig: Thank God (laughs)

In the third book, you're going to come back where he has more to do?

Daniel Craig: I hope it does. The third book, he has more things to do. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Casino Royale is in theaters this Friday and is rated 'PG-13' for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity.

3

The new blond Bond isn't shaken by the role

Daniel Craig talks with Today show host Katie Couric about filling the famous film spy's shoes

Updated: 10:59 p.m. ET Dec. 1, 2005

For many fans of the James Bond franchise, the news that British actor Daniel Craig had been cast as the new James Bond 007 came as a surprise. After all, who is this guy? Today show host Katie Couric sat down with Craig on the set of his latest movie.

He's suave, debonair, impeccably dressed, he always gets the girl and he's licensed to kill. He's been known to have X-ray vision. He can crack any safe, pick any lock, and he can leap tall buildings in a single bound. No, he's not superman he's 007. And now he's Craig, Daniel Craig.

37-year-old Craig isn't a complete unknown. He's appeared with big-name stars like Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. But despite his lengthy resume, he's not exactly a household name.

For the past six weeks, he's been an Englishman in D.C., shooting an upcoming movie, The Visiting, which is loosely based on the sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Katie Couric: A lot of Americans don't know all that much about you. So, I thought I'd ask you a few questions kind of a little bio.

Daniel Craig: All right.

Couric: Yeah. All right. Where were you born?

Craig: I was born in Chester, which is north-northwest of England.

Couric: You've been acting for a long time. So far, what is the favorite your favorite movie, in terms of what you've been in?

Craig: That's a tough one. Because I've got a few. I mean, I've got a list of them that I've enjoyed.

Couric: Not Tomb Raider? You wouldn't say that was your personal favorite?

Craig: Thanks. Thanks, so much. [Laughter] This is going so well. [Laughter]

Couric: What is your favorite thing to do when you have a day off?

Craig:  Nothing.

Couric: Nothing?

Craig:  Mmm-hmmm.

Couric: What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Craig: Wow. God these questions.

Couric: I know, I'm sorry.

Craig: Vanilla.

Couric: Really?

Craig: Uh-huh.

Couric: Oh, come on. What's your second favorite?

Craig: Pistachio.

Couric: Okay. That's a little more interesting, frankly. How did the whole Bond thing unfold? There was so much mystery and intrigue around who would be the next Bond. Can you give me a little bit of the back story?

Craig: There's none, really. I mean, it's a simple situation where I was approached to sort of, do it, and I thought about it for a long time, and they thought about it. And lo and behold, here we are.

Couric: Is it a bit nerve-racking?  I mean, I know you've been asked, ad nauseum, about stepping into the shoes of of those who have gone before you. But is it nerve-racking to play a role that was done so

Craig: Do you want the truth?

Couric: Yeah.

Craig: I'm trying not to think about it.

Couric: Really?

Craig: Yeah.

Couric: So, I guess the answer would be yes.

Craig: Well, I'm just trying to approach it like anything else I've done. And just I mean, the thing to do is just not get it wrong.

Couric: Are you excited though?

Craig: I am very incredibly excited. Yes. Yes. I mean, I just but I just want to get on with it. Just get on with the job.

And the job at hand is wrapping up The Visiting, with his co-star Nicole Kidman.

Couric: Tell me about the character you play.

Craig: Well, I'm a doctor, here in D.C. And, me and Nicole are sort of best friends. And the proverbial hits the fan, basically. And the world gets turned upside down. We're trying to find out whether there's some way around this horrible problem that everybody seems to be having. By being snatched by aliens.

Couric: Is it fun to work on such an out-there script?

Craig: It is. There's a kind of sinister undertone. It's been great filming in the capital because it gives it a real kind of political edge, which was one of the reasons I loved this script.

For Nicole Kidman, it was the chance to get physical that attracted her to the film.

Nicole Kidman: This is the most action I've ever done in a film.

Couric: Really?

Kidman: It's about the way in which, you know, society gets infiltrated by what you call aliens. We've been running through the streets and jumping things, jumping turnstiles in the train station, down in the subways.

Couric: Are you having fun with that?

Kidman: I am.  I yeah. It's different for me.

Couric: How do you like working with the new Bond?

Kidman: He's gonna be a wonderful James Bond. I think people will be really glad to see him in that role. He's perfect for it.

Couric: What's sort of interesting, though is he's not your quintessential pretty boy. You know, he's a little more rugged, a little ruddier he's blond. You know, it's so funny because usually, women are kind of dissected this way, not not male actors.

Kidman:  Gosh, I know.

Couric: But I wonder if, do you sort of feel for him?

Kidman: I didn't realize there was so much interest in

Couric: There is. I think a little ...

Kidman: Yeah. But I sort of walk around with my head in the clouds most of the time, and don't realize that most things are that

Couric: Interesting?

Kidman: No. [Laughs]

Daniel Craig's next leading lady will be the new Bond girl, a role for which several actresses are rumored to be in the running, including Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Sienna Miller.

But whoever his sidekick, Daniel Craig knows that when it comes to filling the shoes of the world's most well-known secret agent, it's either sink or swim.

4

Bond's workout with Guinness

By GRANT ROLLINGS
November 06, 2006

ITS Day One of 007 Week in The Sun, and today new James Bond star Daniel Craig tells of the blows he took both on AND off the Casino Royale set.

In our exclusive interview he also reveals how the bruises, the barbs and the tooth he had knocked out have all helped make him a grittier 007.

DASHING Daniel Craig narrows his startlingly blue eyes as he recalls the rough ride he had in his first weeks as superspy James Bond.

The first couple of days of filming were very nerve-racking, he reveals. We started off with a fight sequence which I had been rehearsing for two weeks.

I had to go and get thumped, thump people, throw people through windows, shoot guns.

I was thrown in at the deep end and that was probably the best way to do it.

There was something in the papers about me getting a tooth cap knocked out, which I did.

It was strange because I thought, Oh, so thats how its going to be!

I just had it stuck back in and we carried on like nothing had happened.

It was a question of trying to hit the ground running, and I think we did that.

Superfit Daniel started to prepare for Casino Royale before he even landed the role. In the film, the 38-year-old actor looks amazingly well toned, sporting a six-pack and bulging biceps.

He recalls: I started training for the film when I knew there was a possibility I might get the part.

I thought, Ill start trying to get myself fit anyway and even if it doesnt come off Ill live another year. Referring to his work filming the tough action sequences, he adds: If I hadnt done it early I dont think Id have survived. But Daniels tough fitness regime is strictly for weekdays he insists that the weekend is reserved for having a few pints.

He jokes: Im not obsessive about fitness. I work out three or four times a week but I take the weekends off and drink as much Guinness as I can get down my neck.

Casino Royale, which opens on November 16, sees Bond doing some death-defying leaps, with Daniel trying to do as many of his own stunts as possible.

He says: Obviously there is stuff that I dont have the skills for but Im desperate to do as much as I can, stunt-wise.

We did a thing where I was shot into the air, and Im not great with heights.

But it was a piece of . . . Its definitely getting better. These challenges come up and its about conquering them.

Like any good spy, Daniel did his research carefully in this case, watching the entire back catalogue of 007 films.

He says: Ive got the box set and I went through them religiously. Some are great movies and any film-maker would be lying if they said they didnt copy off people, because you have to.

I just wanted to go through them all. There was stuff that all of them did that were their little keys and you go, Oh thats cute, the way they did that.

Chester-born Daniel became the victim of negative stories on the internet after getting the role, and he says: Some of it was maybe valid but most of it was name-calling. It was like playground stuff. Id be lying if I said I ignored it all. And its that horrible thing with the internet its like a drug weve got in the front room.

We might use it for sensible things some of the time but theres always an hour in our lives where we just end up looking at rubbish.

The taunts on the web only motivated Daniel to make a brilliant film. He says: I always wanted to make a great movie but when things started happening online it gave me a resolve.

It was like, Weve got no choice now we have to make the best movie we can. In fact it spurred me on.

To many movie fans, Daniel had already proved he had immense talent in such films as the Oscar-nominated Munich and Brit flick Layer Cake, which followed on from the popular TV series Our Friends In The North.

Casino Royale is based on the first Bond novel by 007 author Ian Fleming, which was published in 1953.

However, the producers of the new movie decided to change the enemy from communists, as the idea now seems dated.

The chief villains name, Le Chiffre, stays the same, although now his only motivation is making money.

Daniel reckons it would have been a mistake to give Bonds enemies political motives and says: Its foolish to get involved with too much politics.

But you cant help having an eye on the world outside. What I find interesting is that with the world at the moment were not really sure who the bad guy is and that is what I think Bond does he sort of clarifies that position a little.

With Bond we know who the bad guy is and hes going to go after him and get him. The bad guys in this movie are non-political and non-religious, but we do have terrorism and bombing.

Casino Royale ends a little abruptly, with the odd question unanswered such as who is behind the films complex plot.

But Daniel says: We dont know who the top man is yet. We will hopefully find out in the next movie.

The actor is already signed up to star in that film, the 22nd official Bond movie, which has already been given a release date November 7, 2008.

The James Bond movies have proved to be the most successful franchise in cinema history and Daniel is fully aware that he cannot afford to mess up this home-grown institution.

He says: Its a particularly British movie we are doing here. Its Britishn talent producing something special.

Its going to give Bond fans and believe me, Im careful about that because I know what it means to them its going to give them what they want.

g.rollings@the-sun.co.uk


.. - , , Sun "", - - .

5

8 March 2006

EXCLUSIVE: SHAKEN AND STIRRED

Exclusive Daniel Craig feared he'd destroy 007 franchise Shocked by hate emails from angry Bond fans But we say he'll be the best agent since Sean
By John Dingwall

NEW Bond Daniel Craig was so unsure about whether he wanted to take one of the biggest roles in the movie industry that he waited a whole year to make up his mind.

He feared his performance as James Bond in upcoming movie Casino Royale would spell the end of the multi-million film franchise.

But after deciding to step into 007's boots, Daniel was left stunned by the army of Bond fans who filled cyberspace with petitions calling for him to be axed from the role.

Yet if his past acting parts are anything to go by, not only will Daniel pull off the character's latest makeover, he'll also make the best Bond since Sean Connery.

Daniel, 38, admitted: "It's a big leap. It's a big commitment to make to something that I haven't really got a huge amount of ambition about doing, to tell you the truth of it.

"I never really wanted to do James Bond. Don't get me wrong, I want to make big movies and I want to make as much money as I possibly can.

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"But there's not a tremendous emotional challenge and that would be the important thing, because that is what I would want.

"I want that to change but I don't know how ready they'd be to change. I don't know how much of a fight that would be to try and get that done, because you'd have to flip the whole thing on its head."

With a laugh, he added: "I think they want to. But it's a big machine and it makes lots of money, so why would you change something that's making a huge amount of money?"

Having accepted his fate as the world's most famous fictional secret agent, we should applaud him for wanting to create a Bond with an emotional depth not seen before from the 007 film franchise.

Currently filming Casino Royale in a variety of locations befitting the globe-trotting spy, including Prague and the Bahamas, he said he would give the thumbs up to past Bonds including Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan.

But he is only too aware that there has been less enthusiasm for the Bond outings starring George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton - and that anything but the best means Casino Royale will join the other also-rans.

Daniel said: "The thing is I think Timothy Dalton was great in the part but I think they tried to change it in the wrong direction and he got the rap for it.

"I think George Lazenby got the rap, too. I think On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the best movies, because he loses his wife in the movie.

"It's a dodgy place to be walking. I don't really want to get the rap for destroying that franchise. I mean, that wouldn't be a good place to be."

Daniel may be the first blond Bond but suggestions that he will be too bland for the role are wide of the mark.

Instead, his film work to date suggests he has an edge that was missing during the Pierce Brosnan era.

Okay, so he was in Tomb Raider opposite Angelina Jolie. But in the excellent Road To Perdition, Daniel was utterly believable as villain Connor Rooney. Intense back-to-back performances followed - in British gangster flick Layer Cake and the adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel Enduring Love.

In fact, hopes should be high for the 21st Bond movie though fans will have to wait until November 17 for the final judgement.

Meanwhile, Hollywood's finest have closed ranks to support one of their own.

Even Sean Connery seems to think the casting is spot on, having described Daniel as a "terrific choice" for the role of Bond.

Daniel got his big break in the TV series Our Friends In The North but reckons he was always destined for Hollywood.

He said: "I just had an ambition to make movies. I got offered a lot of television roles that were going to pay me a lot of money and I was just like 'but I want to make movies' and the only way to do that was to be poor and stick with it.

"I'm lucky to have been spotted in Our Friends In The North. I think television is a fantastic medium. But if you're going to do it, do it. If you're going to make a fool of yourself make a really big fool of yourself."

If he is taking a risk, it may be in agreeing to become the first Bond not to rely on a plethora of gadgets, special effects and pyrotechnics.

But let's face it, many viewers yawned their way through Bond action sequences in the safe knowledge that all will be well in the end - after all, they can't exactly kill off Bond.

Once again, he'll drive an Aston Martin - but this time any gadgets are inside the car.

That means no machine guns or spiked wheel trims to aid his getaway. And rumour has it that Q does not appear.

But with Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and a bevvy of Bond babes lined up, Casino Royale will have the sex appeal we've come to expect.

Despite the obvious perks, the actor didn't jump at the chance to play the suave spy in the new film because he was afraid he would be typecast forever.

In fact, he considered the offer of the part for a year before giving the Broccolis, who own the franchise, his final answer.

Daniel said: "I kind of feel that if you look at the track record of most Bonds - I mean Sean Connery obviously defined the part, and even he struggled for a while to get rid of the mantle.

"That's the pitfall and it could happen to me. I've been working so hard, for however long it is I've been doing this, to try and stick to doing stuff I totally believe in and that would be wiped out."

But he added: "I thought, 'God, this is all right. I'm doing what I want to do.' And that was a huge weight off my shoulders."

Like the Bonds who've gone before, Daniel will once again brandish the spy's favoured gun, the Walther PPK revolver - but that should be quite a challenge for the actor, who has a real-life loathing of them.

Daniel said: "I hate handguns. Handguns are used to shoot people and as long as they are around, people will shoot each other. That's a simple fact.

"I've seen a bullet wound and it was a mess. It was on a shoot and it scared me. Bullets have a nasty habit of finding their target and that's what's scary about them."

There's little doubt, though, that Daniel will hit the target as the new 007.

'Sean Connery obviously defined the part and even he struggled to get rid of the mantle. That could happen to me'

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT DOUBLE O DANIEL

PIERCE BROSNAN was dumped as 007 to make way for the younger actor.

"I think Daniel is a very fine actor. These are rocky waters and they're going to get him one way or another. But I think he will have the last laugh at the end of it."

NICOLE KIDMAN will soon be seen opposite Daniel in the film The Visiting which is in post-production at the moment.

"I think Daniel will be great in Casino Royale.

"He is such an accomplished actor. Stephen Daldry, who directed The Hours, said to me 'He is the best actor in England, and if you get a chance to work with him, do it.'"

DAME JUDI DENCH spoke up for him too at the Oscars this week. The 71-year-old actress plays spymaster M in the Bond films.

"I hate how people have been attacking Daniel Craig.

"It's despicable and it disgusts me.

"I've filmed with him in Prague and the Bahamas and he is a fine actor. He brings something new and edgy to the role."

6

Remaking 'James'

''Casino Royale'': Inside the big bet on the new 007. Daniel Craig is the new name on that License To Kill, and the latest Man Who Would Be Bond is resetting the spy franchise's clock. No pressure...

By Benjamin Svetkey

The jumbo jet parked on the runway is ready to be blown up.

The fuel truck with the leaky gas tank and a terrorist bomber behind the wheek is idling in a nearby hangar. And the Aston Martin belonging to a certain secret agent has juts pulled up to the curb.

In other words, everyone at this secluded airfield outside London, on this picture-perfect July afternoon, is waiting for the cameras to roll on what could be one of the most spectacularly explosive not to mention spectacularly expensive action sequences ever shot for a James Bond movie.

Unfortunately, so is the guy in the hang glider, making swooping circles in the sky overhead, snapping as many photos as he can.

''The paparazzi are everywhere,'' sighs a weary Daniel Craig, taking a break as security guards chase after the winged intruder. ''We pulled two of them out of the bushes last night. They were in Prague when we were there. They were in Venice. They were on the beaches in the Bahamas. Everywhere Casino Royale has shot, they've been there.''

Well, who can blame them? The press and public always get a little curious whenever someone new starts shaking James Bond's martinis. And this time around, there's certainly plenty to be curious about. After all, many moviegoers had never heard of Craig before October 2005, when it was announced that the 38-year-old blue-eyed Brit would follow Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan to become the sixth James Bond. Frankly, some wish they still hadn't heard of him: A group of hardcore purists have been so outraged by the casting of a fair-haired actor in a role they believe is strictly for brunets, they've gone so far as to launch an anti-Craig Internet campaign and threaten a boycott of the movie (yes, Mr. Blond, they expect you to dye!). But even those who don't care about hair color, who admire Craig's work in films like Layer Cake and Munich, may have questions about this 21st official installment of the seemingly eternal action series. Because the hair isn't the only thing different about this new 007. In fact, with Casino Royale, Bond is undergoing his boldest makeover since swaggering onto screens some 45 years ago in Dr.No.

''I watched every single Bond movie three or four times, taking in everything I could about how the character had been portrayed in the past then threw all that away once I started doing the role,'' Craig announces. ''There's no point in making this movie unless it's different. It'd be a waste of time unless we took Bond to a place he'd never been before.''

7

Shaken and very stirred

I AM holding hands with James Bond.

No, I cant quite believe it either. But I look down at my hand and there it is entwined with 007s.

However, I am only supposed to be shaking it because I have just been introduced to Daniel Craig, the new Bond.

Not only is he sex on legs, but Daniel has piercing, summer-sky blue eyes and I feel like Ive been hypnotised.

How else do you explain the fact that, in spite of my brain sending urgent messages to my hand Let go of Bonds hand before he thinks youre a lunatic I have still got his fingers in a Vulcan death grip.

I have spent the day on set at the Barrandov Studios in Prague, where new 007 movie Casino Royale is being filmed.

Not only did I get to see Daniel snogging the stunning Eva Green (15 times) but I watched footage from the film.

And let me tell you that Daniel Craig is going to make Bond cool again.

He is a rough, tough, gritty gloves-off fighting Bond.

Daniel is very manly, said stunt co-ordinator Gary Powell. He moves and handles himself very well.

And right now, he is handling me. Oh God. But when in doubt, talk cars. So what does James Bond make of his co-star in Casino Royale the new Aston Martin DB S? At the mention of the gorgeous DB S, Daniel becomes genuinely excited and forgets about Handshakegate.

I cant wait to drive it and at some stage to get back on the test track at Gaydon with it, he says. As long as I can take care of it . . .

Daniel pauses, and with an evil glint in his eye and a mischievous smile he changes his mind.

No, I dont want to take care of it. I want to rag the arse off it. I want to bald the back tyres.

Do these sound like the words of a man who can only drive an automatic, as previously reported?

Daniel has been mucking about in manuals since he was 16 and is actually a driving demon.

Just ask Les Goble, chief test driver at Aston Martin, who was genuinely impressed with Daniels driving skills when they took the DB9 and V8 Vantage out on the test track.

Goble said he was one of the best drivers he has been out with.

Did he say that? asks Daniel. I love him. That only cost me £500! I thought I had gone round very quietly.

Daniel has been involved with the development of the DB S right from the beginning.

I was lucky enough to go along when it was still in clay form, he says. The line of it is so beautiful. A specially built supercar is certainly a long way from his first set of wheels.

He tells me: My first car was a Nissan Cherry. It cost me £300, which now thinking about it, was too much money.

Was that a fanny magnet? I never pulled girls with that car. Thats not the way to pull girls you dont pull girls with cars.

Er . . . are you sure? In my experience, no. Other people might have had success but it never worked in my favour. Not in my Nissan Cherry anyway!

Did he pass his test first time? No. I missed my test first time because I was drunk.

I had finished a job and been out late the night before. I suddenly realised I had a test the next day. I rang up and said, I think I can still do it!

Sadly for me, at this point the dishy Daniel was whisked away and I was left feeling like one of his Martinis.

Shaken and very stirred.

8

Bond bombshell

As the new 007, he has some tough acts to follow. Daniel Craig macho, gruff and said to be a fantastic kisser believes hes more than up to the assignment. But does he really know what hes taken on? John-Paul Flintoff reports
The new James Bond arrives for lunch at the Dorchester Hotel. Id half-expected the screeching of brakes, or gunshots, but Daniel Craig, 38, arrives no more noisily than any other diner. He wears jeans, a black polo shirt that sets off his reddish tan and muscle-bound torso, and a thunderous expression that, combined with his unearthly, pale blue eyes, provides an air of authentic menace.

If I were one of Bonds enemies, I would lay a revolver on the table beside me. But Im not, and Craig is not Bond. So I place on the table instead a well-thumbed copy of A Number, an intellectually challenging play by Caryl Churchill, in which Craig starred with Michael Gambon at Londons Royal Court theatre in 2002, and for which he was nominated for an Evening Standard award. As soon as Craig sees it, his clenched jaws relax. He rolls his eyes, as if to say: Imagine bringing that old thing!

Its a little contrived, but I had to do something. Craig hates publicity, and by the time we meet he has already endured almost a week of back-to-back junkets. I hate to think how many times he has been asked which Bond girl is his favourite; and which of his predecessors was the best James Bond. (He rolls his eyes. Theyre all great, he answers to both.) What I want to find out is if he regrets taking on the part, not only because many fans deem him unsuitable, but also because it may put an end to the kind of acting assignments including plays at the Royal Court he has done previously. He looks briefly at the menu and says hes not really hungry. (Been eating junk all morning.) So we push the menus aside.

His wariness around journalists is not altogether surprising. In recent months, Craigs private life has ceased to be private. A long-time friendship with Jude Law is apparently in ruins after he reportedly had a fling with Laws girlfriend Sienna Miller. (Both have denied it.) Of similar interest are a reported fling, some time ago, with Kate Moss; a seven-year relationship with the German-born actress Heike Makatsch, who appeared in Love, Actually; and his four-year marriage in the early 1990s to another actress, Fiona Loudon, with whom he has a teenage daughter.

He wont talk about his private life, apart from telling me that he has probably obliterated it by becoming Bond. We know why were here today. Its not like I said, Hi, Im Daniel, come into my living room Hes constantly followed by photographers. Some even got on set when he was shooting on location. We were filming and they discovered two guys buried up to their necks in the sand with cameras. They had been there all night.

He tells the story to amuse, but deadpan, so that he seems unmoved by it himself. This turns out to be typical. In person, Craig is as far as you can get from the sophisticated twinkle of Pierce Brosnan, or the camp eyebrow-raising of Roger Moore. He prefers flat monotone.

When he does, rarely, present a glimmer of enthusiasm, he is quick to hide it again behind a macho cynical indifference. His lunchtime performance is more like one of 007s dull-eyed enemies than Bond himself.

None of the actors appointed to play Bond has avoided press intrusion and initial hostility from fans. Even the great Sean Connery was derided as a former coffin-polisher from Scotland. But unlike his predecessors, Craig has had to put up with character assassination on the internet. One website urged visitors to campaign against his appointment, showing doctored photographs of Craig alongside various lookalikes: the Russian premier, Vladimir Putin, the daft Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld, and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

Conventional media have been sniffy too: Craig was mocked for wearing a life jacket on the speedboat that took him to his first press conference. Some complained that he is too fair-haired for the part (James Blond is a typical headline). Others have claimed, falsely, that he couldnt drive a manual car, that he was afraid of guns, and even of water.

Believe me, I would love to answer this shit. (Craig swears a lot.) I do read reviews. I have been on the websites. I had to. There is too much temptation. You write your e-mails and then you think, lets have a little look I had a very dark two or three days. I was very despondent. But I realised I was peeing into the wind. I vowed to work twice as hard and get it right.

I only know how to do my job one way. I dont think that you can please all the people all the time. If I was doing my patter I would say, Dont worry, there is enough in here to entertain every Bond fan. And that is true. But these people think that Im going to f*** with it in a way that is going to destroy it. This is bigger than me.

++++++++++

The 20 James Bond films made by Eon Productions since 1962 comprise the second-highest-grossing film franchise after Star Wars. In the UK, the series accounts for three of the five most-watched television movies.

The one novel the company hasnt filmed until now is Casino Royale. Ian Flemings first Bond novel introduces the character, and describes how he gets his 00 number and his licence to kill. An Americanised adaptation was shown on television in 1954, and David Niven played Bond in a 1967 version that bore little resemblance to the book. Until the 1990s, the film rights were held by Sony Pictures Entertainment, which decided to make its own version and even a rival series. But after protracted argument, Sony settled a legal action in 1999, giving up all rights to Bond in return for certain rights to Spider-Man. Ever since then, an official version of Casino Royale has been inevitable.

No less inevitable was the change of actor: 53-year-old Brosnan, after four outings in the role, would find it difficult to play the young agent setting out on his first mission. In October 2004, Brosnan publicly stated: Its absolutely over. He considered himself fired from the role. In the year that followed, Eon went looking for a younger replacement. Several successful actors were ruled out, according to a leaked Eon memo, which stated that Eric Bana was not handsome enough, Hugh Jackman too fey, Colin Farrell too sleazy, and Ewan McGregor too short. In October 2005, Eon announced that their next James Bond adventure would indeed be Casino Royale, and the new Bond Craig.Nervousness about the new film is intense, as I found out at a five-minute taster, where the co-producer Michael G Wilson, was at pains to emphasise that the effects and music were temporary this was just to give us a feel for how Craig played the role.

I made these notes: Craigs first appearance is in a darkened office. Cut to a violent fight in a lavatory, in which somebody gets his head smashed on a sink. Cut back to the dark office. Bond shoots a villain. Cut to explosion at a building site. Bond runs towards a crane and climbs it at speed. Heavy objects drop dangerously. Bond does some martial arts, jumps off crane. Cut to M (Judi Dench) getting cross with Bond. Then to Bond, remarkably muscle-bound, swimming in warm waters. A foxy woman on beach with a white horse. Bond at gambling tables, opposite a man with horrid scar and different-coloured irises. Stakes rise above $40m. Bond snogs, fights a man with machete, dines with foxy woman in empty restaurant. Finally back to that lavatory. After shooting, Bond turns to camera with his gun: blackness encircles him in the stylised, trademarked sphincter, and the stirring theme tune begins.

A few days later, I met Wilson and his stepsister Barbara Broccoli, who jointly inherited the Bond franchise from their father, Albert Cubby Broccoli. Barbara Broccoli, a dark-haired woman of 46 who looks 10 years younger, speaks with an English accent. She started working at 22 as assistant director on Octopussy, in 1983, and worked her way up to become the producer of the Brosnan films. Wilson co-wrote five Bond films during the 1980s and has also played minor parts, including a soldier in Goldfinger, various tourists, a man in a casino, a Greek Orthodox priest, and the voice of a DEA (drug enforcement administration) agent. Seventeen years older than his stepsister, Wilson retains his native American accent despite living here for many years.

They were keen to stress the sheer amount of work involved in putting out the new film, and their intimate involvement in the process.  We are the keepers of the flame, Broccoli said.

We are preserving the whole history, the legacy. We are completely controlling and interfering! she said gaily. Everybody hates us, we are complete nightmares! Our dad used to say, Dont let someone screw it up. Its okay if you do that, but not someone else.

What had I thought of the trailer? I said it had not lacked incident, which seemed to satisfy them. I asked them why, when they must be rich already, they bothered making more Bond films? Broccoli didnt exactly answer the question. People were saying that, with the Berlin Wall coming down, there was no more cold war and Bond was not relevant any more. We said that he was more relevant.

The world is ready for Bond. And even more so now. Look at the world situation, and its more serious now than it was before.

Wilson, no less gifted in this po-faced nonsense, said the times we live in call for a less frivolous approach. We wanted to change the style from fantasy to something a bit more gritty. But then, perhaps worried about selling tickets, he added: We are still entertainment We are trying to make it a PG film.

9

Hot Cake

Meet Daniel Craig -- the next James Bond? With 007 rumors circulating, ''Layer Cake'''s smooth criminal finds his profile rising

By Dave Karger

Most actors spend their rookie years playing characters without proper names: ''Guy on Bus'' or ''Mugger No. 2,'' for instance. But Daniel Craig's very first nameless role in film has come 13 years into his career, in the British crime drama Layer Cake. And it's the lead. ''He might shake hands with people, but he never introduces himself,'' Craig says of his conflicted crook, listed in the closing credits as XXXX. ''His anonymity is so important to him that when he goes into a room, he passes by without making too many ripples.''

The same used to be said about Craig, who for years had been stuck in critical-darling mode with indies like last year's The Mother and Enduring Love. But his ultra-suave turn in Cake which has him dodging Eastern European drug lords when he's not romancing a party girl played by Sienna Miller has caused a stir across the pond and led to rumors that the 37-year-old could be the new James Bond. ''I never tried to be cool in the movie. I really didn't,'' says Craig over a breakfast of fruit and cappuccino in New York City. ''I might have stood up a bit straighter. If I'd gone out to make that character cool, it would have been so uncool.''

The film's director, Matthew Vaughn (currently behind the camera on X-Men 3), says his goal was to cast Craig ''in a movie-star light, not just a good-actor light.'' That's easy to accomplish given Craig's piercingly expressive blue eyes. ''If someone's got great eyes, and meaningful eyes, they're going to be a movie star,'' Vaughn says. ''If they don't, it doesn't matter what you do. Daniel's eyes pop whatever you do.''

Soon after Craig graduated from London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama, his brooding looks earned him cult-star status after he appeared in the 1996 BBC miniseries Our Friends in the North. ''I thought, I could earn s---loads of money doing television. I'll have a house in Portugal, and I'll be an alcoholic, and I'll be fat, and in 10 years it'll all be over,'' recalls Craig, who grew up in Liverpool. ''I went, I don't want to do that; I want to make movies.''

His first taste of Hollywood was as Angelina Jolie's archaeologist love interest in 2001's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (''I had a horrible time; it was f---ing boring''), followed by his breakout performance as Paul Newman's scarily insecure son in 2002's Road to Perdition. ''We tend to breed actors with a strong feminine streak,'' says Perdition director Sam Mendes. ''When Russell Crowe first hit the scene, you thought, There's a guy on screen. Danny feels like a man who happens to act, rather than an actor pretending to be a human being.''

He's also become a favorite target of the British press thanks to a brief fling last year with Kate Moss. ''I used to get very hung up about it,'' Craig says of the paparazzi attention. ''I don't enjoy having someone go to my mother's door. It's like having the Secret Service on your back. I try to keep my private life as private as possible, that's all I can do.'' Case in point: Though he has a 12-year-old daughter from a past relationship, he won't name either her or her mother.

Since he's lined up to play an Israeli secret-service agent in Steven Spielberg's upcoming drama about the hostage crisis at the 1972 Olympics, the focus has shifted to his professional life for a change. One London tabloid in particular, The Sun, reported in April that Craig had been offered a three-picture deal to play Bond. ''There's always an element of truth in these stories, but you have to look at the source,'' he says reluctantly. (Translation: He's had meetings, but nothing's been signed.) ''The fact is, 20 years' time sitting in the corner of the bar going 'I could've been Bond' is not a place I want to be. But if I'm 20 years down sitting in the corner of the bar going, 'Yeah, and I did this and that instead,' then I'll be happy.''

Posted May 23, 2005 | Published in issue #821-822 May 27, 2005

10

Interview: Daniel Craig

Posted:   Thursday, November 16th 2006 12:11AM
Author:   Garth Franklin
Location: New York City, NY


At 38, Daniel Craig has amassed a large amount of experience in various theatrical and cinematic works including "Road to Perdition", "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", "Elizabeth", "Sylvia", "The Jacket", "Munich", "Infamous" and "Layer Cake".

Yet Craig, a talented thesp with rugged Steve McQueen-esque looks and a chiseled muscular body, became an overnight household name in October last year when it was announced that he would be replacing Pierce Brosnan in the long-running James Bond franchise.

Craig's hiring as 007 was controversial to say the least. With Brosnan leaving under less than auspicious circumstances, the hiring of Craig seemed doubly confusing considering that he bears little resemblance to Bond's physical appearance in the past - notably his blond locks, blue eyes and more ample physique.

Online fans, the tabloids and regular newspapers had a field day, dismissing the film from Day One and reveling in the on-set gossip pertaining to the injuries Craig sustained during the rough and tumble filming. Fans cited his rugged, world-worn face as not suitable for the pretty boy gentlemen spy.

Now, on the eve of the film's release, Craig is having the last laugh. "Casino Royale" takes the Bond franchise back to its roots, specifically the first book by Ian Fleming about the character, which shows off the spy in his early days and how he became the icon he has become.

The result is the most acclaimed film in the series in years, reviewers are praising the movie to the high heavens with Craig in particular winning almost unanimously glowing reviews for his take on the character. Indeed many are saying that short of maybe Sean Connery, Craig is the best Bond yet and the one most in line with Fleming's original creation.

The other week Craig sat down with select press in New York to talk about all his work on the film, where the franchise goes next and what are his plans for the future.

You were crucified in the press when you were cast, did that affect you?

Daniel Craig: It happened. People's passionate belief in this and what they feel, how connected they feel with Bond, that's fine. The fact is there was nothing I could do. It did affect me. It affected me for a couple of days, but I got into myself and said, "We have to make this brilliant, the best it can be, or the best I can make it". And that strengthened my resolve. Throw the computer away and don't look on the internet. That's the best thing to do.

Where would you like to see your character go in the next one? What are you going to add to the role?

Daniel Craig: I don't think he's kind of rounded yet. I don't think he's finished. I think he's got more lessons to learn, that for me is where we take it. I'd like to see him get into situations we might not have possibly imagined him in. That's going to be the difficult thing, trying to find situations and scenarios that maybe take us out. In June of this year when I finished this movie, the last thing on earth I wanted was to make a Bond movie. I now feel more pumped up about taking this on somewhere. It's going to be very interesting.

How did you prepare for the action?

Daniel Craig: I've always kept fit. I quit smoking, which was actually the best thing...

Did you stop drinking?

Daniel Craig: No, God almighty no, I wouldn't have gotten through a week. That was Saturday night. I kept fit. I got into the gym. I started running, started bicycling, I pumped weights. It was twofold the reason really, I wanted to look like he was physically capable. I wanted him to look as fit as possible. I knew that to do the stunts I wanted to do; I had to be physically fit to do them. I don't think I would have survived. I was getting injuries all the time, everybody was, and the stunt guys were getting injuries. You have the painkillers, you have the physiotherapy, then they pat me on the backside and say "C'mon, get on with it".

Was it your decision to do as many stunts as possible?

Daniel Craig: Not mine alone, it has to be safe. Gary Powell, the stunt coordinator, tested me out as we went along. He said, "I think you can do this". I nodded and said, "Okay, I'll have a go".

Did you ever say no to a stunt?

Daniel Craig: No, I don't think I did.

How are your balls doing these days after that torture scene? Did you actually get hurt?

Daniel Craig: The honest truth is that it was one of the simplest scenes to shoot. It was on the page. It was a great scene in the book and had been adapted so well. Basically a chair is set-up up, I sat in the chair, it has a fiberglass bottom to it and I'm ensconced in that. It did crack. I hit the ceiling and left. (laughs) Martin [Campbell, the director] and I talked about it a lot. We've got to make it real. It's got to be a scene that gets guys squirming and that was the first thing. And then I said to myself that I don't want him to lose. Even though it's all over, and it appears to be, Vesper's getting tortured. There's nothing he can do, so the only thing that can happen is to still beat this guy. I have no idea what that feels like and I never want to find out, but the assumption is the more you get hit, the less it's going to hurt.

Were you self-conscious being naked?

Daniel Craig: Absolutely...(laughs) have you seen my other movies? Self-conscious doesn't really come into it. No.

How many films are you signed for?

Daniel Craig: I'm signed for three films. Now I actually feel we're ready to do another one. What we've set up in this one, we set up this idea that there is an organization out there, maybe there's one person who's responsible. The fact is now he has to go and get them. Obviously there's an element of revenge involved. Hopefully all those things will make it as rich an experience as this one.

How do you feel being a sex symbol?

Daniel Craig: As far as I'm concerned, the sexiness, the sex symbol, it's not a consideration. I didn't go out to play sexy in this film. It's nice...I don't know, I'm embarrassed, I don't know what to say...

Bond is a sexual creature...

Daniel Craig: The important thing in the movie is to see what that's about. He's a driven guy. He likes tasting things, that's the best way to put it. If he can, he will. Given the opportunity, yes, that's part of his character, that's the risk he takes, combined with the way he enjoys life.

This role will stick with you forever, your obituary will say James Bond...

Daniel Craig: Jesus Christ! (laughs) Of course, but it's a very good problem to have. It's not bad. I say that with gusto now, but it's why I did this. I'm very proud of this movie. I'm very proud of what we achieved. It was a lot of pressure to get it right. I think we have, and the Bond aspect of it was all in place anyway. I've got some other things to do in life.

You have two incredible scenes, reaction shots really, that I think defines you as James Bond. The last shot of you and Mr. White is incredible. Was that your idea or the director's?

Daniel Craig: People ask me about that line. I didn't rehearse it. The first time I said it was on the set. We did it a few times, that wasn't the only take. There was a discussion. He hits Mr. White from the other end of the garden. He's Bond, I don't want a handgun, I want an assault rifle. I want a silenced assault rifle. I want to have that look at the end, which is he means business. I didn't consciously try and be anything. That's not how I approach things. I don't visualize. I just think, what does this feel like? Does this feel good? It's up to Martin to shout cut at the appropriate time.

As a follow-up, the reaction shots from the casino scene, there's no dialogue. How do you shoot that?

Daniel Craig: I can't tell you how complicated that was. We rehearsed everyone on the tables so everyone knew what they were doing. We had like five packs of cards, all in the right order. They were all coded, so we start the game at any point we want, and the cards are going down in exactly the right order. I just went, now let's play poker. Mads [Mikkelsen] and I, he's fantastic a great actor, it was like sparring. It was great fun to do, just to get that dynamic going between the two of them, just looking at each other, it was a fight. We never have a physical fight in the movie. That was our physical fight. The card game, Martin and the editor, getting that together, making that believable. Not everybody knows about cards in the audience, but getting that together, that's poker. That's really what it is, pushing those chips, bringing up the tension of it. It's a whole bunch of people that made it happen.

"Die Another Day" went clearly over the top. "Casino Royale" goes completely in the opposite direction. Was that a consideration?

Daniel Craig: Being over the top, Christ sakes, Mads weeps blood. But it's done great, it's kind of a beautiful Bond moment. It's done with a dab. I want it to be as stylish as it possibly can. What I wanted to maintain is that you can do anything, if it's in the plot. If it's right and if it feels good, then you can get on, because we are in a fantasy world. That's the fact, this isn't real life.

Bond has some emotional moments in the film. How did you walk the line between being vulnerable and being tough?

Daniel Craig: What did you think? (laughs) You have to answer that question. I tried to walk the line very carefully. To not make it emotional would have screwed everything that had gone on before. It's a Bond movie. I was keen on the idea, this is James Bond, he is somebody, but it's how he is in that situation that's interesting. Its how closed off he is that's interesting. The fact that he's alone at that point, if somebody walked up, he'd dry his eyes and walk away. But the fact is he's alone and we catch a private moment. It fitted. That seemed to be the right thing to do. There were other takes that maybe were a little less emotional, but we played around it.

Did playing an intelligence agent in "Munich" help at all to play Bond?

Daniel Craig: No, it's a different deal. There are things about guys who are in the army. They're very particular, they have to be. Bond is kind of like the exaggeration of these things, down to the cufflinks. But it's a particular thing because there has to be a sense of order to these things. Then he can react to it. With that character, there was a sense of that. I promise you I wasn't trying to do something similar. Spielberg would sometimes play the Bond theme.

Have you spoken to Pierce Brosnan?

Daniel Craig: I spoke to Pierce. He's been great. He's been very supportive.

So he didn't curse you out?

Daniel Craig: (laughs) No, he's been great. He said, "You have to go for it".

Getting back to all the criticism, the movie is great. Would you like to tell the doubters to fuck off?

Daniel Craig: No, that's not the way I am. That doesn't interest me in the slightest. I set out to make a good movie. That was never an issue. I stand by that, I've got better things to do.

What's your drink of choice?

Daniel Craig: Depends on how drunk I want to get. I love vodka martinis. I know it's a cliché. I love them, but they have to be good. They mix very good vodka martinis in this town, as I've found out.

Are you ready for the fame that comes with being Bond?

Daniel Craig: I don't know. I don't know how you prepare yourself for that. I've never been in this game for that, I've never gone looking for it. I've not tried to physically avoid it, but I've been more interested in the work. There are some very pleasant things, but also some negative things that go along with it. It's sort of juggling those things. Privacy is important. Anybody who doesn't think that, they're crap. But I know I'm going to lose some of that and that's something I'll have to deal with.

What's your favorite Bond film?

Daniel Craig: "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love", they're great, just the best. They're two of my favorite movies. Sean Connery being physical, scary, complicated, bad, all those things about that character. It's a great character, it's something that he created that's lasted this long. Those two are very special.

What does Bond do to your schedule? For a decade you'll have one every other year. Is there time in between to do other stuff?

Daniel Craig: I don't think we'll start shooting until the end of next year. So next year is clear. Why, you got something? My agent is outside. (laughs)

What if Scorsese or Spielberg calls you for a role? Will they wait for you? Or does Bond take precedence?

Daniel Craig: Nothing is stopping me from doing anything. I haven't got a golden handcuff. I'm under contract, but I'm not under exclusive contract.

What do you do in your spare time?

Daniel Craig: Very little, I like fishing, I like painting; I like painting fish. (laughs) I get away. I try to go somewhere. There are a couple of places, which I won't tell you about, that are very private and very nice. I don't see family from one month to the next, so I have to go back and reconnect and make sure they still like me. Do those sorts of things.

Your next film, "The Visiting", is that a remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatcher"?

Daniel Craig: It's based on that.

What else do you have lined up?

Daniel Craig: I'm in the middle of shooting "The Golden Compass".

You play Lord Azrael. In the first book he doesn't have much to do.

Daniel Craig: Thank God (laughs)

In the third book, you're going to come back where he has more to do?

Daniel Craig: I hope it does. The third book, he has more things to do. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

11

Chip off the old blockbuster

Defying the critics, Daniel Craig is easing into his role as 007, he tells Martyn Palmer on the set of Casino Royale
The long, gruelling days of filming and even some of the stunts are getting easier for Daniel Craig, although you couldnt possibly tell by looking at him. On set for Casino Royale hes battered and bruised, in a grime-caked vest which looks, frankly, at least one size too small for his impressively honed torso.

If hes been flexing those newly acquired muscles fighting bad guys and that, after all, is his day job as the new James Bond they obviously gave at least as good as he did.

Yeah, thats about the size of it, he grins. But the days not over yet . . . Indeed it isnt, and even if this dishevelled image is a far cry from the smooth, sophisticated Bond of the past, all that Craig asks is that we give him the chance to prove the cynics wrong, to let him have his day.

Ever since it was announced, a little more than a year ago, that as the sixth 007 he would be following in the footprints of Pierce Brosnan, Craig has attracted a firestorm of internet criticism ranging from mean-spirited (on the now defunct website craignotbond.com) to the downright silly (too blond to be Bond).

Add a sceptical tabloid press into the mix and its a wonder that Craig, 38, turned up to film Casino Royale at all, especially as he had agonised about taking the role in the first place.

Id be lying to you if I said I ignored it all, he says. And its that horrible thing with the internet, its like the drug weve got in the front room. I mean, we might use it for sensible things some of the time, but theres always an hour in our lives where we just end up looking at s***.

Given all the above, it wouldnt be surprising to find a bit of a siege mentality on the set here today. There isnt, but mention redtop stories that Craig lost two front teeth when a stunt went wrong not true, he had a filling loosened or that he couldnt drive the manual Aston Martin DBS, and he rolls those piercingly pale blue eyes in mock horror. Oh, do me a favour, he groans.

Its playground stuff. It really is Na, na, na! You did this! And its like F*** off, Ive got more important things to think about. I was certainly expecting a bit of a backlash, but I wasnt expecting the way it came. But it did, and thats it.

And Ive got two choices. I can either buckle under it or knuckle down, and, hopefully, the latter has happened. I just went OK, lets get on with it. And at the end of the day Ive given 100 per cent on this, Ive given everything I could. And Ill present it and if people dont like it, stuff em. Im not being rude, Im just saying that Ive given it my best shot.

Craig is in the middle of a private airfield, Dunsfold Park, in Surrey. Hes fresh from the make-up chair, which explains his impressively beaten-up appearance.

In an hour or so hell be called on set by the director, Martin Campbell, who is setting up a complex shot involving terrorists storming a jet that has been flown in for the sequence. As you do if youre making a Bond film, anyway. Amazing, eh, says Craig, clearly awestruck by the scale of a production costing a reported $72 million. Weve got our own f****** jet-liner! The white Boeing 747 has no markings on it and will later be transformed by CGI into the Airbus required by the script. We are supposed to be airside at a bustling Miami International Airport instead of surrounded by prime Surrey real estate and some rather pretty trees and fields.

Yes, rather surprisingly they wouldnt let us film on a runway in Miami, jokes Craig. F****** killjoys! If hes rougher round the edges than his smooth-talking predecessor Brosnan, surely thats the point.

Daniel is not the traditional handsome type, says Campbell later. He is good-looking, but hes more unconventional, tougher and darker. This Bond had to be darker and Daniel can convey that, rather like Sean Connery. Connery had that presence on the screen of someone who could definitely take care of himself. Daniel has that, too.

Just over two years ago, the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, keepers of the Bond cinematic flame, decided that the longest running franchise in Western cinema needed an overhaul.

It was a bold decision in many ways, not least considering that the last of Brosnans four films as Bond, Die Another Day, took $456 million at the box office, more than any other 007 movie; hardly a flop by any standards.

12

Agent provocateur

For some fans he was too short, too blond, too Northern... yet Daniel Craig's 007 has made him the hottest film star of the year. But before you typecast him, his next role is as the gay convicted killer Perry Smith in the Capote biopic Infamous. Liz Hoggard meets Liverpool's shooting star

Sunday December 31, 2006
The Observer

Walking around Shepperton Studios, strange creatures loom from the shadows. Witches and warlocks bowl past in hippy dreadlocks; I swear I've just seen a polar bear in full armour. The film lot is currently playing host to The Golden Compass, the first instalment in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, starring Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman and child actor Dakota Blue Richards. By the time I reach Craig's dressing room, I've slightly lost touch with reality.

But as Craig enters the room there's that shock of recognition. Everywhere you go, on buses, on billboards, his face is plastered 60ft high. Overnight, he has gone from being a great character actor to the most famous actor in the world. To date, Casino Royale has grossed $417m worldwide, making it the most successful opening of a Bond film ever. And Craig is the man who has made Bond human, giving him enough interesting psychological flaws to compete with modern icons such as Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne.

So, indisputably it has been Daniel Craig's year - a story made all the more delicious by the fact that he started off 2006 as the potential villain of the piece. But those fans who complained he was too short, too blond and, yes, too Northern to play Ian Fleming's deadly assassin have had to eat their words.

We've met several times before, and I've always found Craig to be hugely bright and sympathetic. But there was always a sense of reserve. His wariness with the press - and especially of talking about his private life - could make interviews slightly combative. 'Self-promotion, for me, is like going to the dentist,' he once admitted.

But now everything has changed: his body language is open, he meets your gaze directly. A new energy crackles in the room. And he looks great, blonder somehow (mysteriously, Craig is one of those actors who can switch his blondeness on and off at will). He's dressed in corduroy and brogues to play Lord Asriel in The Golden Compass. Disappointingly, his new beard - 'my explorer look' - has already gone. 'I grew it for the beginning of the film because Asriel is holed up in a prison cell, so shaving it off symbolises his freedom.'

Daily, it seems, Craig is splashed across the front pages of the newspapers on the flimsiest of pretexts (he's got new facial hair, he's the new male totty or the saviour of British masculinity). It's harmless fun, but he knows things could turn darker. 'If someone in my past decides they want to write about me, there's nothing I can do about it. It's their thing, it's what they're going through. But if it's to do with my present group of friends, my family, then there is a need for some control to be taken because that's private.'

He cites JK Rowling as someone who uses her fame and fortune wisely. 'She's kept her privacy. I think she may have a child, but I don't know, which is good. Now she's using her money to fund things she believes in. But her charity is her own private thing, which I think is incredibly admirable.'

Growing up working class in Liverpool, Craig was arguably the boy least likely to succeed. He failed the 11-plus and left school at 16. He had the wrong look for drama school in the Eighties, which was full of boys in floppy fringes who went to Eton. And yet here he is, the biggest British movie star of the decade at 38. What does it feel like to finally be doing the circuit on shows like Parkinson? 'Exactly what you think it feels like,' he deadpans. 'I was reluctant to go on Parkinson actually, which is weird because when it came to America I was like, "Oh fine, I'll do Letterman, I'll do whatever." I had less fear about it because it's not my town. But suddenly you're at LWT in London and you're at the top of the fucking stairs. The band's winking at you, and all you can think about is not falling down those stairs. Parkinson is delightful though, he came and talked to me before the show, and I thought: "OK, I don't have an act, this is all I can do, this is it, sorry." I admire people who can go and just turn it on. But if I do that, I just look like a wanker. So I try and talk normally with people.'

But then Craig does have a horror of modern confessional culture. 'You watch the mess people get into when they invite people into their homes and say, "This is the stress I'm under at the moment because I'm breaking up with so-and-so, or my child is dying, or my mother is dying, and I'd like to share this grief with you, because it would be good for other people." It may seem a valid statement, but I can only see it damaging you. Later, people will say, "But you shared your grief with us when your cat died, what do you mean you won't talk to us now you've had an affair with so-and-so?"'

But he's savvy enough to know he can't play the reluctant movie star any more. 'At the beginning I said to the Bond producers: "I will do everything you want me to do to sell this film," because I can't do this movie and go "I don't talk to the press" - it defeats the object.'

So, just as he was being declared a major sex symbol Craig went the whole hog and outed himself as 'happily not single', declaring a girlfriend, 29-year-old film producer Satsuki Mitchell. Was that something they decided to do together?

'Definitely, definitely. The thing is, she's been with me all through this, and all the way through filming. So why exclude her? She's up to it; she's an adult, I'm an adult. I'm not going out there purposely holding her hand to say, "We're a couple." But Bond has been too big an experience, it might not come around again. We had to do that amazing thing in Leicester Square, and walk round all that craziness, just because it may never happen again.'

Craig is a little afraid of where this level of exposure might go, though. 'I knew what it would open us up to - God forbid we should split up, but the response will be "Ah ha!", and there's nothing we can do about that. Now that we've appeared publicly we've declared something or other.' Does he fear the curse of Hello!? 'There is something out there,' he hoots. 'I'm sure there is. There's an organisation where they sit in a dark room with hoods on.'

He has three new films due out in 2007: as well as The Golden Compass, there's The Invasion, a modern version of the sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, also with Kidman. But fans may well not recognise him in his next film. Infamous, directed by Doug McGrath, is a million miles away from Craig's suave 007 persona. Playing the convicted killer Perry Smith, who developed a homosexual relationship with Truman Capote, Craig has dyed his hair black, his skin is sallow and he wears contact lenses.

Daringly, he doesn't appear for the first 40 minutes of Infamous. 'But boy, the minute he comes in, he sure grabs everyone,' says McGrath. 'I knew Daniel was right because he is very persuasive violently, very persuasive as a vulnerable person, but he is also totally magnetic. As Perry, you think is he dumb, or much smarter than I thought, which keeps you on a knife edge.'

Infamous, which stars British actor Toby Jones as Capote, recreates the background to Capote's 1965 true-crime tale In Cold Blood. By rights it should be laden with Oscar nominations next month (both Craig and Jones are astonishing). Except for one problem: this is the second film about Capote to be released in 12 months (Bennett Miller's Capote won Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar earlier this year). So how do you get audiences to a film they think they've already seen?

Craig is so proud of the film he's made a window in his schedule just to talk about it to The Observer. 'My feeling all the way along was I wish they had put the two bloody films out together. I wish they'd had the balls to do that,' he insists. 'I love Truman Capote, and I love In Cold Blood so much, I thought, "You know what, whatever happens, this is worth telling." It's worth seeing another interpretation of that character.'

Initially McGrath's film seems lighter, frothier than Capote. We meet Truman's swanky Manhattan friends, from Babe Paley (Sigourney Weaver) to Diana Vreeland (Juliet Stevenson). As Weaver puts it: 'If the other film is like a shot of bourbon, then this is a glass of champagne.'

But after Truman meets Perry, the tension starts to bite. Artist and murderer are mirror images. Both had mothers who committed suicide. Both were sensitive kids who felt out of place and had dreams of becoming artists.

It's too easy to call Infamous a gay love story, but the erotic tension between Craig and Jones has you on the floor. 'There was never any self-consciousness about it,' says Craig. 'I always think that's how a love story needs to play out anyway, because it's just this friendship that starts growing, and if it turns into sex, it turns into sex; but it's not like two young men meet in a bar, go out back and fuck. This is about two human beings really sitting down and trying to figure each other out.'

Nevertheless, poor Toby Jones has been hounded by the American press about what it was like to kiss the new 007. A fact Craig finds grimly amusing. 'What's he supposed to say? "Very dry?" Anyway, it's all over the internet now: "Bond has gay kiss!"'

Infamous nearly wasn't released, but Warners relented when it was shown at the Venice Film Festival to rave reviews. In fact, Craig stayed away from the film festival, citing prior commitments. Now he admits, 'I had this whole awful debate going on with myself. I thought, "I can't go because otherwise it will be all about the new Bond being in town.'

He loves the fact that Infamous is about a writer, not a celebrity chef or an actor. 'Some of my greatest heroes are journalists. I genuinely believe getting to know people, going out and looking people in the eye and understanding the situation, like war reporter Robert Fisk does, that's proper journalism. Maybe that's just a dinosaur way of looking at things. But I don't believe anything I read on the internet.'

He'd love to do more theatre: 'I'm enormously jealous of what Bill Nighy is doing at the moment.' Judi Dench is another role model. 'Bond is a sexist pig, of course he is. But having Judi in the film, well it doesn't forgive it, but it gives it gravity. Because how could Judi Dench be wrong?' I tell him it was a master touch that in the film M lives in a sleek modernist penthouse, not some rose-covered cottage. 'Yeah, and it's great there's some guy in bed with her. I was desperate to get someone in like Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves to do it!'

Craig never took any notice of box-office receipts before Bond. All that changed with the first opening weekend. 'Watching the numbers coming in, and it steadily going up, I thought, "It's OK, we've got away with it." It was like the fucking Blue Peter appeals.'

He's thrilled the two films making money this Christmas are Casino Royale and Happy Feet. Though I don't think they're ever going to make a marketing man of Craig. 'There's this whole thing about demographics,' he groans. 'We're told, "OK, we're a bit low on 22- to 28-year-old women at the moment." What am I supposed to do? Go on telly and make bread?'

And yet you sense how passionately he gets involved. He and director Martin Campbell had a few bust-ups on Casino Royale. He's also working hard to make sure Pullman's subversive text is not watered down too much in The Golden Compass. 'I'm clinging on to it with my fingernails,' he observes. 'I was in Rome promoting Bond the other day and we got asked quite a few questions about The Golden Compass. The thing is, having spoken to Philip [Pullman] now at length - he's such a passionate, great guy - there's nothing anti-religious about this film. It's anti-establishment in a big way and anti-totalitarian and anti-controlling. But essentially it's a film about growing up, and how difficult that can be.'

Craig (who has a 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage) is relishing playing the magnetic but selfish Lord Asriel, who comes across as a thoroughly rubbish parent in the Pullman books. 'I'm a bad dad,' he gloats.

In fact, he sounds pretty paternalistic. He worries that today's teenagers are growing up too fast. 'Nowadays, free time seems to be 10 times more complicated than it was ... there was less to think about for us. Although Sunday night was all about recording The Chart Show on the radio, it was a major technical deal,' he chuckles, 'so it was probably just as stressful as downloading something from MySpace. It fills the same hole in your head, doesn't it?'

Craig may be man of the year - 'Stop saying that' - but for an action hero he's spending a lot of time indoors. 'The truth is I can't really go out at the moment. I can walk round Soho, anyone can walk round Soho, and it's OK in New York. But I just get shouted at. He yells suddenly, imitating the male fans who rush up to him. 'It's not anything bad, and it will die down eventually. And if it stops me walking into too many bars, that's no bad thing.'

He's no time for self-pity. 'It's a great business this. If you work really hard and get it right, then it's incredibly rewarding.' But he's thrilled many critics didn't recognise him in Infamous. 'I may have to wear a longer wig and more teeth in the future. Ah well,' he laughs, 'there's a plastic bag with my character hanging around in it somewhere.'

One senses he'll use his mega-fame to get interesting films green-lit. 'There are a couple of things I'm going to do next year,' he tells me enigmatically as he dashes back on set, 'and they're small and they're independent and they're about movie-making. There are hugely positive things out there which I'm going to grab with both hands. If more people go and see Infamous now because I'm James Bond, that's great. But people should go and see it because it's a wonderful movie.'

Infamous is released on 19 January

13

17 November 2006

Q&A: DANIEL CRAIG

Q DID you speak with any of the past Bonds about the film?

A I DON'T think there is a secret group where I would sort of get kidnapped one night and be put into a bag. 'Oh, hi guys.' Pierce Brosnan has been very supportive. I met him last year, and he's just been great. He said, 'Go for it. You've got to go for it.' I hear through the press, whether they're true or not I don't know, but it seems to be that there are some nice things said which helps.

Q WHAT do you think of the Bond franchise?

A SEAN CONNERY defined it. From Russia With Love is one of my favourite films, and what he began there, what he started, his physicality - he did it. That's no disrespect to any of the others, but that's just where I look when I think about Bond. I think about him.

Q WHERE you a fan of the martini before doing this film?

A OH, believe me, a good one - there's nothing like it. I'm not bad at mixing them either. I used to do that in pubs, in bars. I'm quite particular about them.

Q Did the internet criticism get you down?

A IT did affect me. I will not lie to you. I went, 'You know what, what can I do? I can't answer it.' I can't start getting onto internet sites and talking back. I get it. I get the passion that people feel for this, and I understand that. I make films, and normally when I make a film we wait until we get to the premiere and we get to the time when the press sees it and then I start getting reviews. It was like, 'See the movie and then you can say what you like about it, but watch the movie.' So that's my answer. There's no point in getting in tit for tat arguments about the way that I looked.

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Interview: Daniel Craig .   :good:

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Evangelina (2007-01-18 17:17:50)

18

Rhymes of passion

After a series of acclaimed TV roles, Daniel Craig made the leap to Hollywood in the Road to Perdition and now stars in the highly anticipated literary movie Ted and Sylvia. Here, he tells Gaby Wood about Gwyneth Paltrow's troubled performance and how he never liked Ted Hughes much anyway

Sunday April 27, 2003
The Observer

I meet Daniel Craig outside the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, which is closed for the time being while they hang their next show. I am standing calmly by the railings when Craig walks up to me, fast, shakes my hand and carries on, barely breaking stride. We've arranged to go for a walk, it's true, but there's no dallying with him, no dithering over direction or discussing of destination. We talk about the war - a subject about which Craig is very exercised. He has been reading every newspaper and is addicted to the rolling news. American imperialism, the fact that no one listens to dissenting voices despite the marches and demonstrations, the dubious role of Dick Cheney's company in the planned reconstruction of Iraq, the selective quotation of Hans Blix's report by Jack Straw - all of it falls within minutes into the span of Craig's hyperactive attention.

'You know those West End shows that are obviously awful, and they edit the reviews to make them sound good? Like "A phenomenal... evening... out" when what they've really said is "phenomenally bad... worst evening of my life... not worth going out for..." Well, that was what Jack Straw was like reading out Hans Blix!' Craig surges purposefully forward through the park, his hands gesticulating in spasms of urgency, his talk littered with expletives, until we've reached the other side and he stops dead in a crowded street. 'Where are we going?' he asks, suddenly bewildered. 'Harvey Nichols?'

Harvey Nichols - which, since we are nowhere near it, I assume he means metaphorically - was not the plan, so we march back into the park again until we find a place to have tea and scones.

This feverish personality is, according to his friend William Boyd, who directed him in The Trench, 'One of our best actors.' On screen, he exerts a supreme amount of control, releasing emotions in the most subtle of ways. His face is slightly rugged without being steely - in some lights it looks handsomely sculpted, in others that of a life-worn boxer. His eyes are a lethal blue - when you see them on celluloid they seem too pale and too strange not to carry some meaning. Now, as he talks, they are animated or watery or screwed up into a grimace. Craig is a commanding, powerful actor. Seen back to back, his film roles show off an extraordinary range, and an exceptional grasp of rawness and complication.

Many will know him best as the hapless Geordie Peacock, living hand-to-mouth in the TV series Our Friends in the North. Others will have seen him more recently, playing Paul Newman's cold, murderous son in Sam Mendes's Hollywood gangster movie, Road to Perdition. In between, he has portrayed a schizophrenic (Some Voices), a physicist (Werner Heisenberg in the TV adaptation of Copenhagen), an army sergeant during the Battle of the Somme (The Trench), and Francis Bacon's sado-masochistic lover (Love is the Devil). Last year he appeared on stage opposite Michael Gambon at the Royal Court, where Stephen Daldry directed him in Caryl Churchill's new play A Number - Craig played three different cloned brothers and each was recognisable as soon as he appeared on stage. Later this year he will be seen in a Roger Michell/Hanif Kureishi film, The Mother, in which his character has an affair with a 65-year-old woman, and, early next year, in the role that is set to indisputably reveal his talent to the world, he plays Ted Hughes in the biopic Ted and Sylvia, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath.

They have just finished shooting the film when we meet. So far, Craig has only seen a brief trailer made for the cast from the rushes. 'It looks like it's going to be a sad movie,' he says, 'but what can you do about that?' The shoot itself didn't take place at the happiest of times: Paltrow's father had died not long before. 'That brings a reality into it,' Craig says. 'It was very upsetting. I don't think the filming process itself was upsetting - it was just too big a deal. I don't know how she coped really. She did brilliantly. And her mum was there, Blythe Danner. She plays Plath's mum in the movie.'

Craig's is a role he is understandably a little nervous about. 'There's quite a bit of pressure riding on it,' he says. 'And also just the whole shit that goes with it - you know, the hatred directed at Ted Hughes. People are still scrawling "pig" on his grave.' Craig clearly has a good deal of sympathy for Hughes - he has firm beliefs about the reasons behind his behaviour towards Plath, though he's not sure how much of this will come through in the film, as it is told through Plath's eyes. I ask him if he always has to sympathise with the characters he plays, and he says not at all, it's just that he feels no one can judge the relationship between Hughes and Plath because 'ultimately, within a relationship there's an unknown, which is just about those two people. You know, when you have friends who split up, the worst thing you can do is get involved.'

It's an indication of Craig's intelligent brand of acting that he has humanised the famous couple, turned them into intimates, while standing back and allowing them some privacy. 'I spoke to this wonderful lady, Elizabeth Sigmund, who was a friend of Plath's - The Bell Jar is dedicated to her - and I said, "Come on, you've got to tell me. What were they like when they were together?" She said, "You couldn't put a cigarette paper between them. They were inseparable." And that meant so much to me. I genuinely believe that even if he did have affairs, it was part of a relationship - he wasn't a serial polygamist. He was in love with Sylvia, and he was always in love with Sylvia.'

As a young boy, Craig heard Hughes give a reading at the girl's grammar school down the road from him in Liverpool. But far from being in awe of the man, Craig found the performance hilariously boring. 'I mean, bless him, he didn't read poetry particularly well. It was just this monotone crap.' Craig puts on a Northern accent so low and gloomy you can barely hear words between the mumbles: 'This is called Crow. Crow sits in... duh duh duh... Blood and otters... Birth and death... thank you very much.' He bursts out laughing.

In truth, though, Craig has examined Hughes's accent a little more closely than that, and found in the voice itself a minor tragedy. 'If you listen to it,' he says, 'his accent does not exist. Nowhere on earth does that accent exist - it's absolutely peculiar to Ted Hughes. He came down from Yorkshire and went to Cambridge and, of course, he got rid of it. What he did was he flattened it out. It's his interpretation of what a posh accent should sound like, but not too posh because he's from the north. It's bizarre - and heartbreaking. Feeling that you have to mask it and not mask it.'

I ask Craig what's happened to his own accent - there's certainly no trace of Liverpool left. 'Exactly!' he cries. 'Exachtly! What has happened to it? It's gone!' He says he arrived in London when the 'classless' accent was still a fairly posh one. 'Believe me, I know. I even grew my fringe long.' Looking at his feathery blond crew cut this seems quite unlikely, and he explains: 'Well, you know, when I left drama school it was Merchant Ivory or nothing!' But did he get those sorts of roles? 'Nah. I think they figured out that I was common as muck.'

Craig was born in Chester in 1968, and brought up in Liverpool. His mother went to Liverpool Art College and his stepfather, who appeared in his life after his parents divorced when Craig was 'four, five, six' (he is vague on this), is a painter called Max Blond. He's clearly close to Blond, and sees a lot of his father, too. 'We're off to Dublin next weekend to watch the last game of the Six Nations,' he says. Craig is a secret rugby fan. 'It's not the coolest thing in the world to like, but I've been watching it since I was a kid.' He used to wonder what his dad's weekends in Dublin were all about, and now he knows: 'Your feet don't touch the ground.'

His mother's social life revolved around the Liverpool Everyman, where she knew set designers and other people, at a time when Julie Walters and Bernard Hill were performing there regularly. Craig used to go along with his older sister and became fascinated by the theatre.

'Then, by the time I was 15 and I was failing miserably at school, my mum obviously thought, "Why won't this smelly eating machine leave my house?"' She saw an advertisement for the National Youth Theatre and, before long, Craig was in London being given choice acting roles at 17 and doing odd jobs while he applied to drama school.

Craig married a Scottish actress and singer when he was 23 and has a 10-year-old daughter. He is divorced and has been living in northwest London for the past seven years with Heike Makatsch, a German actress he met on the set of a European film called Obsession. Makatsch is something of a star in Germany, and has made a few films here. What promises to be her British breakthrough is due out later this year - Richard Curtis's directorial debut, Love Actually.

In many ways, however, 'breakthrough' roles are just a cliché. Craig, for example, has done some work in Hollywood and there was 'Oscar buzz', which came to little, around Road to Perdition. But he knows his best work might not necessarily be generated in the city of angels. Though he's wary of being too rude about Tomb Raider, he makes no bones about the fact that he couldn't find anything challenging in his role as Angelina Jolie's boyfriend. He likes it when 'The whole thing comes together - reading the script, meeting the director, and thinking: this is interesting because it's a bit weird. The thing is, you start getting, let's say a bit more famous, and suddenly you get more scripts offered to you. So it all gets a bit more confusing and I'm not very clever, you see.'

The key here is that Craig chooses parts because they're 'a bit weird', and it's clear from his performances that he thrives on that edge. In Love is the Devil, his character is said to have 'a combination of amorality and innocence'. In one scene, he and Derek Jacobi (who plays Francis Bacon) get undressed, slowly, ritually. Jacobi bends over the bed, Craig winds a belt around his fist. The camera closes in on them as he picks up his cigarette and stubs it out on Jacobi's flesh. Craig exudes a touchpaper combination of tenderness and violence. In The Trench, there is a key scene in which the buttoned-up sergeant Craig plays offers one of his men some of his wife's homemade jam. The soldier refuses and Craig tries to persuade him, thrusting the jar into his face. As he sits back down, dejected and furiously spooning the jam into his mouth, the camera lingers on him, his face expressing all the lost warmth of home. The film's director William Boyd is particularly proud of this scene, and says Craig has 'an amazing ability to express emotion of the most poignant kind as well as the most vehement kind. Not all leading men have that - they can do the tough stuff, but they can't always do both.'

Craig says that taking risks remains more important to him than making money. 'I'd like to be able to just earn money and stay comfortable. I mean, you could price yourself out of the market. And you can do too much, and you can be on the screen too much, and can I have the rest of your clotted cream?'

It's incredible Craig is so controlled on screen, because you get the feeling he must find it hard to sit still. His fingernails are short, he fidgets, his hands working overtime to cover up his face as he cringes over something he's said. He's constantly undercutting himself with a little alter-ego voice that takes the piss and everything is expressed at a mile-a-minute. He says if you become bitter and twisted as an actor you've lost the point, and when I ask what the point is, he begins an interrupted disquisition. 'Well, I do it because I find it fulfilling and because I believe it has a place in the artistic...' then he splutters, crumbs falling out of his mouth along with the inevitable expletives. 'I do it because I like showing off!' He explodes into laughter.

Whenever he feels he is in danger of saying something too actorly, Craig says it's 'all bullshit really', or some such, but in between these apologies, he regularly makes observations that range from the sensitive to the subversive. For instance, when I ask him about playing Ray, the schizophrenic in Some Voices, he says that a psychotherapist offered to show him around the Maudsley hospital as part of his research, but Craig felt he couldn't justify the intrusion for the sake of method acting. Instead, he spoke to the psychotherapist, and found ways to understand what schizophrenia feels like, things schizophrenics and so-called sane people might have in common. Later, we end up talking about music - he has been trying to get his daughter to listen to the Rolling Stones, but she's stuck on the Beatles - and he says he hopes there will be a new political voice in music. Not only that, but he hopes he'll have no connection to it whatsoever, because only that way will it really represent a younger generation.

He says he never used to have a diary, and now he thinks it's a sign of getting old that he feels this new responsibility to have an affinity with dates. Still, a little chaos reigns. When he shows me what he calls his diary, I see it's just a blank book in which he's scrawled some days and numbers. I suppose you never know what might happen next. Craig is only 35 and yet he's waiting to be kicked up the ass and called 'oldie', because he's so keen for life (and culture and politics) to renew itself. He welcomes rebellion, courts it even.

When we've finished our scones, he gives me a lift to the tube in his clapped-out-and-proud Saab. There's a paperback copy of some Ted Hughes poems on the floor. I accuse him of planting the book, but I know it's the kind of thing he'd never do. It's so verging on pretension that if anything, he'd be embarrassed it was there. Craig laughs and chucks the book over his shoulder, where it lands, somewhere in the back, with a clunk.

19

Seven's deadly sins

The new Bond is licensed to kill and built for battle - but, as Daniel Craig explains to Stuart Jeffries, it's important he bleeds like the rest of us

Friday November 17, 2006
The Guardian

The sixth James Bond is struggling with a banana milkshake as I enter the interview suite. He bends down to take a sip and nearly skewers himself with the straw. "Oooh, I nearly put my eye out," says Daniel Craig, giggling. This, given that Craig's ripped pecs are currently the most public symbol of British masculinity, is hardly propitious.

Later in the interview, Craig explains that he insisted on doing as much stunt work as possible in Casino Royale , the 21st Bond adventure. But if Craig can't drink a milkshake without risking serious injury, how could he be trusted to take part in one of the most stunt-heavy 007 movies in the franchise's 44-year history? What were the insurance people thinking?

Craig, though, is no ordinary 007. He's a Guardian-reading Bond. "It's my paper," he says. "That's why I was so thrilled to get a good review. I was glowing when I read that. I read it twice." He proves to be word-perfect on long chunks from Peter Bradshaw's review.

But a 38-year-old Guardian-reading thesp outfoxed by straw-wielding cold drinks is not, for some critics, the kind of guy who should have been given a licence to kill. When Craig was outed as Pierce Brosnan's successor in October 2005, the blogosphere went into meltdown. He was too small (5ft 11in), too blond (Fleming's Bond was dark-haired), too actorly (early CV: National Youth theatre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama; a big break on telly's Our Friends in the North in 1996. He even appeared - please God, no - in Angels in America at the National Theatre). One group went so far as to set up a website called craignotbond.com ("site temporarily disabled", the address now reveals).

Craig admits he is not a natural Bond. "As an actor, it was somewhere else, it was nothing to do with me," he says of the film franchise. But now, as spokesman for that franchise, he is obliged to say otherwise: "Even the worst Bond movies, there's something to love about them. Certainly Dr No and From Russia with Love are two of my favourite movies. I do feel close to it as we all feel close to it."

Following the cyberspace mauling, the tabloids put a contract out on Craig. One headline read: "The name's Bland. James Bland." The Daily Star described how "superwimp Daniel Craig" couldn't drive 007's classic Aston Martin DB5 because he was used to automatic transmissions, using the headline "Bond's licence to squeal: 007 wuss Dan can't even change gears". Then there was the story that he got two teeth knocked out in his first filmed fisticuffs on set ("I actually just lost a crown"). Other stories suggested he didn't like playing cards, hated guns and got queasy in the film's speedboat sequences. Craig hotly denies these stories, insisting that he is perfectly able to use a gearstick. So there.

Earlier this month Craig gave an interview to GQ, in which he complained that the adverse criticism was like being bullied. Isn't the moral that you've got to get a thicker skin? "I don't know if I am quite tough," concedes Craig. "The bad reviews get to me, believe me." Fortunately for him, Casino Royale is, overwhelmingly, getting very good reviews. It must be nice, I suggest, that he can wave two fingers to the tabloid muggers and the blogging naysayers. "If that was the way I felt, it would suggest that at the time when I got criticism that I was wanting to enter into a dialogue about it. But there was nothing to say at the time except, 'Go see the movie.'"

Doesn't taking on the role of James Bond risk Craig's career? Only Timothy Dalton of previous Bonds has come with a comparable acting pedigree, and Craig's filmography is more noteworthy: he was impressive in Road to Perdition, Spielberg's Munich, as Ted Hughes in Sylvia and as an unpleasantly violent drug dealer in Layer Cake. (Yes, he was also in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and in the feeble adaptation of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love. And, true, his performance in Infamous - the other film about Truman Capote to be released this year - was sadly overlooked, but let's not spoil the story.)

Surely he needed Bond like a cigarette burn in his tux? Craig agrees: "When I got the call, it really was left-field. Honoured though I was, I wasn't deeply enthusiastic. I met Barbara and Michael [Broccoli and Wilson, the film's producers] who are lovely people and they were trying to take it in a different direction." The aim was to rebrand Bond: they wanted to create a new 007 with interesting psychological flaws to enable him to compete with troubled modern icons such as Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne.

Broccoli and Wilson wanted to start the Bond story from scratch with a new adaptation of Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953). They would make him voguishly vulnerable, hint that he was an orphan and give him a proper love affair rather than the usual tropical rumpy-pumpy. Fingers crossed, the result (to be directed by Goldeneye's Martin Campbell) would obliterate the memory of the misfiring swinging 1960s comedy version.

Craig didn't bite. "For me, at that stage, it was promises, promises. Unfortunately, they didn't have a script and I can't say yes without a script." So he turned down the role: "I walked away from it because I thought this is taking up too much of my life. I was thinking about it too much." He went off to play an avenging killer in Spielberg's movie Munich. But he couldn't get Bond out of his head. "I said to Steven, 'Bond isn't this kind of film.' He said, 'If the script's right and if the deal's right, do the job.'"

Then last year, Craig received the final script. "Paul Haggis [writer of the Oscar-winning Crash and Million Dollar Baby] had sprinkled his magic dust on it. I was honestly wanting to dislike it. It would have been an easy decision. I could have said, 'That's very nice. Good luck with it.' But it was too much. I sweated when I read the script. I thought, this is a great story, probably because it adhered to the book quite closely, and I just thought, 'You've got to be really silly not to have a think about this.'

"I made pro and con lists. Every time the pros outdid the cons." What were the cons? "The cons were like: you're going to get typecast. Which is a high-class problem to have." Other cons? "You might not be able to do other stuff, to which I replied, 'Who says?'" Around this time, he happened to be sitting at the Baftas at the same table as Pierce Brosnan. "He said, 'Go for it. It's a ride.'" Brosnan was a good precedent: he had managed to star in some good non-007 films during his 007 tenure, notably The Tailor of Panama and the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

How did the script sucker you? "He makes mistakes. He's vulnerable and falls in love. He's everything Bond isn't supposed to be. It appealed to me - showing him screwing up, bleeding and getting hurt - because that's the kind of actor I am, but also it works dramatically. If he's just action, action, action, and then he falls in love, the reaction's gonna be, like, 'Ah, bullshit.' I wanted that progression and the script gave me that."

Were you not put off by Bond's unedifying sexual politics? "He might be chauvinistic occasionally, but the women he likes are strong, intelligent and are equal to him." In this, Bond has changed. I remind him of Sean Connery's dismissal of Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger (1964): "Run along dear, man talk." "Yeah, and then he slaps her arse!" There's no possibility of your Bond doing that? "Well, if there was a possibility - and I kind of think, 'Why not?' - he should get a slap back. And I think those things are good to play with and don't be afraid of it. And you've got M as this gorgeous matriarchal figure [played by Judi Dench], who's the only person he cares about in the world. With Judi as M in the film, you have to have respect for women.

"I also wanted the love story to be convincing. In a sense, it's the story of two equals. That we got Eva Green to do it [play his love interest] was really important. They spar with each other, but they are both vulnerable, which is something you don't expect of Bond." Green plays Vesper Lynd, a Treasury functionary who accompanies him to a poker game in Montenegro in which he must play a man with a bleeding eye called Le Chiffre, who has more than a hint of Austin Powers' nemesis Dr Evil. He must win to bankrupt Le Chiffre, who is the banker of choice for global terrorists, and who himself needs to win because he's come up a bit short with the terrorists' money and they'll kill him if he doesn't cough up. Or something. The plot is unutterable guff. But then, we'd have been disappointed if it wasn't.

"I'm not trying to kid anybody here: it's a Bond movie - it's not Ingmar Bergman, for Christ's sake. That's not to say anything against Martin's direction. But it needed to have some emotional content to it. So we started filming and nobody stopped me delivering that. So I felt I must be doing something right."

It must have been difficult to make Bond a credible hero, given that he's been satirised wonderfully three times by Mike Myers. "We had the Austin Powers alarm on set," replies Craig. "We had to. If something's been parodied as much as that, there's a reason for it."

Hence the dearth of gadgets in the film, which may upset Bond purists. "I love the fact that Roger Moore drives a Lotus into the water and it becomes a submarine. It's a great movie moment. But that wasn't our plan and it wasn't our remit."

One thing Craig does do is remove his shirt, often, to disclose a ripped torso on which he spent a great deal of gym time. For all Roger Moore's other achievements, when he took off his safari jacket he never elicited the cry: "Give me a piece of that!" With Craig, it is otherwise. "I wanted to be like, if Bond takes his shirt off, the audience thinks, 'Oh he can do those things, those mad stunts and violent scenes.'"

Costume designer Lindy Hemming has said that because of Craig's more muscular physique, Bond's evening suit is a new shape. By which, presumably she means it is more commodious in the chest. Surely, though, it is at least ungallant for James Bond to have a bigger bust than his leading lady. And surely it is symptomatic of something or other (the mores of post-feminism; the commodification of homoerotic allure; the inflated vital statistics deemed necessary for the plausible spy in the new millennium) that not only are Bond's boobs bigger than ever, but his body is fetished more than hitherto and that he is deployed mostly naked more than anyone else in the film. Even the hotsy-totsy women keep their kits on. Straight men will be yearning for more airtime to be devoted to his leading lady's body for the next Bond film in two years' time. Only then will we find out if Bond, made cynical by his experiences with the diverting Vesper Lynd and her disappointing cleavage in Casino Royale, will become incapable of love and more like the 007 of old - a boyish sex pest with the emotional maturity of a breeze block.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Were the parameters of your rippedness set out in the script? "No! I just had to get fit." Craig stopped smoking and took on Simon Waterson (of Commando Workout notoriety) as a personal trainer. Isn't it time he got in touch with his feminine side? "I'm never going to worry about that."

A cappuccino arrives and Craig manfully sees it off without mishap. As he sips, I furtively survey Craig's assets. He's wearing a cardigan and a tie, and it is hard to tell if he could still bench his own body weight. He retains smouldering, steely-blue eyes that have captivated, among others, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. That said, I find it hard, despite Craig's charm and suave demeanour, not to detect something of the Wilfrid Brambell (the man who played Albert Steptoe) in his jutting lower jaw.

Do you feel like the saviour of British masculinity which, in American popular culture (notably The Simpsons), is regularly trashed for plummeting into irremediable effeteness? "You know as well as I do that that's not the case. We just tend to keep it hidden. I'm not going to get into a thing comparing British and American masculinity. It's cold here. We keep our clothes on." There's nothing effete about Casino Royale's Bond, who is more violent than his predecessors. "Look. He's a killer. He's a trained, serious and dangerous killer, and maybe things evolved as we made the film. I was kind of tested out by the stunt team. When they saw I was up for doing it we could push those films in a different direction."

How long will you stay as Bond? "I'm contracted to make two more. I don't know beyond that." He's pleased that he has been able to take on other roles: currently, he's filming the first screen adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. In The Golden Compass he plays Lord Asriel. It must be hard to focus on that with all this Bond hoopla? "That's very true." Craig says he will check the opening weekend box office figures, hoping that Casino Royale's reviews are good indicators of ticket sales. But you get a sense of how conflicted Craig remains about the role when he injects a note of worry about his future: "The more success this film may have, the more restricting that may become for my career." A beat. "But it's not a bad problem to have. When I was at the Guildhall, we'd go to these meetings with Equity accountants and they'd say 90% of you aren't going to work. I've been very lucky."

Casino Royale is out now

20

Daniel Craig's early efforts on stage.

Daily Post (Liverpool, England); 10/18/2005

Byline: Ron Quemby

THE drama teacher who set the new James Bond on his way to acting stardom yesterday recalled his first eye-catching efforts on stage.

The young Daniel Craig made his mark at Hilbre High School, Newton, Wirral, in roles including the Undertaker in Oliver, Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible - and, to the extreme amusement of his audience, one of the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella.

He also played locally in a production of Alan Bleasdale's No More Sitting on the Old School Bench, performed by the Heswall Woolgatherers, an amateur dramatic society.

His school drama teacher and mentor at the time, Hilary Green, said: "From the very first we knew we had something special. His good looks, voice, personality, and an indefinable something, combined to make him riveting on stage."

Hilary guided Daniel's acting for three years at the Wirral comprehensive, and was recently rewarded with his gift of a programme from one of his recent London performances. The dedication reads: "Thanks for setting me on the way, love Daniel."

The teacher, of Barnston, has now retired and this year became a published author with her first novel We'll Meet Again - coincidentally about female special agents working behind enemy lines in the Second World War.

But she still vividly remembers the first time Daniel turned up to an audition for a musical with a friend, not intending to take part. She and music teacher Philidda Milne - together with special needs teacher Brenda Davies who helped out with productions - persuaded him to have a go.

Hilary immediately spotted the potential of his commanding voice and his ability to assume a character, and gave him a part. "Daniel was a natural on the stage, and he showed it in his first role in Oliver," she said. "From then on I made sure we gave him every opportunity to develop. We worked together closely for three years, and he tried quite a few different things. He was always remarkably mature for his years, and he had a real edge.

"It was a sign of his acting talent that he was prepared to have a go at anything. He was good as Moon in Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, and I made sure he got a part in the Bleasdale play being put on by the Woolgatherers.

"At school he excelled as Proctor in The Crucible, a highly serious role, but he could also be quite funny. As one of the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella, he reduced the audience and cast to helpless laughter. It brought the production to a standstill for a while. It was his natural sense of inflection and timing that made his performance so effective."

Richard Kelly, who played the other Ugly Sister, remembers that he and Daniel had a "real scream" choosing from a selection of five different outfits each for the parts. "Daniel was great in the show, playing it for laughs," he said. "One night he took a water pistol and trained it on the orchestra."

Daniel's mother, Carol Blond, of Hoylake, who first took her son to see a play at the age of five, revealed that his performance as an Ugly Sister at Hilbre High was not the first time he had played the role. "He also was an Ugly Sister at the age of eight at his primary school on Market Street, Hoylake," she said.

She added that he always wanted to be an actor right from the beginning. "He was theatre-orientated and I often took him to see plays at Chester Gateway and Liverpool Everyman. Daniel was always a natural mimic - I remember he enjoyed watching James Bond films as a child."

Chester-born Daniel was also musically inclined. Music teacher Mrs Milne remembers him playing guitar. "He was a nice, affable boy who never sought any glory," she said. "He had a good voice and a definite presence. We knew he was special - a good face, good bone structure and he could play lots of parts."

Daniel touched the lives of one family in Newton by his thoughtfulness. When his former schoolfriend and army medic Tim Stormes died in an accident, five years after they had gone their separate ways at the age of 16, the actor impressed Tim's mother by turning up out of the blue on the day of the funeral and putting a note through the door.

Jacqueline Stormes, aged 69, of Newton, said: "We thought it was a wonderful gesture. We still don't know to this day how Daniel found out about the funeral. We heard something being put through the door and then my daughter Samantha looked out of the window and saw him walking away.

"Daniel and Tim had been great friends, both members of Hoylake Rugby Club. I remember his rich deep voice, very melodic and smooth. It will really fit James Bond." Tim's sister Samantha, aged 35, said: "He had a voice as smooth as chocolate, and eyes like ice.

I remember he and Tim used to work in a restaurant in Hoylake doing the washing up to earn some cash."

Daniel's parents Tim, formerly a theatre stagehand and now a recruitment boss in Chester, and art teacher Carol split when he was young. His mother moved with him from Frodsham, where she and Tim briefly ran the Ring O' Bells pub, to the Wirral.

His dad revealed that Daniel is mad-keen on rugby, and would probably have carried on playing if he had not gone into acting.

21

"TOO MUCH INFORMATION"
Bondage Boy: 'I've Got 2 First Names'
Houston Chronicle; 05/25/05

Oddsmakers have Daniel Craig as a top contender in the next James Bond sweepstakes. Americans will understand better after they see Craig in the slick and wicked little British crime hit, Layer Cake, opening Friday.

Craig recently was in Austin for two months playing murderer Perry Smith in Every Word Is True, about Truman Capote's friendship with Smith, the subject of In Cold Blood. Due next year, the film also stars Sandra Bullock and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Craig really liked Austin.

"I had to kind of stay out of town though," he said. "It's a town you can get into trouble in."

Meaning what, all the bars?

"Yeah. They had to move me outside."

Any favorite haunts?

"All of them."

Craig also is signed to star in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film about the hunt for the terrorists after the 1972 Olympics. So we decided we'd better ask him some Too Much Information questions before he becomes a big star. Or James Bond.

Q: What do your friends call you?
A: Dan, Daniel or (poop)head. Depending.

Q: Who would you pay to see in a celebrity death match?
A: That's a tricky one. Let's think. Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers. I'd like to see the skin fly.

Q: Do you have any superstitions?
A: Many. It depends on my mood. For some reason, new shoes on a table. That comes and goes. It's bad luck, I've no idea why. It's something my father did.

Q: What do you wear to bed?
A: Nothing. My birthday suit.

Q: Have you ever belonged to a fan club?
A: When I was a kid, a comic fan club, which was a secret society. I think the magazine was called Warlord. I hated the magazine. It was the club I wanted to be a member of. You got secret codes.

Q: What CD are you listening to?
A: Jeff Buckley.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I don't really, but if I could I would collect art.

Q: Lights on, or lights off?
A: Oh, um, lights on.

Q: Anything stuck on your fridge door?
A: Yes, sadly, one of those poetry things, with the different words for making poems.

Q: What have you been influenced to buy by a commercial?
A: Um. Just about everything I'm afraid. I'm a complete pushover.

Q: I would never...
A: I would never, um...kiss on the first date.

Q: Sean Connery or Roger Moore?
A: There's only one, Sean Connery.

22

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23

Xev
  :good:

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Xev ():

Jeff Buckley

, ...   :)

Xev ():

I don't really, but if I could I would collect art

, ...

Xev ():

I would never, um...kiss on the first date.

????  :O   :lol:

Xev ():

Nothing. My birthday suit.

,   :heat:

Xev ():

Dan, Daniel

, ,   :good:

Xev ():

His good looks, voice, personality, and an indefinable something, combined to make him riveting on stage

!

Xev ():

Carol Blond

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Xev ():

his performance as an Ugly Sister

- , , ...

Xev ():

Music teacher Mrs Milne remembers him playing guitar

  :O , ...

Xev ():

He had a voice as smooth as chocolate, and eyes like ice

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Xev ():

Tim, formerly a theatre stagehand and now a recruitment boss in Chester, and art teacher Carol split when he was young

, , ...  :rolleyes:

Xev ():

His dad revealed that Daniel is mad-keen on rugby, and would probably have carried on playing if he had not gone into acting

- , . !

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Betina ():

Xev :
I would never, um...kiss on the first date.
????       
Xev :
Nothing. My birthday suit.
,

  :D 
:give_heart:  :kiss:

25

Interview with Daniel Craig: The Icing Atop the "Layer Cake"

by Peter Sobczynski

In American, Daniel Craig is probably most familiar to the mass audience for playing opposite Tom Hanks and Paul Newman in Road to Perdition (where he played the psycho son of the latter) and opposite Angelina Jolies short-shorts in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Frequenters of art-houses may recall him more fondly from his two collaborations with British filmmaker Roger Michell, The Mother and Enduring Love, two of the more intriguing and unsettling films to appear last year. Actually, he is probably best-known on these shores for a role that he hasnt playeduntil a couple of weeks ago, he was rumored to be one of the strongest candidates to replace Pierce Brosnan in the role of James Bond (though recent developments now suggest that Brosnan will return to the role after all.)

Already a top-tier actor in his native England, Craig looks to increase his Stateside profile with the quirky new crime drama Layer Cake. In the film, he plays an unnamed drug dealer who has amassed enough money to allow him to quietly retire from the business and lead a life of leisure. Inevitably, these plans quickly fly out the window when a request for one final favor leads to a series of out-of-control events that demonstrate that a criminal is a criminalno matter how plush his surroundingsand that if you are successful in making money for people, they will be less than eager to see you go.

Although it may sound on the surface like Layer Cake is similar to the recent Guy Ritchie crime films Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (not surprising since Matthew Vaughn, the future X3" helmer making his directorial debut here, started out as a producer of, among others, Ritchies films), this film has more of a serious impact to it and much of that is due to the strong work by Craig. There are bits of weirdness and silliness throughout but Craig holds it together with a performance that allows us to sympathize and understand a theoretically unlikable character without ever minimizing his dark side.

Recently, Craig sat down to discuss Layer Cake, his experiences in Hollywood and, eventually, the strange circumstances of inadvertently turning into the Man Who Would Be Bond.

What was it that got you interested in acting in the first place?
Dressing up and showing off! We lived in Liverpool and my mother had friends in the theater scene there and my sister and I spent a lot of time at the theater. I got the bug and it was as simple as that. Id see the plays or I would be in the lighting box backstage and I knew that was what I wanted to do. Things have changed as I have gotten older but the same things still applydressing up, showing off and the attention-seeking are still there. I love it. I think it is a great art formit is a populist art form that I do believe can actually change things and generate discussion and debate. I remember that we had a cinema around the corner from me and I would sit there and watch movies. One particular movie was Blade Runner and even though I had no idea what was happening, I watched it and I knew that I wanted to make movies. It wasnt about doing films or television or playsI wanted to do movies and that one struck me the first time that I saw it.

Your previous films, The Mother and Enduring Love, were both fairly heavy dramas while Layer Cakethough not exactly a laugh-a-minute goofhas a much lighter tone to it despite the subject matter. Were you consciously trying to find something a little lighter to do after those earlier films?
It was the writing. I took a look at it and thought that it would be a departure and then I met Matthew Vaughn, who has produced a lot of movies but is best-known for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Matthew does have an eye for making money and looks at how to create a profit with what he creates. It was interesting to talk to him because I, outside of Hollywood, had never really had those kinds of conversations regarding a movie. Usually, getting the movie made is a struggle from Day One and getting it into a theater is a sort of triumph. Matthew doesnt think like thathe thinks on a grander scale of releasing it and making some money and then releasing it again and making some more money. In a way, it was a good learning program to become involved in because he is very skilled at that. Mostly, though, it was because it was a great script. It was an intelligent, bright script-more so than any other crime thing that I have seen.

One of the interesting things about your character is that we learn so little about him and his history throughout the storywhile most of the other characters have fancy nicknames and elaborate backstories, the name of your character is never said once throughout the course of the entire film. For you, what, if any, are the challenges of playing a character about whom so little is known or explained throughout the course of the film?
It didnt bother me at all. As long as we set it up well enough in the beginningthis is who I am and this is what I dowe dont need the rest. Bad movies do thisthe first two scenes will have the characters repeating their names to each other over and over so that we in the audience know who they are. You have to do that sometimes in a movie when you have a complicated plot but in this film, we have a complicated plot but most of that is irrelevant and it doesnt matter.

This guy rang true to me. We know them or we at least see them in the street every day and we dont notice them because they dont want to be noticed. At the beginning of the film, he says that he deals in a commodityin this case, it is cocaine but it could be anything as long as it makes money. That is why we have the Michael Gambon character, who is legitimatehe is probably friends with politicians and members of the royal family and owns skyscrapersbut he would deal in anything and probably deals in things far worse than cocaine and it doesnt make a difference to him because it is about making money. These people keep their noses clean and that is why they are so good at making moneybecause they are quiet about making money.

Do you prefer having something beyond the script to look at when creating your charactersuch as the original book in the case of Layer Cake or biographical information when you are playing a real-life personor do you prefer to stick simply to the material in the script itself?
It is the script. If you dont have a script that is ready to go on the first day of shooting, you are fucked. If you are trying to rewrite the film while you are shooting it, in my experience, it just doesnt fucking work and it ruins the movie because no one has a fucking idea of what to do. You have to have a script sitting there that you are ready to shoot. You can change things but there is this myth about improvisation that it is a spontaneous thing where you can do anything as long as you know your character. You can only improvise if you have a good script because the story has to be there. That is what I look forwhen I am giving a script and people say, Oh, we are going to do this and this, I get nervous and ask Well, when are you going to do this? There have been times when I have been rewriting scenes on the day of shooting and I am not a fucking writer.

In working with Matthew Vaughn, who is making his directorial debut after serving for years as a producer, I was curious about the process of working with a filmmaker coming from that particular background. When an actor becomes a director, for example, the focus of the film is usually on performance, a writers is on the script and a cinematographers tends to be on the visual style. Therefore, what is it like to work with a producer-turned-director?
When that happens, I think that is kind of wrong. Id be more interested is seeing a movie directed by an actor that concentrated on the visuals, though I dont think that has ever happened. Matthew strikes me as someone like that. On the surface, he looks like a money-making machine who makes films that are highly popular and highly stylized and filled with wonderful cliches but he is also a fantastic storyteller. I saw the film for the first time in a while and I had forgotten how well he can spin a yarn. That is a surprise because you wouldnt think that he would be able to tell a story like that and put it on the screen. The great thing about his experience with producing is that he has been able to get a great team of people together that he trusts to do their jobs. For a director, that is important because you have to trust those people.

A couple of years ago, you came to America to do a couple of expensive, high-profile Hollywood blockbuster projects, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Road to Perdition. Under normal circumstances, one might have expected a British actor coming off of those projects to stay in the States and work on equally high-profile films for the next several years. Instead, you immediately returned to England and did the lower-profile likes of Sylvia, The Mother, Enduring Love and Layer Cake. Was this decision just a coincidence or a conscious decision relating to your experiences of working in the American film industry?
Kind of. The Tomb Raider thing was . . .I dont regret for a second doing it but it just wasnt an experience that was that satisfying. I was lucky enough then to go off the next year and do Road to Perdition, which cost the same amount of money as Tomb Raider but had much more to itthere are only so many ways that you can look surprised at crap blowing up. The truth of it is that after Road to Perdition, I got a lot of good reviews and I could have come over and done a lot of auditions but I just didnt think that was good enough for me. I was proud of what I did in that movie but there were things that I wanted to do back homefilms where I would play leads and have to work my fucking ass off to play them. I loved Road to Perdition but that was me playing a small part in a bigger movie and I wanted to play larger parts.

I wanted to ask you about the two films that you did with Roger Michell, The Mother and Enduring Love. With both of those films, I dont think that I quite liked them when I first saw themI admired the performances and thought they were well-made but there was something about each of them that I wasnt quite sure that I was getting that kept me from fully embracing them. However, as time passed, I found that they were growing larger in my mind and I was thinking about them more than a lot of films that I immediately liked. Now, I think that they are both pretty extraordinary works. Obviously, since both of those screenplays were not simple cookie-cutter scripts designed to pull in mass audiences and sell toys, you must have responded to them on a more instantaneous level in order to see their worth and agree to act in them. In those two cases, what was it that struck you about those scripts and roles that made you believe that you could play them?
The Mother was the first one. It was a Hanif Kaureshi screenplay and though I am probably kidding myself about it now, I was scared shitless about the script and what it required of me. I didnt even want to think about it, to tell the truth. I spoke to Roger on the phone and said, I dont know if I want to do this. I dont like these people and he said, That is why we are making it. Roger is an incredibly charming guy and he knows his stuff, it is as simple as that. He got me involved in making the movie and I love the fact that it is shocking. I love the fact that audiences sometimes say That movie made me sick!while others go on a roll with it and saw the dark side. Mainly, the film is about broken families and how they hardly talk to each otherthat is the crux of the movie. It is really complicated with this film about an older woman whose husband dies and she has an affair where everything ends horribly.

When you hear a one-line description of the film, it sounds like the kind of thing that could be done as a sweet-tempered drama or as a silly farce and one of the things that is striking about it is how seriously and realistically everything and everyone is treatedeven the mother is less of a sweet and angelic person and more self-centered than many might have expected.
It isnt a simple story that tells you where your sympathies should lie. You look at the daughter and she is sort of acting like a brat and you would think that the mother would be sweet, but what she does in the film is horrible. She knowingly fucks her daughters boyfriend and convinces herself that it is okay. The problem then is trying to sell the film. With a lot of the films that I have done, you cant really trailer them because there isnt really a sound-bite in them that explains everything. Invariably, I see the trailers and I am dismayed because they throw people a different spin and try to make it seem like a thriller. One part of me is pissed off at that and another part is actually kind of proud of the fact that I make movies that get sent off to the people who make trailers and they cant.

With Enduring Love, it was very simple. We were a week from finishing shooting on The Mother and Roger came up to me and asked if I had read the novel. I said I had and that it was a great book and he said, Dont read it again. Were writing the script as we speakare you in? and I said yes. I wanted to work with him again straightaway and there was never an argument about it. I knew the story and when Rhys Ifans and Samantha Morton got involved, I knew that no matter how it turned out, it would be a good thing to do. That is the kind of security that you havethat you know you will get something out of it.

There are a couple of projects that you have coming up that I wanted to ask about. The first is the Truman Capote film from Douglas McGrath in which you play Perry Smith, one of the killers that Capote chronicled in In Cold Blood. Considering how well-known that story is, both from the book and the 1967 film, how much of a challenge for you was it to take on that role?
The film is actually about two different subjects. It is about whether or not artists only have one piece of art in them. Sandra Bullock plays Harper Lee, who was Capotes best friend and who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird while Capote wrote In Cold Blood and some would say that was it for those two. There is that debate and there is also the story of Trumans relationship with Perry Smith while the latter was waiting to be executed and the question of how close they got.

The other film you have scheduled, which is supposed to go into production later this summer, is the 1972 Munich Olympics movie begin directed by Steven Spielberg. Can you shed any light on what you are doing in that one?
I cant. Believe me, I would love to because I am very excited about it but it is still being prepared.

Finally, I have to askmostly because I will be slapped by editors if I dontabout the speculation that you were in the running to be the next James Bond, which I believe has finally died down now that it seems that Pierce Brosnan actually will return. Now that it is over, what was it like to go through this enormous media stormone devoted entirely to a film that hasnt yet been made and a role that you havent played?
I genuinely believe, and this is just my opinion, that my name was put out there because they wanted to create debate over who should be the next James Bond and my name was on that list. I was here in America filming, so I was getting it all second-handit did hit Texas eventually, but by then the shitstorm had finally begun to die down.

originally posted: 05/16/05 05:51:21
last updated: 05/16/05 07:20:29

26

Daniel Craig: 'I love being twisted'

Soon to be seen as a gangster in Layer Cake and the victim of a stalker in Enduring Love, Daniel Craig is one of our hottest stars. But as he tells Charlotte Cripps, he has his dark side

Published: 30 September 2004

In a suite in the Dorchester hotel, in Park Lane, central London, Daniel Craig, quietly dapper in a crisp shirt and trousers, lights up a cigarette. A cheerful radio journalist wearing an extremely short skirt has just skipped out of the room, and Craig has a vaguely frazzled air, as you might expect of someone giving his 14th interview of the day. "Self-promotion, for me, is like going to the dentist," he says. "But I know I have to do it. It is much easier than it was. I can bullshit better these days."

In a suite in the Dorchester hotel, in Park Lane, central London, Daniel Craig, quietly dapper in a crisp shirt and trousers, lights up a cigarette. A cheerful radio journalist wearing an extremely short skirt has just skipped out of the room, and Craig has a vaguely frazzled air, as you might expect of someone giving his 14th interview of the day. "Self-promotion, for me, is like going to the dentist," he says. "But I know I have to do it. It is much easier than it was. I can bullshit better these days."

Until recently, Craig had little need for either answers or bullshit: he was just a promising new talent, not a major star in the making. Now, as the centrepiece of two big new British films, he is hot box-office property, with a publicity machine to match. In the British thriller Layer Cake, he plays a Yuppie drug dealer, and in Enduring Love, adapted from the Ian McEwan novel, he is the victim of Rhys Ifans's deluded stalker, with whom he shares a noisy on-screen snog.

Craig has had better luck with his own love life, having recently been involved in a much-publicised fling with Kate Moss. His appeal is not hard to fathom - he has a smouldering presence, on screen and off, and piercing, light-blue eyes. His roles have tended to capitalise on that appeal: he was cast as a kind of demon lover in a succession of movies. In 1998's Love Is the Devil, he played Francis Bacon's partner, George Dyer, to Derek Jacobi's Bacon, and spent much of the shoot covered in lubricant for the S&M scenes. Then, in 2003, came The Mother, in which he played a builder who sleeps with a 67-year-old grandmother as well as her daughter. This year, he was seen as an intense Ted Hughes, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia Plath, in Sylvia, which focused on the turbulent relationship between the two poets. He was glad to see the back of that shoot: "Well, there weren't many gags," he says dryly.

Craig always gives performances that are real and believable, and comical when the role warrants it, but without trying overly hard. "I think The Mother is funny - darkly funny - and that really appeals to me," he says. "If you can combine that with popular film-making, it is funny, not because it is meant to be, but because of the situations people get themselves into."

Despite appearing to have the world at his 36-year-old feet, the Liverpool-born Craig is wary. "If you are on the front cover of Vanity Fair, it goes a long way with producers. I would be stupid not to think that is the case. It is just that I can't get excited by it. I can't get active about it. But I am happy about that, because I am working and doing stuff that I really want to do. Why change course? I hope to have worked long enough now to have a body of work that stands on its own. When I am cast in something, it is not because I am famous. It is because I can act."

Interestingly, Craig gets some respite from portraying heavy, obsessional relationships in Layer Cake, released tomorrow [1 Oct], the directorial debut of Matthew Vaughn, who produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Craig plays the dealer whose plan is to secure enough cash to retire early from the "layer cake" (a metaphor for the crime underworld), and his biggest problem with his sassy and slutty girlfriend, played by Siena Miller (soon to be seen in Alfie, with real-life beau, Jude Law), is that every time they're about to have sex, something happens. At one point, as she slips into Agent Provocateur underwear in the bathroom, to get him in the mood, Craig is kidnapped and taken to the top of a building in Canary Wharf to meet the crime boss Eddie Ryder (Michael Gambon at his flamboyant best).

Is it refreshing to play a less intense character? "It was a very pleasant experience," Craig says. He denies having had any reservations about taking on the part in case it was another Lock, Stock slapstick enterprise. "I went into it with the same attitude I go into everything I do. Matthew and I met up after I read the script. We tuned in to each other. I realised that I could do the film and still apply the same rules that I apply to what I do - which is to try and go for the truth of the thing - while also doing a film that is entertaining and light. It was a relief to know that it would be possible. I love drama. I love obsessiveness in movies. I love being twisted, and that is why I tend to get drawn to those parts. But knowing that we were not going to those dark recesses that I have been to in other films and to find it just as rewarding was a relief."

In Enduring Love, Craig teams up again with the director Roger Michell, who directed him in The Mother, and is definitely back in the world of obsessive relationships. After a day out turns awry, Craig's character, Joe, is stalked by a pathetic-looking Jed, played by Ifans, who conceives the unshakeable, but quite foundation-less, notion that they are in love. Jed, it transpires, is suffering from the obsessive love disorder De Clerembault's syndrome.

"I love acting with people, because acting is about reacting. When you get a good actor in front of you, it is playtime," enthuses Craig with a mildly sick laugh, of working with Ifans. Who else does he enjoy acting with? "A lot of people. Paul Newman was something to behold [in 2002, Craig co-starred opposite Tom Hanks in Sam Mendes's The Road to Perdition, as Newman's character's son]. I watched him work. I could relate to his fears. He was worried about getting it right. What a wonderful, fantastic place to be: 76 years old and still acting. He was still as interested and as excited in doing it. And Michael Gambon is just a dream. He loves playtime."

About his female co-stars, he is less forthcoming ("Let's face it: if I single one out, it would sound a bit glib"), and he is equally tight-lipped about the roles he has turned down. "My agent is pretty good at filtering the weirder stuff," he says, "but I was offered a lot of money recently to play Biggles. I hope mentioning that isn't a problem. I shouldn't say that really."

Craig first made an impact in the Nineties, in the television drama Our Friends in the North, as Geordie Peacock, trying to make it in the porn industry before falling flat on his face. He went on to play the evil priest John Ballard in Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth and, more surprisingly, starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the Hollywood blockbuster Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. He is also a stage actor, seen most recently in Caryl Churchill's A Number at the Royal Court, directed by Stephen Daldry and co-starring Gambon.

Next year, Craig will star alongside Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley in The Jacket, a film produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, about an institutionalised Gulf war veteran who is certain he is travelling through time in search of his ill-fated lover. "I play the nutter in a hospital," Craig laughs. "Oh God, that's going to stick, isn't it? That will be the headline of your feature.

"In that new German film out about Hitler [The Downfall], there is this big furore because they have given Hitler a human face," Craig says. "It would make sense that you have to give evil a human face at some point. We will never understand, unless we do. It is the same with anybody sick or obsessional. You have to find that human face. What I do is I go to that place - we all have demon thoughts - but it is just finding that thought and expanding it. I try to explore it."

Did he ever feel that the big time might elude him? "Yes and no. There is always that pessimistic optimism in actors, because you deal with so much refusal. But as soon as I left drama school [he was in the year above Ewan McGregor at Guildhall], I went and did a Warner Brothers movie, The Power of One. It was the first job I ever did. It threw me into a bit of spin. It was an experience. Suddenly, I was on a shoot in Zimbabwe, on huge sets. It didn't work out in the sense of propelling me forward -thankfully - because it wasn't the right time or place. But I always had blind faith. I swore to myself I'd never go back to being a waiter. It was arrogance that made me stick at it."

Of working on Layer Cake with Vaughn, who is married to Claudia Schiffer (you may have seen the wedding pictures in Hello!), he says: "I was really intrigued that Matthew was making this step. He was very clear that he didn't want to make another Lock, Stock or Snatch. He wanted to do a big British movie using London as a big character." Apparently, there was a lot of serendipity involved. The day it was suggested that Vaughn should read JJ Connolly's Layer Cake, he found himself sitting opposite the author on a train journey. Does that story surprise Craig? "I tend to think like that about life anyway," he replies. "Things have a way of fitting together - there is a serendipity about everything. You ignore the signs at your peril, and those situations make you make the right choices. I had no problem getting involved with this film and throwing myself into it - which Matthew allowed me to do."

While in LA recently, Craig saw the film What the #$*! Do We Know!?, a docu-drama about quantum physics and how our thoughts can shape our destiny. He recalls: "These scientists sit around in the film and say our reality can be changed by every thought. We have a major influence on what happens around us. In Washington, DC, they got 400 people to come in and meditate on the idea of lowering the crime rate. The people who ended up paying for it were the Washington police force. They did it nine times, because the crime rate fell by 25 per cent. There was another study, in Japan, about how talking to water angrily changes the molecular level of it. I am absolutely certain that we shape our own destinies and we have to take care of it."

Does it become harder to make intelligent choices as you grow more famous? "I met Roger Michell, Stephen Daldry and Sam Mendes all because of the work I've done," Craig says, "and that's the way I'd like it to continue. Certainly, you have to be careful you don't do anything where you blow it for yourself. You have to take care."

OK, but if push came to shove, would he ever play James Bond? "Yes, it's film to film, for me. But I would still have to apply the same rule: if you go for something that is incredibly exposing, is that going to be detrimental to what your ambitions as an actor are? That is the only criterion."

Bond aside, then, what is his ambition? "To continue testing myself, but also trying to find what I do as political as possible. I think every piece of cinema is a political message. The Mother was a tough decision to make. It broke taboos of older people and sexuality, and said that liberation and communication are important - she wants to live before she dies. Thank God I did it. I met Roger Michell, and that whole experience has resulted in the making of Enduring Love."

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