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DALTON: "CRAIG IS A WONDERFUL BOND"

Former 007 actor TIMOTHY DALTON is full of praise for DANIEL CRAIG - hailing him one of the best JAMES BONDs ever. The British actor, who played the superspy in 1987's THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS and 1989's LICENSE TO KILL, was bemused at the criticism levelled at Craig before CASINO ROYALE was even released. And Dalton is glad Craig has proved them wrong with his powerhouse performance in last year's (06) blockbuster hit. He says, "Daniel was a wonderful Bond in a great James Bond movie. I'm delighted for him."

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60 SECONDS: Timothy Dalton

BY ANDREW WILLIAMS - Thursday, February 15, 2007 Actor Timothy Dalton is best known for playing James Bond in Licence To Kill and The Living Daylights. Sci-fi fans also remember him playing Prince Barin in the 1980 Flash Gordon film. More recently, he's been in TV shows such as Miss Marple. He can be seen in Simon Pegg's new comedy, Hot Fuzz, which is on release from tomorrow.

You play a baddie in Hot Fuzz was it fun?

I loved making the film. There were some fantastic people involved. I play a worthy, upright pillar of the community; at least thats what he thinks. He believes hes perfectly respectable he runs the supermarket but hes not all that he seems. It was very good fun.

Did you ever want to run a supermarket yourself?

No

Werent Simon Pegg and his pals more impressed you were in Flash Gordon than by your role as James Bond?

Absolutely. It was so long ago Id nearly forgotten about it but they liked the fact I played Prince Barin. Movies stick with you, they saw the film when they were children and theyve grown up with it.

Is comedy really as difficult to do as actors say?

Yes, it really is the most difficult. Youve got to have a knack for it but in film it also relies on the director and editor and everyone else. Ive done films where its worked brilliantly on set but the editing ruined the timing. There are so many people involved in movies that it makes it much trickier. On the other hand, there are times editing does save a performance when the timings wrong.

Have you ever made a film you thought was great during filming but turned out to be rubbish?

No, ha ha ha, but there have been some things I thought werent very good when I was doing them and turned out not to be very good when they were released. You generally know. I havent had any surprises.

I have no regrets about doing James Bond - you end up living in a separate world

What did you make of Daniel Craig as James Bond?

I thought he was great. He got a lot of stick when he was doing it. There was a lot of negative press. I said how wrong everyone was at the time because hes a very gifted actor. Im pleased that the movie turned out as well as it did.

Did you get the same amount of criticism when you were making the Bond films?

You always get people saying: I would have preferred this actor. Theres always some controversy about who has been chosen. Craig was criticised by people who didnt have a clue what was in the script or what he was going to look like in the film, which was deeply unfair.

Do you regret not making more Bond films?

I was supposed to make one more but it was cancelled because MGM and the films producers got into a law suit which lasted for five years. After that, I didnt want to do it.

Do you look back fondly on playing Bond?

It was a remarkable time of my life. I dont think anyone except the few people who have played James Bond can tell you how strange and special it is and how much your life changes. I have no regrets about doing it at all. You also have to deal with the press and peoples expectations of what James Bond represents you end up living in a world which is rather separate. Its a unique role.

How was it to suddenly become world famous?

Its quite odd at first. You realise that everyone in the street is eyeing you up and down. You become very, very known. Theres virtually no privacy at all except that which you carve out for yourself. I made a documentary about wolves and was 800km (500 miles) from the North Pole. My little plane flew into this small Eskimo village that I was to stay in and all the Eskimos started saying: Its James Bond! Come and eat some raw fish! Youre known everywhere.

If you were Prime Minister, what would you do?

Id make sure the National Health Service and the education system were sorted out and working properly. Those were the two best things about Britain when I was growing up the fact everyone got a decent education and everyone could get good hospital care. Both have been run down by successive governments.

If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?

Its not a car but Id be a BMW motorbike.

Do you put up your own shelves?

Not all the time. I put up shelves in the garage two years ago, though.

Have you ever written a fan letter to anyone?

No, but I did the TV equivalent to Clint Eastwood. As part of a programme, I said how much I admire his work. Ive respected his acting even from the earliest films he did, things like High Plains Drifter. Look at films such as Unforgiven hes great and a fabulous director. Ive told him that in person as well. I havent worked with him but definitely wouldnt say no.

What have you got coming up?

I want to do work I care about. I was sent a couple of animated films by a young Russian producer/director about Beethoven and Vivaldi. Theyre stunning, really good and are aimed at children. I agreed to do the narration because things like that deserve help. I want to do work thats worthwhile. Movies have changed in the past 20 years everything is getting really commercialised so Im not enthusiastic about working for workings sake. If somethings not good, whats the point?

(2007-02-15 18:27:03)

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