Daniel Craig has just finished his fourth and, if his recent declarations are to be believed, final Bond film. Often considered to be the best Bond since Sean Connery, he is credited with having revived and revolutionized one of Britain’s most successful franchises. Here’s a throwback to our cover story on the actor, back in 2012 just before Skyfall went on to become the highest grossing Bond film ever.
In New York, Daniel Craig is promoting the upcoming Bond movie, Skyfall, the third featuring him as the iconic spy. This film is arguably the best Bond movie in many years. It brings back regulars, such as Dame Judi Dench as M, features Ben Wishaw playing Q, and introduces an evil and amusing villain, played by Javier Bardem. Craig, 44, is wearing a light grey cashmere sweater over a white shirt and dark grey tie, teamed with a pair of dark trousers. He’s ruggedly handsome and incredibly fit.
Excerpts from an interview.
When was the first time you heard about James Bond?
I don’t remember. I think I’ve always known about James Bond; it feels like that, anyway. I remember seeing him at the cinema when I was six years old, five years old even.
Askmen.com just selected James Bond as the most influential man in the world right now, over Barack Obama and other real people. What do you think about that?
Well, I hope it doesn’t stay that way. I hope Obama becomes a little more influential (laughs). It feels good, I suppose. It’s probably because the movie is coming out, so I’m everywhere. And you should thank Sony for that; their publicity department is pretty good.
What is it that you like most about James Bond’s lifestyle?
I’m not James Bond. I am really, genuinely not him, so I don’t need anything from his life; I have mine. Bond is not someone I aspire to be; I don’t have any desire to be him.
There’s really nothing you’d like from Bond’s life?
No. I love cars, I love the things that everybody else likes, but I don’t want to be James Bond.
Do you picture James Bond settling down and having a family?
No, because he’s a spy. Everyone he falls in love with dies.
James Bond is quite an old-fashioned guy. He doesn’t want to get too involved in computers and the internet. Do you think young fans will be able to relate to that?
I don’t know. We will find out, won’t we? I don’t think it’s that Bond won’t touch computers; it’s just that that he still sort of believes he’s a front-line troop, and the idea that you can fight a battle on a computer is anathema to him. But that’s why I love the character of Q, because Q is sort of a geek and a computer wiz. I like the contrast between Bond and Q because Bond leaves the computer stuff to Q; he wants to talk to people, look them in the eye and ask them the question. I like that. I think there’s still room for that. Maybe not.
This Bond movie is different in that it looks back at Bond’s roots. Is that something you enjoyed?
What I love is that we go back and explore how he grew up, but then he moves past his upbringing. So we kind of get it out of the way and we deal with it. He was orphaned very young but he’s moved on, and he is satisfied with his life now.
Who is the biggest James Bond fan in your family?
They all hate it (laughs). No, they all like it a lot. They are big fans of Bond, but they are also very happy and proud of what I do. I think they are bigger fans of me than of Bond.
Word is that you are the one who was keen on Javier Bardem playing the villain in Skyfall
I am one of Javier’s biggest fans. I’m a bit of a stalker, in fact. I actually did stalk him to get him to do this film; I went to a party he was at so I could ask him to do it. And he said yes, so it was great. I love working with him and he makes me laugh, so it’s a joy. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend enough time with him because we were literally working all the time. We both love rugby and I would love to go and watch some rugby with him some time.
Why do you think women like James Bond so much?
He’s dangerous. It’s as simple as that.
One of the themes of Skyfall is how Bond is getting older. Are you afraid of aging?
No. I suppose I do think about it sometimes, like everyone does, but you’ve just got to get over it. You’ve got to enjoy life while you are living it.
Are the stunts getting more difficult to do?
No, they’re getting easier because I’m doing fewer of them (laughs). The stunts are an incredible part of the movie and I try to be as involved in them as possible. But sometimes I can’t do a stunt simply because it’s happening somewhere else from where I am. And, of course, I don’t do the very dangerous ones. It’s so much easier now because I’ve got so many good doubles, and we get to make the stunts look as real as possible.
After three Bond movies, have you learnt any cool moves that you can apply in real life?
Nothing (laughs). It’s all make-believe, and there it stays. The skills that I am learning are things you don’t see on camera; they are to do with working and interacting with people, and getting a job done. I’m not learning much about jumping out of aircrafts and things like that; those are things people spend a lifetime getting good at.
How do you deal with the massive expectations that accompany every Bond film?
Look, these movies get made because there are so many fans of Bond, and the movies are eventually for the fans. But you can’t think about the expectations; you just have to get on with doing as good a job as you can.
What was it like shooting in Istanbul and Shanghai?
Sadly, I wasn’t actually a part of the shoots in Shanghai. My scenes there have been put together with a bit of movie magic. We had a lot to squeeze into a limited period of time, so we had to send a second unit to Shanghai. They filmed all of the exteriors and the driving there, and then I was put into those scenes with the help of some magic in the editing room.
Filming in Istanbul was great. I’ve been there many times before and I love spending time there; the Turkish people are so friendly and welcoming. Filming in the Grand Bazaar was particularly exhilarating; we got to race across the Bazaar on these motorbikes. Hopefully, the movie will show the beautiful side of Istanbul.
You must have had to train quite a bit for these movies. Do you enjoy it?
No, it’s really fucking boring. I had to do a lot of running in this film, so I ran a little bit more during my workouts. I just switch off while running, so I guess it is a bit relaxing. It’s not unpleasant, but it is boring.
Are you stylish and fashion-conscious, like Bond is?
I don’t know if I can say I’m into fashion, but I do like beautiful clothes. My grandfather was a tailor, so I’ve always liked nicely designed men’s clothes. One of the perks of this gig is that I get sent nice clothes.
After watching you on Saturday Night Live, I started to wonder why you haven’t done more comedy. Is that something that you would like to do more of?
Not especially, no (laughs). The thing is, comedy is a completely separate art form. A lot of the comedians who make films today have a process that involves a lot of improvisation. They kind of have an idea, but don’t really have a concrete script, and they just make it up as they go along. I don’t know how to work like that. I know how to work from scripts. There are very few writers out there who write great comedy; and those few really funny scripts get snapped up very quickly, so it’s hard for me to find a good script. I need a funny script; I can’t just yuck it up and make it up. It’s not where I come from.
Skyfall feels distinctly British. Was that a conscious effort?
We didn’t want it to be a flag-waving, jingoistic sort of thing, but we did want to base it in England and make it feel like England. I am patriotic like anyone is; not overly patriotic, but I believe there’s a sense of Britishness people have which is good, and we wanted to make sure that came through in the movie. I think with Judi (Dench) reading a poem by Tennyson in the movie, there is a real sense of celebrating British heritage. I read a bit of poetry, so I kind of understand it, but I’m not sure everybody will get it. I think the sentiment of the poem is so great — being brave, being somebody who has to stand up and
This Bond movie wasn’t just about huge sets and special effects, but also about great dialogue and a riveting story. Do you think that will please the audience?
I think you can combine the two; I think you can have everything. Why not? Who set the rules that you can’t have both? I wasn’t there in the meeting when they said you have to choose between one and the other, so, as far as I am concerned, let’s have a story, let’s have the action, let’s have everything we can and more. Oh, and let’s have Bond in the movie as well.