Re: "James Bond 23" officially slated for 2012!
Craig speaks with characteristic candour about Skyfall, CR and QoS
You’re about to start shooting the new Bond film. How do you feel about it? Is there a sense of ‘Hell, here we go for the next seven months…’ just because it’s such a massive undertaking?
‘Yes, there’s definitely some of that, but I’m genuinely really excited because we’ve got a script. The deciding factor for doing [COLOR=#0099ff]“Casino Royale”[/COLOR], even though I was umming and aahhing, going [puts on moody voice] “I don’t know if I want to do it”, was that they showed me the script and I thought: Fuck, I’ve got to do this. And I think this one is better. I really do. It’s a totally original story. I read it and it just works as a story. It sounds like a simplistic thing to say, but you read it and you go: “Oh yeah, I get that, yeah, and oh, yes, yes, okay,” and that’s unusual.’
It seems that the script is sometimes an after-thought on huge productions.
‘Yes and you swear that you’ll never get involved with shit like that, and it happens. On [COLOR=#0099ff]“Quantum”[/COLOR], we were fucked. We had the bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it. I say to myself, “Never again”, but who knows? There was me trying to rewrite scenes – and a writer I am not.’
You had to rewrite scenes yourself?
‘Me and the director [[COLOR=#0099ff]Marc Forster[/COLOR]] were the ones allowed to do it. The rules were that you couldn’t employ anyone as a writer, but the actor and director could work on scenes together. We were stuffed. We got away with it, but only just. It was never meant to be as much of a sequel as it was, but it ended up being a sequel, starting where the last one finished.’
It was still a massive commercial success though. So it wasn’t a failure in that sense.
‘No, quite. Thank God it worked, and it worked like gangbusters. But for me personally, on a level of feeling satisfied, I would want to do better next time. That’s really important to me.’
To give a better performance?
‘No, the whole film. If you’re going to do that sort of stuff, you’ve just got to get it right. You’ve got to give it your best shot. When you’ve got all that talent, everyone gunning to make it good, you’ve got to get it… For fuck’s sake, it’s a Bond movie. You want people to go, “Whooah!” – a sharp intake of breath during a movie is never a bad thing.’
Did you have anything to do with getting [COLOR=#0099ff]Sam Mendes [/COLOR]on board as director?
‘I did, yes, I did. He’s English, he’s Cambridge-educated, he’s smart. He’s lived with Bond all his life, he grew up with Bond the way I did. We grew up at exactly the same time, and I said to him, “We have to do this together, we have exactly the same reference points, we both like the same Bond movies and we both like the same bits in the same Bond movies we like.” We sat down and we just rabbited for hours about “[COLOR=#0099ff]Live and Let Die[/COLOR]” or “[COLOR=#0099ff]From Russia with Love[/COLOR]”, and talked about little scenes that we knew from them. That’s how we started talking about it. That’s what we tried to instill in the script. He’s been working his arse off to tie all these things together so they make sense – in a Bond way.’
I love that Sam Mendes’s last film was ‘[COLOR=#0099ff]Away We Go[/COLOR]’ – his most indie film yet.
‘Yes, that’s true, and now he’s making a $200m Bond movie. He’s an OCD control freak and I mean that in the nicest possible way, as all directors are. David Fincher included. They are all absolutely single-minded and all they want to do is get it right. On a movie like this, you need that – maybe I shouldn’t call him an “OCD control freak”: it’s a joke, but you need someone with lots of different heads – there’s a producing head, a directing head, a special-effects head, a publicity head. More than any other movie, you need someone with all that going on, and he just does, he’s a manager, a great manager, and one of the skills doing a Bond movie is about is managing a lot of people, saying, “Okay, do that, that’s got to be done, and I’ll do that.” It’s a tricky fucking job to do.’
It sounds like you’ve become even more involved behind the scenes as time has gone on.
‘I said from the very beginning to Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [Wilson, the producers and guardians of the Bond franchise]: “If you give me this responsibility, I can just walk on that set and pretend to be James Bond,” but they allowed me to be involved more. It’s naturally progressed. I don’t want to get in people’s way, I just want to encourage things along. Sam got involved and then we got Roger Deakins [the director of photography], for fuck’s sake, who’s shooting it. The air is rare, and we’ve had the chance to employ some brilliant people. Win or lose, we’ve done the best we can because we’ve put the right people in the job. Pool the best talent you can, give them a good time and do the best we can – now I sound like a fucking politician!’
Did you worry about becoming public property – tabloid fodder – when you took on Bond?
‘Yes, in some respects it’s unavoidable, you can’t deny it. In some respects, I still fight with it now. I can’t go to war with paparazzi. The Daily Mail loves saying – [putting whiny voice on] “He never smiles” – yeah, because I know you’re fucking taking pictures of me, that’s why. Because the Daily Mail comes to mind every time I see a camera. I challenge anybody to fucking smile. I’m just not that person.
‘But I do get it, you can’t just come out and be angry. There’s no fucking point. You’ve got to live your life. I know I’m not that person. I’m never going to arrive at an airport after a 12-hour flight and go, “Oh, hi everyone, it’s so great to see you!” I can’t do it. You’ve got to live your life, you’ve got to enjoy it. And this is a great time, I’m playing James Bond. That’s what makes me secure about it, I’m having a lot of fun with it and getting a kick out of it, and people have a perception that I’m grumpy all the time.’
I remember when they announced you as Bond they had you speeding down the Thames on a boat. You obviously decided to swallow your worries about exposure to the press for that…
‘They wanted to fly me in on a Harrier jump jet! I remember thinking: “Okay, in for a penny…” But the safety regulations stopped that idea. The irony was, I got down to the river, to the military speedboat, and there was this marine giving me a lifejacket. And I was like, “Do I have to wear a life jacket?”, and he was like, “Yeah, you’re not getting on this boat without one.” But what about my suit!
‘It was a strange transition that time. I had no idea what was going on. Who could I ask? “Hey, Pierce [Brosnan], what’s it like?” I did do that. And he was just: “You’ve got to go for it.” There’s nothing that he could say that could be of any use whatsoever.’
Did you worry about being seen forever as Bond?
‘I weighed everything up and the only reason not to do it was fear. The fear of losing everything else. And you can’t not do something because you’re afraid. Well, you can, jumping off cliffs and things like that, but to be afraid of losing something because I was going to play James Bond is kind of nonsense. That’s how I convinced myself. I thought: Even if it goes wrong, hopefully I’ll earn enough money to live on an island when I’m old and get a leathery brown tan! And drink cocktails in the afternoon. Which sounds quite good to tell the truth.’