The big murmur on the internet for the last few months has been the decision to bring actor Daniel Craig (“Munich,” “Layer Cake”) on board the forty-year plus 007 franchise as the latest James Bond for Casino Royale, a movie that would act as a prequel and a new beginning for the series.
Last year, ComingSoon.net spoke with Craig shortly after the rumors of him being Bond started circulating, and he seemed hesitant about taking on the role. (You can read what he told us here.) Now, almost a year later, Craig is already well into the production of the new movie as negative rumors and backlash circulated about whether he was up for the role.
Earlier this week, ComingSoon.net’s James Bond Hype! had a chance to go down to the Bahamas to visit the set and talk with Craig about how things were going, as well as to talk with long-time franchise producer Barbara Broccoli about the controversial choice.
James Bond Hype!: Daniel, when we talked to you last April, there were already a lot of rumors about you playing Bond, and you seemed a bit tentative about taking on such a role. What made you change your mind?
Daniel Craig: The script reallyâ€¦ and Barbara badgering me. I hadn’t seen a script at that point, and I was obviously giving it serious thought then. I’d have been stupid not to. But I hadn’t seen a script and the process hadn’t really gotten going. Once I sat down and read the story, I just thought that I wanted to tell this story. I really do. I mean, I’m a big Bond fan, and I love what he represents, and it was almost slightly annoying to finally read it and go, “Oh, Jesus! It’s good!” And that was it, and we were away.
JBH!: How did you prepare yourself mentally and physically to play this role?
Craig: Mentally, I kind of got my head around it before I got the job and decided that this is one of those challenges in life that when they come along, you really just have to face [them] head-on. Accepting the fact that there’s a huge amount of history and baggage that comes along with it, saying, “Okay, that’s all there and it’s all fantastic,” so all I had to do is try and put my self into the situation and bring myself to it. That’s all I can do. Physically, I’ve just been in the gym four months nowâ€¦ constantly.
JBH!: And there were no worries about the physical aspects of the role? Are you enjoying that part of making the movie?
Craig: Oh, no. I mean, it’s a ride, it really is. And the God’s honest truth, we are here in the Bahamas and we’ve been in Prague, and we’re making a movie, and we’re trying to make the best movie we can. The Bond is certainly not secondary, but I think the better movie we make, the better Bond movie we make. It’s a simple equation.
JBH!: Why did you go with Daniel over all the other options that were thrown around?
Barbara Broccoli: Well, he’s a phenomenal actor. I think he’s the actor that defies his generation of actors. I was a huge fan of his work, the films he’d made, and when we decided we were going to make “Casino Royale,” it’s obviously a big decision who we’re going to use, and he was always in the forefront of our minds. Obviously, there was a lot of stuff in the press, but the reality was that he was in the forefront, and it wasn’t until we were able to give him the script that we started talking, and once we did, things moved very quickly.
Craig: It was kind of normal. That’s the weird thing. There’s so much speculation going on, as there always is, but once Barbara gave me the script and I wanted to do it, I screen-tested, because there was a new producer on board with Sony who wanted to see if I could do it or not, and I got the job. It’s kind of that simple.
JBH!: It must be a different kind of experience for you, so are you able to block out all of the external pressures while you’re working?
Craig: I kind of do. Of course, I’m aware of [the stuff on the internet]. The controversy is [something] I get. When I accepted the job, I understood there would be consequences, but I can’t set myself up and protecting myself, I have to say “Okay, I’m going to accept this.” Nobody knows more than I do how important this is, and basically, I’ve taken on this responsibility, and I’m going to give it my best shot, and once the film’s made, then we’ll see. But judge the movie, because that’s the deal. As far as blocking it out is concerned, we’re kind of doing a movie during the day. I go to the gym at night and I get home and sleep. I get up in the morning [and I go back to work]â€¦ that’s my process at the moment.
Broccoli: But that’s the reality of filmmaking. When you’re making a movie, everybody is so focused on what you’re doing, you don’t have the time to be worried about the outside world. We’re just trying to make a movie.
Craig: And we can’t stop it. When the rumor mill gets going with a story that’s this bigâ€¦
JBH!: You mean like the thing about you getting two teeth knocked out?
Craig: Oh, yeah, but it’s stupid. I mean, I get battered and bruised every day.
Broccoli: It’s the nature of the role.
JBH!: Barbara, why did you go with Martin Campbell to direct this movie and induct in a second new Bond?
Broccoli: Well, because he’s a great filmmaker and a great storyteller, and this story is one that is complex, but also fun. Over the years, there’s been a tradition of bringing back the directors who you work well with and he’s unbelievable.
Craig: He’s relentless, but that’s what those [action] sequences need.
JBH!: This seems to be one of the first Bond movies to really get a lot of dramatic film actors in the cast from Daniel to Jeffrey Wright, and of course, Dame Judi Dench is back. That was sort of the approach to “Batman Begins” as well, so was this a conscious decision to make a more dramatic film?
Broccoli: I think it’s very hard to compare other actors. I mean, they’ve all done movies and they were all actors in different ways. They were all of their time, and they all took the character in a direction that was successful and we were very happy with it. Now, we’re in a new phase and we’ve got a phenomenal actor. The fact is that it would be nice to make it sound like it’s all a big hocus pocus thing, the reality is we went to recast the role and we sat down and asked, “Who is the best actor around for the role?” and we said Daniel, and here he is. It’s as simple as that.
JBH!: Is it true that you’re trying to make it a rougher Bond, and if so, why keep it PG-13?
Broccoli: We’re going back to the origins of the character and the story, but we feel that even though it’s rougher and more complex, we’re still making a family film. We’re still making something, which is what we call heightened reality. It’s more realistic and it’s not as fantastical as the last couple [movies] have been or we’ve made through the series. There were times, when the films got very fantastical like with “Moonraker” and things like that. You change because you change with the times. At the moment, I think everybody is feeling very serious about the world and they don’t feel frivolous about the world, and I think it’s the right time to tell this story and Daniel’s the right actor to play him.
JBH!: Can you talk about Bond’s attitude towards women in this movie? It’s obviously changed over the course of the movies, but in the original book, he was a bit of a sexist pig.
Broccoli: Well, it was written in 1953 and things have moved on a little bit anyway.
Craig: Not much.
Broccoli: (laughs) Yeah, exactly!
Craig: I’m not shying away. Bond is damaged. His reason for being marked is because of the upbringing he’s had and the profession he’s taken on. What we do discover in this movie is why he becomes damaged and his relationship with Vesper is the key to this. It really forms this character. What you’ll see is that there’s a fallibility to him that sort of slides as the movie goes on and he becomes stronger and stronger. He always takes things on the nose, and as the movies goes on, his single-mindedness starts to come out, and you start to understand why he’s [the way he is].
JBH!: It was mentioned by another producer that they plan on recreating the brutal torture scene from the novel, so how are you going to prepare for that?
Craig: We’ll see. It’s going to beâ€¦
Craig: No, hopefully not. (laughs)
JBH!: Do you know who’ll be doing the music for the movie yet?
Broccoli: The composer is David Arnold, who is going to be composing the score, but we have no yet chosen a person who is doing the song.
JBH!: Some other journalist suggested that U2 might do a pretty cool theme for it.
Broccoli: Well, they’re great. You may know that Bono wrote the song for “GoldenEye” but they didn’t perform it, Tina Turner did.
JBH!: What did you think of the original “Casino Royale” movie?
Broccoli: Well, it’s a spoof. I haven’t seen it in many years. At the time, I remember being quite amused by the whole thing because it didn’t really fit into any category, but I suppose if you look at it now that we’ve had the “Austin Powers” and whatever, it’s of that genre, like a fun spy spoof. Even at that, I don’t think, to be honest, that it was a very successful story.
JBH!: Daniel, do you have a favorite Bond?
Craig: I mean, Sean [Connery] was always kind of like the one that sort of everybody says, and he defined the role, so it’s difficult not to like Sean Connery, but one of the first movies I saw in the cinema was “Live and Let Die,” so Roger Moore was very much in my mind. And then Pierce just took the role somewhere else. I’m not trying to dodge the question, but each one has their own meaning to me.
JBH!: Why do you think that the franchise has lasted so long, longer than any other movie character?
Broccoli: Well, I think the good will of the public has been an enormous success, because there are people who are Bond fans who bring a lot of good will and they want the movies to be good, they want to like them. I think that the caliber of movies, the money’s always been up on the screen, and also the fact that the films have evolved with the times.
Craig: I think it’s been faithful and so good, so when you go see it, you get certain things that are very important for the audiences. They’ve always moved on and always become different and they’ve always looked at the times and like you’ve said, this is heightened reality.
Broccoli: My father had a very simple philosophy, which was don’t short change the public. Don’t con them. Give them what they want and put the money on the screen, and I think we’ve tried to do that. This film, although it is darker and more serious, it’s also going to be a fun ride.
JBH!: Daniel, after you finish this, will you continue to do other movies in between Bond movies?
Craig: At this particular moment, I can’t really look that far ahead, because I kind of want a holiday after thisâ€¦ even though we’re in the Bahamas. But yes, I’ve got two movies coming out this year and I’ve been very busy over the past couple of years doing some interesting work, and I’ve been connected to a couple smaller movies maybe, and I’m reading scripts while I’m doing this. I like to read scripts, so it’s a question of timing.
JBH!: Are you already working on the sequel and will that be an original script?
Broccoli: We are. We’re already thinking about it. We’re in the early stages. It’s an original story, but it’s going to continue part of what the story is in this film.
JBH!: So we won’t be seeing any remakes of “Dr. No” or “From Russia with Love” after this?
Broccoli: We don’t plan to do that, but to coin a phrase, “never say never.”
Casino Royale opens on November 17. Check out the full Bahamas set visit and stay tuned for interviews with others from the cast and crew. Those who think they know what to expect are going to be in for a very big surprise.
Source: Edward Douglas