Behind blue eyes

Behind blue eyes

Daniel Craig tells Piers Manning what it’s like to play the world’s most iconic spy

Spectre is your fourth Bond film. How do you maintain an interest in the role?
These movies don’t get made very often. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a spit in the ocean. And, if you can’t get excited about making a movie of this size, with this cast, with Sam Mendes, then you should go home.

Was it important to have director Sam Mendes back on-board?
Critical, completely critical. We had something good going with Skyfall and I wanted to finish it. The producers wanted to make another movie immediately after Skyfall, but Sam felt he couldn’t do it in that time. And he was right, the delay was beneficial to us. But I called him relentlessly, four times a day, and eventually he said ‘yes’!

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You’ve said before that nothing can prepare you for the onslaught of a Bond film.
I stand by that because most movies – even long ones – take three or four months to shoot. These take six to eight months of shooting. You feel as if you’re halfway through when you’re not. You need a massive amount of energy to keep going. I’d love to have more of a social life when I’m making these movies, but there just isn’t time.

If these films are such a huge commitment, why do you want to make more?
Money. [laughs] No, I love playing 007. It’s an honour to play him – I get such a kick out of doing it. For my first Bond film, Casino Royale, I had the opportunity to change the style and direction quite significantly. I’m not saying it was a rebirth of Bond, since that sounds conceited and I was a huge fan of Bond before, but it gave me the chance to do more than straighten the tie and drink the Martini. The transformation had to happen in the right way and, for me as an actor, that was very important.

What do you admire about Bond?
His inner conflict. It’s about how he gets up when he’s knocked down. He takes a lot of battering and so he should – he’s an agent. But I admire the way Bond stands up against adversity, because he’s just one against many.

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What did you do to get in shape for the role?
Nothing special – the usual exercising, working myself to death. No secret method involved, just the sheer hard graft that I am used to. It’s getting harder, I will admit, but such is life.

Will we see more flesh in Spectre?
I seem to be bare-chested throughout this film, again. [laughs]

You got quite badly injured while filming.
Terribly. [laughs] I damaged my knee about a third of the way through, so we shut down for two weeks and I went away for surgery. Actually, the injury came at the perfect time, because we had a lot to do, so it gave Sam the opportunity to look at the cut. And, it allowed me to rest a bit, look at the script and become useful again.

James is getting older, isn’t he?
He’s old now, 47. [laughs]

How much longer can he keep going?
As long as he’s physically able, which isn’t that long. I’m contracted for one more, which seems a fair number, but I’m not going to make any predictions.

What was it like to kiss beautiful Monica Bellucci, the oldest Bond girl to date?
A gentleman never kisses and tells.

There was some comedy in Skyfall and I’m assuming you’ll follow a similar path in Spectre. Is that something you’d like to pursue?
I’ve always wanted to bring the comedy back in the Bond films, but Mike Myers beat us to it – he took the best spy gags with Ivana Humpalot. But I have always maintained that, with really good writing, the jokes will come. It definitely brings a touch of lightness, allowing the audience to laugh in between those moments of tension. Those are the funniest laughs, I think.

Have you ever felt typecast because of Bond?
When I first got the role, I remember saying to myself, ‘If this is the last thing I do in my career, then that would be okay’, because it’s not a bad role to have under your belt. After Casino Royale, I did panic a little about people only seeing me a certain way and I started wondering if I needed to play someone totally opposite. As time goes on, I feel more relaxed about it.

What’s the greatest misconception about you?
That I’m strong and macho. It’s so funny that people have this image of me as a hard man when I’m really not at all. I’m just an actor, folks – it’s acting.

Text: Piers Manning/The Interview People; Photography: Gallo/GettyImages
December 2015/January 2016

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