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Bond Reinvented

An exclusive look inside the making of Quantum of Solace, and Daniel Craig's next turn at playing superspy James Bond.
David Giammarco
From the Print Edition:
Daniel Craig, November/December 2008

(continued from page 3)

Despite the initial media backlash, Broccoli says they never doubted their choice to succeed Pierce Brosnan. "Those people who came out against Daniel weren't as familiar with his work as we were," she says. "Because we live here in the U.K., we're very familiar with the actors here. I remember I saw Daniel in 'Our Friends in the North.' I saw him in Elizabeth. I thought, 'My God, he has such an extraordinary presence.' When you look at his body of work, he can be both a character actor but also the leading man. And a star. That's a rare quality to have all those three. We had absolutely no doubts. "Plus," she adds, "Daniel is very much of this century. He's not afraid to peel back the layers on the screen. He's not afraid of Bond's emotions. And as you know, in Fleming's books you found out a lot more about Bond's internal state of mind and emotions, and it's very hard to translate that into film without the character sounding too verbose. So a lot of that has to be conveyed from the inside out. And Daniel is able to do that because he's such a phenomenal actor. He's taken it to a whole other level, and I think that's what people really responded to. They like the fact that you don't know what Bond is going to do. He's not predictable. There's a real internal struggle going on, and he lets you get glimpses of that. But he can also be as powerful and dangerous as he needs to be, and yet also accessible emotionally. That's a very potent cocktail."

But shaking and stirring the Bond franchise by hitting the reset button for Casino Royale was tricky business, especially considering that Brosnan's last outing, Die Another Day, had grossed nearly $450 million. The question was, why toss out all the beloved ingredients—Miss Moneypenny, Q, the gadgets, the cheeky humor—long cherished by Bond fans? Why risk messing with success? "Well, I think we've seen Bond films go through different periods of change," explains Wilson, who first served in a producing capacity on 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me along with his late stepfather, Cubby Broccoli. "In the 1970s they got bigger and bigger and more fantastic until we reached Moonraker (1979) in outer space. And we realized that it was going in the wrong direction and we brought it back to basics with For Your Eyes Only (1981). "So what we saw with Die Another Day is that we got to that same point," he candidly admits. "We started getting too high in the sky—outer space, invisible cars—the technology began to overwhelm the story and the characters. We felt it was very important to bring it back down to Earth."

Wilson agrees that tinkering with such a proven formula could've had enormous financial repercussions, but he and his stepsister both felt that this Bond redux was a risk they were willing to stake the series on—as well as their family legacy. "At the end of the day, what's really important—not just for the audience, but ourselves—is that we are doing stuff that we believe in, that makes us enthusiastic. And if we're enthusiastic about it, it will come across as a great film. Because after Die Another Day, we were confronted with a situation where we said, 'We'll have a guaranteed winner if we just do the same thing over again.' But I think we would've lost a lot of what we think is important to this series." Though Q and Miss Moneypenny won't be back for Quantum of Solace either, Wilson doesn't rule out their return at some point in the future. "Those characters will come into his world when they're needed to tell the story," he figures.

It's now a few weeks after filming has wrapped on Quantum of Solace, and over a lunchtime interview at London's posh Landmark Hotel, Daniel Craig is noticeably more relaxed, if not downright giddy. Dressed conservatively in a powder blue shirt, navy cardigan and gray pants, Craig reflects on the past six months of what has been a grueling, often 18-hour, seven-day-a-week schedule. "The last one seemed like a walk in the park compared to this one," he admits. And he has the battle scars to prove it. He's still sporting a facial scar along with a bandaged and splintered index finger, all incurred in the line of duty, while traversing the globe from Chile, Panama and Mexico to Spain, Italy, Austria and, of course, the MI6 home base here in London. Craig says the amount of intensive fight sequences and elaborately orchestrated stunts was purposely amped up on Quantum of Solace, necessitating an even more demanding physical commitment.

"The last time, I pulled my Achilles tendon and was limping around a lot—I was in major pain through a lot of the shooting . . . but now, it's a whole new set of injuries," he laughs, waving his broken finger. "For Casino Royale, I really pumped a lot of weights and bulked up, because I wanted him to look like someone who literally just dropped out of the Navy and was Special Services. But this time I wanted him leaner and have been doing a lot more running and stamina exercises. But because I've been even more physically involved in every aspect of this film, accidents are bound to happen."

Fortunately, Craig's nearly naked love scenes proved far less treacherous. "I'm an actor, so I've been an exhibitionist since as long as I can remember . . . they always help make the shoot a little easier," he says, laughing again. But as for his newly crowned sex symbol status, Craig is far less at ease. "I mean, I'm very touched by all that and it's very nice, but you need to have a sense of humor about it," muses the notoriously private Craig. "On the one hand, it's very flattering, but it also doesn't have much relevance in my life. I live with somebody [producer Satsuki Mitchell], so all my energy goes into our relationship."

However, that didn't stop actress Gemma Arterton—who plays Bond Girl "Agent Fields" (whose first name will be revealed in the film as a classic double-O-seven entendre)—from fulfilling her Daniel Craig fantasy with a steamy between-the-sheets liaison. "It was like a dream," gushes the ginger-haired 22-year-old about their love scene. "But I couldn't believe they scheduled it for my first day on set! I was sooooooo nervous, I can hardly remember it now. We had to do take after take after take, and each time I was just like, 'Goodness me, I can't believe this is actually happening' . . . it all felt so surreal." But now, in hindsight, Arterton admits director Forster made the right decision. "Doing that scene right off the bat before Daniel and I got to know each other was probably best; otherwise it would've felt weird—like I was kissing my brother or something. "Although I must say," Arterton adds with a sly smile, "Daniel is a very good kisser!"

Craig may send female hearts aflutter and exude an undeniable 007 "cool factor," but what does he consider his least Bondian trait? Craig chuckles, and sinks down in his chair. "I guess I tend to giggle a lot . . . probably way too much," he confesses, looking a little sheepish. "I like practical jokes and I like to have fun and I guess I really laugh and giggle too much and I tend to get in trouble for it . . . I guess that's not very Bond-like."

But Craig admits he often refers to the original source material for inspiration in his continuing interpretation of James Bond. "While we were shooting Quantum, I went back and reread the Fleming novels again, and started making further assessments about how [the author] perceived the character," explains Craig. "And the James Bond he writes is an emotional character; he's not just a robot. Obviously that's what we tried to get more of into this movie—you know, that he loves good food, he loves beautiful locations, he loves beautiful women. He has a genuine love for life's best. But he's also very ruthless. And so those two things together are interesting in the way that those two aspects of his personality knock off each other. The remorse that he has and doesn't have about certain things I think are really interesting and worth exploring more of in this film."

However, some of Bond's notorious habits haven't survived into this twenty-first-century incarnation. "I'm still amazed that Fleming wrote a Bond who smoked 60 unfiltered Morland cigarettes a day—that truly will kill you before any villain could," laughs Craig, who quit smoking himself while getting in shape for Casino Royale. "I just wouldn't have been able to run three miles down a road and then be tearing through the jungle and jumping over walls . . ." Although he still enjoys the occasional cigar, he says he's thankful Casino Royale forced him to quit his pack-a-day cigarette habit. Rest assured, however, 007 hasn't gone completely politically correct. "The drinking is still there, that sort of 'Dutch courage,'" smiles Craig. "It's funny, but I remember reading Moonraker, and Bond goes out to play cards at a club with the bad guy and he orders from MI6 some Benzedrine, which is basically speed. Bond then mixes that in with Dom Pérignon and that's how he starts the night," Craig marvels. "He then talks about how, during the evening, how jagged he's getting because he didn't get the mix right." Craig laughs in disbelief. "But I absolutely love that, because it plays into the fact that the guy is flawed. He's not perfect. Sometimes he gets things wrong and there are weaknesses in him. And I think those are the kinds of interesting things to put into the movie."

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