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Daniel Craig talks about the pressure of being Bond at Shanghai premiere

01-Feb-2007 • Casino Royale

Craig has worked hard for recognition as the sixth James Bond, reports the Shanghai Daily. He has had to face the unsparing global media that complained he was too blond, too plain. And he has been compared with Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

"It's pressure, but it's good pressure," says the 39-year-old blue-eyed British actor. "The experience of being cast in such an iconic role in film history is exciting and inspiring."

This action-packed movie, which has already taken in US$500 million globally, was released in China on Monday. It is the first James Bond film that has been officially allowed to screen at Chinese theaters.

The film crew, including director Martin Campbell, Craig, and new Bond temptress Eva Green attended a press conference and chatted with the local audience on Tuesday.

Based on the first James Bond novel by Ian Fleming in 1953, the 21st Bond adventure centers on the hero's first assignment as a "00" agent (00 means "license to kill").

He attempts to dismantle an international terrorist network, a mission that leads to a poker showdown with terrorist banker Le Chiffre. The locations include Prague, Venice, London, South Africa and the Bahamas.

Director Campbell, who also introduced Pierce Brosnan in his Bond debut in "GoldenEye," avoids excessive weaponry. This Bond doesn't showcase the type of high-tech gadgets given to him later in his career by Q. Instead, he is uses guns, knives and more physical forms of combat.

"It is actually the first of the 007 movies to reveal the superspy's true origins," he says. "The movie recounts the start of Bond's career. Here Bond is a darker character, which is how Fleming originally wrote him."

"GoldenEye," in Campbell's eye, is a traditional Bond film in which the spy is a perfect superhero. But in "Casino Royale," the script's emotional complexity and the way Bond's character evolves are fresh to Bond fans.

"The agent looks tougher, more realistic and very near to the author's vision of Bond," says the director.

Unlike those happy endings of most Bond films, this Bond undergoes the painful loss of his lover for whom he even thought of quitting the secret agent business and embarking on a new life.

"Bond really falls in love this time," Craig says with a grin. "Apart from his courage and strength, we read his sweetness inside. I'm very keen to show people this unknown side. Maybe next time he will appear stronger but with a broken and closed heart."

French actress Green appreciates her good fortune in portraying the woman (Bond's lover) who forges the rough-around-the-edges spy into the hardened and seductive type that everyone knows and loves. "Craig presents a sensational, charming and sexy Bond," she says.

Bond fans will be pleased to find Craig's performance largely surpasses their expectation. Some say "Casino Royale" ranks among the best Bond offerings.

"Craig makes an impressive debut as the new James Bond, with his macho charisma and cool look," says Minnie Jiang. "He has magnetism and portrays a much more real 007 - sometimes arrogant and incautious, which reminds us that the hero is never a superman."

Born in Chester, the son of a steel worker and art teacher, Craig began his film career with "The Power of One," a coming-of-age drama by John Avildsen in 1992.

He raised his profile in the United States in Sam Mendes' movie "Road to Perdition" with Tom Hanks as a cunning murderer, in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" with Angelina Jolie, in "Sylvia" with Gwyneth Paltrow, and in "Enduring Love" with Rhys Ifans.

But none of these pictures cost Craig more time and energy than his Bond debut. To get in shape for the part, he started a rigorous fitness regime. In the movie, the physically imposing actor did much of the action work himself.

"After taking every job, you just have to give your life to it," he says. "I committed myself to it during the six-month shooting. If you don't get bruised playing Bond, you're not doing the job properly."

Sean Connery is Craig's favorite Bond. Both the "007" film debut of "Dr No" in 1962 and the 1963's "From Russia With Love" made a great impact on him.

"Connery defined the role, for which he was perfect," Craig explains. "He was bad, sexy, animalistic, and cool."

Craig is contracted to do two more Bond movies and shooting the second will begin by the end of next year. He gave no details.

Craig is aware that being typecast as Bond could limit his work.

"My ambition is to make the movie I like," Craig says. "I'm certainly going to try and get as much out of Bond's aura as I can. This year I will make one or two films out of my personal interest. I just won't stop working."

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