James Bond acquaintances quiz Daniel Craig about 007
For your ears only: ahead of the release of new Bond film 'Quantum of Solace' Dave Calhoun of Time Out
asked a few acquaintances whoâve either been involved with or connected to James Bond whether they had any questions theyâd like to ask current 007, Daniel Craig.
This first question is from Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in âThe Spy Who Loved Meâ and âMoonrakerâ. He wants to know: how has being Bond changed your career? Have you been offered better roles because of it?
âYes, thereâs no doubt itâs changed things. It might have been different if we hadnât had the success we did with "Casino Royale". It could have been more, letâs sayâ¦ interesting.
âI may not have been offered all the jobs that youâd expect, but Iâve definitely been shown stuff I wasnât before. And itâs made me get more active about it. Thatâs what Iâve always done, gone looking for scripts, and this has given me that extra push. I made âDefianceâ, a World War II film, last year with director Edward Zwick and alongside Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell, which was one of those roles that just got plumly offered to me. I donât think that would have happened before.â
Richard Kiel also wants to askâ¦
ââ¦ no, he canât borrow my car.â
â¦who is your favourite male actor and have you tried to emulate him in any way?
âThe answerâs no. Definitely not. I had a ton of people I admired [when I was starting out] but I was as fickle as I could possibly be. It depended on the movie Iâd just seen. Literally. If I came running out of a movie, I was that person for at least ten or 15 minutes, I was as fickle as that. I didnât care as long as they were cool and good in that movie. I admire people like Paul Newman, the great modern movie actors such as Robert Redford and Steve McQueen. Those guys were not only great actors but movie stars as well.â
This question is from Dame Stella Rimington, former head of MI6.
âFucking hell! Have you got some people in your family?â
Have you ever met a real British intelligence officer and is your portrayal of Bond influenced in any way by that?
âFirstly, how would I know if I met a spy? Although I have met quite a few special forces guys who do a lot of covert work. On the whole, theyâre easier to recognise as they look like they can kill. They give off an aura of violence.â
So no spy has ever approached you in solidarity?
âWhat? A nod and wink at me in a strange way? No. Iâm not sure thatâs the answer sheâs looking for.â
Another question. Sandra Hebron, who runs the London Film Festival, would like to know how you feel about âQuantum of Solaceâ having its first public screening at the LFF on the same night (Oct 29) as the world premiere in Leicester Square?
âItâs great. Itâs something that came up because the festival is on when weâre in Leicester Square. I donât know why weâve never done it before: itâs perfect to have a public screening on the same night as the premiere. I know the tickets will be a bit more expensive, but some of it will go to charity.â
You shot some of the new film in London. I spotted a scene at the Barbican.
âThat was Marc [Forster, the director]âs choice. Iâve always liked the Barbican. Itâs one of those very special, very London places. There was some opposition to us shooting there, but when you see it, it works. We donât have âLondon, Englandâ at the bottom of the screen, but itâs still obviously London â probably because itâs pissing with rain!â
Hereâs Jonathan Pryce, who was the bad guy in âTomorrow Never Diesâ. Who was your favourite Welsh Bond villain?
[Cracks up laughing] âWas Robert Shaw Welsh?â [Shaw was in âFrom Russia With Loveâ â but, no, he was from Lancashire.]
Thereâs a Welsh theme emerging. This oneâs from Shirley Bassey.
âExcellent! This is fantastic.â
She wants to know: Are you married?
[Cracks up again, before going silent] âIâm divorced.â
Oh God. On the back of that, how have you found the public interest that comes with playing Bond? You must have had to consider that when you took the plunge?
âDefinitely. That was one of the many conversations I had with myself. When it came down to it, I decided to embrace the whole thing. Thereâs no point doing a Bond movie â or a $200 million movie â and hiding away for six months. You have to get out there and do it, instead of thinking: Oh, Christ, I donât know if I can deal with this. But on the whole Iâm doing the same thing Iâve always done and trying to keep as private as I possibly can. Certainly, Iâve tried to keep my family and friends far away from it and I feel their privacy is crucially important.â
This is from John Cleese: How tall do you think Bond should be?
âBastard! Tell him to fuck off! Shorter than John Cleese! Heâs about 6'5", I think.â
And one from Ann Carter, the head of exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum which has an Ian Fleming show on at the moment: How far have you based your Bond on your on-screen predecessors?
âNot at all, really. Not deliberately. I sat and watched every movie religiously. And I still do, I have them all in the trailer. Iâve become a nerd, basically. I feel I need to, itâs part of what it is. But that was never the point. I could never start repeating it, I had to take it somewhere new. That said, I may start doing Sean Connery impressions in the next one, just for the hell of it.â
Hereâs one from Charlie Higson, author of the âYoung Bondâ books: How much of Flemingâs Bond is there in Craigâs Bond?
âI hope a lot, but itâs subliminal. Itâs about reading the books. What I wanted to do with âQuantum of Solaceâ â and what Marc wanted to do â was to draw on Flemingâs obsession with detail. He has two pages to describe making scrambled egg. Marc wanted to turn that into cinematic detail, so that just looking at the frame is sumptuous.
âAlso, thereâs a darkness in the book âCasino Royaleâ, thereâs a fight in there. Hereâs a man whoâs incredibly reluctant to do what he does, which I think applied to Fleming too. Heâd always have preferred to be at [his Jamaican villa] Goldeneye writing and taking gin fizzes at eleven oâclock in the morning. Wouldnât we all?â
I spoke to Marc Forster recently and he kept stressing the importance of character in this new film. Was that key?
âI think so. Marcâs Swiss â I mean this in the best way â heâs very fastidious, very organised, which are qualities that lend themselves to a Bond movie. Thereâs an efficiency that you need. I think my Bond is quite efficient, but ragged, if that makes sense. He efficiently kills people but everything blows up around him. I canât sing Marcâs praises highly enough, heâs a good man.â
This is from Stephen Dorril, whoâs written books on MI6 and British security. Is there anything youâve come across making the film that might be useful to a real MI6 officer?
âIntegrity! An understanding of moral issues. An understanding of the world â worldliness is always good.â
There arenât as many gadgets in the films as there used to be.
âWe havenât stressed that with this one, although Iâm not saying we wonât in the future. But there are more in this one â thereâs something called the Smart Wall thatâs connected to a piece of machinery in MI6. Weâve tried to integrate the gadgets into everyday usage so that itâs not like: "Aha, thereâs the gadget!" Itâs all working continually. We live in a world of surveillance and satellite tracking. We might tackle it one day. Iâm not averse to anything, I just want it to feel right.â
Hereâs Sir Roger Moore. He wants to know: Who is your favourite Bond between Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton?
[Roars with laughter] âItâs you, Sir Roger! Iâm a Connery fan, and he knows that. Iâve told lots of people. But Iâve got a big soft spot for Moore: âLive and Let Dieâ was the first movie I saw in the cinema with my dad. It was ridiculously camp â and then it just got camper.â
Have you had much dialogue with previous Bonds?
âI speak to Pierce occasionally. Weâve got the same publicist, so I might get on the phone with him when heâs on junkets: âHello, you all right?â, âHowâs it going?â He was really nice and encouraging when the whole thing kicked off.â
Sir Roger would also like to know if youâll be buying his new autobiography?
âProbably. Can he not sign me a copy? Iâll buy it. You made these questions up! You could have made these questions upâ¦â
And one from Louise Pointer, a croupier at Gala Casino at Tottenham Court Road.
âWhen did you get this? At three oâclock in the morning?â
She wants to know if you know what a French bet is? It sounds dirty.
âIf it includes two girls, yes I do!â
Apparently it involves betting on three areas of the roulette wheel.
âOh yes, I know exactly what a French bet is â and my French bet is a bit slapdash.â
The owner of the Spymaster shop in Portman Square wants to know if youâve ever wished you had access to some of their more nifty gadgets?
âIâm not doing the shop down in any way â and I hear theyâve very reasonably priced â but the surveillance thing I got over quite early in life. I found that listening in to other peopleâs conversations only got you into more trouble. Itâs like in relationships when you start looking through other peopleâs stuff. Beware! Iâm very much a believer that if youâre looking for something youâll find it.â
Are you enjoying these questions?
âItâs great, believe me it couldnât be a better way to start the day. Theyâve been good questions.â
Hereâs the bar manager at Dukeâs Hotel. Martinis: shaken or stirred?
âI donât know who drinks stirred cocktails anymore. I like them ice, ice, ice cold, so you have to shake them up.â
He wants you to know that Dukeâs serves the original Vesper martini. Have you tried it?
âDo they? Yes, Iâve tried about ten of them. Theyâre knockout. We did a proper taste test: full measure of gin, full measure of vodka and then another liqueur on top of it. I ended up on the floor.â
Gin or vodka? Twist or olive?
âVodka. With an olive.â
Ian Flemingâs niece, Lucy Fleming, would like to know: As you are so fit, have you ever considered the Royal Marines commando course and earning the coveted green beret?
âNo, Iâll leave that to that professionals. They always hurt me, the Royal Marines, my trainer is one. They haunt me.â
The Bond films are huge studio enterprises, but then thereâs the family element: the Flemings and the books, the Broccolis and the film legacy. How does that play out for you?
âI donât think Michael or Barbara [respectively stepson and daughter of original Bond producer Cubby Broccoli] would mind me saying that the films are as close as youâll get to making a Hollywood movie away from home, but the way itâs run is unique. Itâs all because of them. It has total autonomy and their love of the product â the books â comes from Cubby and they guard it jealously. The Flemings are richer people because of the Broccolis, letâs put it that way. Itâs a two-way street.'
The Broccolis have done a sterling job of keeping the films up-to-date in a world of Bourne and digital effects.
âItâs show business, letâs be honest. Thatâs what Cubby Broccoli and his co-producer Harry Saltzman were all about. Those early Bonds defined â60s movies of that type because they went on location. They flew everybody to Tokyo, to Rio. Weâve continued that. It makes going to the cinema special. Itâs event cinema.â
Twenty-two films on, itâs got to be hard to preserve that sense of wonder?
âIt is, but thatâs why Marc was so clever finding that Panama location. Itâs a place called Colon, which is seriously depressed economically but wonderful, itâs one of those magical places. And thatâs there on the screen. We also went to Chile. Marc pushed for that, he was so insistent on making the locations characters in this movie. Anything to keep it away from me, fine.â
Marc brought with him a lot of new talent. It seems there was a bit of a shake-up behind-the-scenes?
âIt wasnât a shake-upâ¦â
But there were new editors, a new costume designer, production designer, director of photographyâ¦
âThere was no aggressive move â but Marc came in and the timing was bang-on. Theyâve done 21 Bond movies and we wanted to get a new look. It was so important to me that we didnât just rehash âCasino Royaleâ.
âYes, itâs a sequel, but we had to take risks and try to do something different. We had to get some new ideas, get fresh people in â people to share the panic with!â
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