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Daniel Craig - how we made Bond beautiful

25-Oct-2008 • Quantum Of Solace

Daniel Craig talks to John Hiscock of The Telegraph about 007's latest and most stylish adventure.

James Bond, it seems, is not only a fictional hero but a state of mind. Portraying Ian Fleming's secret agent has imbued Daniel Craig with a new-found confidence that was noticeably lacking before the release of Casino Royale.

Then, he appeared nervous and wary in interviews. Since then, Casino Royale has brought in $600 million around the world, Craig has been hailed as the best Bond since Sean Connery and early reviews of the latest adventure, Quantum of Solace, have been glowing. Now, walking purposefully into a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills with a friendly, "Hello, how are you?", Daniel Craig exudes cool assurance.

He is still zealously protective of his privacy and is irritated by fans who want to take his picture or talk to him when he is trying to enjoy a quiet pint in a pub, but stardom sits easily with him, and he is not afraid to use his Bond-given clout to get what he wants. He has already firmly stamped his authority on the franchise, by approving the title Quantum of Solace after rejecting several other suggestions, and refashioning the script, which he worked on with the Swiss director Marc Foster.

"I've been an avid fan of Marc's, and his movies, from Kite Runner to Monster's Ball to Neverland, are all incredibly different," he says. "He and I had long conversations, and we knew that we wanted to make the most stylish and most beautiful Bond movie we could. We needed to go to the best locations and get the best actors and we needed to leave a proper mark on this franchise because we owed it to the Bond fans.

"I worked on the script a huge amount with Marc. We have taken a very stylistic concept of what Bond movies were and added a modern feel. It would be wrong to make a movie like this without all the modern technology available, but the style is definitely reminiscent of 1960s' spy and political thrillers."

Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond film, picks up the story just after the end of Casino Royale, with an emotionally battered Bond determined to track down the mastermind behind the organisation that led Vesper Lynd to her death. "We all felt there was a lot of unfinished business in Casino Royale," says Craig. "Bond had fallen in love so dramatically so we needed to finish that off and tie up the loose ends."

Looking back, it is hard to believe the firestorm of criticism that followed the news that Craig had been picked to succeed Pierce Brosnan as 007. Websites were launched with the sole purpose of blasting him. He was criticised for being blond, for having big ears, for being too small and for coming from a working-class background.

Now it would be difficult to imagine anyone more suitable to portray Bond. Craig, 40, is impeccably dressed in a black suit, shirt and tie with a white handkerchief tucked into his top pocket. "I've always liked good tailoring," he says. "It's just that I've never been able to afford it."

Quantum of Solace filmed for six months in more overseas locations than any other film in the 46-year history of Bond films and, to hear Craig tell it, the long days consisted of sheer hard work enlivened by a few magical moments, such as a private early-morning tour of the Sistine Chapel and being welcomed by a thousand cheering people when they arrived on location in Panama. Then there were the laughs. "I got the giggles every day at dinner. It was a lot of fun working with these people for six months. They were some of the best in the business and it was a joy making the movie." But mostly: "You wake up at 5.30 in the morning to go to work and it's freezing cold and you're feeling a bit sore," he says.

When filming finished he and his girlfriend, American producer Satsuki Mitchell, took off on holiday together. "The first thing that concerned me when I finished the movie was getting a holiday and eating and drinking and doing what I wanted to do for 24 hours a day for at least two weeks, and that's the reason we went to Italy on holiday and I drank, ate pasta, read books, caught up on movies, and did all the things I hadn't been doing for the past six months," he says.

Although Craig has been a James Bond fan since his father took him to see Live and Let Die, growing up in Hoylake, near Liverpool, his true heroes were the Liverpool football team, although he does not have much time to follow them now.

Craig, who is contracted to make four Bond films for an estimated £30 million, keeps his acting talents sharp by taking vastly different roles in between. After Casino Royale he appeared as a washed-up movie star in Flashbacks of a Fool and he has the Second World War drama Defiance coming out soon, in which he plays a real-life hero in Nazi-occupied Poland who helped save the lives of more than 1,200 Jews.

"It's not that complicated," he says of his varied choice of roles. "It's my job. I'm an actor and I've always explored different characters. There's nothing big about it or particularly hard about it, because this is what I do for a living. "

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