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Daniel Craig loves playing darker Bond

07-Nov-2008 • Quantum Of Solace

Daniel Craig doesn't want anyone to assume that he's still recovering from injuries suffered during the filming of Quantum Of Solace - reports Canada.com.

So, having shown up for his interview with his arm in a black sling, he deals with that matter immediately

"This is a piece of surgery I needed doing for a long time," he explains mildly. In fact the operation, which related to an old shoulder problem, should have been performed before he even started work on the latest James Bond thriller, but Craig decided to delay it. That was a foolish move because months of playing Agent 007 made things worse.

"I had pain doing Quantum Of Solace, a dull aching pain that was annoying me. I was also worried. We had an actor's strike coming up, and I thought -- oh my God, we've got to be able to finish this before it happens. So I went see a surgeon who gave me an MRI and said, 'As soon as you're done, come and see me.'"

So Craig soldiered on with his portrayal of the most emotionally conflicted Bond in the 46-year history of the franchise -- and, barring that nagging shoulder pain, he insists he came out of it relatively unscathed.

Of course, he needed stitches on his face one day. And then there were all those reports about a severed finger tip. But Craig shrugs these incidents off. All in a day's work, he suggests. As for producer Michael Wilson's revelation that he and fellow producer Barbara Broccoli feared that Craig had actually been cooked alive during a spectacular fire sequence, Craig simply laughs.

"Michael is spinning, as a good producer should," he says in gentle rebuttal. Indeed, during those high-octane action scenes which helped hike the film's budget to $200 million, he always felt safe.

"The joke of it is that those large stunts -- on boats or jumping off something -- aren't where the big injuries happen. You don't get injured there because you are rehearsed in minute detail. It's with the smaller stuff where the silly things happen."

Take the scene in which he slams a door in the face of French actor Mathieu Amalric, who plays the ruthless villain determined to rule the world by gaining control of a precious resource. Craig forgot that his finger was in the way. But it was scarcely the severed fingertip reported on websites.

"I lost a touch of my finger . . . about a postage stamp-thickness came off. It actually healed up really well. They cauterized it, which I always thought was some kind of medieval thing."

There are plenty of hazardous action sequences in Quantum Of Solace, which opens Nov. 14. They include a rooftop chase, a pursuit by boat through the canals of Venice, the exploding building sequence which so spooked the producers, a brutal one-on-one encounter in a small room, and a free-fall from an airplane which was actually filmed in a wind tunnel with Craig and co-star Olga Kurylenko being thrown in every direction.

Craig concedes he needed to be physically fit for these scenes, but he hates making a big deal of them. He thinks that what he does in the Bond films is a pale shadow of the awesome stunts that silent movie comedians like Buster Keaton used to do without any safety precautions at all.

He's slighter in person than he seems on the big screen, and more soft-spoken. There's still the close-cropped hair, the craggy countenance and the penetrating eyes -- all key elements of his Bond persona. His wiry frame is comfortable in jeans, sport jacket, off-white shirt and neatly knotted tie. And he's in the mood for chatting, despite his admission that he's not really at ease with the celebrity culture now embracing him.

A conversation with the 40-year-old Craig tends to take unexpected directions. At one moment, it might be the silent film comics. At another it could be the moral dilemmas which define the writings of famed British novelist Evelyn Waugh: Several years ago, Craig won great acclaim for his lead performance in a television adaptation of Waugh's wartime trilogy, The Sword Of Honour, and counts it one of his best experiences ever. As an actor thrust into the celebrity spotlight, Craig has strong views about the Internet -- and also his own struggle to continue doing smaller projects. And then, of course, there's a topic of endless fascination -- the psychology of James Bond.

Thanks to Craig and screenwriter Paul Haggis, 007 has turned into a far more complicated and troubled human being.

"That's in the books," Craig says quickly. And even though the screenplay for Quantum Of Solace is far removed from the Ian Fleming short story which gave the new movie its title, both have a shared emotional sensibility. "The short story is a conversation about relationships and how they tear people apart."

As it is with James Bond in this new movie. It begins immediately after Casino Royale (2006) ended, with Bond in emotional shock over his betrayal at the hands of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), the woman he loved, and her subsequent death.

There's a pulverizing car pursuit along the cliffs of Italy followed by a brutal interrogation of a captured villain who warns Craig's distraught 007 that he's up against a powerful adversary who will not be defeated.

As the story progresses, Bond is not only battling to uncover the truth; he's also battling his own grief and urge to pursue his mission of vengeance.

At one point, his boss M, played by the formidable Judi Dench, comes close to declaring him a rogue agent. "I think you are so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don't care who you hurt," she warns him. "When you can't tell your friends from your enemies, it's time to go."

This kind of complexity attracts Craig, who in recent years has also played a pathetically deranged stalker in Enduring Love and notorious Kansas killer Perry Smith in Infamous.

"We started something with Casino Royale. I couldn't leave him as he was at the end of that movie. None of us could. He'd had his heart broken, and he'd been betrayed, and that betrayal is the impetus for the story. Him finding his 'quantum of solace' is the impetus for this movie. He's a man who doesn't lose. He plays his cards to win and he plays his life to win. He's been double-crossed, he's been thrown, and that he can't abide."

These days, Craig is confident in talking about the challenge of playing such an iconic hero, but he also admits he had strong doubts when first approached to succeed Pierce Brosnan.

"I remember going to see Michael and Barbara a long time ago, and I was very honoured to be brought in, and we had a great discussion about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it and were full of ideas. And I went, 'Thank you, but go and find somebody else because I'm not the person to do it."

At this point there wasn't even a script for Casino Royale, so Craig was persuaded to wait until a screenplay was ready.

"And as soon as I read that script, I thought -- if I don't do this, I'm going to regret not doing this."

Craig was drawn by the promise of a change in tone to the franchise -- of a darker, more complicated Bond and an abandonment of the frivolities of many previous 007 films. But he still wasn't prepared for the hostility of fans who complained about everything from his blond hair to his five-foot-ten height.

"I made the classic mistake of saying that I can deal with this -- I'm not worried." That was before he checked out what was being said about him on the web. One quick lesson he learned was that there's really no easy way of responding to Internet badmouthing.

"I'm not a writer. I'm not someone who wants to enter into an argument. So if there's mudslinging, the only thing you can do is go back and say -- you're calling me names, you're wrong. There's no real way of answering. So why get involved? So I'll do what I know about. I know how to make movies. I will try to make the best movie, with the help of a lot of people."

Craig comes from a generation which has trouble dealing with the Internet and the obsession of users to know everything there is about everybody. And he's disturbed by the Facebook phenomenon and the readiness of young people to reveal everything about themselves.

"When I grew up, we were members of secret gangs and we kept everything secret. We kept it locked away. That was playtime. The idea now of just giving everything up and revealing myself kind of freaks me."

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