Daniel Craig talked to Swedish TV channel DN on what it's like to play James Bond, and how the character is explored in Casino Royale...

Craig On Being Bond
1st November 2006

So why is there still a need for James Bond?
The simple answer is for entertainment, I think. I don't really know what the answer is, but the fact that it's lasted this long is incredible, it's the longest running movie franchise.

It's a very simple story. We have a very simple premise which is of a lone hero going after the bad guys, and that applies to many movies. He's British, he has a level of sophistication that we hanker after.

If it continues to entertain, and continues to move people in a way, then it's worth doing again. That's how I approached this role. I thought that if we could make a movie that you and I would go and see then we've succeeded, and we've got this great backdrop of a character that was invented by Ian Fleming all those years ago.


How do you compare your own interpretation of Bond's character to previous actors?
The conceit is that we are starting at the beginning. So I've kind of got carte blanch on how he behaves. But we meet someone at the beginning of the movie that doesn't really care if he lives or dies. His duty is just to get the job done and if gets killed - he gets killed, and that's the end for him. He's not emotionally attached to anybody. Actually the person he's closest to at the start of the movie is M.

What appealed to me about this film is that he falls in love, completely. There's no question. This is marriage, this is the rest of his life, and he's prepared to give up everything he's achieved as a secret agent, as a man, to go and be with this woman. That I find fascinating. That's where we see him become the human being that we later know - the James Bond that has the wall up. Maybe he's not got quite such a death wish at the end of it, maybe he understands life a bit more. But that change interested me and that's why it's a little different.

The only thing I can do is to do what I do to all the roles I play, which is that there has to be a truth within what you do. Audiences know when you're trying to pull the wool over their eyes. As long as there's a truth within it then it's worth watching.

You got a lot of criticism before anyone had even seen you as Bond. How did you cope with that?
You kind of do and you don't. I'm not teflon coated, it did effect me. But it gave me a resolve, and the resolve was that beforehand I wanted to make a great movie and when that started happening it was like we've got no choice now - we have to make the best movie we can. In fact it spurred me on a little because I can't answer criticism like that. Some of it was maybe valid, but most of it was name calling, it was like playground stuff. What am I going to do, get involved with tit for tat arguments over the internet?

What kind of political relevance do you think Casino Royale has?
Nothing stridently political because it's a Bond movie and it's foolish to get involved with too much politics. But you can't help but have it have an eye on the world outside itself. What I find interesting is that with the world at moment we're not sure really who the bad guy is and that is what I think Bond does - sort of clarifies that position a little. We know who the bad guy is and he's going to go after him and he's going to get him. That's not a reflection on the world because the world doesn't work like that, but it's a hope and without hope we're all gone. So, I'd like to think there's a little bit of political hope in it.

The bad guys in the movie are non-political, non-religious, but we do have terrorism and bombing. We have a group of people led by Le Chiffre - or at least we think it's led by Le Chiffre - Mad Mikkelsen's character. They are trying to destabilise the world with money and by using money as a tool and that's their weapon. The more money they accumulate the more they can disrupt the world's economies, so the more they can take over and the more money they can make. There's a pure evil in it because they don't care who they kill or who they displace to do it. That's who Bond is going after. We don't know who the top man is yet. We will hopefully find out who that is in the next movie.


Above: James Bond is briefed in the Bahamas by M about his mission to topple terrorist financier Le Chiffre at the Casino Royale.

You've said with Bond you wanted to test our morals. What did you mean by that?
It's a selfish thing. When you watch the movie I want it to be emotionally moving. As an audience I like to be questioning what's going on in the movie as I'm watching it, and afterwards I like to think about what happened in it. But as I'm watching it, I want to be moved. He's a dangerous man and he kills people. He kills the right people, but he does kill people indiscriminately if he thinks it gets the job done. So we should question his morals, and then therefore understand what he does. The audience will be much more engaged if we're involved with his moral struggle. So if we see some of that, and when he falls in love - which is another aspect of the story - we go with him... now we get it. I want to entertain the audience as much as possible and I think that's the key to doing it.

How would you say Casino Royale differs from the other Bond movies?
I'm in it! Which is one! That's a glib thing to say I know, but that's the truth [laughs]. Film making has moved on and film making has gone through a huge change in the past 10 years. CGI has made anything possible for movies which was impossible before. But we've made a movie without that and I think we've made an even more modern movie. I think it's called post... no I won't even give it a name, I'll get it wrong! We've paired it back down and made it rougher and edgier. not deliberately as a reaction, but because I think audiences know the difference now. They know when they're watching CGI and they know when they're watching real life. We've tried to make this as much "real-life" as possible. That's the movie I like to make and I think Barbara and Michael were keen to make this in to that kind of movie.

What was your experience of being on the set for the first time like?
Well the first couple of days were very nerve-wrecking. What we did is start off with a fight sequence which I had been rehearsing for two weeks. Basically, I had to go and get thumped, thump people, throw people through windows, shoot guns... I was thrown in at the deep-end and that was probably the best way to do it. There was something in the papers about me getting a tooth [cap] knocked out, which I did. It was strange because I thought, "oh, so that's how it's going to be"! I had it stuck back in and we carried on like nothing had happened. It was a question of trying to hit the ground running, and I think we did that. Then it became six months of my life. Six months of every day doing something connected with the movie. So, it just became "what I did", or "what I was".


What does the Bond figure say about the modern man?
I think it's not really about being a modern man it's about having some honour in life. It's a horrible expression, but it's being able to step up to the plate. When it matters, you've got to be able to make a decision. And it's really hard, we all know that. Being able to make the right decision when it matters is tricky and that's what defines us as men. That's what Bond does, he usually makes the right decision at the right time. Sometimes it's a little questionable, but we have that quality in him. If that's what makes a hero, then that's what it is.

Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Eon Productions) and directed by Martin Campbell, CASINO ROYALE is scheduled for release on November 16, 2006 in the UK. Principal photography started on January 30th 2006, with locations in the UK, Czech Republic (Prague), Italy, and the Bahamas. It will be British actor Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond. He is the sixth actor to play the 007 role in the franchise.

The film also stars Judi Dench, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Tobias Menzies, Ivana Milicevic, Clemens Schik, Ludger Pistor, Claudio Santamaria and Isaach de Bankole.

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