When asked who will pick up 007’s mantle, departing superspy Daniel Craig quips: “Don’t ask that! You know what, it’s not my problem.”
The actor is speaking to Edith Bowman at a BAFTA retrospective on his career at the Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square.
Craig confesses he was bemused about being offered the role in the first place. “I just said ‘Thank you, flattering, but I think you’ve got the wrong guy.’ Barbara (Broccoli) had already made up her mind. If you know Barbara, that means she’s made up her mind. It was just odd.
“People used to say ‘you must have always wanted to be James Bond?’ I went well, yeah, kind of as a kid. I wanted to be Spider-Man as well, but I just thought it was never going to happen. I never thought it would come on my radar.”
In a wide ranging discussion with Bowman, Craig discussed some of his inspirations and early projects, as well as his final appearance as James Bond.
Recalling one of his earliest memories of seeing films and their visual impact, Craig said: “I lived in a small town on The Wirrall and there was one cinema, I mean one tiny little cinema, a proper fleapit, and all the movies that used to get to us had literally been around the country five times before.” He cites Blade Runner for kick-starting his fascination with movies.
Considering his early projects and how a film like Layer Cake changed his trajectory as an actor, Craig noted:
“Everybody talks about it (Layer Cake) being an audition for Bond. Believe me, the last thing on my mind was James Bond. It definitely changed, shifted things in a way. People saw me in a different way. That (film) definitely had an incredibly positive effect on my career.”
“Everybody talks about it (Layer Cake) being an audition for Bond. Believe me, the last thing on my mind was James Bond…”
Sharing insights on getting into the industry, Craig advised “Just do it. I remember Peter Flannery, from Our Friends in the North, used to give writing lessons. He just went ‘writers write. Just write!’
“And it applies to everything, really. You gotta try and just do everything you can. I had a lot of fortune early on and with the National Youth Theatre, it wasn’t just about acting. We didn’t think about just acting, it was about this collective effort that we do, and putting on a show, and being with a group of people, and learning discipline like turning up on time so the show went on and things like that…”
On his tempestuous relationship with Bond, getting injured during Spectre, and then returning for one last stint for No Time to Die, the actor says he was bullied into the job.
“Barbara (Broccoli) bullied me and I’m gonna say that right here and I’m so happy I did. I can’t tell you, you know it’s been a weird couple of years and getting to this point – thank goodness we’re here and we can actually get the movie into cinemas, and get people to see it. I’m desperate for people to see it!”
Explaining his decision to take the role, Craig reveals he made a list of pros and cons. “I literally made a list – and the pros outweighed it. It was one of my closest friends who just said ‘this doesn’t happen to people, just does not happen.’ He said ‘you’re gonna just regret this for the rest of your life if you don’t do this’ and now it’s just going to be: I was Bond, which is worse!
“I kept saying, show me a script, show me a script and I’ll make a decision when I get it. The arrogance of myself. I was sort of expecting it to go, yeah, it’s not really for me. But it was Casino Royale and I mean it was just blinding, and when I read the line “vodka, martini, shaken or stirred?” “Do I look like I—” and it was written in the script: “Do I look like I give a fuck.” That was the line and you know it was “Do I look like I give a damn” in the movie which works pretty good and as soon as I read that I went ‘oh shit, I mean how can I say no to this?
“That’s exactly what it was doing, was trying to subvert everything, trying to take it on and reinvent it. That’s what I was given the opportunity to do by Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. Just try and reinvent it a bit and try and sort of make it fresh again. That’s what we’ve always tried to achieve with it.”
Craig recalls his last day on the set of No Time To Die:
“It was literally the last shot, and you know we were in the right place, we were in a dirty back lot in Pinewood, pretending to be in Cuba. It was pissing with rain. It was like, yeah, this is the way it goes and anybody will tell you on a movie, you work really, really hard and the last day inevitably is like “see, you bye! See you soon, we’ll see you.” Everyone wants to get out of there and just kind of just go home.
“I was gonna say goodbye, and Barbara came down and then everybody came down, everybody came out the offices and all the heads of department came down, all the riggers came down. I was like ‘Oh shit, I’m gonna have to make a speech and that’s my nightmare.
“I just started talking and I realized looking around, I just realized I’ve been working with these people, some of them for nearly thirty years, because there’s a lot of people I just worked with in the film industry and then you know, just and throughout the Bond movies and it’s always been about the team, it’s just always about the team and you know, Barbara makes an atmosphere on set where we’re a family.”
Interview courtesy of BAFTA: A Life in Pictures: Daniel Craig, supported by TCL Mobile.
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