Daniel Craig returns to play Bond, James Bond for the third time with Skyfall, the 23rd film of the spy franchise. Directed by Sam Mendes, this Bond movie offers up a little backstory on Bond along with high-octane action scenes, Bond Girls, and suspense.
Sitting down for a press conference to discuss this latest entry in the blockbuster franchise, Craig discussed what sets this film apart from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and what audiences can expect this time around.
Daniel Craig Press Conference
While you were doing press for Casino Royale you talked about having to earn moments like 'shaken, not stirred' or 'Bond, James Bond'. What gave you the indication you’d earned it?
Daniel Craig: "I just think the thing is I just felt that given the great opportunity to do Casino, which the conceit was that we’re discovering the character, that we couldn’t just cram in the old gags, it would’ve felt wrong - and I was not trying to copy anybody who’d come before. They did it so well and I didn’t want to be that person. I wanted to be me in this, but it’s always been a plan. It’s always been somewhere we’ve wanted to get to, and to try to put them back into the movie in an original, fresh way was just the only issue and the thing Sam and I spoke at length about, because we wanted to make a Bond movie. Eventually a Bond movie is a Bond movie because of those things. I don’t know if I’ve earned it or not yet."
Daniel, why do you think after five decades Bond is still such a potent franchise?
Daniel Craig: "To me it’s a very easy answer. It’s retaining what it always had. It’s making movies for the audience, putting it all on the screen and this family [indicating Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli] is the reason for it."
What was your most memorable moment in this film?
Daniel Craig: "God, there were many. The thing that stays with me most is not really any particular thing but the fact is walking onto the set with the cast that we had and Sam at the helm and a crew who you did pay good money for, but they were all there and everybody was excited and enthusiastic about making this film. That enthusiasm was infectious. That really, for me, is my abiding memory."
Was there one particular moment that was the most dramatic or frustrating?
Daniel Craig: "Every day. All of those things. It was romantic and frustrating. It’s seven months of filming, so it’s like making four movies at the same time. There’s a second unit going on, there’s the main unit. We’re shooting action sequences, we’re shooting dialogue sequences, underwater sequences. There’s nothing like it. It’s a real privilege and an honor just to be around that."
After having done three Bond movies, what have you learned about doing action movies? Do you find moments you can be relaxed or lose the leash?
Daniel Craig: "Look, it’s a combination. Action movies live and die by the story that you’re trying to tell. It’s hard. It’s very difficult to do an action movie that stays engaging. More often, there’s a split between the two. You get an explosion and a bit of dialogue as it goes about. Sam [Mendes] put a huge amount of hard work into retaining the story that it’s told all the way. When you do that, doing the action makes all the sense in the world. Suddenly I’m on top of the train driving through the Turkish countryside and it makes sense. But I know what’s happening. I know what’s happening next. I know where the story’s going and I’m clear. So it gives it a huge amount of freedom and I get a kick out of it.
I don’t do all my own stunts. I’d be lying if I said that, but I like the fact that occasionally you’ll see it on screen and it’s my face and it’s me. I think audiences hopefully appreciate that. At least I hope they do."
What were the preproduction discussions about merging old and new Bond?
Daniel Craig: "Extensive. I mean, nonstop - and nonstop throughout the whole filming process. We knew we wanted to do something along those lines but it’s very easily said, but it’s difficult to put into practice. It takes a lot of talented people to get that right. As I said earlier, you want to do it with a freshness, with a new eye, with something that satisfies."
You were able to share more scenes and work more closely with Judi Dench in this one. Can you talk about that?
Daniel Craig: "It was about time she did some work because she normally just sits in an office on the phone shouting at people. She’s an extraordinary woman, actress, just wonderful to be with. I keep saying this but when Judi walks into the room, she lights the room up. It’s incredible. She’s got such an energy about life and she loves doing what she does. For me, I’ve been a fan of her all my life so to get the chance to work with her and play with her, because that’s what she likes doing. She likes playing on set. She takes her job very, very seriously but laughs all the time."
Was your gun barrel walk different this time?
Daniel Craig: "It was a little more relaxed maybe. That’s the point."
Do you dread the potential call one day that they’re moving on with Bond?
Daniel Craig: "No, look, I get a huge kick out of doing this and I can see doing another film. The whole point of this is they take such a chunk out of your life. I’m contracted to two, by the way, which is fairly common.
I can see the next one. Beyond that, there’s so much work involved bringing it together. I’d love to do another movie. That’s what I’m trying to say in a very roundabout way."
How much is Skyfall a set up for the next film or two?
Daniel Craig: "It’s a happy accident if it’s a setup. I mean, genuine, I think so. I think by introducing some new and old characters, I think we have."
And how was working with the Queen for the Opening Ceremonies?
Daniel Craig: "'Working with the Queen,' I like that. Look, I got to play a very small part in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in London. That’s, for me, a real honor and the fact that we did that was just very surreal and extraordinary. There’s not a lot to say. I would be breaking State secrets."
* * * *Skyfall hits theaters on November 9, 2012.