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A piece of the spy

Just like the dashing secret agent he plays in Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig keeps his cool while fielding questions from Bond villains, intelligence insiders and a very cheeky Sir Roger Moore.

Time Out Chicago: This first question is from Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. He wants to know: How has being Bond changed your career? Have you been offered better roles because of it?
Daniel Craig: Yes, there’s no doubt it’s changed things. It might have been different if we hadn’t had the success we did with Casino Royale. It could have been more, let’s say…interesting. When it comes to being offered roles: At least I’ve been shown stuff I wasn’t before. I may not have been offered all the jobs that you’d expect, but I’ve definitely been shown stuff. And it’s made me get more active about it, too. That’s what I’ve always done, actively gone looking for scripts, and this has given me that extra push. I was making Defiance, a World War II film, last year with director Edward Zwick and alongside Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell, which was definitely one of those roles that just got plumly offered to me. I don’t think that would have happened before.

Richard Kiel, James Bond
ROPE, A DOPE Jaws (Richard Kiel) was a Bond villain with an oral fixation.

TOC: Richard Kiel also wants to ask—
Daniel Craig: No, he can’t borrow my car.

TOC: —who is your favorite male actor and have you tried to emulate him in any way? Maybe you could apply that question to when you were younger?
Daniel Craig: The answer’s no. Definitely not. I had a ton of people I admired, but I was as fickle as I could possibly be. It depended on the movie I came out of. Literally. If I came running out of a movie, I was that person for at least 10 or 15 minutes, like we all were. I was as fickle as that. I didn’t care as long as they were cool and good in that movie. I admire and respect people like Paul Newman, the great modern movie actors, like Robert Redford, Steve McQueen. Those guys who were not only great actors but movie stars, as well.

TOC: This question is from Dame Stella Rimington, former head of MI5.
Daniel Craig: Fucking hell! Have you got some people in your family?

TOC: Have you ever met a real British intelligence officer and is your portrayal of Bond influenced in any way by that?
Daniel Craig: Firstly—how would I know if I met a spy? Although, I have met quite a lot of special-forces guys who do a lot of covert work. On the whole, they’re easier to recognize [because] they look like they can kill. They give off an aura of violence.

TOC: So no spy has ever approached you in solidarity?
Daniel Craig: What? A nod and wink at me in a strange way? No—I’m not sure that’s the answer she’s looking for!

TOC: How have you dealt with the public interest that comes with playing Bond? You must have had to consider that when you took the plunge.
Daniel Craig: Definitely. That was one of the many conversations I had with myself—very loudly, probably—but also as part of all the advice I took, discussions with family as well as colleagues. When it came down to it, I decided to embrace the whole thing. There’s no point doing a Bond movie—or a $200 million movie—and hiding away for six months. You have to get out there and do it. You have to expect a level of interest, instead of thinking, Oh Christ, I don’t know if I can deal with this. But on the whole, I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done and trying to keep as private as I possibly can. Certainly I’ve tried to keep my family and friends far away from it, and I feel their privacy is crucially important.

TOC: And one from Ann Carter, the head of exhibitions at London’s Imperial War Museum, which has an Ian Fleming show on at the moment: How much have you based your Bond on your predecessors?
Daniel Craig: Not at all, really. Not deliberately. I sat and watched every movie religiously. And I still do—I have them all in the trailer. I’ve become a nerd, basically. I feel I need to, it’s part of what it is. But…I could never start repeating it; I had to take it somewhere new. I may just start doing Sean Connery impressions in the next movie, just for the hell of it.

Olga Kurylenko, James Bond
I CAN SEE ALASKA FROM MY HOUSE Ukraine-born Olga Kurylenko is the new Bond girl.

TOC: Here’s one from Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond books: How much of Fleming’s Bond is there in your Bond?
Daniel Craig: I hope a lot, but it’s subliminal. It’s just about reading the books. What I wanted to do with Quantum of Solace—and what [director Marc Forster] wanted to do—was to draw on Fleming’s obsession with detail. He has two pages to describe making scrambled eggs, things like that. Some of which is in some of the earlier Bonds. Marc wanted to turn that into cinematic detail, so that just looking at the frame is sumptuous. Also, there’s a darkness in Casino Royale, there’s a fight in there. Here’s a man who’s incredibly reluctant to be doing what he does, which I think applied to Fleming, too. He’d always have preferred to be at Goldeneye [Jamaica] writing and taking gin fizzes at 11 o’clock in the morning. Wouldn’t we all?

TOC: I spoke to Marc Forster recently, and he kept stressing the importance of character in this new film. Was that key?
Daniel Craig: I think so. Marc’s Swiss—I mean this in the best way—he’s very fastidious, very organized, which lends itself to a Bond movie. There’s an efficiency that you need. I think my Bond is quite efficient, but ragged, if that makes sense. He efficiently kills people but everything blows up around him. I couldn’t sing Marc’s praises highly enough; he’s a good man.

Daniel Craig, James Bond
DO YOU EXPECT ME TO TALK? Current Bond Craig, top, took questions from former “Q” John Cleese, and former Bond Roger Moore.

TOC: This is from Stephen Dorril, who writes about MI6. Is there anything you’ve come across making the film that might be useful for a real MI6 officer?
Daniel Craig: Integrity! An understanding of moral issues. An understanding of the world—worldliness is always good.

TOC: There aren’t as many gadgets in the films as there used to be.
Daniel Craig: We haven’t stressed that with this one, and I’m not saying we won’t in the future. But still, there are more in this one—there’s something called the Smart Wall that’s connected to a piece of machinery in MI6. We’ve tried to integrate the gadgets into everyday usage so that it’s not like, “Aha, there’s the gadget!” It’s all working continually. We live in a world of surveillance and satellite tracking. We might tackle it one day. I’m not averse to anything; I just want it to feel right.

Roger Moore, James Bond

TOC: Here’s Sir Roger Moore. He wants to know: Who is your favorite Bond between Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton?
Daniel Craig: [Laughs] It’s you, Sir Roger! I’m a Sean Connery fan, and he knows that; I’ve told lots of people. But I’ve got a big soft spot for Roger Moore, as Live and Let Die was the first movie I saw in the cinema with my dad. It was ridiculously camp—and then it just got campier.

TOC: Have you had much dialogue with previous Bonds?
Daniel Craig: I speak to Pierce [Brosnan] occasionally. We’ve got the same publicist, so I might get on the phone with him when he’s on junkets: “Hello, you all right? How’s it going?” He was genuinely really nice and encouraging when the whole thing kicked off.

TOC: Sir Roger would also like to know if you’ll be buying his new autobiography.
Daniel Craig: Probably! Can he not sign me a copy? I’ll buy it. You made these questions up! You could have made these questions up.…

John Cleese, James Bond

TOC: And one from John Cleese: How tall do you think Bond should be?
Daniel Craig: Bastard! Tell him to fuck off! Shorter than John Cleese! He’s about 6'5", I think.

TOC: Here’s a question from the bar manager at Dukes Hotel in London. Martinis: shaken or stirred?
Daniel Craig: I don’t know who has stirred cocktails anymore. I like them ice, ice, ice cold, so you have to shake them up.

TOC: Gin or vodka? Twist or olive?
Daniel Craig: Vodka. With an olive.

TOC: The Bond films are huge studio enterprises, but then there’s the family element: the Flemings and the books, the Broccolis and the film legacy. How does that play out for you?
Daniel Craig: I don’t think Michael or Barbara [stepson and daughter of original Bond producer Cubby Broccoli] would mind me saying that they are as close as you’ll get to making a Hollywood movie away from home, but the way it’s run is unique. It’s all because of them. It has total autonomy and it’s their love of the product—the books—that comes from Cubby and they guard it jealously.

TOC: The Broccolis have done a sterling job of keeping it up-to-date in a world of Bourne and digital effects.
Daniel Craig: It’s show business, let’s be honest. That’s what Cubby Broccoli and his coproducer Harry Saltzman were all about. Those early Bonds defined movies in the ’60s of that type because they went on location. They went to Tokyo, to Rio; they flew everybody there. We’ve continued that, and it’s a really good formula. It makes going to the cinema a special occasion. It’s event cinema.

TOC: Twenty-two films down the line it’s got to be hard to preserve that sense of wonder.
Daniel Craig: It is, but that’s why Marc was so clever finding that location down in Panama and shooting down there. It’s a place called Colón, which is seriously depressed economically but a wonderful, wonderful place, one of those magical places. And that’s there on the screen. We also went to Chile; that’s all up there on the screen, as well. Marc pushed for that; he was so insistent on making the locations characters in this movie. Anything to keep it away from me, fine!

TOC: Marc brought with him a lot of new talent. It seems there was a bit of a shake-up behind the scenes?
Daniel Craig: It wasn’t a shake-up.…

TOC: But there were new editors, a new costume designer, a new production designer.…
Daniel Craig: There was no aggressive move—but Marc came in and he wanted to interview new people. The timing was bang on. They’ve done 21 Bond movies, and we wanted to get a new look. It was so important to me that we didn’t just rehash Casino Royale. Yes, it’s a sequel, but we had to take some risks and try to do something different. We had to get some new ideas, get some fresh people in—people to share the panic with!

Quantum of Solace opens Friday 14.

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