After arriving in typical Bond fashion (via speedboat on the Thames), Daniel Craig was introduced to the world’s media by Eon Productions’ duo Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and Casino Royale helmer Martin Campbell. The 37-year-old Brit entered the room via a suspended staircase to huge applause and an alarming whooping sound from Ms Broccoli. Despite his demeanour, casually chewing gum and walking with a confident swagger, Craig appeared daunted by the baying press pack. Best get used to it Danny boy, you’re the world’s most famous super-spy!
Daniel, how does it feel?
DC: I’d like to thank the Royal Marines for bringing me in like that and scaring the shit out of me! Apart from that, it’s something else… I can’t tell you really. I’m speechless.
It’s a big responsibility to take on, more than 40 years into the franchise…
DC: Yeah but I’ve just got to step up to the plate and deal with it.
Does this mark a new chapter? They usually go for public-school boys, which you’re not…
DC: I don’t know if I have the qualifications to play Bond. Hopefully I have some of them. I don’t have many qualifications myself but hopefully I’ve got something I can bring to this.
When did you know for sure the part was yours?
DC: I had a confidence about it and that’s just because of the people around me; I felt good about it. I knew positively on Monday. I was in Baltimore and I got the phone call. I had a couple of martinis when I found out.
You said you hope you’ve got something you can bring to the role. What do you think you can bring to make it different?
DC: It’s not something I can answer just yet. I think we’re going to have to wait until I’ve done it. I just want to, together with Martin Campbell, make the best film we can; the most entertaining film we can. It’s not a question of redefining; it’s a question of taking it somewhere maybe it’s never gone before.
Michael, what do you think Daniel is going to bring to the role?
MW: Well, we were wanting to do Casino Royale, which is the first of Fleming’s Bond books and is really Bond’s first mission. It’s a slightly darker book, which was of course made once before but our company never got the rights. Cubby and Harry wanted to make it. It wasn’t until a few years ago we got the rights and now we have the opportunity but we want to do it the right way. I think it requires a different approach than we’ve done before.
Martin, can you elaborate on how you’ll work with Daniel to achieve this?
MC: Well it’s really about the arc in which we see Bond becoming Bond. He starts off having just earnt his double-o stripes and by the end of the movie he becomes the Bond we all know and love. So this will be tougher and grittier and there’s a terrific part for the girl and the relationship Bond has with the girl will be a much more serious one than in the past. That’s what makes it all very exciting.
Although it’s darker, that’s not to say it won’t have its sense of humour; of course it will have that. More character, less gadgets.
If you think about Bond as he is now, his view of women, his attitude towards women and everything else, to arrive at that you have to have gone through a fairly tough arc and the arc we’re talking about is what Casino Royale is about.
Who’d have thought the greatest spy’s own worst enemy would be his mum, who broke the news last night that her son Daniel was going to be the next Bond. How did you feel about that?
DC: (Laughing) That’s kind of not fair and not accurate but there we go...
How many girls are in the frame for the part and are you close to a decision?
MW: The frame is very wide now, we haven’t focused on it yet. We wanted to make sure we got the part of 007 cast and now I think it’s an open casting. We’re just looking for someone who has to do a very important part in this film.
Do you have anyone in mind?
MW: Not at this moment. No.
MC: It’s probably the best Bond girl part that’s ever been written: Vesper Lynd, who appears in the book. The book, of course, was written in 1953 and was concerned with the Cold War. We’ve updated that but the principal of the book remains intact.
Daniel, are you going to be the first blond Bond? What image changes will you be making?
DC: Not that many.
So you’re going to be blond?
(Looks at Martin Campbell, who nods).
DC: I think so, yeah.
Looking at the legacy of Bond: Connery, Moore, Brosnan, now you. Has it sunk in?
DC: Not yet, no!
How do you feel? Pressurised? Nervous?
DC: All of those things. It’s a big responsibility but it’s also an adventure so I want to get as much out of it as I can.
Do you want to make your own mark on it?
DC: Oh yeah, obviously.
How many films have you signed up for?
DC: I don’t know and I wouldn’t want to go into that anyway.
MW: I don’t think we want to discus employment agreements right now with anyone. They’re really not for now.
Are you a Bond fan and who’s your favourite Bond?
DC: Of course I am. Ever since I was a kid. And the first one I saw was Sean but I’ve got a big pair of shoes to step into now after Pierce. But of course, wasn’t every boy a Bond fan?
Do you feel concerned that your personal life might overshadow this? I know you’re not a big fan of being in the public eye.
DC: No, but I understand that doing something like this won’t help that but that was never going to change my attitude to doing this. We’ll take it a day at a time.
Will this movie reflect more of the tone from the novels, which show Bond’s dark side?
DC: Not much of a push really...
Do you have a favourite Bond movie?
DC: I have a few but I think Goldfinger is probably one of my favourites.
There have been stories that Casino Royale will desert the UK and shoot elsewhere. Any truth in that?
MW: We’re filming at Pinewood; we’re filming in Prague in part; we’re filming in the Bahamas and we’re filming down in Italy. It’s very much a location film. It’s distinguished from some of the others which in part have been studio-based films.
What do you look forward to and what intimidates you most?
DC: I’m looking forward to actually starting, just getting on with it. And I’m intimidated by pretty much everything.
Rumour has it that you had some words of encouragement from Pierce Brosnan. Is that true?
DC: We spoke about it, yeah, and I’m very glad we were able to talk.
Did he impart any words of wisdom or did he just say, “Go for it”?
That’s just about it, yeah.
To what do you attribute the characters worldwide appeal after 40 years?
MW: I think it’s in being able to do just what we’re doing: to be able to recast the part and reinvent Bond from time to time. If you reflect on it, that’s pretty much what’s happened with every age in casting. A new actor brings something new to it and keep it alive and fresh.
MC: He’s a hugely entertaining character. I love the suits and the bow ties and the way that he has his licence to kill. I like his dark side. One of the great things about this film is you’ll learn the ingredients of the martini mix which will kill you; it’s unbelievable! I guess a lot of the embryonic Bond things will come out in this film: how he gets the Aston Martin, how he mixes the martini. He is very sexy, very entertaining and very lethal.
Is there anyone in mind for the theme tune?
MC: That doesn’t get decided until much further down the line.
You must have thought about your attempt to approach the character. What is your philosophy?
DC: I would love to give you a long convoluted answer but I don’t have that right now. I have my thoughts and my ideas and I’m going to try and put them into practice when we start filming but there’s nothing I can tell you at the moment that would be close to the truth because I don’t know exactly what I am going to do. I’ve got a list of things I’m going to tick off, hopefully.
What’s the budget of the movie?
MC: It will probably be north of $100 million, as they tend to be these days.
MW: We have plenty of action in this movie so we’ll be lucky to keep it within the budget balance of the last film.
Who is your ideal Bond girl?
DC: I’ve got my ideal Bond girl already, so that’s not really one for me.
MC: Firstly she’ll need to be a terrific actress. She’ll have to look beautiful and she plays a very important role in the piece.
Daniel, who’s been your favourite Bond girl so far?
DC: I think Diana Rigg was always my favourite to be honest.
Which car will Bond drive?
MC: It will be the Aston Martin; it’s the traditional Bond car.
Are you going to avoid watching the previous films before you start filming?
DC: I’ve seen them all over and over again so it’s too late. I’ve read the book as well.
How do you feel about doing your own stunts?
DC: I’d like to do as much as I can.
MW: You should ask the producers. They don’t think much of actors doing their own stunts. Most actors really want to play the part and we’re there to pull them back. That’s been true of all the actors and I’m sure it will be the case with Daniel. If he’s injured in any way, it shuts down the whole thing.
Are you planning to go back to previous Bond’s and ask for any tips?
DC: I’m asking everybody for top tips!
Have you practised any of Bond’s lines to yourself?
DC: Honestly? No. Well.... maybe but I was very drunk if I did.
Why did you want to be Bond?
DC: It’s a huge challenge and life is full of challenges. As an actor, it’s a huge iconic figure in movie history and these things don’t come along very often, so why not?
Do you feel a sense that you may be trapped by the part?
DC: I do but I am not going to think that way. I am thinking about the agenda ahead and that is making the best movie we can.
Why has it taken so long to announce Daniel despite the fact his name was linked so long ago?
BB: Simple, we didn’t have a script until recently. Daniel read the script and agreed to do it.
Who will be the returning characters?
MW: We decided to bring M back but the script as it stands now does not have either Q or Moneypenny in it. Paul Haggis is tidying up the script right now.
With that the new 007 disappeared as quickly as he arrived – shaken but not stirred…