James Bond has been a lot of things, but never a reason for a woman to squirm uncomfortably in her theater seat. When Daniel Craig, the fifth incarnation of the movie super-spy, climbed out of the ocean in Casino Royale, though, that's exactly what happened. The sexual tension for girls is palpable, and he has the same effect on dudes, even straight ones; when Craig steps into a room, looking too designer-suit good, he's everything men have been told they should want to be. He's Steve McQueen, and that presence, that larger-than-life gracious cool, is even more apparent in his second Bond outing, Quantum of Solace.
This time, Bond — still agonizing over the betrayal by, and death of, his one true love, Vesper Lynd — sets out to discover the truth behind the secret international organization she worked for. To nail down the facts, he'll break as many bones as needed. The other dude's, not his. Here's what he had to say to us about the experience ...
METRO TIMES: When you were shooting Casino Royale and the world was just looking for a reason to hate a blond-haired James Bond, you said you survived the film's shoot by blocking media out. But with this, you had to face a different kind of pressure — following up the most successful Bond movie of all time.
DANIEL CRAIG: This is going to sound like hindsight, like I'm just making this up, but, I got over that a long time ago. It happened in the Bahamas about three weeks into the shooting of Casino Royale. We knew we had a good film. I mean, we had a good crew, we had good actors, we had a good director. It's like, there's nothing else we can do to make this a better situation, so all the pressure that was on I'd put to bed, just completely put to bed. By the time we got to the premiere in London, people were going, "Don't you feel vindicated now?" And I'm like, "I don't feel anything." [laughs] "I feel like we've got a great movie!" So come to this one, all the same pressures were there, but in a very, very different way. I mean, we're on the back of success ... but thank goodness — we could have been on the back of a dud, which would have just been ... [laughs] I can't imagine. So obviously there are different pressures, but there always are. This is a $200 million movie. I don't know how you could do that without thinking there's a little bit of pressure.
MT: What about the Bond you loved as a kid? Did you want to preserve that in your movies? And what bits do you think could use an update?
CRAIG: [Director] Marc [Forster] and I had a long conversation when we came to do this, many long conversations, which we're still doing. We're big fans of the early Bonds, but also the movies that they spawned in the '60s because they had a direct effect on movies all over. One of the biggest things that the early Bond movies did was to go on location. That was unusual at the time. If it was Hollywood movies, they were shot on the back lot. But if Bond went to Japan, he was in Japan, and that's what we wanted to make happen in this movie, the feel that you were transported to these places. Plus, we were trying to add some of the style they developed back then back into the movies. Everybody will be saying, "Oh Quantum of Solace is grittier and harder," but I think it's a very stylized Bond and I like the fact that it has a look like the originals.
MT: You've said Quantum bookends Casino Royale, but it also feels like the second part of a trilogy. Is it possible that the themes of these two movies will carry on into the next?
CRAIG: Personally, I think that we've wrapped up all the loose ends that I wanted to wrap up, which is just the Vesper story and also solidifying the relationships, which is so important, you know, with Felix and with M, and sort of where their place in the world is. Now that I think we've got a very kind of stable Bond world, we can just do whatever the hell we want — and that I find exciting. To my mind, there's no trilogy because we've got to do something different now. There's Moneypenny, there's Q, there's all the other characters that we could conceivably bring in. People have asked "Well, why is there no Q, why is there no Moneypenny?" I'm like, "Because you need to give them to good actors, and you don't say [to a good actor], "Remember how Moneypenny was played? Can you do that?" They'd go, "God, no, I want to reinvent this character," and so that's what I'd love. I'd like to sort of hand it on to some people with talent, that's all.
MT: The action sequences in Quantum approach an almost operatic level in terms of choreography, but there's also an even more pronounced effort to make sure your face was very clearly present in some very hairy situations.
CRAIG: We learned a huge amount when we did Casino Royale — certainly I did, and the stunt team that I worked with did — about how much I can do and what's the limit. I think we're getting better at just, you know, making it look like it's me. I don't want the audience to be watching an action sequence and then suddenly to go, "Oh, it's not him." And there are moments, if you play it really slowly, you'll be able to find it, but hopefully they're few and far between.
MT: The fiery climax looks like the shooting of it should've scared the bejeezus out of anyone ...
CRAIG: No, no, not scared. There's trepidation, but, genuinely, it's about getting it right —'cause I only want to do it once. And so if you're standing on a roof and you're going to jump over and I'm like, "I don't want to do this more than once if I can help it" — that's all you got going through your head. The jumping out of windows — actually, I didn't want to do that more than once, but after the third time, it's actually getting quite fun, so [laughs] in a sick way that happens.
MT: Casino Royale was a huge success. Quantum will surely be too. That means you'll have more creative pull when shooting the next one. Where do you want Bond to end up next?
CRAIG: A beach [laughs] for about an hour and a half of the movie, and then about 10 minutes of action. That would really, really thrill me. ... Explosions could be happening everywhere, while I occasionally sip my cocktail.
Quantum of Solace hits theaters on Friday, Nov. 14.Cole Haddon writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]