1. The Duality Of James Bond

    By Devin Zydel on 2008-10-24

    As was the case two years ago for Casino Royale, Parade Magazine has scored an interview with Daniel Craig.

    'Casino Royale'

    Daniel Craig is James Bond in Casino Royale

    Meeting for the interview in a Soho neighborhood, one is immediately struck by a change in circumstances from two years ago, when Parade asked if the actor was ‘ready to become the world’s sexiest spy’. And then Casino Royale opened and became one of, if not the best reviewed James Bond film of all time. It’s worldwide gross of $594 million also placed it in the #1 box office spot for the series.

    As for the sex symbol status, Craig says now it doesn’t phase him. ‘If people want to think of me that way, that’s great. But the truth is, I don’t have a connection with that image.’

    ‘I was being objectified, but actually that’s not a bad thing to feel,’ he says with a laugh when asked about that swimming trunks photo that somehow seems to creep into every Bond-related inteview. ‘I knew exactly what was going on when I did that shot. There’s a conscious decision to everything I do. For me to say, “Oh, God! I didn’t realize that would happen!’ sounds incredibly naïve. I look at that picture, and my only thought now is that I certainly don’t look like that anymore. For Quantum of Solace, I made a decision that I wanted to get bigger and get muscles, because Bond is older and has probably been training.’

    Two years on since his 007 debut, Craig admits that his life has definitely changed. ‘I was at a stage of my career in which things were going pretty well,’ he says. ‘I was making plenty of money, relatively speaking–enough to live on. But when this opportunity came along, I knew it would turn everything upside-down. I’m 40 now. It really helped me put things in perspective. It wasn’t about the money. It was about changing things up and seeing what would happen. At some point, life starts to pass you by and becomes about avoidance. I want to stay clear from that situation, because I don’t like that.’

    With Quantum of Solace due out in theatres in less than a week, Craig points out the importance of examining the role of Bond from a different angle.

    ‘The question I keep asking myself while playing the role is, “Am I the good guy or just a bad guy who works for the good side?” Bond’s role, after all, is that of an assassin when you come down to it. I have never played a role in which someone’s dark side shouldn’t be explored. I don’t think it should be confusing by the end of the movie, but during the movie you should be questioning who he is.’

    Daniel Craig is James Bond

    Daniel Craig is James Bond

    When asked about the level of masculinity apparent in his numerous onscreen roles (and why it appeals to so many), Craig says: ‘There are people on this planet where you go, “Oops, no, I don’t even want to look that person in the eye”. And that real scariness is not something I’m capable of. That’s something maybe De Niro is capable of at his best. But that’s not me. As tough a role as I have to play, I’m always just me. It’s good to be in touch with as much of yourself as possible. Otherwise, you’re a rather one-note performer. Who wants to be the tough guy and nothing else?’

    Taking a note from that reply, the interviewer then asked if Craig could identify himself with one of the typical tough-guy antecedents in Hollywood–Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, James Cagney and so on.

    ‘The obvious choice for me would be Bogart,’ he replies. ‘Not only because of that ease he had with his unique take on masculinity, but also–and this is much more important–because he got to sleep with Lauren Bacall.’

    Finally, with the US election approaching, Craig was asked who he thought would be a more suitable James Bond.

    Not hesitating for a second, he says: ‘Obama would be the better Bond because–if he’s true to his word–he’d be willing to quite literally look the enemy in the eye and go toe-to-toe with them. McCain, because of his long service and experience, would probably be a better M. There is, come to think of it, a kind of Judi Dench quality to McCain.’

    He’s not as quick to reply to the Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain as the Bond girl question, however. ‘Oh, now you’ve crossed the line,’ he says, laughing. ‘That’s much too dangerous a question. Can’t we go back to talking about Lauren Bacall?’

    This latest issue, subtitled ‘The Man Who Loves Being Bad’ will be available in most Sunday newspapers from 26 October.

    Keep your eyes on the main page for most up-to-date and complete coverage of Quantum of Solace.