Us Los Angeles journalists got a surprise when Sony announced they were having a local press day for the new James Bond movie. Skyfall had been traveling the world doing press so we assumed it was covered. With the film opening Friday in the states, we got to sit in on a press conference with Daniel Craig about his third Bond film, a film so steeped in Bond mythology that almost any question could be a spoiler, so be warned.
The return of the trademark lines: “Bond. James Bond.” and “Shaken, not stirred.”
Daniel Craig: 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 [Mendes] 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.
The emotional side of James Bond in Skyfall.
He doesn’t cry. He’s sweating. That’s what we’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to mess around with it. It’s interesting. Literally you said he cries, other people I’ve heard say he doesn’t cry. It’s open but it’s an emotional scene. It’s worth it. It‘s worth it to play with that emotion. It’s not extraneous. It makes sense in the story, as far as I’m concerned anyway.
On the 50th anniversary of the Bond movies, Craig says it’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson who keep it alive.
That’s the reason. These two are the reason. 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 is the reason for it. I’m just trying to keep my job. It’s hell, you know.
Daniel Craig on M’s expanded role in Skyfall.
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 [Dench] 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.
What made Skyfall stand out from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
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 wall there and everybody was excited and enthusiastic about making this film. That enthusiasm was infectious. That really for me is my abiding memory.
When pressed, Daniel Craig reveals what it’s really like to make a Bond movie.
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.
Even Daniel Craig loves Roger Deakins’ cinematography.
He has incredible consistency in his work. I noticed that while watching it. Especially on a movie this size, his assurety and you feel like it’s a Sam Mendes movie but you feel like it’s a Roger Deakins movie as well. It’s a real stamp and it’s not intrusive. It’s just very magical.
Daniel Craig on action.
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 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.
Daniel Craig on sticking with Bond.
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.
Does Skyfall set up Bond 24?
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.
I slip in a question about why his gun barrel walk is different in Skyfall.
It was a little more relaxed maybe. That’s the point.
Daniel Craig dodges a question about the Olympics opening ceremony,
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.