NEW YORK, NY – When Daniel Craig took over James Bond’s 00-designation and his Walther PPK, it represented a rebirth for the franchise, one that some viewers were initially cautious about.
“‘Casino [Royale]’ was about sort of beginning again, sort of wiping the slate clean. I felt very strongly that we had to kind of push out all of the old to try and get something new, which kind of some people didn’t like so much,” Craig recalled when I spoke with him last week in New York City. “And I thought that was the only way, as did the producers. And we have.”
That Martin Campbell-directed film ended up being one of the most successful and well-received James Bond films in a franchise history that recently celebrated its 50th birthday. With the newest Bond installment, “Skyfall,” Craig and director Sam Mendes were able to continue to build on the “Casino Royale” blank slate, while also looking back.
“And now that we’ve come to this point, It’s possible to hopefully make a classic Bond movie,” Craig says. “And I think Sam’s done an incredibly good job at that. And we’ve got all the elements of all Bond movies, but something very modern as well. There’s emotion, there’s violence, there’s action. There’s all the things you need in a Bond movie, beautiful girls. It’s all there.”
Was it always the intent to do a circumspect classic Bond for the 50th anniversary?
“That wasn’t self-conscious in any way,” Craig says. “Sam, as he talked with everybody, [art director] Dennis Gassner and [cinematographer] Roger Deakins included, wanted to set out to make a movie that had great style. And those early Bonds were very much about that. They were very much about a style, and a look and a feel. So we were kind of nodding to it, were kind of respectfully nodding to it, and hopefully just bringing some of the kind of the gags in, but, again, not trying not to make them self-conscious, just to make them part of the plot.”
In “Skyfall,” Bond has his most formidable adversary in years in Javier Bardem Silva. He’s matched with a pair of pleasing and capable Bond Girls, played by Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe. And from Shanghai to Istanbul to London, he’s traveling the world as only master-cinematographer Deakins could depict. And perhaps the only thing as exciting as the film itself is the indication doesn’t sound like he’s ready to leave Bond behind.
“I think hopefully there’s lots more to discover about him, and to play around with,” he notes. “I never made it a secret, I’ve always sort of gone back to the Flemings and sort of looked at those, and sort of tried to mine those for ideas. And it’s kind of plenty to do there.”
At the “Skyfall” junket, I also spoke with Bardem, Marlohe & Harris and Dame Judi Dench, so stay tuned for those interviews in the weeks to come.
For now, check out the full Craig conversation above.
“Skyfall” opens in the UK and around much of the world this Friday (October 26) and on November 9 in the United States.