Bond star Daniel Craig has been getting rave reviews for his new 007 film Skyfall —though some are starting to question his suitability for the role at 44.
And even he jokingly responds when asked when he’ll be too old for the job, “I am,” before changing his mind: “I will be at 44 and three quarters.”
But of course there is no chance of Daniel quitting as Bond for a few years yet. He has signed a deal to appear in two more films, and may even do more.
Nowadays sporting white hairs in his stubbly beard, he continues, “I will keep going as long as I can. I am contracted for two more and that seems like a fair few.
“But I am not going to outstay my welcome. Someone else will have to have the chance to have a crack at this.”
In an interview with The Sun ahead of tonight’s Skyfall royal premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Daniel is full of praise for the Queen’s acting skills.
In July, in the guise of 007, he famously pretended to parachute with Her Majesty into the Olympic opening ceremony in London. It was a huge surprise that she was willing to play up to the gag, which kicked off director Danny Boyle’s showcase for Britain.
Daniel says, “I think she did good, I think she did fantastically. I am a big fan of Danny Boyle. He did an amazing job with the opening ceremony.
I was proud to be a small part of it.
“It was quite surreal to be in the palace with the Queen but Danny was being lovely, and so was she.”
The Cheshire-born actor kept his royal assignment secret from friends and family — until The Sun got the scoop on his Olympic calling. He smiles at me and points, “Your lot let it out.”
Daniel is very relaxed during the interview, laughing and joking. At one point he leans back, undoes the top button of his shirt and says: “I can loosen my tie, we’re not filming this, are we?”
He has every right to feel relaxed. After a bumpy start to his time as Bond, when some fans questioned his casting as the star of the world’s longest-running film series, he is now rightly considered to be one of the greatest 007s.
And Skyfall — his third outing in the role — is being called one of the best Bond films.
One of the people who doubted Daniel when he was cast as Bond was director Sam Mendes, who had worked with him on 2002 film Road To Perdition. So I ask Daniel how their conversation went when they met again.
He says with a laugh, “He apologised, we moved on.” In fact Daniel did more than that — he asked Sam if he would like to direct Skyfall and the Oscar-winning movie maker accepted.
Daniel recalls: “I was at a party and Sam was there. He doesn’t drink, so he was sober, but I wasn’t. I picked his brains about the next movie and we talked about the things we loved about Bond movies. I offered him the job, which wasn’t my job to do.”
Sam enjoyed the experience so much he has said he would like to make another Bond film.
Daniel says: “I would like to work with Sam again but it’s not my decision. Most movies take three or four months, but this is six, seven, eight months of shooting, so you need an energy level. Sam has an abundance of energy and fortunately there is no bigger Bond fan. That’s what I really wanted from a director.”
Another evening out led Daniel to ask Spanish star Javier Bardem if he would like to play Skyfall’s baddie, Raoul Silva.
Daniel says, “It makes sense. You can skirt around the issues or I think you can just ask them, and he said yes as well.”
Casting Javier was a masterstroke. It led to one of Skyfall’s funniest, most risque scenes, where Raoul rubs Bond’s thighs suggestively.
Daniel says, “It is very funny. It made us laugh doing it and we pushed it further than we intended. It’s one of those moments where they are ****ing with each other and to have these adversaries playing poker together is great.”
Female fans will be glad to hear that Bond is just being playful with Raoul. And when it comes to Daniel showing his toned chest, the shirt comes off more often than ever, including one scene where he gets in the shower with brunette Bond girl Severine, played by Berenice Marlohe.
Daniel says, “I take my clothes off in this film more than I did in Casino Royale.”
There is far more humour in Skyfall than in Daniel’s previous two Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and there were lots of loud laughs from the audience when I attended the first screening. Daniel felt the time was right to bring the gags back, hoping people might not associate it so much with Mike Myers’s spoof spy creation Austin Powers.
He says, “The first two movies had one story to tell. I always wanted to bring the comedy back in. I love Mike Myers but he screwed it for us on a lot of the gags — he took the best ones.
“I maintained as long as we got good writing, the jokes would come, and they do in this movie, adding a lightness of touch to break tension.”
He admits that the previous film, Quantum Of Solace, was not as good as he had hoped. It has been four years since its release, but that break was down to problems with MGM Studios, who held the right to the Bond films.
Daniel says, “We don’t need a four-year break between films, we need two years. We need a great script — we had one on Casino, sadly we didn’t have time for one on Quantum but we did on this. That, combined with a cast which would look good on any movie.”
Daniel believes the films have got to maintain the fantasy element and says, “I think the danger is to make them too political because you alienate an audience if you make a comment when you are making a fantasy.”
There are certain elements that always have to remain if it is to be a proper Bond movie, he thinks.
He continues, “The great things about these movies are that there are rules you have got to stick to.
“There are emotional parts in this movie, but he’s Bond and he never really breaks, even if he gets thrown about.
“If you stick to those rules you can play about. To be Bond, he’s a soldier, he tries to hide his emotions and trying to push those boundaries is interesting.”
In Skyfall — which also stars Naomie Harris — the emotion mainly comes from his loyalty to MI6 boss M, played by Judi Dench, which is tested to the limit.
Despite being the current face of a character who has been on our cinema screens for 50 years, Daniel reveals he can enjoy a drink in relative peace.
He says, “I still go to the local pub. On a Friday night in the middle of town is probably not the best place for me to be having a quiet pint, but I still go for a pint back home.”
The Sun / The Interview People