Emphasized by his ability to naturally and elegantly resolve the most difficult situations, the public forgets that James Bond is a character and Daniel Craig is just an actor.
The evolution of this saga has adapted to the times since Her Majesty's Secret Service decided to marry on Four Your Eyes Only. Bond delves much deeper into his human side since Daniel Craig entered his skin. Now Bond is a man with a past and in No Time To Die, the next chapter of the franchise, the actor delves into his personal story to the point of saying goodbye to the character.
James Bond has been on the screen for 55 years, society has changed and Bond has changed. Each actor who played him did so showing his personality: Roger Moore was different from Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan was very different from George and Sean (Connery) was the one who laid the foundations for the character. Daniel Craig is also unique as the famous British spy created by Ian Fleming, with the difficult task to adapt 007 to the times of the millennium. Much more vulnerable and less womanizing, Bond has got, surprisingly, generations of video game lovers in his pocket, just look at the numbers of the latest installments to understand how well the most famous character of the British Empire remains in vogue. Talking with him at the Film Festival of Toronto, where he presented Knives Out, Daniel Craig recognized his affection for Lorca and his capacity to survive in Spanish every time he goes to Spain to work.
Q: Do you speak Spanish?
A: I’ve been working many times in Spain, in Mexico, and in other Spanish speaking countries and I can manage to survive with a few words. I can order food, drinks and move around without problems. The great thing is that, every time I go there, I have someone around me who speaks the language and helps me. Ana de Armas is my Spanish teacher. She is fantastic.
Q: You have worked with Ana de Armas in two movies?
A: Yes, she is wonderful and a great actress. She very much surprised me on Knives Out because she has a natural comedic timing. She nailed every scene. Then she came for James Bond and again she did a perfect job even when a small character.
Q: You have played all kinds of characters; from a Polish hunter, to a Jew of the resistance to a German agent and you always do trying to find the cultural references of each character. What is your method?
A: I leave all that at the door. You can get mad if you hope to get too much. I let myself be carried away by the character and that is what I have learned over the years. You have to work with people you admire and let yourself be guided by their talent.
Q: Do you read Spanish authors?
A: I love Lorca. I truly have a passion for his works. I’m a classic trained actor in theater and Lorca has really amazing plays. Also, I’ve read Gabriel García Márquez and Bolaños.
Q: Bond is a little macho. Is Hollywood still sexist?
A: That is a long, long conversation. Sexism is present in all professions. In a male-led society we would be deluded if we thought that sexism does not exist.
Q: But do you think it has improved?
A: It is a constant battle. I don't know how to answer that question because I don't want to get into a legal battle (laughs)
Q: Have you ever felt an urge to direct?
A: No. I don't want to direct, I would be very bored to have everyone around me wondering what they have to do. I have no desire to get behind the scenes and tell a story. Instinctively I feel like it's not my job.
Q: Would you say that James Bond is a character that still manages to surprise you?
A: Yeah. I think more so this time. I’m just sort of -- I’m enjoying it much more than I have in the other movies. I’m just having -- you know, we’ve been working on it for two years now, or I have been working on script wise. And we’ve just been trying to get something together. So, I feel like I’m a part of it and it’s-- and the shooting process is just a culmination of that. So, yeah, I’m very, very excited about it.
Q: the archetype of James Bond has been evolving. Have you needed to adapt to modern times?
A: Over the years, no doubt, James Bond has changed. Think that this saga has been on the screen for 55 years. Society has changed and Bond has changed because each actor that played the character has understood it in their own way, acting it from different aspects of Bond's personality. Roger Moore was very different from Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan was very different from George, and Sean was the one who laid the foundations of the character. It started with Casino Royale with a very raw Bond. Bond's character has not only evolved through the decades in which we have seen him but also through the last twelve years in which I’ve been playing it.
Q: What keeps from the character created by the writer Ian Fleming?
A: The DNA of the character created by Fleming is still there. It remains essentially within all interpretations. Of course, it has evolved. However, it maintains the heroic aspect, that is eternal. He is an eternal hero. That attribute will never change.
Q: Daniel, you’ve been doing this role for 12 years now –
A: Really? Is it that long?
Q: And we’ve seen how it’s changed, you’ve changed the role. How has it changed you?
A: How long have we got? Well, it's obviously changed my life. I mean, it’s changed my life in many wonderful, wonderful ways. But it’s -- it gets -- it’s -- my outlook on this kind of life has sort of changed. I’m kind of -- I feel like I’m much more relaxed about doing this, like I’m really enjoying it. I’m really having a kind of good time. And I think when this kicked off, you know, there was a lot of furor around it and me taking over. There was a lot of pressure on me, and I kind of don’t give a shit now. I just wanted to make the best movie I can, you know.
Q: How far can you go? I mean, he’s a limited -- it’s a limited role, you know well.
A: I’m a limited actor, so it’s fine. It’s -- I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. You’ve just gotta put your head -- put your heads together. He’s a brilliant character. And you’ve got to take full advantage of it and make -- you know, use all of those resources we can to make the most exciting movie. And as long as that’s the case, then I’m kind of behind it.
Q: What’s getting harder and what’s getting easier?
A: Well, you know, it’s like -- it’s a -- I don’t know if anything’s really getting much harder. I think the kind of -- I think genuine -- on the whole, things are just getting easier. So, you know, it’s getting easier for me to do. It’s really hard work. It doesn’t change. You know, physically it’s really demanding. It’s never -- it’s just as demanding as it ever was. And, you know, and I get knocks, and I get hurt, and I get this, and I have to pick myself up and get on with it. But again, I’ve got a much more kind of -- you know, kind of my eyes are -- I’m not so narrow-minded about the whole thing, or so tunnel-visioned about it. I’m kind of like I want to see the bigger picture.
Q: How are you? I want to know the angle that you can take in order to deal with your character.
A: Well, it’s the fourth time I’ve worked with Alexander, so -- and he is -- he’s genuinely one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. He’s -- I’ve been hanging off the side of trains, I’ve been hanging out the side of buildings, and Alexander is there on the rope with me with a camera on his shoulder. And I look and I smile. And we’ve been doing this a while and, you know, we’re very fortunate that he wanted to come back and do another one, because as you all know, I mean obviously, you know, action sequences in Bond movies are quite important, and Alexander plays a huge part in those, in the creation of those.
Q: It’s this your last Bond,
A: I don’t know. We will see. I’m happy with what I have done with the character, maybe it is time for someone else to try it. The right person for the job will come. I’m not worried about it.
Q: Of all the places you have visited with James Bond, which would you say has been the most exciting?
A: Every place we travel to has been a great experience. We are now in Jamaica, we have shot Bond movies in Mexico, in Spain. I love Spain. Every place we shoot gives us its own idiosyncrasy and that is part of Bond's internationality, Spain, no doubt about it, is one of my favorites countries to shoot.