August 31, 2006
Actor Daniel Craig Finds 007 Role Tough, but Cool
By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES -- Life is tough, even for James Bond. Just ask actor Daniel Craig, who for the first time dons the British spy's tuxedo for fall film, "Casino Royale."
Ask him what is the coolest thing about making the 21st movie in the fabled film series that spans more than 40 years and five Bonds, and he responds: "Finishing probably."
For the film, which opens November 17, he was beat up, blown up and hung on wires on the back of a fuel tanker by director Martin Campbell's ("Die Another Day") special effects wizards.
Craig trained five days-a-week to get into shape, but he couldn't bulk-up too much or he wouldn't fit 007's tux. "You just look like a doorman," he said in a recent interview.
But perhaps the most emasculating thing about playing one of the movies' most macho of men is this: in "Casino Royale," James Bond is awkward -- a rookie agent -- at first. What's more, he gets dumped by a "Bond girl."
Yet Craig swears 007 regains his cool by the end.
"Casino Royale," is based on author Ian Fleming's first novel, penned in 1953, about the British spy with a license to kill, and while the movie's makers stuck close to the original storyline, they re-set the film in modern times.
"We have an opening sequence that is filmed in black and white, which is not to say this is old. It is just to say, 'go with us on this one. This is from the beginning,"' Craig said.
On his first mission for Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond must stop a Frenchman, Le Chiffre, from funding the world's terrorists. (In the novel, Le Chiffre is a Soviet agent).
BILLION DOLLAR BOND
Bond confronts Le Chiffre at the high stakes gambling tables at Casino Royale. British Treasury agent, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), delivers the cash to fund Bond's game and, of course, action, adventure and a little bit of loving ensue.
Another take on Fleming's yarn, 1967's "Casino Royale," was a comedic spoof of the Bond genre, so Craig's film becomes the first "Casino Royale" of the type the film icon's fans have come to love.
Since the first movie, 1962's "Dr. No," the series has sold $3.6 billion in tickets at U.S. and Canadian theaters, adjusted for inflation. Worldwide, the last four Bond films alone have grossed nearly $1.5 billion unadjusted, according to boxofficemojo.com
That's a tremendous box office record to maintain, and if an actor screws up the job, he is unceremoniously ousted. Just ask George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton -- two previous Bonds.
"It's huge," said Craig about taking the role. "Of course there's concern, I'm only human. I want to get it right."
Craig, 38, may be unknown to U.S. fans, but he is no stranger to acting or to the limelight. The British actor trained at England's National Youth Theater and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
He has appeared in movies and on television for nearly 15 years, most recently in Steven Spielberg's "Munich."
Bond producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli liked him enough to sign him for an untitled, 22nd Bond flick set for release in 2008.
Craig said he talked to Pierce Brosnan, who played the super spy in the four most recent Bond Flicks, "quite a few times."
"Pierce said 'go for it,"' Craig said. "So I did."