Playing James Bond may seem like a glamorous job, what with all the fancy cars, beautiful women, and exotic locales. But there are hazards that come with portraying the world's most famous secret agent. Just ask Quantum of Solace star Daniel Craig, whose array of injuries incurred during the film's arduous six-month shoot included broken bones, mangled fingers, and facial lacerations that required plastic surgery.
With his right arm still confined to a sling thanks to a shoulder injury he sustained on the Quantum set, Craig sat down with us to chat about his latest turn as 007.
ReelzChannel: What happened to your arm?
Craig: Who knows? It could have been any number of things that could have done it. I genuinely don't know. They've put six pins in it. It's called a "slap tear" and it goes -- 50 percent from the top posterior all the way around and right into the middle. It's a pain in the ass because it doesn't heal quickly.
RC: So how much longer will you be in a sling?
Craig: Another six years. (laughs) I'll be probably fit by Christmas but I won't be able to put any pressure on it -- like hang from a train or do something stupid like that -- till next year.
RC: Do the physical challenges of the role ever get easier? Is it ever fun, or is every day on set just another hard day at work?
Craig: It's just incredible, actually. I pinch myself, genuinely. It's a really good job. I could be doing so many other things apart from this. And my favorite part of this whole process is the collaboration with the people I work with. We're working with some of the best people in the world: the special effects, the stunt people, the director, the actors, all those things. It's a thrill.
RC: More than any other actor who's portrayed this character, you've had to delve into the pain associated with being 007. Is that difficult?
Craig: It's not at all difficult. We started off something in Casino Royale. We had a great storyline, we had a great book, we had a novel by Ian Fleming that was solid and had a love story in it -- a really strong love story. And Eva Green played this great part, a wonderful performance, and when it came around to shooting this movie it was like, we can't just push that aside. We have to develop that; we have to tie up the loose ends here. And that's what Quantum of Solace is about -- it's him finding his quantum of solace. He's not on a vendetta. He's not after revenge. He's after finding his place. And his relationships with M and Felix and obviously with Mathis -- and subsequently with Camille -- in the movie are about solidifying his place in the world and who his allies are. And I think by the end of the movie we're sure, and he's Bond, and now we can do whatever we want.
RC: Do you think he can lighten up a little bit now?
Craig: Ah, no. (laughs) I mean, of course we can do anything. But writing gags for a movie like this is wrong. You can't write gags for a movie like this; they either come or they don't. We dealt with this in a way and that is the way the story went, but honestly, the lines and all the -- not the Bond clichés, but the Bond clichés -- we can put in as long as we earn them. This is not what this has been about. But there's a few gags in there. There's some belly laughs in there. Somewhere.
RC: Have you had any discussions with the producers in terms of a road map of where you'd like to take this character?
Craig: No. We've got so much on our plate just trying to get one movie out. We've had discussions, but there's never anything nailed down. Whether Paul Haggis does the next one or we get another writer involved, we want their ideas. We want their creative input. And to just say, "This is what we want." -- it puts up barriers. It puts up walls. We want people with creativity and talent to come in and go, "I've got a good idea."
RC: You do have something to build on, going after the Quantum organization.
Craig: We could do that. I think that there's definitely room to get involved with that. We know (Quantum) kind of reaches up into governments now, so we could take it anywhere.
RC: When you're working on a franchise like this, audiences always expect the latest episode to be better than the last. Is that the downside of your line of work?
Craig: It's a high-class problem, to be honest. I think that as long as we're keeping the product good -- it feels horrible to say that word, but let's be honest, that's what it is -- keeping the quality up, keeping the money on the screen, keeping audiences interested. I can't predict what's going to happen. If we're fighting an uphill battle then it's time to rethink, but if that's a challenge, then I think it's a good challenge.
RC: Your director, Marc Forster, is a newcomer to the franchise. Did you have any advice for him?
Craig: I couldn't warn him about how long this could take and how it would feel when you're three months into it and you realize that you've got another three months to go. You can't warn somebody about that because you have to experience it for yourself. He's an incredibly active director. He is involved at every level. He plans meticulously, he covers every base, and we did our work before we started. Once we wound it up and let it go, we'd come on set and we'd talk, but we made most of the plans about what we wanted to do before we started shooting. That was a relief, because it meant we could concentrate on what we were doing.
RC: It seems that Judi Dench's role as M was greatly expanded in both Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale.
Craig: Yeah. It's a great thing to have, because I think (Bond) can behave misogynistically, badly. He does the things that he shouldn't do. He's amoral, or morally ambiguous at the very least, and M is his grounding. She kind of makes it make sense.
RC: What did you think of your costar, Olga Kurylenko?
Craig: She's fantastic. She's done a great job. She was thrown in the deep end with this. And the part was about somebody on a vendetta, somebody with a deep past, and they come together – they're a foil for each other in this because Bond actually isn't on a vendetta. He's trying to come to terms with losing the love of his life and kill the bad guys, which obviously goes without saying.
RC: They added the iconic gun barrel sequence, which was absent from Casino Royale, to the end of this movie. What was it like shooting that?
Craig: Probably that was the scariest bit, if I was being totally honest. Forget the jumping off buildings and the fires and all that. That was probably the scariest bit. We did it twice. We did it once and it didn't work, so we did it again. I just thought, it has to be right and it has to be aggressive and it has to work.
RC: How many Bond films are you under contract for?
Craig: There's four I'm under contract for. This is the second one.
RC: How do you intend to keep the franchise fresh?
Craig: I just think what we've got to keep doing is inventing new questions. There are kind of strict guidelines within a Bond movie that you have to adhere to because it's a Bond movie. We try and do that, but within the parameters of that you mess it up, you muck it about. That's been the challenge with this, but that's also been the exciting thing about doing the film, because it's a really good place to start. The books were great. Sean Connery set the movies up and has probably given it the impetus it needed to last so long. The Broccoli and Saltzman partnership put the money on the screen -- they genuinely did. They took Bond on location, and they make them stylish, and it's given this impetus that's lasted this long. They love these movies, they love this franchise, and they protect it fiercely. It's an unusual situation, but it's a very exciting situation as far as filmmaking is concerned.
RC: Is there a sense in your mind that people treat you differently now because you've played James Bond?
Craig: It's worse than ever! No respect. I can't tell you, it's just dreadful. (laughs) I try not to.... I go home. The only place that matters to me is my private life, if we're talking about those things. And I get no respect at home -- of course I don't. My family and my friends treat me as they've always treated me, and I would want that to always remain the same. What happens at work and this kind of crazy world that I'm living in at the moment with the movie coming out and things, it's showbiz and it's kind of part of the deal. I love it and hate it and all the things that go along with it, but I want people to treat me as normally as they can possibly do, and anybody who doesn't, I feel awkward with. I kind of like say, "Cut the bulls**t; let's talk." I want to remain like that. I want to stay grounded, man. (laughs) My private jet's on the runway.
RC: You've managed to avoid being pigeonholed by making films like Defiance, which is getting a lot of awards buzz.
Craig: I'm very pleased with (Defiance). It's come out really well. Ed (Zwick) has done a really great job. Eduardo Serra, who shot it, has done a beautiful job, as well. It's quite emotional. It deals with very important subject matter and it's really a good story that needs telling.