First published on 25 Sep 2012. Updated on 16 Nov 2012.
So, Daniel, what sort of place is Bond at psychologically in Skyfall?
He’s in a very good place at the start of the movie. It’s just he ends up getting into hot water. I have to a bit tight-lipped, I’m afraid. But we have tried to make the story as rich as possible, so he’s in a number of states, some of them happy, some of them sad. It really comes down to his interactions with characters in the movie. So where Javier [Bardem], the bad guy, takes us at certain points, it’s his movie. He’s driving it, and it’s about how Bond deals with that.
Does Bond take a backseat?
No! I knew I’d have to take that back. I’m in every fucking scene so it’s difficult for me to take a backseat. What I meant is that having actors as good as we have in the film, inevitably they’re going to be kind of a huge part of the movie. For me that’s a great relief.
What do you think will surprise people about this film?
It’s a good, dense storyline. It’s an adult film but it’s also got a lot of fun in it. People might be surprised by the fact that there’s a lightness of touch in the movie, which there hasn’t been in the last two, we were telling a different story in those. We had a lot of fun on set, there’s a lot of humour going on.
Am I right in thinking that there’s a little bit of romantic storyline with Judi Dench in there?
What with me? No, no I think you’re off the mark there, really.
I thought she was going to have her chance to have the sex scene – why should Bond have them all?
We did, we had a scene in Casino Royale where she was supposed to get out of bed. I can’t remember who played the part, but there’s a man in the bed with her. And we thought: well, who’s it going to be? I think Brad Pitt was in town. Someone joked: “Call Brad Pitt up.” I’m sure he’d do it wouldn’t he? You’d think so. I would.
What kind of vision do you think Sam Mendes brought to this Bond?
Acting-wise Sam has it covered. He does that standing on his head. He’s brilliant with actors and he’s brought a passion to it. He’s a proper fan of Bond.
How does being Bond affect your life while you’re away from Bond? Does it change the other roles you accept?
It doesn’t, no, I don’t think about it. I don’t say: “can’t do that”, “won’t do that”. I've never thought in that way about work. I take stuff because I’m inspired by it.
What’s your weekly schedule like filming Bond?
It’s seven days a week for seven, six seven months. Filming most of the time, evenings in the gym, rehearsing, and then Sundays or whatever the day off is, I’m usually rehearsing stunt sequences. I try and keep my days off sacrosanct because I need to get rest. But it’s not always possible. And then, there’s always other things to talk about, script meetings to have. It’s very, very intense for that period of time. But any kind of job involves a deadline. This just happens to stretch over a six-month period.
I mean this in the best possible way, but you seem quite tired now.
I’m fucked. I’m not fucked. I’m actually great. It’s just, what happens is that I keep an energy level up through filming and then as soon as it finishes I just relax and drop. We all do. You’ll find most of the crew kind of sitting around staring at brick walls because it’s been full on, all day, every day.
You live in America now. What’s the difference between how Bond’s seen out there and in the UK?
I don’t think there’s a lot of difference; people have a very kind of strong collective view of Bond worldwide. I get shouted at in the street. Sometimes it’s “James” and sometimes it’s “Daniel”. But I can walk around London or New York, and unless there’s a pap around and I get followed, people will just wave and say hello. They’ve got way too important things to be worrying about. They’re busy people.
We’ve been hearing that is going to be one of the more London Bonds in quite a while. How so?
There’s an element to the story of Bond coming back to London. Without giving too much away, MI6 comes under attack. London gets filmed well sometimes, but it’s rare that films get access to places like Whitehall or the London Underground. Thankfully, Bond opens doors, so we were allowed to go a bit crazy. This is really connected to where James Bond is from, which you haven’t seen in a Bond movie for a long time. It’s a small part of the movie but it’s very important. We got to close down Whitehall – and running down Whitehall in screaming cars is very exciting.
Skyfall screens from Thu Nov 22.
Top five Bond films
From Russia with Love (1963)
Connery’s second outing hit the sweet spot with tight plotting, classic villains Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) – she of the killer heels – and Grant (Robert Shaw), whose gadget-free fight with Connery on the Orient Express is genuinely brutal.
“No Mr Bond, I expect you to die!” Great lines abound in the third Bond, boasting Asian heavy Oddjob and his decapitating Frisbee-hat, feisty aviatrix Pussy Galore, and a dastardly plot to irradiate Fort Knox.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
With ninjas, piranhas, Japanese beauties, a satellite-gobbling space ship and a cat-stroking megalomaniac in Blofeld (Donald Pleasance), this is the one that inspired Austin Powers. Its witty screenplay is by Roald Dahl.
Casino Royale (2006)
After the fallow years of Moore, Dalton and Brosnan, Craig made Bond sexy again: macho, yet vulnerable. Based closely on the original novel, it was the first Bond in ages with a strong storyline.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
An over-sexed Bond defeats Blofeld, gets married, and loses everything. Campy? Yes, but Australian model George Lazenby had physicality and charisma, and, given another go, may just have found the acting chops too.