With Flashbacks of a Fool hitting cinemas, Louise Stegalls talks to star Daniel Craig and director Baillie Walsh.
Daniel Craig is looking pretty pleased with himself. The 40-year-old is in town for the world premiere of Flashbacks of a Fool; the story of a washed-up actor, Joe Scot, who gets a wake-up call when his childhood friend dies suddenly, a film which Daniel has executive produced.
As he walks along the red carpet, continuously doubling back to sign photos and pose for pictures with the hoards of fans that have gathered to get a peek of their hero – often snatching the camera to take the snap himself – he looks relaxed and cheerful, a far cry from the emotional state of his latest character.
“We were trying to get the movie made for a number of years,” explains Daniel later, swigging from a bottle of Corona. “It wasn’t until things have happened over the past couple of years that people have had more interest and it just seemed like the right thing to do, to get involved with the thing as executive producer.”
Most people would be deeply annoyed if their best friend had written a movie for them which portrayed them as a washed-up, alcoholic, drug addicted has-been. But Daniel did everything he could to get the film made. “I’ve have to press the flesh,” he admits, “I have to say ‘look, put your hands in your pockets and spend some money on this movie. I believe in this movie, I believe in this movie, I believe in the people we’ve got involved, I’d like to see it made.’ Thankfully we did”.
He describes how he wanted to explore a character who has failed not just as an actor, but as a human being. “What was interesting for me in the script is that you’ve got someone who appears to have everything and has fucked it up,” muses Daniel. “If you have any success in what you do for a living, you have to maintain a real love and energy for what you are doing, and if you can, that’s a great thing.”
“Every movie I get involved with, I get involved with on as deep a level as I possibly can,” says Daniel. “This obviously has been a much more personal journey for me, so… there’s a sense of relief, a sense of just amazement that we got it here, because it’s been a struggle.”
For writer/director Baillie Walsh it was also a celebration, finally being able to work with his friend. “I’d always wanted to work with Daniel and knew I’d have to set about writing a script if I was ever going to work with him” says the director. Walsh had walked into the studio of an artist friend and seen a painting of a little boy running through a field, with his face full of joy, and it was this that was the inspiration for the film. “I recognised the look on the little boy’s face. It was literally just one of those moments of remembering.”
To create the heightened sense of reality required for the look back into Joe Scot’s formative years, Baillie and cast decamped to South Africa finding a perfect beach to create Joe’s childhood home. “I had to walk onto the beach and believe it was an English location,” says Baillie. “Maybe the sea’s a big bigger, maybe the waves a bit higher but I walked onto that beach and thought, okay, I believe it”.
Meanwhile Daniel had the opportunity to reflect on his own teenage years. “There’s a first kiss… there’s electrifying moments when you’re a teenager which form who you are, moments of that period of your life,” he considers. “I hit 40 this year but I still think about being a teenager – hopefully I will for the rest of my life, it’s an important time of your life.”
While Baillie and the younger cast members are getting used to the limelight, Daniel himself has relaxed since his early days in the media glare and admits it does have some benefits. “If I can make movies like Flashbacks of a Fool, I’m going to get a huge amount of enjoyment from it, that’s clear to me.”