‘I’m not strong and macho. I’m not James Bond. I don’t need any of his lifestyle'
The 47-year-old actor tells Event why he gets a kick out of being a killer... and reveals the secret of his success - 'a good story and blowing things up every half an hour!'
If Daniel Craig has been great news for James Bond – his third film, Skyfall, was the first in the 53-year franchise to break the billion-dollar barrier – Bond has been equally gracious in return. Craig earned £17 million last year and after the success of Skyfall brokered a deal to be paid £31 million for his next two 007 films, including Spectre, the 24th film in the franchise. He’s the only British actor to make it on to the Forbes list of highest-paid stars of 2015 (he came 15th). But what attracted him to the role – aside from the money? And how happy is he playing it? While acknowledging that Bond must be irredeemably tough, Craig has said he wanted to bring more ‘emotional depth’ to the role. ‘He’s a killer. He kills for a living,’ explains Craig, 47. ‘But it’s an honour to play him. I get such a big kick out of doing it. I had an opportunity with Casino Royale to wipe the slate clean. 'Although I’m not saying it was a rebirth of Bond – that sounds conceited – I was a huge fan of Bond before.
'But I couldn’t just do a movie where I would straighten my tie and drink a Martini. It’s all been done. It had to happen in the right way. And we’ve done that. That for me, as an actor, is so important.’ What he most admires about Bond, he says, is ‘his inner conflict. When he’s knocked down, it’s how he gets up. He takes a lot of battering and so he should, he’s an agent. 'But it’s how he stands up against adversity because he’s one against many.’ But after half a century, and five previous Bonds, why is the public still so interested in 007? Craig has a simple theory. ‘You simply stick to the old adage that a good story goes a long way. And blow s*** up every half an hour. That’s how it’s done,’ he laughs. Of course there have been other projects in between his three Bonds, which have bolstered his movie-star status: in 2011 he played journalist Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and the same year starred in Dream House, alongside wife Rachel Weisz. Craig made his debut in Casino Royale in 2006, and admits he did have slight concerns about being typecast.
‘I remember saying, “If this is the last thing I do in my career, then that would be OK” because come on – it’s not that bad a role to have under your belt. 'But after Casino Royale I panicked a little about people only seeing me a certain way and I started thinking, did I need to play someone totally opposite from Bond? But as time goes on, I’ve relaxed about that attitude.’ The role meant he had to work out and tone up – not least because he does many of his own stunts. In Spectre, filming shut down after he injured himself. ‘I damaged my knee a third of the way through shooting and we shut down for two weeks while I went away for surgery,’ he says. ‘I’m all right. I’m a hell of a long way from perfect.’ The greatest misconception, he says, is that he is anything like his famous alter-ego. ‘I’m not strong and macho,’ he says, while conceding that he spends much of Spectre bare-chested. ‘It’s so funny that people have this image of me as the hard man when that’s really not me. ‘I’m not James Bond. I am genuinely not him. I don’t need any of his lifestyle. I’m just an actor, folks – it’s acting.’
He does, however, like beautiful clothes. ‘One of the perks of this gig is that I get sent nice clothes, but I’ve always liked tailoring. My grandfather was a tailor.’ He can’t see Bond married and settled with a family. ‘He’s a spy. Everyone he falls in love with dies,’ he says.
Yet women adore him because he’s dangerous. ‘It’s as simple as that.’ It’s six years since he took on the role. He’s signed for one more Bond film after Spectre, but how long can he keep going? ‘It’s getting easier because I’m doing less [stunt work],’ he says, with a laugh. ‘I’ve got so many good doubles.’ He admits, however, that Bond requires ‘I work myself to death’ to get fit. ‘It’s getting harder. But such is life. I’ll keep going as long as I’m physically able. 'I’m contracted for one more – but I’m not going to make predictions.’ He still finds it exciting to make the films. ‘These movies don’t get made very often,’ he says. ‘It’s just the fourth time for me, a spit in the ocean. 'If you don’t get excited about making a movie of this size with this cast, with Sam Mendes… then go home.’