Feature: Quantum of Solace and Daniel Craig
Thu, 13 Nov 2008 12:15:05
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With his arm cradled in a supportive sling, the result of a recent surgery, actor Daniel Craig enters the room with an air of slick, unruffled confidence enveloping him. He is affable and approachable, yet supremely composed, the type of demeanor one would expect from the man ordained to play James Bond, spy icon for the ages.
Over the franchise’s 22-film run, Bond’s tuxedo has been donned by a select culling of actors, from Sean Connery’s swaggering rogue to Roger Moore’s mildly comic iteration of the character. What separates Craig from these men is a matchless, steely sort of intensity, partially owed to the oceanic-hued eyes which stare back at viewers from the screen. Craig was conscious of the legacy these actors left behind, yet was determined to forge a unique space for himself within Bond’s substantive history.
“I’d never copy anybody else,” says Craig. “I would never do an impression of anybody else or try and improve on what they did. That would be a pointless exercise to me. I had to find out how I was going to do this, and [starring in] these two movies have tied that in for me.”
One might say that Quantum of Solace, set for release on Friday, November 14th, marks the birth of a darker Bond, one weathered by loss and struggling with moral confusion after the traumatic events which transpired in Casino Royale.
Quantum of Solace is the first direct sequel in the franchise’s history, notable because it allows the filmmakers to unravel the dramatic threads of its predecessor even further, to plume deeper into the psyche of a man heretofore best known for bedding beautiful women and brandishing pistols.
Says Craig about the continuation, “In my mind, at the end of Casino Royale it was the beginning of a story as opposed to the end of a story. He’d fallen in love; he’d had his heart broken; [the] organization that they discovered they just started peeling back the onion skins of. To do another movie and just sort of go, ‘Oh, there was this chick once,’ seemed to be the wrong thing to do. [A sequel] just fit.”
Though a misty kind of gloom often hangs over Quantum of Solace, Bond devotees still have plenty to look forward to in terms of action. If they enter the theater in search of the thrilling touchstones which define the series, they’ll no doubt be sated. From the famed iris-walk to tautly composed chase scenes, Craig, director Marc Forster, and the rest of Quantum’s creative team preserved these and other classic Bond components.
“I’m just applying what I know—and, working with someone like Marc, what we know—about making movies,” Craig explains. “It’s a Bond movie. All the subtleties are there, which you see: the music, the style, the whole thing is classically Bond. We’re just fucking around with it. It’s enjoyable to do.”
The airtight editing of Quantum of Solace is one of its distinguishing flourishes. Jarring in the beginning, yet wholly engrossing once you submit yourself to the experience, the action scenes breathe and leap with kinetic energy. Both Craig and his newest “Bond girl,” actress Olga Kurylenko, were largely responsible for performing their own stunts, from freefalling down a wind tunnel to engaging in combat on high-speed motor boats. Craig is fiercely proud of the stunt work present on-screen.
Speaking about one scene in particular, in which he and Kurylenko dizzyingly leap from a plane on the verge of crashing, Craig describes how the filmmakers strove to create the greatest realism imaginable.
“We set the bar on this [film, in terms of action], so we had to try and achieve [goals] and make [scenes] different, but that’s good. Things have moved on. Special effects have moved on. We certainly didn’t want to make this a more CGI-based movie, but the plane sequences [insisted] that we have CGI. I think that the freefall sequence was incredible to do because we went and learned freefall…It looks like hell [to experience], but it [actually] looks like we were falling out of an airplane.”
Propelling Bond from one dynamic scene to the next is a story which finds him chasing Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to uncover more about a villainous agency, a quest which leads him to encounter and befriend Camille (Kurylenko) along the way, who is submerged in her own vengeful vendetta. She, in turn, guides him toward Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a corporate shark veiling criminal intensions under the guise of environmentally-sound business dealings. Though fibers of the plot often get convoluted and leave certain conflicts unresolved, Craig feels as if this ambiguity is part of what defines the newest Bond films and ultimately makes them stronger.
“I like an open ending. I want an audience to go away asking questions.”
“I don’t like films that tie everything up at the end. I like an open ending. I want an audience to go away asking…questions. Hopefully they’ll continue asking those questions [leading into] the next movie.”
As far as the future of Bond and his role in the franchise, Craig is effusive in his enthusiasm, but doesn’t indicate exactly how long he will continue to go toe-to-toe with sultry women and undercover operatives.
“These movies are an amazing experience to shoot, and they’re an amazing experience to work with the people I work with,” he says. “I will do them as long as I can.”