The Spy Who Loved Me: In "Skyfall," Daniel Craig Has a License to Kill; Offscreen, He'll Kill You With Kindness
When Daniel Craig confidently strides into the hotel room at the Mandarin Oriental Miami to meet with us, he is wearing a perfectly tailored suit with a pocket square, not unlike James Bond's attire in Skyfall, the latest installment opening this Friday.
He adjusts his watchband in a way that hints it might have slipped out of place while snapping the neck of a would-be assassin out in the hallway. The watch is an Omega, the same kind James Bond wears, and though there's probably some sort of contractual obligation, the watch looks just right on Daniel Craig. Everything about him looks right. His eyes are bluer than they are on film, and when he takes a seat across the table from us, there seems something so cool about sitting that we silently vow to never stand again.
Consider what it is about Daniel Craig that is so incredibly charming. For starters, it's his craft. It's clear he does the Bond films not for a paycheck but for a keen interest in making high-quality and unique entertainment. That's why he brought director Sam Mendes onboard.
"I saw him at a party and offered him the job," he says, "which wasn't my place to do. One too many drinks. If it hadn't worked out, I could have always blamed the booze."
But Craig has a natural instinct for Bond; it's charm factor number two. He's credited for bringing a depth to the character that, he says, has been in the material all along.
"You read the books," he says, no doubt imagining the two of us reading Ian Fleming's novels in matching armchairs beside a fireplace, "and they were written a long time ago, so I suppose they're dated. But they still stand up as good reads. Fleming really does explore the character. There's a lot of self-doubt there, and he kills people for a living, so it bothers him."
When someone else in the room — an intruder on our private moment — points out that Roger Moore recently called Craig the best James Bond of them all, Craig is chuffed. He laughs, "We love Roger!" And we find ourselves loving Roger too.
"It's very nice," Craig says very nicely. "He's a lovely, lovely man, Roger. He was the first James Bond I ever saw in the cinema, so I have a real affinity to him and a real soft spot for Roger. And he's also a gentleman, but, you know, I pay him well."
Which brings up one of the most interesting scenes in the film, when a tied-up Bond faces off with Javier Bardem's flamboyant villain. As they try to shock and disorient each other, James Bond implies that somewhere in his past, he had a homosexual encounter. This had to be during the Roger Moore years, right?
"The scene you're talking about," Craig replies, handsomely and somewhat wistfully as he locks eyes with us, "I think you'll find that they're just playing. They're fucking with each other. And to call Javier Bardem's character gay or anything would be shortsighted because I think he's a megalomaniac, and all that goes along with that."
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But when was the last time Craig was by himself, walking past a full-length mirror, and turned to it, going pe-chew! pe-chew! with a finger gun?
"I've never done that."
Not even when he first got the role?
"No, no. I've never done that. I do it with my friends sometimes, exactly as you just did." Even though he says only you, it is magical to hear him say our name like that.
As our time with Daniel Craig winds down, he says something that almost sounds like he wants to take a trip with us somewhere. He's talking about how after weeks of shooting indoor talking scenes, "sometimes it's a nice break to go outside and jump on top of a train. It's actually quite refreshing, and you feel better for it."
But before we can get the Metrorail app up on our phone to show him the schedule, his publicist is escorting him out of the room. All we're left with is the doodle he made on the pad in front of him and the promise of those blue eyes shining in the dark of the matinee.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.