Daniel Craig is back as James Bond 007 in "Skyfall," the 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise in history. "Skyfall" is being called by many critics the best Bond film yet, and it's already taken in a whopping $90 million since its opening on Nov. 9 in the U.S. It's on target to make $1 billion after all of the overseas numbers are counted. That's a lot of Bond.
At The Movies sat down with the film's stars, Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem, and producer Barbara Broccoli about the film just prior to the opening.
This is Daniel Craig's third time on screen as James Bond. He starred in "Casino Royale" (2006) and "Quantum of Solace" (2008).
ON WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT BOND: "I love the fact that James Bond remains chauvinistic. I think it's important that he does, otherwise it would be lying to say he's a modern man. He's not really a modern man, but putting strong women in front him, it kind of makes it exciting, sexier, I think."
ON PLAYING BOND AT THE OLYMPICS: "Well, working with the Queen, what can I say? All I can say is that I was really honored to play just a small part in the Olympics opening ceremony. It was incredibly moving. It was very surreal when I was at the Palace working with the Queen. It's not something I ever dreamed I'd do. She was lovely, though, and keen to do it. We laughed a lot, but the whole thing was very quick; it was all over before I could even think about it. And I had to keep it very secret."
ON HIS PART IN GETTING DIRECTOR SAM MENDES FOR "SKYFALL": "I saw Sam Mendes at a party. [Craig was at Hugh Jackman's 41st birthday party three years ago in Manhattan.] I kind of offered him the job, even though it's not my place to do that. . . one too many drinks. If it hadn't worked out, I could've blamed the booze."
ON BRINGING DEPTH TO THE ROLE OF BOND: "I always felt like we could explore him. You read the books and they still stand up as a good read. Fleming really does explore the character. There's a lot of self doubt. He kills people for a living so it bothers him. No one told me what the rules were as far as action-adventure movies were concerned, I always thought you could have a plot and therefore a character. I never forget I'm playing James Bond, it isn't a character study, it's giving somebody who is closed off and letting a little bit go occasionally, and then seeing him knocked down so we can see him stand up again. The thing about an action movie is this: in the beginning of an action movie the world needs saving and in the end, the hero saves the world. I want to do a bit more than that."
Javier Bardem received an Academy Award for his portrayal of the sociopathic killer, Anton Chigurh, in "No Country for Old Men" (2007). His villain, Raoul Silva, in "Skyfall" is almost as chilling.
HOW HE CREATED THE CHARACTER: "When I read the material, it was very powerful and it had a lot of complexities and different colors. And then Sam Mendes talked to me and he said that he would like to go with this idea of someone who creates uncomfortable situations. That took us into the character."
ON SILVA'S FLIRTATION WITH BOND: "It's not about labeling. It's something more. I think it's bigger than that. It's about creating the scenario where James Bond himself is caught off guard. The word that director Sam Mendes kept using was 'uncomfortableness.' Beyond the sexuality, he wanted it to feel like you don't know if Silva's joking or not. Silva is based on this idea to put people in a place where they do not know how to proceed."
ON BEING IN A BOND FILM: "It was a very pleasant journey for me on a personal and professional level because we had to find the middle ground between reality and fiction. A Bond villain is in itself a genre and people expect the Bond villain to be somebody that is a little bit out there; we had to do that without losing the sensation of belonging to the Earth."
Producer Barbara Broccoli's father, Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, brought Ian Fleming's 007 character to the big screen introducing James Bond to cinema audiences in the 1962 film adaptation of "Dr. No." Now Broccoli and her half-brother Michael Wilson are the keepers of the franchise, which already has Bond 24 (2014) and Bond 25 (2016) slated.
ON THE FILM ALMOST NOT BEING MADE: "We wanted to have a film for the 50th anniversary of the Bond films. We were already working on the script and we also had Sam Mendes who had decided to come on board. We were amassing the teams. Then MGM had financial troubles and we had to put the brakes on. It was very scary for a while."
ON GROWING UP WITH BOND: "In our house, James Bond was always talked about. It was a constant thing. It was like James Bond was a family member. My father was very passionate about the character that Ian Fleming created."
ON BOND'S RELEVANCY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: "The film is about heroism and that never goes out of style. James Bond is a classical hero, but he lives in a contemporary time. What it basically comes down to is individuals doing heroic things for the greater good."
ON THIS BEING THE BEST BOND FILM EVER MADE: "I think that success is Daniel Craig's. He has recalibrated the character and has the ability to make audiences feel what he's feeling. When you read the books, you can get into the mind of the character, but on film it's not that easy, especially for an enigmatic character who doesn't talk much. But I think Daniel has managed to portray all that inner life on screen and in a really engaging way."