Combustible Celluloid

Interview with Daniel Craig

'Cake' Mix

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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It was recently announced that English-born Daniel Craig, 37, would be the next James Bond. Craig himself gives the real lowdown: "It was news to me when it broke. If it was true, I couldn't say anything. It's a rumor that's been let go by the British press. I'm not complaining; it's a high-class problem to have."

Would he take the role if it were actually offered? "I'd give it serious consideration, but I don't know."

Craig (Tomb Raider, The Mother) recently visited the San Francisco International Film Festival to talk about his new film, Layer Cake. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Layer Cake is very much in the tradition of tough, scrappy English gangster films like Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch (both of which Vaughn produced).

The lead character in Layer Cake -- a meticulous, low profile drug dealer who hopes to retire after one last big deal -- has no name and very little in the way of background information, which would drive a Method actor crazy. Yet Craig was greatly intrigued by the challenge.

"Method actors suggest that you do sense memory exercises every time you do a scene," Craig says. "I use every method I can. Whatever works, I'll use."

Craig's background work on the character consisted of making him absolutely neutral. "He would walk into a hotel, walk into the lobby, meet people, talk to people, walk out and no one would notice he was there," he says.

The actor enjoys being a cipher. "Not to be wanky," he says, "it's the beauty of the human face. An audience fills it in. Good cinema lets the audience guess all the way through."

On that level, both Craig and Vaughn were big fans of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, which became an overnight phenomenon in England.

"The violence in Reservoir Dogs is really not nice," he says. "It really affects me emotionally. In this film, the violence is extreme, but it's emotionally connected. When someone gets shot in this movie, I hope people go, 'Ooh! That's not good.'"

In the film, Craig's character abhors guns but still must use one. "If you want to talk about the politics of guns," he says, "I'm totally opposed to gun ownership, anything that's for shooting people. However, there's something enticing about them. I'm a bloke and the smell of gun oil turns me on."

April 26, 2005

Partial Daniel Craig Filmography:
The Power of One (1992)
A Kid in King Arthur's Court (1995)
Elizabeth (1998)
Love Is the Devil (1998)
The Trench (1999)
I Dreamed of Africa (2000)
Some Voices (2000)
Hotel Splendide (2000)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Sylvia (2003)
The Mother (2003)
Enduring Love (2004)
Layer Cake (2004)
The Jacket (2005)
Fateless (2005)
Munich (2005)
Renaissance (2006) (voice)
Infamous (2006)
Casino Royale (2006)
The Invasion (2007)
The Golden Compass (2007)
Flashbacks of a Fool (2008)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Defiance (2008)

Movies Unlimtied