This weekend, ComingSoon.net has been in London for the international press junket for New Line’s The Golden Compass based on the first book in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series, and we had a chance to talk to Daniel Craig, who plays Lord Asriel, the adventurous uncle of the film’s protagonist. Of course, talk quickly turned to Craig’s more famous role as the newest James Bond 007, because everyone wants to find out what we can expect from the follow-up to the blockbuster Casino Royale, which is scheduled to start shooting very soon.
ComingSoon.net: How have you been coping with your post-Bond fame?
Craig: I run away. Having a sense of humor is really key. You have to have a sense of humor with these things and I’ve just tried to remain who I am. My life has changed. It’s changed in the fact that I don’t have the freedoms I did before, but I’ve also got a huge amount of other freedoms that have come along.
CS: How apprehensive were you to take Bond on originally?
Craig: Very resignated. I was against it, very much against it.
CS: What changed your mind?
Craig: The script and the fact that it seemed to me that I would be able to sort of dedicate and get involved with and make something of. I’ve always been a Bond fan. I’ve always wanted the films to be good. When it came along and I read the script I thought there was genuinely an opportunity to make a good movie with one of the most classic icon figures in movies.
CS: What sort of sensibilities does Marc Forster, a non-Brit, bring to the Bond franchise?
Craig: If you look at Marc Forster’s current body of work, that in itself makes me very excited. If you look at “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland” and then “Kite Runner,” which is just stunning, it’s such a diverse look at the world, I’d want us to have that. Marc is very solid. That for me is crucially important because this movie needs to jump on from “Casino Royale” and take it somewhere else. Marc is totally inspired and is really just keen to get started.
CS: Is the next script based on Ian Fleming’s work at all?
Craig: There’s nothing left as far as I know.
CS: Have they decided not to adapt any of the John Gardner’s novels?
Craig: I don’t think they ever would, because they don’t own them. I don’t know what the deal is with that. We’re taking the original idea. The funny thing is if you read Fleming’s (novels), which I try to plow through occasionally, there’s an awful lot of story lines that have never been used because obviously the films are based on the books. There are still ideas that we can sort of pluck from.
CS: This new movie starts right after “Casino Royale” ends?
Craig: That’s the plan.
CS: How difficult is it for you as an actor to develop the character because of his iconic status?
Craig: Not difficult at all really. Paul Haggis is involved. We’ve got someone who can take on story and take on a character and take them to a different place. It’s always a struggle, but you’ve got to find themes, you’ve got to find reasons for doing it and you’ve got to put them all in the right place. The same rules apply.
CS: Will the writers strike affect production on the next film?
Craig: We’d basically have to start now. The SAG strike starts in July. The writers strike doesn’t affect us because we have a script. As it stands at the moment, it doesn’t affect us.
CS: I read somewhere you’re going to inject a bit more humor into the next movie.
Craig: I was lying. I said, “Yes, it’s going to be funny.” I don’t remember saying that, but if I did, I’m not going to shy away from the fact the occasionally there should be humor. I just don’t like gags. I don’t like written gags. That’s not the way I’ve ever liked working and I don’t think that’s funny myself.
CS: “Casino Royale” marked a welcome return to the style and sensibilities of the earlier Bond movies, rather than the jokey more recent movies.
Craig: The idea of having jokes in Bond I don’t think is completely wrong, but I think the jokes to need to come out tension. There needs to be moments of humor because we’ve all been sitting on the edge of our seat. I don’t think you should write gags in Bond.
CS: I understand there’s already a script for a sequel to “The Golden Compass.” Have you read it yet?
Craig: There’s an outline. It’s a pretty good outline. I haven’t looked at it. I’ve seen bits of it, but haven’t looked at it.
CS: Assuming “Golden Compass” is a hit and they make a second film, and you’re already signed up to do the next Bond, are you looking ahead to work both into your schedule?
Craig: That will be the plan, but it just depends on how well we do here. I try not to count chickens. I really don’t because there’s no point. You’d go crazy. We’re in good shape and I’m very happy with the way this is working out. I’d love to get involved with it. If they do another movie, I’d love to do it. We’ll fit it in. It’s not my job to make that work. I pay people fortunes to make that.
CS: How important is it for you to have the freedom to do riskier projects?
Craig: Oh, completely. I’ve completed a film this year with a close friend of mine called “Flashbacks of a Fool,” a movie which he wrote about five or six years ago and we’ve been trying to get it off the ground. I play a movie star who goes through a huge change in his life. It maybe sounds a bit arrogant to sort of do something like that, but the story is about growing up and what we learn when we’re children and how we formed as adults. We shot it in South Africa. It’s a very simple story.
CS: What do you think will happen in July if SAG decides strike?
Craig: That’s a good question. Really, good question. I don’t know what the latest news is on the writers strike, but I know it’s not settling. It needs to be sorted and people need to come to the negotiating table.