This article was originally published in November 2008.
Daniel Craig has earned his license to kill. When it was announced that he would replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, the near-universal reaction was outrage. Bond fans in the U.K. went so far as to launch a website that included doctored photos of Craig as Vladimir Putin and Al Bundy and called for a boycott of the actor. The press skewered him as “Bland, James Bland.”
But then came Craig’s performance as Bond in Casino Royale, arguably one of the best 007 pictures. The new Bond was favorably compared to the legendary, adored Sean Connery, who also sang Craig’s praises. Craig’s former critics ate crow, admitting he was the first to truly capture Bond creator Ian Fleming’s dark, occasionally vicious characterization. The Boston Globe wrote, “The most mocked of Bonds is now fast on his way to generating perhaps the best reviews of anyone in the 007 club for his brutal and engrossing performance.”
The film grossed nearly $600 million, trouncing earlier 007 films and setting the bar high for Quantum of Solace, the new Bond installment, opening this month. In the movie, which picks up an hour after Casino Royale leaves off, Craig, 40, is back—moodier and more pissed off than ever. Bond’s overriding modus operandi: revenge, following the murder of Vesper, his lover in the earlier film.
Craig is from Chester, England, where his father was a merchant seaman and owned a pub called Ring O’ Bells. After his parents split, in 1972, Craig was raised by his mother, an art teacher, in Liverpool. He left school at 16 to study at the National Youth Theater in London. He earned his living as a waiter and enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music & Drama at the Barbican, where he studied alongside Ewan McGregor and Joseph Fiennes. He graduated in 1991.
When Craig was selected to play Bond, much was made about his size (at five-foot-11, he’s the shortest Bond), his piercing blue eyes and his hair color (he’s the first blond). But he has subsequently been crowned one of the sexiest men by Elle magazine. And apparently he’ll soon leave bachelorhood behind: He is romantically linked to Satsuki Mitchell, the actress who accompanied him to the Casino Royale world premiere. He has a teenage daughter, Ella, from a previous marriage.
Soon after Craig completed the filming of Quantum of Solace in Italy, Australia and South America, Playboy sent contributing editor David Sheff, who recently interviewed Fareed Zakaria for the magazine, to meet Craig in London. Sheff reports: “When I arrived in the U.K., a customs agent asked if I was there on business or pleasure. I explained I was in town to interview Daniel Craig, at which point her mood swung from chilly and suspicious to swooning. ‘Oh my God,’ she said, almost hyperventilating. ‘His photo’s near my bed. He’s the sexiest.’
“He’s also an impressive actor, as I was reminded before the interview when I attended screenings of Quantum of Solace and Defiance, in which Craig plays one of three brothers who hide, and save, hundreds of Belarusan Jews from Hitler’s local collaborators. The contrast between the roles couldn’t have been more extreme, but Craig rose to the occasion in both the action-adventure and dramatic films.
“And yes, he’s charming and suave. He drank coffee, not martinis, but he’s Bond-like even in blue jeans instead of a Brioni suit.”
Playboy: You had to prove yourself in your first James Bond film, but this time expectations are high. Does that add to the pressure?
Craig: It’s a very high-class problem to have, I suppose. The reverse would have been just awful. Had Casino Royale failed, everybody would have been insecure: the studio, the producers—everybody. Me.
Playboy: Is the bar set too high?
Craig: Well, we had to do better. And I was keen on taking it to new places.
Playboy: In Casino Royale your Bond, a brand-new double-0 agent, is less polished and more ruthless than in the earlier films. Was that intentional?
Craig: It was. For that movie my feeling was he should look like the man who had yet to make his first kill. I wanted to play around with the flaws in his character. It was much more interesting than having him be perfect and polished and so suave as to be flawless. I got most of my inspiration from Ian Fleming’s books. I reread them. In the books Bond is suave and sophisticated, yes—Sean Connery really nailed it—but there’s also a flawed aspect of Bond. In the novels he is quite a depressive character. When he’s not working, he’s at his worst.
Playboy: How about you? Are you at your worst when you’re not working?
Craig: I’m not that bad, but I can relate. What’s there when we’re home alone with ourselves? The deeper, darker stuff comes out. I’m fine when I’m not working, but I feel happiest working, yes.
Playboy: Is the darkness in your Bond more reflective of Fleming’s character or you?
Craig: Probably both. It’s probably a reflection of where I am in my life and also my cinematic influences.
Playboy: Which are?
Craig: The psychological thrillers of the 1960s and 1970s, British spy movies like those with Michael Caine and the early Bonds like From Russia With Love. They have a huge amount of style but are tense and taut and deal with emotion. To make it interesting I had to bring those emotions in. Otherwise I’d go insane.
Playboy: Compared with his predecessors, your Bond doesn’t rely as much on ejection seats, jet packs and exploding pens.
Craig: We’ve kept it all a bit more low-fi. I’ve got nothing against gadgets, but these days we’re surrounded by them. If you want gadgets, pick up a gadget magazine. The stuff you can buy over the counter is insane. For $300 you can listen to a conversation three miles away while watching somebody in infrared. People aren’t that impressed with it anymore. It’s normal. Whereas with the earlier films, people were stunned to see the fantasy gadgets. In fact, the early films actually influenced technology we now have.
Playboy: Bond also influenced the culture with his sexual double entendres.
Craig: Yes. That’s all Fleming. In my imagination, Fleming—sitting in his home, the Goldeneye in Jamaica, with his cigarette holder, his 80 cigarettes a day, drinking martinis—wrote religiously. He’d get up in the morning, write and then have cocktails in the afternoon. His wordplay, including the double entendres, was part of his life. I can imagine the conversation at his dinner parties, the quips thrown about, the jokes. Pussy Galore. These days I don’t think you can make puns as easily as in those days. We don’t do it naturally anymore. Now a pun’s a bad joke. In fact, in the movie we had to be careful of them. They’ve been sent up in such a way that they almost ring like parody. Austin Powers did them in the extreme. So making a Bond movie, you have to keep that in mind. As soon as you go that way you’re making a parody of a parody. It looks like you’re doing Mike Myers.
Playboy: Were you cautious of doing Austin Powers?
Craig: Especially when I made the first movie, yes. I had an Austin Powers alarm. On set I’d say, “That’s Austin Powers. We can’t do it.”
Playboy: What set off the Austin Powers alarm?
Craig: There is a chase sequence in the beginning of Casino Royale. I run through a room past 10 workers who are sawing planks. These guys had to look as though they were working; they couldn’t just look like guys banging nails. There is an explosion, and they look up. We had to go back to the choreography and make it real, because at first it looked like Austin Powers.
Playboy: How have Bond’s relationships with women evolved in your movies?
Craig: In Fleming there’s misogyny till the end. Rereading the books reminds you of the time they were written. They are sexist and racist. It’s time to put all that in its place. One thing that remains from Fleming is that the women always leave Bond—as opposed to his leaving them. It’s the opposite of the way we think of him, that he beds a woman and says bye-bye and flies out the window. In the books he has relationships and occasionally is nearly getting married when she dumps him because he turns moody and dark.
Playboy: Not because she turns out to be a double agent who tries to murder him in his sleep?
Craig: No. It’s that his true personality comes out, and he’s impossible to live with. It suits M, his boss, just fine. M is terrified of Bond actually settling down. His inability to have a relationship keeps him working.
Playboy: Bond films were criticized in the past for being out of sync with the feminist movement. Has that changed?
Craig: Beautiful women are always part of the story. In the past maybe they were more objectified. They were just eye candy. Now they’re integral and powerful in their own right. They’re beautiful, but now things are almost reversed. In this movie I don’t think we objectify women. I’m the one taking my clothes off most of the time.
Playboy: More than Sean Connery took off his?
Craig: Actually, he took his top off all the time. He was always in these tiny towels.
Playboy: The Bond girls had their fair share of bikinis and often less.
Craig: Yes, but the main difference is that we’re genuinely trying to find fully formed characters—fully formed women—integral to the plot. For me, the sexiest thing in a movie is equality in a relationship. It’s much sexier when Bond meets someone who’s a challenge—someone who says no. There’s a sexually charged battle. So I think we’ve successfully left behind the misogyny. It was something of its time; it’s not of this time.
Playboy: When the AIDS crisis hit, Bond films were criticized for the bed-hopping, which appeared irresponsible. Does Bond use condoms?
Craig: Yes, though we don’t have to show it. We don’t need to see him fling one out the window afterward. I think we’ve kind of made the leap that you would expect someone to use one now.
Playboy: Reportedly, Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron turned down the Bond girl role in Casino Royale that ultimately went to Eva Green. True?
Craig: Whether Angelina and Charlize were approached I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that when Eva came in to screen-test on M’s set, I knew immediately. She was incredibly nervous, but when the camera rolled, I knew she was the girl.
Playboy: You worked with Jolie earlier, in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Afterward she said you were a good kisser.
Craig: If she said that, I’m flattered.
Playboy: You worked with Nicole Kidman, too. Once you said, “She turns me on—not in a sordid, horrible way. Well, come to think of it.…” Would she make a good Bond girl?
Craig: She’d be more interesting as a Bond villain.
Playboy: Who is your favorite Bond girl from the earlier films?
Craig: Diana Rigg. She was good in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She was the one Bond girl who was nearly bigger than the movie.
Playboy: How have Bond girls changed from Rigg to the newest one, Olga Kurylenko, who stars with you inQuantum of Solace?
Craig: Olga is very much about her strength. As I said, in the earlier movies the girls were mostly eye candy. We all like eye candy, but things are more interesting now. The character is important to the plot. Yes, she’s beautiful, but she’s also a good actress and extremely interesting as a woman, and she brings all that to the role.
Playboy: Are you involved in the casting of the Bond girls?
Craig: I don’t go searching for them. We screen-test. It’s kind of awkward and sort of weird.
Craig: They build a set, and you get the cameras in; then you’re introduced to 10 girls. You have to act out a scene with them. It’s kind of weird and awkward and strange, but you know if something’s working almost immediately.
Playboy: How about Bond villains? How have they changed?
Craig: There’s a rich and varied history.
Playboy: Your adversary in Casino Royale has an unusual physical trait. He literally weeps blood.
Craig: That came straight out of Fleming: an overactive tear gland that actually bleeds. It’s a pretty good look. If you can do that on call, it’s a pretty good party trick.
Playboy: Alice Cooper, the rock star, recently said he wants to take you on as a Bond villain.
Craig: I thought he was a golfer.
Playboy: Apparently, he wants to go up against you.
Craig: Bring him on.
Playboy: You’ve said, compared with filming the new Bond movie, making Casino Royale was a walk in the park. What’s the difference?
Craig: Casino Royale was physically tough; I was in pain for most of it. But I was in pain for a lot of this one, too. The difference was the kind of stunts and physical exertion. This time around it was fairly relentless.
Playboy: Were you in similar shape this time?
Craig: Yes. Both times I got in shape and got big.
Playboy: Is being big a prerequisite?
Craig: I got big because I wanted Bond to look like a guy who could kill. Unfortunately, getting big isn’t the same as getting in shape. Last time I picked up a lot of injuries. This time I said, “I can’t let that happen again. I’ve got to get into better shape.”
Playboy: How did you do it?
Craig: I ran more. I got my heart bigger and stronger.
Playboy: How often do you do your own stunts?
Craig: There’s a balance. I do many of them but nothing compared with the stuntmen. Still, I found myself in more precarious situations this time.
Playboy: Is there a trade-off for the filmmakers, who want authenticity but also don’t want you to get hurt?
Craig: For sure. There’s a fine line. The stuff that looks good and makes you look as if you’re up there has its risks. I picked up my share of injuries on this movie. You pick up your knocks and bangs.
Playboy: We read that you sliced your finger off.
Craig: It wasn’t as extreme as all that. I lost the pad. Here. [He shows off his wound, a scab on his fingertip.] This is after a month’s healing, so it’s nothing. It hit the press, though, because I was taken to the hospital. I was bleeding a lot. I had to get it cauterized. Filming stopped and everybody went, “Oh my God! He sliced the end of his finger off!” They went looking for it but couldn’t find it.
Playboy: How did it happen?
Craig: I was smashing a door into somebody’s face, and there was a sharp edge.
Playboy: What is the most physically challenging scene in the new film?
Craig: A chase sequence on a rooftop. I’m not scared of heights exactly, but I don’t particularly like standing on edges 40 feet off the ground. Their idea was for me to jump from building to building. It’s literally a leap of faith because you have to run off the edge—throw yourself off—and land on another building. It’s as safe as can be. I’m tethered, attached. But it’s the nightmare scenario of standing on a slate roof with the slates all sliding off. I had to slide down and leap from that building onto a balcony below. For some people these days who go rock climbing and all this, it may not be a big deal, but for me it was terrifying enough.
Playboy: Similar to the increased difficulty of impressing an audience with gadgets and other technology, is it harder these days to impress with physical feats?
Craig: Yes. How do you impress people when there are couples who go away on weekends and drive up to wherever and meet Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their other friends and camp out on top of a mountain and jump off? They even film it so they can show their friends. “Look at what we did on the weekend.” With all that going on—people rappelling and helicopter skiing on holiday—what can you do in movies? Everything has to be bigger, faster and more dangerous.
Playboy: Kurylenko said she would never do anything dangerous in real life. What about you?
Craig: Not normally.
Playboy: Have you ever jumped out of a plane?
Craig: No, but I think I would probably do it now—maybe. But having done six months of this crazy stuff, I just want to stay on the ground for a while. I’ve had my thrills.
Playboy: Are you the type of person who looks for thrills?
Craig: Some people need them, but I don’t. I’d happily go and sit on a rock and look at the view, but I’m not one of those people who jump off for fun. I’d say, “I’ll meet you down at the bottom. I’ll drive down, and we’ll meet for lunch.”
Playboy: You made quite a few men squirm with the Casino Royale torture scene. You were stripped and tied up, sitting on a chair without a bottom, being whipped where it would hurt most with an enormous knotted rope. Did you wince too?
Craig: There was a moment filming it when I did more than wince. I was actually sitting on a fiberglass seat that had been modeled to me to protect me. The rope came crashing in and cracked the fiberglass. I flew across the room.
Playboy: Was there damage done?
Craig: No, but it was too close for comfort as far as I’m concerned. At least we shot it in one day and got it right. I’m glad we didn’t have to go back and do reshoots.
Playboy: Ian Fleming called Bond “a blunt instrument.” Is your Bond less blunt at this point?
Craig: I’m not sure, maybe a bit. Bond is seeking revenge, seeking the people responsible for killing his woman. But hopefully, as you see the movie go on, it gets more complicated than that. He is a blunt instrument, but he’s a little more honed, should we say. Blunt but getting an edge.
Playboy: Do you dress like Bond?
Craig: Hardly, though I’ve been given some very nice clothes. When I dress up, I dress up. I have a nice wardrobe. I’ve been spoiled. Once you’re measured for a suit it’s very hard to go back to suits off the peg.
Playboy: You’re wearing jeans right now. Would Bond?
Craig: Wait until you see the movie.
Playboy: The U.K. GQ magazine voted you the number one best dresser. Have you always dressed stylishly?
Craig: You can be the best-dressed and worst-dressed person very quickly. I don’t dress much differently than I ever did.
Playboy: If not Brioni, what do you generally wear?
Craig: I very much like to wear jeans and sneakers. I don’t get up in the morning and get into a pressed shirt with French cuffs and a tie—unless I have to.
Playboy: It has been reported that your exercise regimen now includes yoga.
Craig: No yoga or yogurt. No.
Playboy: Are you amused when you read reports like that, ones that are completely untrue?
Craig: I don’t usually read them, but sometimes someone will mention something, and I admit I do go online and look it up. I’ll say, “Where the hell does this come from?” It’s just that Bond generates enormous interest. A rumor will be started by whatever.
Playboy: You were initially reluctant to accept the Bond role. Were you concerned about the lack of privacy that comes with stardom like this?
Craig: Definitely. I was chronically aware of it.
Playboy: What exactly were you worried about?
Craig: I fall into the category of actor who doesn’t want to be famous. I know that can seem like a contradiction in terms.
Playboy: Then the role of James Bond would definitely pose a problem. But some people may find it hard to believe you would accept the part if you really didn’t want to be famous.
Craig: Genuinely, I’ve only ever wanted to act in order to act. But yes, I’m probably being hypocritical. To me, the fame aspect was sort of an inconvenience that went along with acting. It was definitely one of the reasons I was concerned, though. I thought, I’ve been working steadily; I earn a living from what I do, but Bond will make it something else.
Playboy: Why did you accept?
Craig: Some things come along and you just have to try them. I thought, I can’t be afraid of it. I was very brave or very stupid—I don’t know which. I did think it through as much as possible. I weighed it from the beginning. I had the fors and againsts. I had conversations with friends and family. It took about 18 months for me to decide. At first I thought, I can’t do this. Then I thought, In 10 years I’ll be sitting in a bar, drinking, and I’ll think, I could have been Bond. I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
Playboy: You were viciously attacked in the press. How did it affect you?
Craig: I decided I had to ignore it, get on with the job and make sure to do the best I could.
Playboy: Fans and reporters criticized your hair color and height, and you were called James Bland. Did it piss you off?
Craig: I got pissed off for 24 hours. We were away from home in the Bahamas, and I hadn’t read the newspapers. I got wind that the press was negative and did that stupid thing of going online and reading it all. I’d prepared myself for the worst because I knew the risk in doing a movie as large as Bond; there was always going to be a backlash. I had to be ready for it, but it smarted for a minute.
Playboy: Is the loss of privacy a problem for you?
Craig: It causes problems you have to work around. I would have been foolish to expect anything less. If the film hadn’t been a success, obviously I could have just slipped away and forgotten about it. But this isn’t one of those movies. It’s a movie that gets out there and gets out there big. I understood it would be open season on me. I’ve learned to accept it or learned to get around it.
Playboy: Do you sometimes forget you’re famous?
Craig: Yeah, and then I’m reminded. I have to have a sense of humor about it. On the whole, people are fairly nice. They’re fairly good-humored. If I’m walking through an airport and someone runs over and asks if they can take a photograph, I can either get snotty about it or say, “That’s absolutely fine.” If I’m having dinner with a friend, I can say, “You see, I’m having dinner with my friend, so it’s not a good time.” You have to assess the situation and make a judgment.
Playboy: Have you gotten better about saying no or at least “not now”?
Craig: It’s always been fairly easy.
Playboy: Do the press and public wear on your personal relationships?
Craig: Relationships are tricky for everyone. I have a fantastic relationship, and we work hard at it. Like everybody else’s, it goes through its ups and downs.
Playboy: The papers also had a field day because you couldn’t drive a stick shift.
Craig: I could always drive a stick shift. Everyone in England does. That was just stupid.
Playboy: Do you own an Aston Martin?
Craig: No, though I’m lucky enough that if I desperately want to drive an Aston Martin, the company is just fantastic to me. They’ll let me go on a track and drive one all day long. I could drive it faster and more furiously than anywhere on the road. But I live in London. It doesn’t make any sense to drive an Aston Martin there. I’ve nowhere to park it. Also, it wouldn’t look good.
Playboy: Are you kidding? Driving an Aston Martin can look very good.
Craig: Me driving around in an Aston Martin? To me, it’s kind of like, ugh. So I drive a small car.
Playboy: Does it get good gas mileage?
Craig: Yes, which I’m happy about these days.
Playboy: With the energy crisis, will Bond stick with an Aston Martin or switch to a Prius?
Craig: I don’t see him driving anything but an Aston Martin. Maybe now, though, given the global situation, Aston Martin will make its cars more in line with the realities of energy. I don’t know if it’ll affect Bond. In truth, Bond tends to drive cars out of necessity. His choices often have to do with whatever car is outside the hotel when he’s running away, whatever car he can steal.
Playboy: One story line of the new film is an international fight to control oil. Does $4 a gallon for gas in the U.S. concern you?
Craig: We’re paying $10 a gallon in England. Welcome to the real world. Americans don’t know how good they’ve had it. Compared with the British price, it’s still a good deal in America.
Playboy: We imagine you can afford it.
Craig: That’s not the point when it comes to energy consumption, is it? We all want to use less, don’t we? We ought to, anyway.
Playboy: Energy is one of the key issues in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Do you follow politics?
Craig: Of course. It’s in my interest.
Playboy: What’s your interest in our election?
Craig: What happens in the U.S. affects the rest of the world. The U.K. is very connected to America. There’s no separation on many issues.
Playboy: What’s your view of the campaign? If you could register in the States, who would get your vote?
Craig: I strongly feel there needs to be a new way forward. Barack Obama is pushing things in the right direction. I’m excited about the election. Unfortunately, things will probably get dirty. I hope Obama can stay above the fray. He’s a different kind of politician, so maybe he can. I’m hopeful for the first time in a long, long while. It’s one of the most exciting elections of my lifetime.
Playboy: Did you ever aspire to politics, or were you always interested in acting?
Craig: I’ve been interested in acting, not politics, since I was a child.
Playboy: What was it about acting?
Craig: My mother was an art teacher, so art was around and there was interest in the arts. I wanted to act once I saw theater and movies. Art—acting, in particular—was a way out.
Playboy: A way out of what? How would you sum up your childhood?
Craig: I was born in Cheshire, which is not far from Liverpool. Then we moved to Liverpool. I was brought up by my mother and lived with my sister. I had a good upbringing. It was tough because it was a struggle for my mother, being a single parent. She worked incredibly hard. Overall there were ups and downs just like everyone’s childhood, but there was nothing that stands out to me that made it particularly more difficult than anybody else’s.
Playboy: Did you continue to have a relationship with your father after your parents divorced?
Craig: I had contact at times with my father. Not always, but later on we got it worked out and became closer.
Playboy: Were you a good student?
Craig: I was a really bad student. I left school at 16, to my mother’s despair. She knew I wanted to be an actor and actually gave me a little push toward it but only because school wasn’t looking good. It was just not happening. I didn’t get the qualifications, and I didn’t get anything to suggest I would actually have any academic career whatsoever.
Playboy: Was it unusual for a boy in your neighborhood to want to be an actor?
Craig: It wasn’t that it was expected, but Liverpool has always had a very strong arts community. It was encouraged to form a band or whatever you could do for yourselves. Like I said, art was always viewed as a way to get out.
Playboy: What was the first Bond film you saw?
Craig: In the cinemas the first one I saw was Live and Let Die with Roger Moore, which is his first one. I eventually went back and watched them all.
Playboy: Who’s your favorite Bond?
Craig: The Sean Connery movies stand up for me. They’re my benchmark. I like the others, but Connery is fantastic.
Playboy: Did you aspire to play Bond?
Craig: It never really crossed my mind at the time. I was drawn to theater initially, after I saw plays. Movies came later.
Playboy: For a while you supported your acting by waiting tables. Were you a good waiter?
Craig: I was a pretty awful waiter. Actually, I never waited tables after I finished school. I swore to myself I would never wait tables again once I’d left drama school.
Playboy: Did you?
Craig: I never did.
Playboy: Early roles in plays led to parts on television and in movies for you. When you finally landed film roles in Hollywood, you often played villains, including a series of ruthless killers. Did you mind?
Craig: After a while I did. I stopped. I just decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. English actors were being offered the bad-guy roles at the time. I don’t know why. But after getting some of those parts in Hollywood movies, I decided to stop, no matter how lucrative it was. I concentrated on making movies in England—smaller, independent movies. I made Enduring Love, based on the Ian McEwan book, as well as the movies The Mother and Love Is the Devil. They were much more rewarding. Even since doing Bond, I want to continue to make movies like those.
Playboy: You recently completed Defiance, about World War II. Do you intentionally try to mix it up?
Craig: That would suggest there is some sort of master plan. There isn’t. I accept jobs because they interest me when they come along. I’d had a long year and been working hard. Bond was finished, and we’d wrapped the Golden Compass tour. I didn’t plan on working right away, but I picked up the script and read it and reread it from cover to cover. It’s a good position to be in to be able to make movies like Defiance and also do James Bond and Golden Compass or whatever comes along that strikes my fancy.
Playboy: Earlier you said you tried to anticipate the impact of being Bond. Is it what you expected? Has it changed everything?
Craig: It has. It’s changed everything.
Playboy: Similar to the ways you anticipated?
Craig: Anticipated is the wrong word. Everything that came along was different than anything I could have anticipated.
Playboy: Have you had difficulty handling it?
Craig: If I were 20 years younger—even 15 or 10 years younger—and this kind of success happened to me, I would probably have gone out and spent every penny I’d earned. I would have changed my life in a way that would have—well, it probably wouldn’t have been the healthiest. But because I’m the age I am, I don’t have the urge or the need to change much, and I haven’t. The important things haven’t changed at all. The important things in life have less to do with the amount of money I earn. It’s the simpler things.
Playboy: Has your fame been difficult for your friends and family?
Craig: I’ve always tried to protect my family and friends. I had a choice, but they didn’t make a choice about my being famous.
Playboy: How have your relationships held up?
Craig: They’ve solidified. They’re better now than they ever were.
Playboy: Has it been especially difficult for your daughter?
Craig: I think she’s been protected from most of it. Protecting her was my highest priority.
Playboy: How did becoming a parent change you?
Craig: It changed me completely. It changes me every day.
Craig: It’s constant discovery. Ask any parent. It makes you look deeper and in a different way. You think differently about yourself, about the world.
Playboy: Will it be difficult for you when your daughter gets older and begins dating?
Craig: It’s not something I’ll publicly talk about. It has to be between me and her.
Playboy: How will you respond if a James Bond type arrives in an Aston Martin to pick her up?
Craig: I guess we’ll see.
Playboy: Ready access to Aston Martins notwithstanding, is your life anything like Bond’s?
Craig: I’m living a pretty glamorous life, though I don’t publicly live a glamorous life. If I were younger, I would have lived a glamorous life publicly. The changes I have made I’ve made slowly. I’ve consciously done it. I’m trying to do this for the long term. Maybe I’ve got it wrong; maybe I should just go and move to Monte Carlo and live on a yacht.
Playboy: Are you occasionally tempted?
Craig: It doesn’t tempt me at all.
Playboy: Since your divorce, are you better at relationships?
Craig: You do get better, hopefully. I think if you apply the simple rules of taking care of each other and looking after each other and making sure the other person is experiencing as much as you are and you’re part of each other’s lives as much as you possibly can be, it’ll figure itself out. Just because I make Bond movies doesn’t mean things are different for me. Things are exactly the same for me as they are for everybody else.
Playboy: Even with paparazzi and tabloids and the speculation and the internet?
Craig: Yeah, if you’re strong about who you are and who you’re with. I mean, if you’re not, then yes, it’s a problem. Your life is open. If you’re not strong about who you are, you can be affected by the newspapers, in which you can be married, have three children and get divorced in one afternoon. The papers can quite happily suggest all that. The weird thing is that for some people, it can almost be predicted in the press. People may not be having a nervous breakdown, but the press can make them have one. It can make marriages split up. There can be a rumor going around that somebody’s marriage is on the rocks, and it suddenly can be. It’s almost as if that forces it to happen. It’s really testing for a couple.
Playboy: People often speculate about actors and their co-stars on movie sets.
Craig: So the thing is, you don’t have an affair with somebody in your movies.
Playboy: Does public scrutiny intensify any existing problems? It seems it may be true for Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse.
Craig: Maybe, because your problems will come out. If you’re an artist—a singer, an actor, a painter, whatever—you show your emotions; it’s what you do. That’s what’s appealing about you. If you have problems, the problems will come out and possibly be magnified.
Playboy: Is the attention itself addictive?
Craig: Possibly, if you don’t understand it. That’s why I think it’s good for me that the attention came when I was older.
Playboy: If you live by the sword, you may die by the sword. That is, if you buy your own press and come to think you’re as great as everyone says you are, you also have to buy your own press when the public turns against you.
Craig: And people go down in flames. Something in me admires that.
Playboy: You admire people who go down in flames?
Craig: There’s something in me that’s from the punk generation that I grew up with that’s still there. It’s just saying fuck you to all this; I don’t give a shit what you think.
Playboy: How has the huge success of Casino Royale influenced your film choices? There seem to be two ways to go: It could free an actor to take on a wide variety of roles, or it may make him less likely to take risks because he needs, or thinks he needs, surefire hits.
Craig: It’s not going to happen like that for me. It hasn’t really changed the fact that jobs come along and I decide if I’m interested for whatever reason.
Playboy: Are you burned out on action movies yet?
Craig: I’m not looking for them at the moment. But if one came along that was great, who knows? The thing is, I genuinely love what I do. That’s what you get addicted to—this huge collaborative effort. We worked on the new Bond movie for six months. You work extremely closely with a great bunch of people. It’s incredibly rewarding. That happens on a Bond movie or an interesting small movie. I produced a little movie last year with my best friend directing, because he’s incredibly talented; we got that off the ground. I do like the idea of smaller, independent movies because you can discuss subjects that won’t necessarily make piles of money. They deal with tricky subject matter. I’m happy to do both kinds of movies. When you’re starting out as an actor, you don’t necessarily have a lot of choices. Hopefully, if you get any success, you can use it to give yourself the space to think, to make the right decisions. Why do you take the job? For the money? Then that’s fine. Because there’s a story you want to help tell? That’s better. You can do both and make conscious choices. You’re happier at the end of the day.
Playboy: You reportedly signed on to make four Bond films. Are two more coming?
Craig: I did sign on for four, including Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. So a piece of paper says there are two more to do. But let’s see how this one goes. In the film business everything doesn’t always go according to plan. We’ll wait and see. If it goes wrong, we’ll have to rethink things.
Playboy: And if it goes right?
Craig: If it goes right, then, well, either way we’ll see, won’t we? At least for the time being I’m still quite enjoying myself playing James Bond. Why not? It’s great. If it stopped being fun, though, I’d have to kill it off, wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t think twice.