‘You might look $1m, but everyone has their flaws’
Daniel Craig, the sixth James Bond, has used his stardom to fund a new movie which looks at the tragic human cost of being a star. He explains why.
Daniel Craig is a man renowned for keeping himself to himself in interviews.
And given that I was politely encouraged not to ask anything about a certain spy movie due out later in the year, I did wonder what sort of interview my encounter with Daniel Craig at the London premiere of his latest film, Flashbacks of a Fool, would generate.
As it turns out, his tightness of lip, evasiveness and fondness for generalisation is actually rather revealing.
Walking into the room dressed in a sleek, well-cut suit, crisp white shirt and understated black tie, he typifies James Bond-style suavity; he is a picture of pouting broodiness.
And then the image is ruined as I catch sight of him clutching and swigging from a bottle of lager with a piece of lime wedged in the top.
Interestingly, Flashbacks of a Fool tells the story of a Hollywood movie star, who has become grotesquely self-indulgent as he wallows in a hedonistic lifestyle.
Reflecting on the stratospheric Hollywood success Craig has enjoyed since taking on the celebrated role of James Bond, how easy would it be to turn into somebody like his character, Joe Scot?
Daniel says: “Terribly easy,” and pauses for a moment. “He’s a fading movie star… it would be the wrong answer to say he could have been anybody. That’s who he was from the beginning.
“When Baillie [Walsh, the director] wrote the movie for me, I wasn’t doing what I’m doing today. When we actually came to make the movie it seemed silly to change it.”
He pauses again, then says: “Who knows? That’s the way things go. What was interesting for me and was always interesting to me in the script is that you’ve got someone who appears to have everything, or at least has the opportunity to have everything, and has f***ed it up.”
So how does Daniel manage not to mess up his own success?
“You have to work hard at not becoming disillusioned at what you do for a living,” he says.
“If you have any success in what you do for a living you have to maintain an energy and a love of it. And if you can then that’s a great thing.
“We meet Joe Scot and he’s lost everything. He’s not just lost interest in his business, he’s lost interest in living and that for me was what drew me to this movie. It’s less to do with whether he is successful as an actor or successful as a businessman – it doesn’t matter – he’s failed as a human being and I wanted to explore that.”
Flashbacks of a Fool is the first time that Daniel Craig has enjoyed the dual role of star and producer and he reveals that the reason he took on the task of raising finance for the film was because it was a project he wholeheartedly believed in and he found his high profile helped.
“We tried to get the movie made for a number of years,” he reveals. “Things have happened over the past couple of years and it meant that people have had more interest.
“It just seemed the right thing to do – to get involved as executive producer – because I have to press the flesh and I have to say: ‘Look, put your hand in your pocket and spend some money on this movie. I believe in this movie and I believe in the people who have got involved and I’d like to see it made’.
“Thankfully we did. It wasn’t a conscious choice; it just seemed to be the right thing to do.”
Musician Bryan Ferry, whose music is featured on the film’s soundtrack, and fashion designer Antony Price, whose clothes provided inspiration for the costumes, are said to have been in tears at the end of a screening of the movie.
Steeped in nostalgia and with a strong sense of fate running throughout, Flashbacks of a Fool is to a degree an emotive film, encouraging the viewer to look back at his own childhood and the decisions made.
Craig refuses to be drawn into relating specific details of his own teenage years, instead pontificating on youth in general.
When asked if there was a girl, like Ruth in the film, from his own young life that he looks back on with some regret, he responds enigmatically and perhaps tellingly: “Maybe … it would be unfair to expand on that.”
He won’t even go into what he was like as a teenager, saying: “If I was being perfectly honest, which I’m not going to be, I think the movie touches on a lot of things that we all went through. There’s a first kiss – it’s more than a first kiss for Harry – there are electrifying moments that when you’re a teenager form who you are as a human being. It’s a big time in your life.
“It doesn’t matter whether you have the happiest upbringing. Young Joe Scot has the most dysfunctional family there could be but it’s still a family and it’s a really good, strong family and in spite of that he runs away from home.
“All of those things I relate to very directly.
“I hit 40 this year but I still think about being a teenager and hopefully I will for the rest of my life. They’re important years.”
Although he is coy about revealing too much about his personal life, he is certainly not shy when it comes to getting his kit off. Daniel Craig fans will be delighted to see the famous Bond-honed body in (almost) all its glory in this movie and though he admits to throwing himself into training for the role, it’s clearly something he feels uncomfortable talking about as he swiftly moves on to ensure we all know he did it essentially because the role demanded it.
He says: “Obviously, when it came to do the movie, I knew I was going to have to take my clothes off so I might have worked a little bit harder to keep myself [fit] but I think that’s actually the irony of it.
“You can see all these fit, healthy people – I’m not making any comments on it – and everybody deep down is a f*** up in some way.
“It doesn’t matter if you look a million dollars, everybody has got their flaws and that had to be that [Joe] was living the life; he would stay out for three days, probably – you know, get drunk and do whatever he was doing and then hit the gym for two days. That’s the craziness of that lifestyle.
You’re damaging yourself in more ways than one.”
Then, as if to acknowledge he has the same body hang-ups as anyone else, he adds: “You know, I take my clothes off; what did you think I was going to do?”
Craig admits to finding it hard to get used to red-carpet shenanigans but one wonders if his newfound love of producing might see him one day taking a step back from starring roles. One also wonders if his producer girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell might have had an influence.
He doesn’t say but it’s clear that producing, providing he has the right project, brings him a massive amount of pleasure. “If I can make movies like this then I’m going get a huge amount of enjoyment out of it,” he says. “That’s clear to me.
“If I can be responsible, even slightly, for getting movies like this off the ground or movies of any type that I can be proud of, like this one [then that’s great].
“You know, asking people to spend money, you can be very embarrassed about it. You can sort of say: ‘Well, look, I want you to put your hand in your pocket and spend money on something I believe in’ and you’re putting your neck on the line.
“But Baillie [the director] and I have surrounded ourselves with really genuine talent and so if you fail, you fail the best you can, if that makes sense.
“You know, you’re with the best people, you put the best people in the right situation and it makes for an exciting way of making movies. I think that’s what gives me a huge amount of joy”.
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