"Defiance" goes wide this week with Daniel Craig heading the little-known story of Polish brothers saving more than 1,200 fellow Jews from certain Nazi persecution. The personable Craig talks about his latest film, and also offers a few words about a certain 007 agent in a few excerpts from our sit-down, which took place last month in Beverly Hills.
HOW FAMILIAR WERE YOU WITH THIS TALE?
Not at all, really, not at all. I'd heard about Jewish resistance, and I heard that it was put down just so violently and indiscriminately.
SO IT SURPRISED YOU TO LEARN ABOUT THIS STORY?
Well, it surprised me that these people actually managed to pull themselves through this situation and how they did it. I mean, they did more than that.
WHY DID YOU END UP DOING IT?
Just because it's a great story.
BUT ISN’T IT AN UNUSUAL ROLE FOR YOU TO PLAY, JEWISH RESISTANCE?
Really? Well, I've played one before. Look, I don't take roles because of the religion of the person that I'm playing. This is a story that I just found deeply inspiring. It's as simple as that. The whole subject of surviving and not only surviving, but also making decisions about who you are under extreme situations, and this is as extreme as it gets. There's nowhere for these people to go, and I think that Tuvia Bielski is a sort of fascinating character. He's full of contradictions. He's full of moral ambiguity. Obviously, the Bielskis did bad things. It's obvious that they did, but the net result is that they got 1,200 people through the war and survived and survived properly. I mean, to me that was incredibly moving and as soon as I read it, I said, 'I want to do this.' Plus I'm a fan of (director and co-writer) Ed Zwick, so it was the two of those things together.
DID YOU FEEL LIKE THE LEADER IN THIS FILM BECAUSE YOU'RE THE STAR OF THE MOVIE AS WELL AS BEING THE CHARACTER WHO'S LEADING THESE PEOPLE?
I don't work like that. I go to work to collaborate with people and to push people, yes, and to get on with people and have them push me. That's the way that you get a good working environment. That's the key on any movie whether it's this or on 'Bond' or anything. You can get a collaborative process going and it doesn't matter whether you like each other or not. That's irrelevant. It's actually whether you can actually produce something and do a good job. That's the way that I always go to work. Tuvia is the most reluctant leader you can ever find. It's the last thing he wants to do. He wants to run away and hide in a hole.
HOW PLEASED WERE YOU WITH "QUANTUM OF SOLACE"?
I'm actually deeply disappointed (laughs). I don't know if I'm going to get over it.
ISN'T IT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL JAMES BOND MOVIE EVER?
I don't know. I haven't been tracking it as much as that so it's good if it is. I mean, I'm over the moon. I couldn't be happier. You don't have those expectations when you're making a movie. That's the truth of it. When you're filming a movie, you don't sit there going, 'Oh, Christ, I hope it does good at the box office.' Other people do that, but I can't do that as an actor, as someone who's in the movie. I've got to get on with the job I'm doing. The weird thing about Bond movies is that we started shooting it in January (2007) and we finished it in June and it's now out and it's done. So condense that into that period of time and you're going, 'Well, we did it. We succeeded.'
ARE THERE NOW TWO YEARS OF FOR DANIEL CRAIG BEFORE YOU GO BACK TO THE NEXT ONE?
I'd like to think so, but I'm sure that won't be the case and I should be so lucky. It's good to be busy.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING NEXT?
No, not yet. I'm taking a holiday.
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU'LL EVER BE ABLE TO DO THEATER AGAIN WHILE YOU'RE BOND?
Genuinely, if a play came along now I would jump at it. I'm very keen on doing new writing. I've always kind of been doing new writing with plays and that's where my heart is. Not that Idon't think that doing the classics is a wonderful idea, but Shakespeare's got too many lines, and the other stuff is really complicated. I like newer media stuff.
ARE YOU MORE EASILY ADJUSTED WITH THE SUCCESS OF THE TWO BOND FILMS TO ALL THE CRAP THAT PEOPLE WILL WRITE ABOUT YOU THAT'S NOT TRUE?
Personally? How would one ever get used to that? It would suggest someone who's just gone numb and I've certainly not gone numb. I just don't read anything.
HOW FAR AWAY FROM YOU FROM DOING ANOTHER 'BOND'?
I really don't know. We haven't discussed it. We're all literally sick of the sight of each other. We love each other dearly, but we are ready for a break and everyone is getting away for the holidays. We are desperately excited about doing it and we're very excited. I certainly am. I want to do another one, if we can.
I'M SURE THAT YOU KNEW WHAT YOU WERE GETTING INTO, SIGNING ON TO BOND. BUT HAS THERE BEEN ONE THING YOU HAD NO IDEA WOULD COME WITH IT?
The honest truth is no. Nothing has been a surprise, but that hasn't made it less awkward or less difficult to deal with, however you put it, but you could predict everything. You could sort of predict it all, except the success. Let's be honest, I could've never imagined that. Obviously, that's all been the pleasant side of it, but there are things about your life changing. Certainly you're kind of restricted about doing things, and you can't do things with the amount of freedom that you had and that's the moment. The movie is out. Everything is big. We're promoting movies. I'm not shying away from things at the moment, but I plan to.
WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO DO A COMEDY?
No, I'm not funny. I'm just not funny.
Read what Craig and two of his co-stars have to say about "Defiance" in the Sun News, where you can also read my review. While there, also check out my interview with "Hotel for Dogs" star Emma Roberts and a review of "Last Chance Harvey."