Casino Royale Royal Premiere

Leicester Square has a Thunderball as Bond-mania sweeps into London

“You know my name…” gravel-throated rocker Chris Cornell roars during the theme to James Bond’s latest mission. And clearly, you know that the new man in the tux is Craig, Daniel Craig.

Hoards of die-hard Bond fans looped themselves around railings to get a glimpse of DC, screaming for his attention.

“Being Bond hadn’t really sunk in but I have to say, these people being here is helping it along,” Craig told TF as he took time out from scribbling autographs to adjust his dickie-bow.

After media pot-shots, rumours and a pile of down-right lies, the release of Casino Royale has come around and Craig looks relieved that the public will finally be able to judge him on his work - rather than his hair. So did he ignore all the media fluff?

“You know, the easiest thing for me was to focus. I just immersed myself in the character and did as much work as I could to make the best film possible. I got fit and tried to figure this guy out.”

Two people who never needed convincing that Craig was the man to reload 007 were producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. The reviews have hailed Casino Royale as a huge success and though they knew they were making a great movie, the response has still taken them by surprise.

“We are surprised, I have to be honest,” Michael laughs. “We usually don’t get reviews like this. Where did we go wrong?”

So why has the new back-to-basics Bond really hit home?

“Well, I think it’s all down to the story,” Barbara Broccoli says earnestly. “Casino Royale was the first book Fleming wrote. So it’s a testament to Ian Fleming that a book he wrote in 1953 could capture the imagination of audiences 50 years later.”

TF suggests that the one problem with a critical success is keeping the sharks happy the next time around. “We were saying that the other day,” he chuckles. “There’s no doubt about it, there’s a sense of ‘Oh my God, how do we top this one?’ Still, we’ll enjoy our Christmas and go from there.”

Casino Royale globe-hopped to a host of locations and also came back home, filming on the 007 stage at Pinewood Studios. Rumours are that the follow-up might have to relocate due to spiralling production costs in the UK but that is something for another day. “We haven’t made a decision on that yet,” Broccoli says. “Obviously we’d prefer to film in England, so anything is possible right now.”

So with Mr Craig nobly doing his bit with the fans, it’s left to his co-stars to give their verdict on how the latest 007 fares during his first mission.

“He’s a very, very fine actor,” Dame Judi Dench told totalfilm.com. “I’d love to work with him again, if I’m asked back. Especially if they send me back to the Bahamas,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.

Mads Mikkelsen plays Bond villain Le Chiffre and he had a slightly different appraisal on the new man in the tux: “Daniel helped me get into character. I’m a lovely guy, playing a ruthless man but one look at Daniel pisses me off and I got right into character,” he told us with a cheeky grin.

So, what of the woman who wins Bond’s heart - the sultry Vesper Lynd? Well, naturally, a woman of the class of Eva Green sought out TF for a word.

“It’s a sad love story from my character's perspective,” the stunning star tells us. “She is beautiful, complex and vulnerable. I wouldn’t have done it if it had been the usual bikini-clad Bond girl part.” In fact, Green considered turning the role of Vesper down.

“It was very difficult. I was approached a year before and I was hesitant. Then I received the script,” she says, her eyes widening. “I just jumped on a plane to Prague and audtioned for it. They called me two days before shooting to say I had the part and I didn’t think twice.”

Daniel Craig isn’t the only fella with big shoes to fill. Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones… and now Audioslave lead singer Chris Cornell. That’s one huge tradition to try and do justice to.

“Yeah, it’s a big deal, definitely,” the charming Cornell admits. “I mean, Live And Let Die is a classic and I love Tom Jones’ Thunderball.” TF was glad to hear that Cornell managed to squeeze in some of his famous high notes at the end of the track, something he was adamant made the final cut.

“Oh yeah, I had to fight for those a little bit… but I won.”

So, the movie is heading for cinemas, and Daniel Craig can relax (after about another 175 interviews in a dozen countries anyway). When all is said and done - the girls, the locations, his face on posters all over the world - what does the new Bond love most about being 007?

“Oh it has to be that car,” he says, looking wistfully at  the Aston Martin DBS parked behind us.

It’s hard to argue with that…

 

Most Popular