Movie Picture

Daniel Craig sits down with MovieWeb to talk about his role in Layer Cake as well as the possibilty of becoming the next James Bond

British character actor Daniel Craig steps into the limelight with Layer Cake; his first film as a leading man. Daniel has done quite a few big budget films, but is generally unknown to American audiences. He played opposite Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and was the villain in the Tom Hanks gangster drama Road to Perdition. In Layer Cake, Daniel plays a successful cocaine dealer planning one last score before retiring. The film is the directorial debut of longtime Guy Ritchie producer, Matthew Vaughn, and has that familiar quick pace. Daniel is also rumored to be the frontrunner in replacing Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. At the time of this interview, the news had just broken and Daniel wasn't going to give us any specifics. He continues to work on high profile projects with roles in the Truman Capote biopic and Spielberg's upcoming Munich Olympics drama.

In the beginning of Layer Cake your character seems very clever, then is surprised by the duplicity of everyone around him.

Daniel Craig: We meet him when he is getting out of the drug business. He's got this plan to get out for years and the only reason he is squirreling away his money because he wants to do one deal then leave. I think it's all planned in his head but that's the flaw in his character. He has it planned but then it fucks and it fucks up worse than he thinks it could have ever have. He tries to assassinate the guy, kill Jimmy Price because he thinks he can keep it under control.

A lot of people are calling this character an anti-hero and heroes anti or otherwise usually do selfless acts for other people. He doesn't so do you see him as a kind of hero?

Daniel Craig: The movie business is based on criminals. Some of them are in movies and some of them make movies. The Great Train Robbery was one of the first major motion pictures and we love someone getting away with it. There is a moral tale to this and that's if you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas. The overlying sort of thing is that we are kidding ourselves if we don't think of the drug business as a legitimate business. It's what funds governments. It's too much money to ignore. The whole point of the Layer Cake is that you have the bottom of it with Duke who is in for the cash and the cars and then you have the top who is Michael Gambon's character who never even touches drugs in any way, shape or form. It's just another commodity that makes him shitloads of money which is fascinating.

What's the fascination for the British and crime films?

Daniel Craig: Hey we're in New York for Christ's sake. We tried to make this as much about mine and Matthew's favorite movies which include 70's movies like The French Connection and the seedier British ones like Michael Caine in The Ipcress File. Movies that are down and dirty but very stylish. I think the way [Layer Cake cinematographer] Ben Davis shot London makes it look stupendous. Cities are about criminals and are built on them.

What was your favorite scene?

Daniel Craig: You want me to say the scene with Sienna Miller [laughs]. The whole thing was quite a ride. I never got to drive the Audi. But I was able to take it out for a bit and I almost totaled it because it's terribly fast. Getting beating up scene was a day where everything went wrong. We did about two and a half hours of me getting the shit kicked out of me. Colm Meaney knows how to do it.

What's better, romping around with Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or Sienna Miller in Layer Cake?

Daniel Craig: I couldn't put a cigarette paper between them but I would like to. Someone has to do it.

This is Matthew Vaughn's debut as a director; did you have to walk him through it at all?

Daniel Craig: No he's an experienced filmmaker. He surrounded himself with people who knew what they were doing. He didn't hide away because he wants to know what's going on. He's got a great talent because he storyboarded the whole movie down to the minutest detail. That's very skillful for a first time director. He's going to Hollywood soon.

If you make enough money as an actor, would you quit like your character wanted to?

Daniel Craig: I don't know. I'm not averse to earning someone; in fact I'd love to earn some money. But also my choices of movies don't tend to make money but I get to make interesting films. But it doesn't mean I don't want to earn shitloads of cash.

There is another book being written about this character's further adventures. What do you think happens to this character?

Daniel Craig: I think he's probably still alive but he's been taught a major lesson. We'll see what happens with this movie and they will make a decision about another movie.

You've been in a lot of big films but your name isn't known in America, do you think Layer Cake will change that?

Daniel Craig: Who knows? I don't really know how that will work out. I've kind of had successful career and having my name attached to the James Bond thing is not a problem. I just finished this film in Texas with Doug McGrath about Truman Capote. I play Perry Smith who was one of the murderers Truman has this relationship with. Gwyneth Paltrow has a small part in it. It's a low budget independent movie and I can do that in America and Europe and that's a career. It's not my cause in life to be filthy rich. Being comfortable is enough. If money comes along I will take it. I just want good scripts that try to make you think. I've been offered lots of money in the past but I just know that I would abuse it and get drunk.

Have you received a firm offer to play Bond by the Broccolis?

Daniel Craig: No.

Has being attached to James Bond hurt at all?

Daniel Craig: I don't know because it just happened last week.

Are you turned off by fame?

Daniel Craig: I don't want to be a celebrity because that sucks. It's just madness. But how do you quantify fame? I'm not into self promotion; my front room is nobody's fucking business. If you invite someone into your front room you can't be surprised when there are suddenly people outside your windows with cameras.