James Bond is a man of action, and playing him means Daniel Craig gets to explore many a man's fantasy — world travel, fast cars, fast women. But the lifestyle sometimes takes a toll, and so when Craig took a break between Bonds (after "Casino Royale," before "Quantum of Solace" — check out the "Quantum" trailer right here!), he looked for something a little different and decided to finally play a "Fool."
Craig's friend Baillie Walsh — known for his music videos for INXS, Massive Attack and Oasis — wrote his first feature film, "Flashbacks of a Fool," with the actor in mind. "Luckily, he loved the script," Walsh told MTV News. Craig plays Joe Scott, a movie star more preoccupied by cocaine and group sex than his next gig.
"I'm playing a movie star," Craig laughed. "That might sound a bit arrogant to do something like that. But it's more than that. He was exceptionally successful for a while, but how high up did he go on the ladder of success? To the point where he could have had anything he wanted in his life. That's the point: He threw it all away."
Scott would have been the type of actor you'd expect to see in a franchise like Bond, "but when I wrote it, Dan wasn't Bond," Walsh said. "It makes it more interesting that he is Bond now. And his character — minus some vices — is quite similar to who he is in real life."
The film, which will be released in the U.S. later this year, shows what Craig — or an actor of marquee status like Tom Cruise or Will Smith — could look like if he took his success for granted and started to believe his own mythology at the expense of his family and friends. But Joe Scott gets a chance to reassess his empty life, in which no one, other than a personal assistant played by Eve, actually cares about him. When he gets a phone call alerting him that his childhood best friend has died, Scott looks back at his youth, with the majority of the film taking place in flashback (hence the title). "It's a very simple story," Craig said. "It's about growing up and what we learn when we're children and how that forms who we are as adults. And just the essence of it — about the sh-- we don't deal with when we're growing up, if we don't deal with it, it will come back and get us. It has resonance for everybody."
But the script sat on a shelf for six years while the two friends tried to figure out how to make the movie happen. Meanwhile, Craig's star rose as he got parts in increasingly more high-profile films, including "Layer Cake," which led to him being cast as Bond in "Casino Royale." That, Walsh said, made all the difference, because it meant they could get financing. "Luckily, after his success with Bond, he still wanted to do it," the director said. "And he became an executive producer. His success with Bond enabled the film to happen, to create interest in it, to move it along."
"I just got involved to help drum up the money," Craig said. "You know, pressing the flesh and being nice to people — and you know how much I like doing that. But getting the money is one of the hardest things."
Craig had no such trouble getting the Bond films made — raising $200 million was not one of his responsibilities, he laughed — but he did get more involved with "Quantum" after his experience on "Flashbacks." "That I would be able to sort of dedicate myself and get involved with it and make something of it, that's what made me do it," Craig said. "I wanted Bond to be good."
That process becomes harder and harder as fewer stories are left in Ian Fleming's body of work, Craig said, which is why screenwriter Paul Haggis came up with an original plot for "Quantum" (although the title refers to one of Fleming's stories). "There's nothing left as far as I know," Craig said of Fleming's novels and short stories that have yet to be adapted for film. "The funny thing is, if you read Fleming — which I try to plow through occasionally — there are an awful lot of story lines that have never been used. Obviously, the films are based on the books, but there are still ideas that we can sort of pluck from that are still in there."
But before they figure out the next story line in the franchise, Craig would like a break — from playing Bond and actors who've self-destructed from playing characters like Bond. "I've very much tried to retreat back a bit, and I'm having therapy," he joked. "If I'm promoting a movie, I'll talk about my work, and I'm proud of it, but it's got nothing to do with my private life. I'm not stupid enough to believe that a link between the two wouldn't happen. It's OK. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?"
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