The New Yorker Fest is underway in Manhattan, and among the many events scheduled for the weekend was a 90-minute chat with actor Daniel Craig on Friday night. It was the first time he’s given an interview since the publicity tour for Spectre and many folks, this writer included, attended in the hopes that Mr. Craig might finally shed some light on the months of speculation that he’s done with the role.
No definitive answer came in the evening's interview, conducted by writer Nicholas Schmidle. But there were certainly tea leaves to be read. Craig was relaxed and jovial, looking more like Red Grant than 007 with his Logan Lucky bleach job (he’s playing a character called Joe Bang). He touched on biographical and career highlights, cringed through clips of his work in The Power Of One, Layer Cake, and Spectre, and gamely answered questions about everything from James Bond’s misogyny and glorification of violence, to the current political climate ("We need smarter people in politics, and maybe not business people. You can’t run a country like a business...we need to look after people...I’m with her, by the way").
But everyone in the room knew talk would eventually turn to whether or not Craig had hung up his Walther PPK with Spectre. He initially danced around the question of “where does that stand?” with “It doesn’t...there’s no conversation going on, and genuinely because everybody’s just a bit tired.” He then indicated that everyone was still friendly, noting that Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is co-producing his stage play of Othello.
He was quick to mention that the recent story of being offered $150 million dollars for two more movies is absolutely untrue. Elsewhere in the interview, Craig added (though perhaps speaking more generally), "I love this job, I get a massive kick out of it. And if I can keep getting a kick out of it, I will."
But the clearest indication about Craig’s current 00 status came in response to Schmidle asking, in essence, what makes the job of playing Bond so hard he’d make a comment like the infamous “I’d rather slash my wrists” quote.
"Were I to stop doing it, I'd miss it terribly." Daniel Craig indicates he has not quit the James Bond role. #007 pic.twitter.com/YgiVLVqEzA— Chilly Philly Nobile (@PhilNobileJr) October 8, 2016
So, from the star's mouth: he sounds pretty damn undecided. We can cynically say this is part of some sort of passive negotiation ploy, and that Craig and the franchise are carefully, calculatingly feeling out one another. But Craig seemed genuine, and genuinely affectionate regarding the past ten years - ten years he says he "couldn't have possibly imagined" in his youth. He was exceedingly complimentary to the creative team behind the films (after saying that "big movies are made by focus groups now"), and he expressed gratitude for being given such a large behind-the-scenes role in steering the franchise. Craig's word choices painted the picture of a man who is not quite ready to walk away frm the gig. Maybe he's genuinely not sure he's up for another one, and is still mulling it over?
It wasn’t all Bond chatter. When Schmidle asked of the actor's The Force Awakens cameo, "Why would you play a stormtrooper at this point in your career?", Craig shot back: "What a stupid fucking question!...STAR WARS, for fuck's sake!" Favorite film performance? "Bette Davis, Now, Voyager." When presented with "Paul Greengrass has said he wouldn't be interested in a Bond film-", Craig interjected, "Well we wouldn't ask him! He should be so fucking lucky!" (He was kidding. And he said he hasn’t seen a Bourne film but is excited to watch them.) On Harrison Ford: "He's a PROPER movie star. And they don't really exist anymore."
We got one more hint about Craig's future with Her Majesty's Secret Service from the Q&A, in which a fan asked, “At the end of Spectre, Bond walks away with Madeleine. Is that the end?" Craig replied without hesitation, "Yes, at that moment in Spectre, that's what he thinks. But it always says 'to be continued.'" (It in fact always says "James Bond Will Return", Mr. Craig, but we take your point.)