DANIEL CRAIG: We’re paying $10 a gallon in England. Welcome to the real world. Americans don’t know how good they’ve had it. Compared with the British price, it’s still a good deal in America.
PLAYBOY: We imagine you can afford it.
DANIEL CRAIG: That’s not the point when it comes to energy consumption, is it? We all want to use less, don’t we? We ought to, anyway.
PLAYBOY: Energy is one of the key issues in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Do you follow politics?
DANIEL CRAIG: Of course. It’s in my interest.
PLAYBOY: What’s your interest in our election?
DANIEL CRAIG: What happens in the U.S. affects the rest of the world. The U.K. is very connected to America. There’s no separation on many issues.
PLAYBOY: What’s your view of the campaign? If you could register in the States, who would get your vote?
DANIEL CRAIG: I strongly feel there needs to be a new way forward. Barack Obama is pushing things in the right direction. I’m excited about the election. Unfortunately, things will probably get dirty. I hope Obama can stay above the fray. He’s a different kind of politician, so maybe he can. I’m hopeful for the first time in a long, long while. It’s one of the most exciting elections of my lifetime.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever aspire to politics, or were you always interested in acting?
DANIEL CRAIG: I’ve been interested in acting, not politics, since I was a child.
PLAYBOY: What was it about acting?
DANIEL CRAIG: My mother was an art teacher, so art was around and there was interest in the arts. I wanted to act once I saw theater and movies. Art—acting, in particular—was a way out.
PLAYBOY: A way out of what? How would you sum up your childhood?
DANIEL CRAIG: I was born in Cheshire, which is not far from Liverpool. Then we moved to Liverpool. I was brought up by my mother and lived with my sister. I had a good upbringing. It was tough because it was a struggle for my mother, being a single parent. She worked incredibly hard. Overall there were ups and downs just like everyone’s childhood, but there was nothing that stands out to me that made it particularly more difficult than anybody else’s.
PLAYBOY: Did you continue to have a relationship with your father after your parents divorced?
DANIEL CRAIG: I had contact at times with my father. Not always, but later on we got it worked out and became closer.
PLAYBOY: Were you a good student?
DANIEL CRAIG: I was a really bad student. I left school at 16, to my mother’s despair. She knew I wanted to be an actor and actually gave me a little push toward it but only because school wasn’t looking good. It was just not happening. I didn’t get the qualifications, and I didn’t get anything to suggest I would actually have any academic career whatsoever.
PLAYBOY: Was it unusual for a boy in your neighborhood to want to be an actor?
DANIEL CRAIG: It wasn’t that it was expected, but Liverpool has always had a very strong arts community. It was encouraged to form a band or whatever you could do for yourselves. Like I said, art was always viewed as a way to get out.
PLAYBOY: What was the first Bond film you saw?
DANIEL CRAIG: In the cinemas the first one I saw was Live and Let Die with Roger Moore, which is his first one. I eventually went back and watched them all.
PLAYBOY: Who’s your favorite Bond?
DANIEL CRAIG: The Sean Connery movies stand up for me. They’re my benchmark. I like the others, but Connery is fantastic.
PLAYBOY: Did you aspire to play Bond?
DANIEL CRAIG: It never really crossed my mind at the time. I was drawn to theater initially, after I saw plays. Movies came later.
PLAYBOY: For a while you supported your acting by waiting tables. Were you a good waiter?
DANIEL CRAIG: I was a pretty awful waiter. Actually, I never waited tables after I finished school. I swore to myself I would never wait tables again once I’d left drama school.
PLAYBOY: Did you?
DANIEL CRAIG: I never did.
PLAYBOY: Early roles in plays led to parts on television and in movies for you. When you finally landed film roles in Hollywood, you often played villains, including a series of ruthless killers. Did you mind?
DANIEL CRAIG: After a while I did. I stopped. I just decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. English actors were being offered the bad-guy roles at the time. I don’t know why. But after getting some of those parts in Hollywood movies, I decided to stop, no matter how lucrative it was. I concentrated on making movies in England—smaller, independent movies. I made Enduring Love, based on the Ian McEwan book, as well as the movies The Mother and Love Is the Devil. They were much more rewarding. Even since doing Bond, I want to continue to make movies like those.
PLAYBOY: You recently completed Defiance, about World War II. Do you intentionally try to mix it up?
DANIEL CRAIG: That would suggest there is some sort of master plan. There isn’t. I accept jobs because they interest me when they come along. I’d had a long year and been working hard. Bond was finished, and we’d wrapped the Golden Compass tour. I didn’t plan on working right away, but I picked up the script and read it and reread it from cover to cover. It’s a good position to be in to be able to make movies like Defiance and also do James Bond and Golden Compass or whatever comes along that strikes my fancy.
PLAYBOY: Earlier you said you tried to anticipate the impact of being Bond. Is it what you expected? Has it changed everything?
DANIEL CRAIG: It has. It’s changed everything.
PLAYBOY: Similar to the ways you anticipated?
DANIEL CRAIG: Anticipated is the wrong word. Everything that came along was different than anything I could have anticipated.
PLAYBOY: Have you had difficulty handling it?
DANIEL CRAIG: If I were 20 years younger—even 15 or 10 years younger—and this kind of success happened to me, I would probably have gone out and spent every penny I’d earned. I would have changed my life in a way that would have—well, it probably wouldn’t have been the healthiest. But because I’m the age I am, I don’t have the urge or the need to change much, and I haven’t. The important things haven’t changed at all. The important things in life have less to do with the amount of money I earn. It’s the simpler things.
PLAYBOY: Has your fame been difficult for your friends and family?
DANIEL CRAIG: I’ve always tried to protect my family and friends. I had a choice, but they didn’t make a choice about my being famous.
PLAYBOY: How have your relationships held up?
DANIEL CRAIG: They’ve solidified. They’re better now than they ever were.
PLAYBOY: Has it been especially difficult for your daughter?
DANIEL CRAIG: I think she’s been protected from most of it. Protecting her was my highest priority.
PLAYBOY: How did becoming a parent change you?
DANIEL CRAIG: It changed me completely. It changes me every day.
DANIEL CRAIG: It’s constant discovery. Ask any parent. It makes you look deeper and in a different way. You think differently about yourself, about the world.
PLAYBOY: Will it be difficult for you when your daughter gets older and begins dating?
DANIEL CRAIG: It’s not something I’ll publicly talk about. It has to be between me and her.
PLAYBOY: How will you respond if a James Bond type arrives in an Aston Martin to pick her up?
DANIEL CRAIG: I guess we’ll see.
PLAYBOY: Ready access to Aston Martins notwithstanding, is your life anything like Bond’s?
DANIEL CRAIG: I’m living a pretty glamorous life, though I don’t publicly live a glamorous life. If I were younger, I would have lived a glamorous life publicly. The changes I have made I’ve made slowly. I’ve consciously done it. I’m trying to do this for the long term. Maybe I’ve got it wrong; maybe I should just go and move to Monte Carlo and live on a yacht.
PLAYBOY: Are you occasionally tempted?
DANIEL CRAIG: It doesn’t tempt me at all.
PLAYBOY: Since your divorce, are you better at relationships?
DANIEL CRAIG: You do get better, hopefully. I think if you apply the simple rules of taking care of each other and looking after each other and making sure the other person is experiencing as much as you are and you’re part of eachother’s lives as much as you possibly can be, it’ll figure itself out. Just because I make Bond movies doesn’t mean things are different for me. Things are exactly the same for me as they are for everybody else.
PLAYBOY: Even with paparazzi and tabloids and the speculation and the Internet?
DANIEL CRAIG: Yeah, if you’re strong about who you are and who you’re with. I mean, if you’re not, then yes, it’s a problem. Your life is open. If you’re not strong about who you are, you can be affected by the newspapers, in which you can be married, have three children and get divorced in one afternoon. The papers can quite happily suggest all that. The weird thing is that for some people, it can almost be predicted in the press. People may not be having a nervous breakdown, but the press can make them have one. It can make marriages split up. There can be a rumor going around that somebody’s marriage is on the rocks, and it suddenly can be. It’s almost as if that forces it to happen. It’s really testing for a couple.
PLAYBOY: People often speculate about actors and their co-stars on movie sets.
DANIEL CRAIG: So the thing is, you don’t have an affair with somebody in your movies.
PLAYBOY: Does public scrutiny intensify any existing problems? It seems it may be true for Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse.
DANIEL CRAIG: Maybe, because your problems will come out. If you’re an artist—a singer, an actor, a painter, whatever—you show your emotions; it’s what you do. That’s what’s appealing about you. If you have problems, the problems will come out and possibly be magnified.
PLAYBOY: Is the attention itself addictive?
DANIEL CRAIG: Possibly, if you don’t understand it. That’s why I think it’s good for me that the attention came when I was older.
PLAYBOY: If you live by the sword, you may die by the sword. That is, if you buy your own press and come to think you’re as great as everyone says you are, you also have to buy your own press when the public turns against you.
DANIEL CRAIG: And people go down in flames. Something in me admires that.
PLAYBOY: You admire people who go down in flames?
DANIEL CRAIG: There’s something in me that’s from the punk generation that I grew up with that’s still there. It’s just saying fuck you to all this; I don’t give a shit what you think.
PLAYBOY: How has the huge success of Casino Royale influenced your film choices? There seem to be two ways to go: It could free an actor to take on a wide variety of roles, or it may make him less likely to take risks because he needs, or thinks he needs, surefire hits.
DANIEL CRAIG: It’s not going to happen like that for me. It hasn’t really changed the fact that jobs come along and I decide if I’m interested for whatever reason.
PLAYBOY: Are you burned out on action movies yet?
DANIEL CRAIG: I’m not looking for them at the moment. But if one came along that was great, who knows? The thing is, I genuinely love what I do. That’s what you get addicted to—this huge collaborative effort. We worked on the new Bond movie for six months. You work extremely closely with a great bunch of people. It’s incredibly rewarding. That happens on a Bond movie or an interesting small movie. I produced a little movie last year with my best friend directing, because he’s incredibly talented; we got that off the ground. I do like the idea of smaller, independent movies because you can discuss subjects that won’t necessarily make piles of money. They deal with tricky subject matter. I’m happy to do both kinds of movies. When you’re starting out as an actor, you don’t necessarily have a lot of choices. Hopefully, if you get any success, you can use it to give yourself the space to think, to make the right decisions. Why do you take the job? For the money? Then that’s fine. Because there’s a story you want to help tell? That’s better. You can do both and make conscious choices. You’re happier at the end of the day.
PLAYBOY: You reportedly signed on to make four Bond films. Are two more coming?
DANIEL CRAIG: I did sign on for four, including Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. So a piece of paper says there are two more to do. But let’s see how this one goes. In the film business everything doesn’t always go according to plan. We’ll wait and see. If it goes wrong, we’ll have to rethink things.
PLAYBOY: And if it goes right?
DANIEL CRAIG: If it goes right, then, well, either way we’ll see, won’t we? At least for the time being I’m still quite enjoying myself playing James Bond. Why not? It’s great. If it stopped being fun, though, I’d have to kill it off, wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t think twice.