Fans of Daniel Craig can get two scoops of the actor this week in theaters -- in both kid-friendly and decidedly adult form. Craig is the man behind Sakharine in "The Adventures of Tintin" and a crusading Swedish magazine reporter in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." After that, though, you'll have to wait until fall 2012 for "Skyfall," his next iteration as James Bond.
We caught up with Craig on a break from filming "Skyfall" in early December in London, where he had gathered with "Dragon Tattoo" cast and director David Fincher to talk about the film.
In “Dragon Tattoo,” Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist fallen from grace due to a libel court case. His life is profoundly affected when he meets Goth über-hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who attempts to disguise her inner pain via blunt manners, facial piercings and elaborate body tattoos.
Phantasmagoric, “Matrix" meets H.R. Giger style of opening credits (by Tim Miller’s Blur, of Venice) kick off “Dragon Tattoo” as Karen O belts out a new arrangement of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” “Fincher does that kind of sinister stuff incredibly well, huh?" says Craig, 43, suave in a dark blue navy style sweater and trousers. "Those opening credits definitely give us food for thought in terms of the next Bond.”
The intense British actor has read the Stieg Larsson books thoroughly. Larsson was a politically active, left-wing Swedish journalist, who died just before his Millennium Trilogy was published, starting with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Q: What captivated you the most about Stieg Larsson’s novels?
DC: I think the essential themes of the books have to do with the politics of sexuality. The main protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, has been beaten down all her life. Still she manages somehow to survive, succeed and even flourish. Lisbeth has a true sense of injustice in the world. Not just for herself, but for other people, too. The man I play in the movie, Mikael Blomkvist, is a true kindred spirit, as he understands injustice and wants to get to the truth of it, just like Lisbeth. Blomkvist and Salander come together at a certain point, and have this turbulent relationship, which is complex, interesting, sexy and funny. The elements of that relationship are featured prominently in the book, and also in our movie.
Q: Why do you think David Fincher and Sony Pictures decided to go forward and re-adapt Stieg Larsson’s trilogy so soon after the original Scandinavian adaptations, which were released only a few years ago?
DC: Because the books are just plain good old storytelling, that’s why. The books are extremely popular globally, and hopefully with this movie they’ll be even more widely read. This was a chance for us to gather a massive talent pool together, and create something very much for the adult market, and yet something that works for the mass appeal market as well. I, for one, was very excited about the idea.
Q: David Fincher is one of those quintessential cinematic masters, with his own unique style, and yet he evokes the feel of perfectionists like Stanley Kubrick. Was the sheer level of craft the main reason you wanted to be in this movie, and work with Fincher?
DC: I think David has many similarities with Stanley Kubrick. He’s also clearly been inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, particularly in how he handles dialogue. Fincher’s defining himself as a director, he’s matured a lot in the past 20 years, if you look at the movies he’s done. His movies were always good in my opinion, but his craft has just gotten better over the years, especially the recent ones. I’m a big fan of his, so when they asked me to be involved, it was an easy question to answer. Yes! I’ve wanted to work with David Fincher for a long time.
Q: I understand that the arctic climate wasn’t always kind to you, the rest of the cast or the crew while making “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in Sweden. Clearly, David Fincher and the studio thought that you really couldn’t stage this kind of Nordic ambience anywhere else, am I right?
DC: Sure, we all froze our [butts] off. There’s an incredibly rich culture of storytelling in northern Europe, because it’s very dark there a lot of the year. You’ve got to have something to do, while the lights are out. Telling ghost stories and stories about murder and danger are good ways of keeping yourself entertained. That’s been done in northern Europe and the Nordic countries for thousands of years. Being there and filming “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in Sweden was incredibly important for us all – for the reasons of light, the cold and the general atmosphere. There was absolutely no point of uprooting this story and shooting it somewhere else. It just had to be Sweden, it had to be Stockholm.
Q: Since you’re in London, shooting “Skyfall” -– and even looking like 007 right now -– do you still feel as good about the upcoming Bond movie as you did before the shoot?
DC: Oh yes. It’s a great, fantastic script, and we’re making a very good Bond movie. It’s going to be very special and different, but it’s still very much tied to Bonds of old. I’ve said it over and over again, but I’m very excited about “Skyfall,” and Sam’s [Mendes, the director] doing a wonderful job.
'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is cool and crafted, critics say
Movie review: 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is too frigid
Box Office: 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' has aggressive launch
-- Juhani Nurmi in London
Photo: Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Merrick Morton/Columbia TriStar