Flashbacks of a Fool: Daniel Craig and Baillie Walsh interview
We caught up with 007 himself, Daniel Craig, and writer-director Baillie Walsh at the WORLD premiere of their new film Flashbacks of a Fool to get the low-down on Craig's first job as producer, working out for the role and the continuing pressure of success.
LF: Baillie - You've said that the inspiration for the movie came from a painting of a boy running through a field and the joy in his eyes - how did that develop into a complex story?
BB: I recognised the expression on that little boy's face, of pure joy and happiness. And it was literally one of those moments of remembering that set me off on thinking about the past. And I had always wanted to work with Daniel - and knew that I'd had to write a script if I was ever gonna work with him…and so set about putting two stories together.
LF: Daniel this is the first time I believe you have been both actor and producer on the same film - tell us why you were so keen to get this script off the ground?
DC: Well we were trying to get the movie made for a number of years, it wasn't until things have happened over the past couple of years that meant people have had more interest; and it just seemed the right thing to do - to get involved as executive producer because I have to put the pressure on - I have to say look put your hand into your pocket and spend some money on this movie, I believe in this movie, I believe in the people who have got involved, and I would like to see it made. Thankfully - thanks to Buena Vista and a list of other people - we did. It wasn't a conscious choice; it just seemed to be the right thing to do.
LF: Baillie, I'd love to hear what the reaction was from one of the emotional voices of the film, Brian Ferry, when he saw this for the first time?
BW: Well it was great because I got to show Brian Ferry and Anthony Price in a private screening, they were both in tears at the end of the film - so I felt I got a result! Luckily they both really appreciated the movie - they loved it. They were very generous with their time and giving me the music, and I've known them both a very long time so I was very happy.
LF: Daniel, how easily would it be to turn into someone like Joe Scott, do you have to work hard at it not to come prey to the whole Hollywood atmosphere?
DC: Terribly easy. I've had the question asked to me this evening. When Bailey wrote the movie for me I wasn't doing what I'm doing today; when we actually came to make the movie it seemed silly to change it -that's the way things go.
What was interesting for me in the script was you've got someone who appears to have everything, or at least has the opportunity to have everything, and has fucked it up and has lost it. I think you have to work hard at not becoming disillusioned at what you do for a living. If you have any success in what you do, you have to maintain energy and a love of it and if you can that's a great thing.
We meet Joe Scott and he's lost everything - he's not just lost interest in his business but he's lost interest in living. And that for me was what drew me to this movie - less to do with whether he's successful as an actor or successful as a business man - it doesn't matter - he's failed as a human being and I wanted to explore that.
DC: It's about time! In fact Mark was always gonna be in it…
BW: He was gonna play the young Ruth for a while! We kinda thought nah!
DC: Mark and I had a lot of fun with the script - we were loose about it...we invented bits and improvised.
BW: The scene between Mark and Daniel, was our first day of filming, and I have to say Dan put a lot of trust in me to make this film. I was really, really lucky that that was our first day because the moment those two got on set it was extraordinary, and they made me feel so safe - because I love what they do and we sailed through it - it was a joy.
LF: Daniel, going back to the idea of flashbacks - how would you describe yourself as a teenager, and what would the teenage version of you think of what you've done since?
DC: Um, if I was going to be perfectly honest - which I'm not going to be - I think the movie touches on a lot of things that we all went through. There are electrifying moments that happen to you as a teenager which form who you are as a human being.
I think that for me they were just captured so well - it's a big time in your life - it doesn't matter whether you have the most happy upbringing; you know the young Joe Scott has the most dysfunctional family there could be - but it's still a family and it's still a big strong family - and in spite of that he runs away from home - all of those things I relate to very directly. I hit 40 this year, but I still think about being a teenager and hopefully I will do for the rest of my life - they are important years.
LF: How much additional training did you do before the film knowing that you would have to bare some flesh?
DC: When it came to doing the movie I knew I was going to take my clothes off so I might have worked a little bit harder to keep myself fit. But that's actually the irony of it, you see all these fit and healthy people and everybody deep down is a fuck up somewhere - it doesn't matter whether you look a million dollars - everybody's got their flaws. Joe's living the life, he would go out and get drunk for three days and stay out but then hit the gym for two days - but that's the craziness of that lifestyle - you're damaging yourself in more ways than one
LF: How much are you enjoying your career especially now as you've moved into the realm of producing?
DC: If I can make movies like this, then I can get a huge amount of enjoyment out of it. That's clear to me. If I can be responsible, even slightly, for getting movies like this off the ground, or movies of any type that I can be proud, that's great.
You know, asking people to spend money can be very embarrassing, you're asking someone to put their hand in their pocket for something you believe in - you're putting your neck on the line - but Baillie and I surrounded ourselves with really genuine talent so if you fail, you fail the best you can… if that makes sense. You put the best people in the right situation; it makes for an exciting way of making movies. I think that's what gives me a huge amount of joy in being involved with this.
LF: How long did it take you to assemble the cast and why did you set where you did?
BW: It's about a memory and my memories. I grew up in a seaside town… I didn't want it to be a grimy seaside town, I wanted it to be a memory, a heightened reality, which was why we shot in South Africa and built the houses on the beach. I wanted to have a romantic idea of what childhood was.
The assembling of the cast was because of Daniels' involvement and because they liked the script. These kind of small roles actors seem to have enjoyed them - and I was very privileged and lucky to have them.
LF: This being the world premiere Daniel is it genuinely a relief when this kind of evening is all over?
DC: No, look, I mean every movie I make I get involved with as much as I can, but this has had a more personal journey for me, so bringing it here tonight there's a sense of relief and just of amazement that we got here because it's been a struggle. But this is a good way to launch it, there couldn't be a better way of celebrating this movie than bringing it to the West End and knowing that there's people watching it as we speak.
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