Daniel Craig - the new 007 - filming in Prague

Daniel Craig, photo: CTK

There are probably few movie-lovers unaware that the filming of the new James Bond movie Casino Royale is underway in Prague with a brand-new 007: Daniel Craig. Wednesday, though, was the first time the actor appeared officially before reporters, flanked by the film's director Martin Campbell and actress Judi Dench, who plays Bond's hard-as-nails boss 'M'. Radio Prague's Jan Velinger was at the event, and joins us in the studio to give his impressions.

Daniel Craig,  photo: CTK
RP: What was it like, Jan, to see the new James Bond?

"I guess you could say it was pleasantly thrilling, not least because actor Daniel Craig is only two years older than myself, and like you and I, himself admitted to growing up on Bond films. While the Bond role was not something he necessarily aspired to earlier in his career, his being chosen for the role certainly is amazing development. As Mr Craig stepped in front of cameras at Prague's Barrandov Studios on Wednesday photographers of course clicked away, getting the first official pix of the blond actor, today in all of the Czech dailies. What does Mr Craig himself think of having gotten the Bond role? Here's what he had to say:

"Whether it's been a dream of mine, I don't know. But I've seen every movie, to answer that question, more than once! It was always a tradition to see the new James Bond movie in our household, as it was in many. I don't know if it was ever a real ambition of mine, it was a surprise. Really. Genuinely a surprise that it came along. That doesn't mean that I didn't give it a great amount of thought and that it didn't mean a huge thing for me."

Martin Campbell,  Judi Dench and Daniel Craig,  photo: CTK
RP: As you say, Daniel Craig was not there on his own, but also with co-star Dame Judi Dench, now playing 'M' - Bond's boss at MI6 - for the fifth time. What did she have to say about the role?

"In all honesty, Mrs Dench took what seemed to be genuine affront when asked how the character of 'M' compared, for example, to another strong-willed woman she's played, Queen Elizabeth I (Shakespeare in Love). That role won her an Oscar, and arguably shares several character traits, if not delivery. But, Mrs Dench insisted both characters had nothing in common but this:

"[They are] formidable. I must say I wouldn't want to work for either of them! Certainly not Elizabeth I and certainly - or at least probably - not M either! But I have a very nice time on being on being on this side of authority. You know. And, you all on that side. I suppose I'm power-mad really. That's what I am."

Illustrative photo: Film Casino Royal - James Bond
RP: Now, they've been shooting here for a number of days - will Prague appear in the film as Prague, or masquerade as another city?

"Prague will appear in the film as Prague, and not say, as Vienna, as it has in some pictures, and that's good news and a small added boost for Czech audiences. As well, some Czech actors have also been cast in smaller roles, which is nothing unusual in such productions. As for what the new film is about - the filmmakers have been promising something different: a grittier Bond without some of the gadgetry that dominated later movies. Martin Campbell, the film's director:

"How's it different? Well, first of all it's Casino Royale, which is the first book. It's the 'formative' Bond, probably the most detailed in terms of his character arc, in terms of how he develops both in his relationship with the girl and with his boss, 'M', becoming a "Double 0" agent. The James Bond he is in the other movies, the Bond we all know and love."

Daniel Craig
RP: Appropriate words on which to end, perhaps?

"One last thing: I I should say since it is the one big question left, still unanswered for the Bond film - who will be the Bond girl? No Bond girl has been chosen yet, they are still looking. Regarding Mr Bond himself, producer Barbara Broccoli pointed out on Wednesday that he was a man "any" woman would love to spend a long weekend with but probably not marry. But, Dame Judi Dench, added 'both long weekend and marry'. In her view: why not?"