Daniel Craig Has Named His Pick for the Next Bond: Niall Horan?!

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘Spectre’ Already Breaking U.K. Records.

EVERY now and then a Bond film will hint that its hero might actually be a human being. 007’s latest nemesis on the evils of the internet, being a late-bloomer, and why – like the villain he may or may not be playing – he’s happiest in the shadows In the months-long build-up to the release of SPECTRE, we’ve been given a good look at much of what the 24th Bond film has to offer: director Sam Mendes’s eye-popping Day of the Dead-themed opening action sequence; Bond’s new companions Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux; the fire-breathing Aston Martin DB10.

After a stunning $6.4 million opening night in the U.K. on Monday night, Spectre is now outpacing its record-breaking predecessor Skyfall at the U.K. box office.Earlier in the week, a reporter for ITV’s This Morning got a pretty curt reply from Daniel Craig, a 47-year-old man and respected actor, when she asked him to “pout” for him. “Earlier this week, a journalist asked Daniel Craig if he would – probably because of his smouldering looks, we know he’s a looker – to pout,” a Shortlist journalist asked him.

Craig was indeed asked whether he thought a One Direction member would make a good Bond replacement, to which he sarcastically replied that he would be “absolutely fantastic”. In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, 007 was vulnerable enough to get married, and in “For Your Eyes Only” he laid flowers on his wife’s grave (before, of course, being nearly murdered by a remote-controlled helicopter). Sam Mendes also returns to direct the film, which sends Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the widow of an infamous criminal.

Alongside the intense speculation over who will be named the next Bond after Daniel Craig — who hasn’t yet confirmed whether or not he’ll return for another franchise outing — and the film’s plot, much of the discussion surrounding Spectre had been over whether it could top Skyfall, which became the highest-grossing 007 of all time in 2012, with $1.1 billion in global ticket sales. As he rises to greet me, a half-smile – part playful, part sardonic – animates his pliable face. “Have you ever seen so many people with clipboards?” he asks, his voice a familiar, mellifluous mix of American and mittel-European inflections. “Then again, people always have this need to feel that they’re important, don’t they?” There’s no denying Waltz’s own importance to the SPECTRE juggernaut.

In SPECTRE, he’s ostensibly playing a character named Franz Oberhauser, Bond’s long-lost foster brother and head of SPECTRE, the standard-issue Shadowy Organisation Bent On World Domination. Spoiler warnings have been flying thick and fast, but suffice it to say that the character’s penchant for grey mandarin-collared jackets, plus Waltz’s own assertion, in an interview earlier this year, that “it is absolutely untrue that I’m playing a reincarnation of Ernst Stavro Blofeld,” are all gentle hints at his true identity. Despite the fact that the (white chinchilla Persian) cat is very much out of the bag, Waltz hews to the three-line whip and doesn’t allow the B-word to pass his lips.

In one breathtaking, unbroken take, a roving camera follows Bond as he dodges parade crowds and nips in and out of hotels until he is pointing his sniper’s rifle at his latest target. The furthest he’s prepared to go is an admission that “this character has a shape-shifting quality, which gave me a lot of freedom to take him wherever I wanted.” (In Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, Blofeld is variously described as a 20-stone Mussolini lookalike, and a 12-stone silver-haired sylph with no earlobes.) As Oberhauser-definitely-not-Blofeld, Waltz displays all the qualities that made him an overnight star when, at 52, he played the alluring, ruthless “Jew hunter” Dr Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. His unauthorised Mexico mission gets him into hot water with his boss M (Ralph Fiennes), but also alerts him to a mysterious conspiracy, and soon he is continent-hopping from London to Rome to the Austrian Alps to Tangiers and back.

They include silken charm, playful malevolence, a disarming facility with language, and a mercurial ability to flip from joviality to a temperature-lowering froideur, often in the space of a single sentence. It’s there in the first meeting between Oberhauser and Bond, when Waltz undercuts the absurdity of an Austin Powers-esque “evil boardroom” scene by investing the single word “cuckoo” with coltish intimidation. Austrian-born Waltz has been a jobbing actor since his early 20s (his parents were both costume designers, as is his current wife, Judith), and YouTube is littered with his journeyman efforts, from warbling in the new year in a stripy onesie on Austrian kids’ TV to starring alongside an intractable German Shepherd in the police series Komissar Rex. Eventually, he comes face to face with Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), the nefarious, Nehru-jacketed leader of a sinister organisation with a familiar name: Spectre. (In earlier Bond films, this stood for the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. There were many false dawns, including a Channel 4 comedy series called The Gravy Train, an EU satire that yielded an unlikely and enduring friendship with co-star Alexei Sayle.

But it would be another two decades before he went to audition for Tarantino. “I had written this crunchy, twisty dialogue,” the director once said, “and it needed a real master to bring it alive, to make it sing. Christoph got hold of it and played it like a Stradivarius.” Waltz’s provenance – born to solid bourgeois stock in Vienna, with sojourns in London, Berlin and the US – and his decades at the coalface have lent him both an expansive erudition and a dry, acerbic scepticism.

When Bond’s parents died, we are told, it was Oberhauser’s father who took in the orphaned James, and it was Oberhauser’s father who taught him to ski and shoot—to be James Bond, in other words. An example of the former: I ask him if the role of Oberhauser was, as claimed, written specially for him. “I don’t know if that’s strictly true,” he says, “but I know that when I came on board, the role grew, evolved, and mutated. Not only is he responsible for the wickedness in “Spectre”, but also he seems to have pulled the strings in Daniel Craig’s other Bond films, too. Everything that happened in “Casino Royale”, “Quantum of Solace” and “Skyfall” was apparently a result of Oberhauser’s father spending too much time with little James. Waltz shares the film’s disdain for internet-enabled data harvesting. “That’s what really drew me into the story,” he says, sitting forward in his chair. “This movie is tackling that question head-on; it’s speaking about relevant social issues in a way that few Bonds have done before.” I wonder if Waltz has read Jonathan Franzen’s novel Purity, in which a Julian Assange-type character asserts that the internet is a much more efficient totalitarian entity than any number of socialist states, because “its competing platforms were united in their ambition to define every term of your existence”? “I haven’t read it yet, but I absolutely agree with that,” he says emphatically. “I recently came across a quote from Voltaire: ‘A man who can present absurdities as believable can convince you to commit atrocities.’ These days, an algorithm can do that.

Three of its screenwriters are Bond veterans, but the fourth, Jez Butterworth, was brought in to polish the script until it gleamed. 007’s banter with the nerdy Q (Ben Whishaw) is a particular treat. And as we know from history, the facilitation is more dangerous than the cause, because the cause can be dealt with, but the facilitation is elusive.” It should come as no surprise, given this view, that Waltz isn’t frantically tweeting or posting pictures of sachertorte on Instagram. “I call them all anti-social media,” he says disparagingly. “The fact that Facebook presents facial recognition programmes as a desirable development, well, that in itself is a decisive step toward fascism, as far as I’m concerned.” Given that, for Waltz, privacy is a red-line issue, isn’t appearing in one of the year’s biggest films likely to prove counter-productive? “No, on the contrary,” he smiles. “Daniel [Craig], for example, he handles it fabulously, masterfully. By making Oberhauser the series’ over-arching villain, “Spectre” shrinks Bond’s fictional universe down to something as tiny as a family spat. He has national treasure status almost, right?” “Anyway,” continues Waltz, “he steps behind Bond, in public and in private, and so he manages to maintain his sanity, which is very admirable. And for me, it’s easier,” he concludes, waving his arm dismissively. “I cannot imagine any jurisdiction, now or in the future, in which I could ever conceivably be regarded as a national treasure.” “Oh yes, absolutely,” he shoots back. “If you get that kind of clamour and attention when you’re young, it hits you like a high-speed train.

But actually he was just fending off the pot-shots of a jealous foster brother, played by the usually outstanding Mr Waltz with pouting smarminess rather than the requisite menace. I’m talking about painting yourself into a corner and sacrificing your development.” He lived in London for 15 years from the end of the 1980s with his first wife Jackie, a psychotherapist, and their three school-age children. “We had the Poll Tax riots and we had Thatcher dismantling civic, or at least civil, society,” he says, with a mirthless chuckle. “It was an interesting time”).

It is customary now for action-adventure franchises to obsess over their heroes’ traumatic childhoods: witness the “Star Wars” prequels and Fox’s new Batman-as-boy series, “Gotham”. Ian Fleming’s secret agent was a man with a job to do, one anonymous (and terribly smooth) spy among many, a small cog in the machinery of cold war espionage. The shutters again come clanging down. “I find discussions about residence on a global level futile to say the least,” he replies. “There’s a kind of jaded ennui to it – ‘Where should we live? Actually, you move where you think you can apply yourself, and if you can do the stuff you want to do with the people you want to do it with.” Given Waltz’s two Best Supporting Actor Oscars (for Basterds and Tarantino’s follow-up Django Unchained, in which he was equally captivating as “dentist” and bounty-hunter Dr King Schulz), plus the clout that comes with Bond, there’ll no doubt be plenty of “stuff” to do, and no shortage of people who’ll want to do it with him.

What is even more troubling about Oberhauser’s motivation is that it renders all of Bond’s achievements meaningless. “Spectre” establishes that every bit of death and destruction in the series stems from familial resentment, not because power-hungry villains are constantly trying to colonise the globe. He directed a production of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier at the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp a couple of years ago, and, once his Bond duties are done, he’s set to direct his first film, The Worst Marriage in Georgetown. It’s the strange-but-true story of Albrecht Muth, a con artist who posed as a US army officer, a count, a foreign spy and an Iraqi general before being convicted of the murder of his journalist-socialite wife Viola, 45 years his senior.

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