CERRO PARANAL, Chile (Reuters) - Wincing on a windswept mountainside in arid, northern Chile, James Bond’s new incarnation Daniel Craig is on a quest for realism -- and he has the bruises to prove it.
Breaking after a grueling 10-hour day of filming Bond’s latest adventure, Quantum of Solace, in remote Paranal in Chile’s copper mining heartland, a metaphor for the isolation of the world’s most famous fictional super-spy, Craig says he is after grit.
“I‘m bruised up from the fight scenes, but that’s part of the deal,” Craig told Reuters in an interview in the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, grimacing as he sat down. “I wouldn’t have done the movie without going all the way.”
He does as many of his own stunts as insurance allows.
Craig, who shot to fame with the 2006 Bond movie Casino Royale, pumps iron every evening, eats well and says his secret is to completely immerse himself in the role of 007.
“We’re making a Bond film, but we need some reality. We need to do more,” he said, sitting in the navy polo shirt and black jeans he wore on set. His skin is wind-burnt. Veins protrude on buff biceps.
“But the reality of the situations and ... people’s emotions is kind of important because we want an audience to kind of care and just to get involved and stay interested.”
Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, who plays Bond’s new love interest Camille, is also suffering. She says she is so bruised she no longer needs make-up to make her look tough.
Ultimately, Bond is all about action, and the film promises twice as much as in Casino Royale.
“It’s not like we’re making some sort of big action romance here. This is a Bond movie first of all,” Craig said. “You have to apply the Bond equation, which is that we have to have as much action as we possibly can that fits in with the story, which makes sense.”
In fact, Craig and Kurylenko don’t even kiss on-screen -- though true to Bond he does have a fling with another woman.
Quantum of Solace, produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, is set an hour after the end of Casino Royale, which introduced movie fans to English actor Craig, who turned 40 while filming on location in Panama in March.
The cast try not to let too much slip about the plot.
But it involves Bond trying to track down the killers of Vesper Lynd -- the woman who betrayed his love in Casino Royale -- and stop an evil plan by an eco-terrorist to help install a dictator in what is supposed to be Bolivia in exchange for control of land with crucial natural resources.
The scenes filmed in Chile are near the end of the picture, as Bond is “catching up with the bad guys,” Craig said.
“There’s a theme in the movie, which is about shortages in the world and how people are abusing them and this sets it up quite nicely really,” he added.
Chile’s desolate Cerro Paranal mountain, 2,600 meters (8,530 ft) above sea level, looks like the moon and is meant to be the Bolivian lair of new villain Dominic Greene.
The legacy of past dictatorships and shortages due to climate change are two very real themes in Latin America, home to a host of dictators in the 1970s and 1980s and now to melting glaciers.
Desert winds whipping up twisters behind him, Wilson said the location is also meant to emphasize Bond’s mental anguish. “This is a desolate landscape that reflects Bond’s feelings.”
Director Marc Forster was at first reluctant to make the mass-audience film, which is far removed from earlier projects like Oscar-winning Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner.
But he said he was drawn by the challenge of bringing more passion to a film made for a broader audience.
The film aims to get away from the special effects and gadgets that characterized earlier Bond movies, the cast says, though Bond still has his trusty Aston Martin.
“I want to go back to the 60s and 70s thriller look,” said Forster, pointing to the franchise’s first Bond movie, Dr. No, and others as a hint of the gritty filming fans can expect.
But while the rhetoric of Craig’s critics, who earlier campaigned online saying he was ‘too blonde and too ugly’, has died down, the film has stirred controversy of its own.
A local mayor was detained by police after he drove onto the set during filming to protest the fact that Chile was being used to represent impoverished neighboring Bolivia.
Chile annexed the region around the northern mining center of Antofagasta in a war in the late 19th century, depriving Bolivia of its only maritime border, and tension between the two countries still runs high.
The film will be released jointly by Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. It is scheduled to open in Britain on October 31 and on November 7 elsewhere.
Editing by Simon Gardner and Kieran Murray