You've described playing James Bond as being like slipping on an old pair of shoes. Is that still the case for your fourth outing in the role?
It is in some respects. This role's mine, and it has been for some years, though trying to get ownership of it is difficult because so many other good men have gone before. But this film feels good, we have a great cast [including Halle Berry and Toby Stephens] and a wonderful director in Lee Tamahori ["Along Came a Spider].
How do you prepare to play 007?
I go back to what Ian Fleming put down in his books, because they are obviously the greatest source of information on this character. Preparation is tricky, though, it's very demanding. You have to have stamina. And I'm here sitting before you with a miserable head cold, which isn't the first time I've come to the role feeling ill. It's a very physical film and this particular piece is wall-to-wall action. The premise for Bond in this film is an interesting one, something that hasn't been seen before. As the story starts, Bond is in a situation that has never happened for his character. So that's an exciting element to play and starts to form the arc of the character. But otherwise it's just bloody hard work, really, which means getting on the bike, getting out on the road, and working out.
How old do you think is too old to play Bond?
It's a good question, and it's one I think about from time to time. I'd like to get off the stage with grace. For this movie to work, any actor who plays the part has to be courageous enough to go out there and push the envelope physically. I'm honouring my contract here by doing this film and, sure, I'd like to do another one, but after that, who knows?
"Die Another Day" opens in UK cinemas on Wednesday 20th November 2002.
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