LAYER CAKE - Q&A with director Matthew Vaughn and actor Daniel Craig
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
Q&A with director Matthew Vaughn and lead actor Daniel Craig
Matthew seeing as this is the first film you've directed, was it daunting?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: It was only daunting before I decided to do it. Once I started it, I enjoyed it.
Matthew, you apparently could not see yourself not doing this film once you had read the book, is this true?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well originally Guy Ritchie was meant to direct it but he chose to go off and do something else and by that point I had already done so much to develop it. I did not want to hand it over to somebody else who would probably mess it up so I decided to do it myself.
Daniel, was it easy to play this cool guy?
DANIEL CRAIG: Well I would just say that I wanted him to be the kind of guy who could fit in anywhere, considering his line of work he needed to be that kind of guy
Matthew, do you think that possibly the end product has exceeded even your own expectations?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: No. I made the film that I planned to make but I am surprised by the positive reactions to the film and I was glad that what worked so well in my mind has been appreciated. I am especially glad because it is something that I am proud of.
Matthew, this is a very stylish film almost like a Norman Jewison film in parts, was this all part of the plan for the movie and what influenced it?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: I was going for a stylish look but my film knowledge is very bad so I am sure that Norman Jewison is great, but I have never seen any of his movies. Michael Mann and Brian De Palma influenced me in different ways, De Palma uses his camera to intimately follow scenes. Michael Mann did the impossible and made LA look beautiful. So we had London which is a beautiful city so it was easier to make it look good, although I did not want to make the style take over from the content.
Matthew did you rush the violence into the movie, unlike SNATCH and LOCK STOCK?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well, I did not want the violence to be a talking point of the movie. The violence in SNATCH and LOCK STOCK was cartoonish, I wanted it to only be part of the film not the whole film. I hope it does not influence kids in anyway, to say put an iron on someone's chest as is done in the film so in that way it was a conscious decision to not glamorize the violence. Besides this is a 15 rating which is whole new territory for me.
Daniel, was it physically taxing doing this movie?
DANIEL CRAIG: Well considering that I get beaten up quite badly... but in a film like this there will be such scenes so it was actually not really that bad.
Daniel, was it hard keeping a straight face working with Michael Gambon?
DANIEL CRAIG: Yes and also he makes up his own lines. [Laughter]
Daniel, the scene at the top of the building what was that like?
DANIEL CRAIG: It was terrifying, although they used a harness. I am scared of heights, but there were all these tough stuntman types around so I just went on and did it. There was all this scaffolding around so we had to climb up ladders for part of the way and then we spent most of the day up there.
Daniel, as they say you are now big in the USA, do you prefer working over there to here?
DANIEL CRAIG: I prefer good jobs, my heart is here in Britain and Europe in general as there is a true independent spirit over here, probably because there is less money over here but I would take a job in the USA for the same reason that I would over here.
Daniel, your character in this movie is much cooler than your characters in THE MOTHER, SYLVIA and ROAD TO PERDITION, was this more fun to do but perhaps less challenging and which of these roles is closest to you as a person? (From Neils Hesse - PHASE 9)
DANIEL CRAIG: What, am I like the character from THE MOTHER? [Laughter] Well acting is a joy for me, it is only the long hours that are taxing and I suppose that there is a bit of me in everything that I do.
Matthew, what got you interested in Daniel?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well he has been good in everything that I have seen him in and there was one short film he did that particularly interested me.
DANIEL CRAIG: I can show you some bad ones [laughter].
MATTHEW VAUGHN: It is very brave for an actor to do a role that requires him to do something that does not draw a lot of attention on screen especially when everybody else around him seems to have great catchy lines. It is then very tempting for them to start doing some crazy stuff to get some attention but Daniel didn't do any of this, well at least not in the film he didn't [laughter].
Daniel, you did a lot of theatre work in your early days was this what originally inspired you to do what you do?
DANIEL CRAIG: No I did not particularly want to do film or theatre, I just wanted to be an actor, to dress up and play roles which is what I am doing now.
Matthew what were the restrictions for filming in London?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well there are some film friendly councils so we just tried to work in those film friendly council areas.
Daniel, who is a better kisser Anne Reid from THE MOTHER or Samantha Morton from ENDURING LOVE?
DANIEL CRAIG: They are both very different. Samantha and me had been taking the piss out of each other for most of the day before we shot our kissing scene and then we shot it and it was over in a flash.
Matthew which movies influenced you when you were growing up?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well, STAR WARS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. I like being entertained. Give me a big bag of popcorn and a big Hollywood movie and I am happy. There are some films that Daniel has done that I have not seen and I will probably not see because those are not my kind of films [laughter]. I like entertaining [ones].
Daniel, what was your experience of filming in Glasgow for THE JACKET?
DANIEL CRAIG: It was good.
Matthew, women don't feature much in your films, why?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: I am a misogynist [Laughter]. No, that's not it, it's just that I do not subscribe to the Hollywood idea of always having a woman there, for instance they would put a woman in a submarine even though women are not actually allowed on submarines. If there is a role for a woman then I will put a woman there, if not I will not be compelled to do so.
Matthew, have you had any feedback from the people films like SNATCH and LOCK STOCK portray, perhaps of a negative nature considering the manner in which those films represented them?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: No and I would not want any feedback from them.
Daniel, what was your influence for being so cool in this movie?
DANIEL CRAIG: I stood up straight, except when I was being thumped. I had some good suits made for me and once you put on a good suit it automatically changes your outlook and that helps a lot. I approached it in the same way that I approach everything else, the aim was not to be this cool guy but if that is what people now think, then I am happy that is what the performance has become. I think that if you go into a shot worrying about what you look like on camera then that will come out in the shot so I steer clear of such thoughts.
MATTHEW VAUGHN: I don't think that Daniel tried to be cool.
DANIEL CRAIG: Why, because I am not cool?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Daniel gave a performance - he just did it. The minute you start off saying that you are going to make a cool movie then I think that you are going to get it wrong.
Daniel any career plans for Hollywood?
DANIEL CRAIG: I didn't think that you could have a career plan in Hollywood - it is always changing. I spice it up; I do a bit of everything. I have a Spielberg film coming up next year but between now and then I may do something over here.
Daniel, how have you struck the balance between big stuff like TOMB RAIDER and smaller films like this one?
DANIEL CRAIG: I have just been going to where my head is at that moment in time and if say I get a film with hate, tears and anger when I am nowhere even close to that level of emotion at that moment then I will not do it. Films take a big chunk out of me.
What motivated TOMB RAIDER?
DANIEL CRAIG: Money!
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well he also likes computer games.
DANIEL CRAIG: I also like going to the cinema and have popcorn, nachos, hot dogs the lot whilst watching some big Hollywood movie so it was an opportunity to be part of that and it was a good movie for what it was but that kind of film does not turn me on.
Daniel, any itch to do comedy?
DANIEL CRAIG: I'm not funny. The things that make me belly laugh are not found funny by most people, essentially black humour that is not played to be funny but turns out that way. For example I thought that THE MOTHER was very funny but most people thought it was a very serious film. I just don't have the instinct for it.
Any plans to direct?
DANIEL CRAIG: None whatsoever, all these people in your ear complaining and staying back on set when everybody's left - no not for me.
Matthew, had Daniel opted out who would your second choice have been and now that you have done the movie is Guy Ritchie regretting passing it up? (From Neils Hesse PHASE9)
MATTHEW VAUGHN: I don't think that regret is the right word. Guy has no reason to regret anything but he may be surprised by it. As for Daniel saying no, well I could now take the piss out of him.
DANIEL CRAIG: You don't have to answer it if you don't want to.
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Daniel has made the role his own so I cannot picture anyone else in the role.
Matthew, how easy was it to get Colm Meaney and do you want to carry on directing?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well with actors it is always hard to get through to their agents unless it is a tried and tested director so when they see Matthew Vaughn the producer now the director they tend to be very skeptical but eventually it all worked out. I do want to carry on directing and this is a stepping-stone to the big films I would eventually like to make.
Daniel, is it a myth that you don't like interviews very much?
DANIEL CRAIG: I like talking about my work and it is important to do so but I have no interest in talking about myself or in being a celebrity. I have other things to do.
Do you want to do more TV?
DANIEL CRAIG: I am going to do a film for the BBC that we are filming in Latvia. I still believe that we make the best TV.
MATTHEW VAUGHN: The Americans make good stuff.
DANIEL CRAIG: Only that funny comedy stuff.
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well what about THE SOPRANOS.
DANIEL CRAIG: I have never actually watched an episode of that. Well as I was saying I go for good scripts even if it is TV.