JBR INTERVIEW: Actor Daz Crawford Talks About Working with Brosnan in ‘The World is Not Enough’
By Matthew Chernov
When it comes to villainy in the 007 series, it’s the evil masterminds and freaky henchmen who get all the glory. Meanwhile, the countless thugs, goons, and gunmen that Bond dispatches with relative ease are the ones who keep the underground monorails running on time, so to speak. If you need an example of the type of character that I’m referring to, think about the heavily armed casino thug played by British actor Daz Crawford in “The World is Not Enough.” Without him there to get in Bond’s face with an overconfident threat – only to end up pinned to the bar with a knife through his necktie – the scene wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. Thankfully, Crawford is there to add some menace and excitement to the film at just the right moment.
Born in Liverpool, Daz Crawford has led a life that Bond himself might envy. While serving in the Royal Air Force, he traveled the world extensively, including to the Falkland Islands, Germany, and throughout the Desert Storm Campaign. He played in the UK’s National League Baseball, joined the Seoul Olympic Team representing England as a top ranked boxer, and worked as a professional model. But it was his role as the muscle-bound Diesel on the wildly popular British TV series “Gladiators” that helped launch him on a career in showbiz.
To learn more about his impressive story, I spoke with Crawford recently and discussed his memorable debut role in Pierce Brosnan’s third Bond adventure.
James Bond Radio: Were you already a fan of the 007 franchise before you appeared in “The World is Not Enough”?
Daz Crawford: Oh yeah, I loved the Bond movies. I don’t know any kids who didn’t grow up watching them, especially in England. They’re legendary classics, and I was definitely a fan of the series.
JBR: Which of the six actors who’ve played Bond is your favorite?
Daz: I’d probably pick Roger Moore.
JBR: He’s mine too, actually.
Daz: Oh, really! I assume most people usually say Sean Connery. And of course, Connery was really good as Bond too, so I get it. But for me, the Roger Moore era of Bond films is my favorite. Good old Roger!
JBR: Was he the first Bond you saw on screen in a theater?
Daz: Yes, he was.
JBR: That’s often the way it happens. The first Bond you see tends to make a big impression.
Daz: That’s right, you kind of stick with it. Roger always made me laugh. He had such a dry sense of humor, and a lot of his lines were tongue in cheek. Everything he said had two meanings, an adult version and a child’s version, and he always nailed it perfectly.
JBR: You were already a household name in the UK because of your work on the “Gladiators” TV series. So, how did the casting process work on “The World is Not Enough”?
Daz: It’s hilarious, really. I’d been on “Gladiators” for about a year at that time. It was my first series. What happened was, a friend of mine came over to England as a guest Gladiator. His name is John Seru, and he played a Gladiator called Vulcan. So, we worked on the series together for a while and became mates, and then he went back to Australia and I stayed on the show. Well, shortly after that, he called me up and said, “Daz, you’re not going to believe this, but I just got a role in a Bond film.” He ended up playing Sophie Marceau’s bodyguard in the movie.
JBR: Right, I remember him. I believe his character’s name was Gabor.
Daz: Yes, he’s the big guy with dreadlocks. Anyway, he’d been filming for a few weeks and then he called me up and said, “Daz, you’ve got to come to Shepperton Studios and watch this scene I’m in. You never know what might happen.” So, I went to visit the set and I watched them shoot the scene where Sophie is strangling Pierce in that torture chair. I just kind of hung around and was introduced to a few people. I met the First AD, and I think Barbara Broccoli was there too, and that was it. But then a week or so later, I was in Ireland doing some work for “Gladiators” and I got a call from the Bond production asking if I wanted a role in the movie! They gave me a quick breakdown of what the part entailed, and they said it was mine if I wanted it.
JBR: Wow! You were in the exact right place at the exact right time.
Daz: That’s how I got the role. I didn’t even have to audition for it, which was quite a fluke. I mean, how do you top something like that?
JBR: Considering that it was your first appearance in a feature film, and considering how important the Bond franchise was to you, were you nervous about the job?
Daz: It was a combination of nerves and excitement. Honestly, I spent a lot of time pinching myself because it wasn’t something I planned on or set out to do. The whole thing felt quite surreal, actually.
JBR: Where was the casino scene shot?
Daz: It’s a funny story. I used to be in the Royal Air Force, and when I found out where we were shooting it was actually in Buckinghamshire, about thirty or forty miles away from the studio, in an old Royal Air Force officers’ mess hall. All they really had to do was add a few casino tables and some set dressing. The bar was already there.
JBR: How long did it take to shoot the scene?
Daz: From start to finish, including stunt training, it probably took about eight days.
JBR: What was the mood like on set?
Daz: It was very quiet and professional. Very mellow and formal, I’d say. You know, there’s a lot of money involved in making these movies so there’s no messing around, really. Director Michael Apted was extremely professional, as he always is. It’s not a playground. I mean, there were about 200 extras involved, and Apted had to make sure that everyone was in the right position before we started the scene.
JBR: What were your impressions of Pierce Brosnan while you worked together for those few days?
Daz: Honestly, looking back in hindsight, he was just another guy. Of course, he was much higher up the ladder than I was in the acting world, and we didn’t have a lot of conversation. But I felt he was a very nice guy.
JBR: You were on the set when he delivered his “shaken, not stirred” line, correct?
Daz: Yes, I was! It was so funny to hear him say it. I was there and he said it more than once. It’s a classic line, isn’t it? I mean, yeah, I was only in one scene, but it was the casino scene! And every Bond movie has a casino scene, right? It was strange not to be watching it on television. Instead, it was happening right in front of me. I’ve got to say, it was quite an awesome event to be involved in.
JBR: When I mentioned to one of the hosts of James Bond Radio that I was going to interview you, he immediately quoted your threatening line, “I don’t think you heard me.” Everyone loves the way you deliver it. Did you practice that line a few different ways, or did you nail it the first time?
Daz: Here’s the story of how that happened. The whole set was ready to go. The director calls “action,” and Pierce comes in and does his thing. So, I said my line with my British accent. A second later, Michael Apted came over to me quietly and said, “Daz, I think you should do a Russian accent.” Luckily, Sophie Marceau had a voice coach on the set that day, and he explained to me how to break down the words into syllables and how to say it as a Russian. So, that’s how I did it, and Michael liked it, and obviously it’s still in the film. It worked!
JBR: I have to admit, when I first heard you speaking today with your natural British accent it completely threw me. I’m just so used to hearing you sound like a Russian gangster.
Daz: When a lot of people meet me for the first time and hear my natural voice they think the same thing.
JBR: Your scene in the film has some very cool special effects in it, particularly when Brosnan looks at you with those x-ray glasses and sees all your weapons through your clothing. How did they create that effect?
Daz: They made two suits for me. A normal suit and a see-through suit. That way you could actually see all my guns and knives through the transparent jacket. I remember that the material it was made from was extremely delicate. It’s a very good effect. Still, it was a bit odd walking around the set in that see-through suit. Everyone could see my trousers through my jacket.
JBR: Were the two women standing next to you in that scene also wearing see-through clothing?
Daz: Yeah, that’s right. They had normal dresses and see-through dresses. It was such a great idea, and it really helps the viewer visualize what Bond is seeing through those glasses.
JBR: Did you and Pierce do the stunt with the knife and the necktie yourselves?
Daz: The stunt guys practiced it first and worked it all out. And then they showed it to Pierce and me, and then we practiced it together for a few days to get it right. I wore a pad under my suit in the back, because you can actually get a bit winded by hitting yourself against the sharp edge of the bar again and again. Also, Pierce is quite a bit shorter than I am. So, when I initially walked up to him there was obviously a big height difference. That meant we had to figure out how to make it look realistic enough that a shorter guy could get the advantage over a much bigger guy. That’s why I end up leaning down towards him in the scene. It’s a way to make us appear the same height in the shot. That’s what makes the stunt work on camera.
JBR: It really does look great in the movie.
Daz: Unfortunately, there was an accident during the very first take. Pierce failed to get his elbow clear of my face and he whacked me right in the nose. I got the rest of the day off after that and we picked it up again the following day.
JBR: At the end of your scene, Goldie enters the casino and ushers Bond in to see Valentin Zukovsky. Did you get to meet Goldie on set?
Daz: No, not really. I briefly saw him, once or twice. I actually spoke more to Robbie Coletrane than I did Goldie. Coletrane is a brilliant bloke. He’s just really funny. A purely nice guy.
JBR: When the film opened, did you attend the premiere?
Daz: Yes, I went to the premiere and I actually wore the see-through suit.
JBR: Did you really? That’s excellent!
Daz: They premiered it at the West End in London. That was a great night.
JBR: So, you’re sitting in the theater and your scene is about to come on. What’s going through your head at that precise moment?
Daz: Well, first of all you’re not sure if your scene is even going to be in it. They don’t show you a rough cut of the movie beforehand. So, when it did come on I was obviously happy straight away. Still, it’s an odd feeling. It’s just odd to see yourself up there. But it was like that on set as well. During my first take, I remember thinking to myself, “Jesus, Daz. You’re a villain in a James Bond film!” That’s not the kind of thing an actor is supposed to be thinking at work.
JBR: What type of reaction do you get from fans when they realized that you were in a Bond movie?
Daz: It’s been great, especially because my particular scene was used in the promotion of the film. So, even before it came out, people were already watching me say my line to Bond. It was on TV all the time and it must’ve been quite memorable to people because several of them approached me on the street back then and said “I don’t think you heard me” when I walked by.
JBR: You’ve been working almost non-stop since “The World is Not Enough.” What new films do you have coming out soon?
Daz: I’ve got three new projects coming out next year. One is called “Beast Mode,” which is a comedy horror film. I play a Hollywood agent in it, which is the kind of role I don’t normally get to play. It’s very funny and I’m really looking forward to it. That should be out in the summertime. I’ve also got one coming out called “Evolution War,” which is a science fiction film. It’s a sequel to a movie I did a few years ago. I got killed off in the first one, but through the magic of the movies I’m back again. I’ve also got a very modern supernatural thriller coming out called “Stay.” It’s about ghosts and technology, and it’s got all the great elements you want in a supernatural thriller.
JBR: Ian Fleming was a master at giving his characters unforgettable names like Oddjob and Pussy Galore. If you could give your character in “The World is Not Enough” a name, what would you call him?
Daz: Believe it or not, my character actually did have a name in the movie. It just wasn’t spoken out loud and it wasn’t listed in the credits either. But it was written in the script.
JBR: What’s your character’s name?
JBR: Wow! I had no idea.
Daz: It’s true. Zed. I don’t think many people know that.
JBR: This coming year will mark the 20th anniversary of “The World is Not Enough.” How would you sum up your Bond experience two decades later?
Daz: What a ride. What a twenty-year ride it’s been!
Interview by Matthew Chernov