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Daniel looks like a killer.. Moore & Brosnan couldn't damage anything stronger than a martini - GUN TRAINER JOSS SKOTTOWE; EXCLUSIVE: HOW WE MADE THE NEW 007, BY MEN WHO TRAINED HIM.

Byline: By ADAM LEE-POTTER

MOVIE fans are hailing Daniel Craig as the best-ever James Bond... now the stunt men and experts who trained him have crowned him the roughest, toughest 007 star of all.

Critics and filmgoers alike have praised Craig's secret agent as raw, bloodied and real in Casino Royale, the 21st Bond movie.

The super-fit star insisted on performing as many of his own stunts as he could, including a chase along a 140ft crane, a brutal tumble down a stairwell and numerous fist fights. Craig, 38, took a string of knocks during filming and was left gasping for air in a daring underwater rescue scene.

He suffered bruises and cuts, and lost a tooth.

But the actor - who, when he first took the role, was criticised for being too short and delicate - shrugged off his injuries, saying: "If you don't get bruised playing Bond, you're not doing it properly.

"I said: 'Look, I've got to look like I can kill somebody.' If I take my shirt off, its not, 'Oh nice body.' It's got to be: 'Oh f***ing hell, he could do somebody'. I wanted to look like I could do everything Bond does."

The stunts included a fight to the death in a toilet and a spectacular free-running sequence bouncing off roofs and walls. "I didn't do all the stunts - obviously, insurance wouldn't let me," he says. "But at some point in every stunt it is me."

Three of the men who taught Craig to be the toughest-ever Bond were impressed by his appetite for punishment. Here's their verdict on the new 007...

THE STUNT CO-ORDINATOR

GARY POWELL, 43

STUNT expert Gary, son of famous stuntman Nosher Powell, has a long track record on Bond films. He was Pierce Brosnan's stunt double, driving a runaway crane in Goldeneye and flipping a boat over in The World Is Not Enough.

"Daniel really took some hits on Casino Royale," he says. "I'd see him bruised and cut up, fight after fight. And he'd just say: 'Oh s***, that smarted a bit, let's go again'.

"Pierce was a lovely man. But he'd always emerge from a punchup or a huge explosion with an unruffled tie and immaculate hair.

"Someone told me recently: 'Sean Connery sweated, Roger Moore perspired and Pierce Brosnan glowed.' I don't agree but I'll add one thing - Daniel Craig bleeds. He did everything we asked of him and more."

Bond runs in Gary's family. Dad Nosher, 78, was stunt double for Sean Connery and one-off Bond star George Lazenby, and brother Greg, 52, doubled for Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

"Without a doubt Daniel is the toughest," he says. "When you're constantly fighting, swinging your arms about it's like playing tennis every day, all day, for six months. The effort takes a lot out of you.

"He said to me, 'Whatever you think I can handle, let me do it'. There's no ego there but he's up for anything. The chase along the crane was especially tough - running about 140ft up is not for the faint-hearted.

"And the underwater sequence at the end of the movie was impossibly hard. With thousands of tons of water being thrown about, you might as well be running a marathon every day.

"I had to draw the line when we had to roll the Aston Martin though. I'm sure Daniel would have been keen to have given it a crack. But that stunt was superdangerous. We wrecked three BMW 5-Series and two pounds 150,000 Aston Martins in the process but our driver managed to beat Top Gear's record for rolling a car - seven times to their five."

The stunt shows Bond swerving to avoid his girlfriend Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, and flipping the car.

Gary added: "It was incredibly difficult. The stuntman had to drive at 75mph, dodge the stuntgirl lying in the middle of the road, press a button to fire the cannon built into the car and survive the roll. The car ended up six inches from the camera. It was perfect."

Gary also reveals Daniel was almost too muscular when he started filming.

"He'd put a lot of muscle on in a very short period of time. Muscle can affect your flexibility and he needed to loosen up for a couple of the fight scenes. Half-way through he said, 'I'm big enough now' and stopped bulking up."

Even so, Daniel's improved strength meant that the fight scenes could realistically be more brutal than ever before in a Bond film.

"In stunt fights you're not meant to connect but in the heat of the moment it happens. Daniel certainly accidentally lamped a couple of stuntmen."

Gary reckons that the film has toughened up Daniel.

"Casino Royale comes closer to real fighting than any other film," he said. "You wouldn't mess with Daniel now."

THE GUN EXPERT

JOSS SKOTTOWE, 43

ARMOURER Joss taught Craig how to hold - and shoot - a gun. The ex-soldier said: "He came in hating guns but left rather keen. I've yet to meet a man who doesn't relish holding a Walther PPK. And Daniel is more man than most.

"We use real guns in the movie, even though they've been adapted to fire blanks. But blanks can still hurt or even kill you.

"I brought in some SAS chums to give Daniel some extra training. And even they were impressed. One said to me, 'That boy's a natural'. "

"And he's right. Daniel is the only Bond who in real life could pass SAS selection. He's fit, he looks like a killer and he's smart.

"I could never imagine Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan doing any real damage to anything stronger than a vodka martini. But Daniel could really hurt you - with or without a gun."

THE SCUBA DIVER

DAVE SHAW, 38

SCUBA specialist Dave helped turn Daniel into a pro frogman for the climactic scene where he battles to rescue Vesper from a house that collapses into a Venetian canal.

"Daniel really threw himself into training," he said. "Scuba is a dangerous sport. We were having to film six metres under water and even three metres can kill you. If you surface too quickly, you can burst a lung.

"Daniel was having to hold his breath for up to a minute - he must have swallowed pints of water but he never whinged. And acting underwater is tough - you can't see, you can't hear.

"I would be amazed if Daniel didn't take up scuba diving. He loved being in the water - it's such a calming environment.

"Daniel was without doubt my favourite Bond to work with. Yes, he'll do whatever it takes but he's also very safety-conscious."

CAPTION(S):

Enter the new 007... all man from head to toe' Bond gets his woman... Daniel with Eva Green, who plays his fellow MI6 agent Vesper Lynd' Start as you mean to go on... brutal opening to the movie as Bond beats a man to death' Flying Englishman... Daniel Craig jumps from a crane during a high-speed chase scene' Learning the ropes... Daniel takes action lessons from a stunt man during rehearsals' Getting his kicks... Bond in a fight scene on the stairs, where he kills two of his enemies' Breathtaking... Daniel practises holding his breath for the dramatic underwater scenes Pictures: GOFF-INF/ GREG WILLIAMS - ART & COMMERCE
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 19, 2006
Words:1223
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