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Daniel Craig on Defiance

Published December 30, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Vantage
Defiance Defiance

Daniel Craig played a Mossad agent in Munich. Now he plays Tuvia Bielski, leader of the Polish resistance to the Nazis in the Belarussian forest in Defiance. That must give him some insight into the Jewish experience, though the modest actor wouldn't claim such.

Daniel Craig Defiant

"I suppose that it does, but religion was not a factor in taking this job," Craig said. "It was just literally one of those situations that I sort of looked at, read it and thought that it was an amazing story. I mean, the character is in just a dreadful, dreadful, dreadful situation. There's no going away from it. God forbid any of us should be put into that situation, but something is asked of him and he's very reluctant to do it. I love the fact that they're sort of saying, 'No, you must do this.' He's going, 'No. F*ck off. I mean, I want to protect my brothers and I want to look after what's left of my family and I want to run away.' They were saying, 'But you don't have a choice here.' I think that process, and obviously we condense it in the film, this is over a three or four year period, we condense the whole thing in the film but it's incredible."

Like any dramatic film, Defiance is not a beat by beat chronology of events. "I think we tried to be as straight as possible. The events that take place in the movie happened. They happened in different ways. They happened in different contexts, but they actually kind of all occurred. This film takes over a year to happen roughly speaking and we've condensed a huge amount into that period, but we haven't shied away from anything. It's known and it's fact that they had to survive and in order to survive they had to do bad things. It's documented and it's there."

The story of Jews who fought back is not as well known, as it was the rarity of the holocaust. "I knew that there was a Jewish resistance, but the only thing that I've read about it is that it was wiped out mercilessly. It makes complete sense. Of course they did. The fact that nobody did would've been totally strange, but there were major pockets of resistance everywhere. People did fight. The fact is that there was really nowhere to run. The situation here is that the resistance happened within places like this where there was a forest, where people could get away from them. The local population was in cahoots. Unless you could get on a boat and get out of Europe you were absolutely stuck. This was an incredibly well organized exercise by the Germans. I mean, they did it really efficiently as we all know. I think that our knowledge of the Second World War is based on, and so it should be, what the result of The Holocaust was. Those are the images and the knowledge that we have of that period as we should and we should be reminded of it as often as we possibly can."

For basics, Craig had to learn Russian as Tuvia speaks the language of nearby regions. "It was a nightmare for me. I'm just the worst student in the world. I left school at sixteen. I literally cannot conjugate a verb in English. You can't conjugate a verb in English, can you? So, God knows what I know. So that's it. I really did screw up there because I actually don't really know what a verb is. Liev has years of education ahead of me and took to this very well and learned the language a little. I had to do it phonetically, learn it and understand it. I understood what I was saying, but Russian is a tricky language to get far with. It's quite easy to sort of communicate in Russian, but to actually sort of speak the language is hard. I think that you have to have an ear. I mean, part of acting is sort of mimicry, but I don't like acting as mimicry. I don't think that mimicry is very interesting in acting. I think that you have to have an ear. I've tried to learn languages and I know there's a certain stage that you get to where you have to make that sort of leap of faith and go, 'Okay, I know how to put this accent through my mouth.' It's a really hard process to go through. As an actor you have to try and make that leap because you're trying to communicate and communication is the name of the game. If you're not doing that you're kind of failing."

Defiance opens to theaters December 31st.

For the trailer, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the Defiance Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount Vantage

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