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Daniel Craig finds ‘Skyfall’ perfect blend of action and plot

Daniel Craig takes his third turn James Bond “Skyfall.”

Daniel Craig takes his third turn at James Bond in “Skyfall.”

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Updated: December 9, 2012 6:34AM

NEW YORK — Daniel Craig is best known today — and perhaps will always be best known — for successfully carrying on the James Bond mantle as 007 in the latest generation of films about the world’s most famous spy. Yet the actor laughed when told he also has a reputation for being a “serious actor,” thanks to his work in such non-Bond movies as “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “Sylvia,” “Layer Cake,” “Defiance” “The Road to Perdition” and “Munich.”

Craig literally bolted upright and sneered, “I’m not a serious actor,” letting out a big guffaw during a recent interview.

That doesn’t mean the English actor doesn’t take his work or his roles seriously. “It’s just that term — serious actor — it comes across with such a sense of pretension,” he added with a smile.

After “Skyfall,” his third outing as Bond, Craig already is committed to make the next two “007” films (Nos. 24 and 25 in the series). And that, of course, means the very fit 44-year-old will be chasing and jumping and leaping and brawling with vicious villains for a number of years to come.

“It’s a Bond movie,” he says. “That’s kind of it. You sign on for that, and if it doesn’t have it, it’s not a Bond movie. … I think the physicality has always been a big part of it for me, and frankly a big part of the attraction about playing James Bond.”

While Craig has had two other previous opportunities to test his physical skills, the actor admitted he was impressed with how director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition”) led the team on “Skyfall.”

“What’s so extraordinary here is that Sam, despite being a great filmmaker, had never really directed an action film before. … He has done some really amazing action sequences — with the help of other people, of course … brilliant people. But in the end, Sam got the tone of it all completely right.”

While “Skyfall,” of course, is designed for pure entertainment, it does focus on the sadistic and nasty machinations created by an initially shadowy character known as Silva (Javier Bardem), a “free agent” terrorist instead of a national entity.

This film, Craig says, is “about the role of technology. In this modern era, they use drones and satellites to spy on people — and Bond is part of an era where he did the spying.

“Those two worlds are colliding now, but Bond still feels he’s useful — at least for a while longer.”

While Craig seemed a bit shy about discussing another key part of the James Bond mystique — the strong sexual attraction of 007 — his female co-stars didn’t disappoint.

According to Naomie Harris, who plays Bond MI6 co-host Eve in “Skyfall,” Craig is believable as a sex symbol for more than just the physical.

“Sure, he’s very hot. Very hot indeed, with an amazing body. But there’s also a vulnerability to him — something brooding about him.

“And we get to explore that in the film. I think that brooding, smoldering, vulnerable aspect to Bond — as Daniel has interpreted him — makes him extremely attractive to women.”

For Craig, going up against Oscar winners including Bardem and Judi Dench — back as his onscreen boss, “M,” “has forced me to raise my game a bit — just having them around.”

However, at the end of the day, Craig stressed that “because they worked long and hard on that script, we ended up with what really has been a dream of mine. … When you get good writing, the rest follows.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve always believed good action movies that have strong plots will engage the audience and deliver the goods.

“Happily, I can say that’s the case with ‘Skyfall’ — and I say that with no reservations whatsoever.”

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