Film & TV

Inside Daniel Craig's Mind: An Art Critic Examines the Doodle We Stole From James Bond

When we interviewed the dreamy Daniel Craig for last week's New Times, he left us not only with a feeling of hope for a better tomorrow but also with a doodle. Rather than turning his pen into a jet ski to escape our attempt to bisect him with eyes like Goldfinger's laser beam, Daniel Craig used his pen to express himself in a little doodle.

After the jump, you'll find the image. But what does it all mean?

See also:

-- Daniel Craig Talks Bond's Homosexual Past, Charms Our Pants Off

-- Skyfall's Javier Bardem Will Not Father Your Child

-- Review: Skyfall Lays Bare the Unknowable Spy

For answers, we spoke to Faheem Haider, a painter, art critic for Chronogram magazine and painting instructor at SUNY New Paltz. Haider has one more credential worth noting: he, too, has had an awkward encounter with Daniel Craig.

"There's a gallery here in the Hudson Valley called One Mile Gallery, a good gallery," Haider tells Cultist. "Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig - I wouldn't say they live here but they maintain a home not too far away. I was reviewing a show of drawings and paintings there and who should happen to come by but Rachel Weisz and James Bond.

"He was in a driving cap, in a tightly cut t-shirt, a pair of pants of some sort and shoes. He's my size, so nothing impressive about him. Very quiet and stoic."

As an artist, Haider is a keen observer of the human condition. We asked for his initial impressions of Craig before showing him the drawing.

"Very quiet and stoic," he repeats. "He's very self-possessed but it's the kind of self-possession that seems to connote not contentment, not peace but this kind of fortitude that comes from saying, 'My mode of operation is a big old fuck you to the world. I'm quiet because that's what works for me.'"

And that awkward run-in?

"This is when I used to drink. I've quit drinking. But I was drinking and happened to be standing next to him, so I asked him what he thought of the work. He kind of grunted and didn't say very much. He seemed uninterested. Not in the specificity of the painting but in conversation.

"So I introduced myself to James Bond and said, "Hi, I'm the art critic for blah blah blah and -' He said, 'No, no. It's all right. No interviews.' And I told him I was just curious about his opinion, not for any sort of interview. 'No, we don't do these things,' he said. 'Well, if you want to have a conversation, I'll be around,' I said, just because I was amused he wouldn't even talk to a person standing next to him. 'No, no conversations,' he said. So I walked away."

Okay, now that we're all squared away on context, let's get to Haider's expert opinion.

"Seems to me the guy's bored. But in a particular sense. The work itself -- I don't know if it is a work but whatever the fuck it is -- what I read as interesting about it (if I'm going to go there) is that what he seems to have done is to have drawn some sort of a needle, some sort of instrument that could be used as a projectile. Then he effaced it. Then he constructed another object on top of it.

"So there's this interesting thing where he asserts something and then effaces it and then constructs an armature around it. Which I think might say something about the way he constructs his craft.

"And given the mark-making - and I'm taking this more seriously than you might want me to - well, here's what I see:

"He drew the object, effaced it and then afterward, he made the marks around the fan. I'm asserting this sort of temporality because the marks around the doodle seem to be more uniform. How long was he actually there?"

Fifteen handsome minutes, we tell him.

"Yeah. There's something intentional about the doodle because the mark-making seems to be...see, he draws that triangle. That fan, it seems to me, came at a different time. It seems to me that the mark on the right is not intentional. The mark on the left is.

There's one mark and it goes around. It loops around. The pen did leave the page in between those marks. There's no mark that travels from that drawing to this.

"He did very much a Jasper Johns sort of thing: do something to the drawing then do something else."

So, is he asking, in this doodle, "What is art?"

"It's some kind of totemic device. It could be the Space Needle. An ankh. But he effaces it. And that's what's interesting. With the same amount of time and marks he could have kept going but he didn't. That seems more of a personality move. That bespeaks his more craft-oriented approach and how he may have been disinclined to engage in any other conversation with you or with me about anything else."

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B. Caplan