Call it the meniscus tear heard around the world. In April, on the British set of Spectre, Daniel Craig injured his knee while shooting a knock-down-drag-out fight sequence — an accident that forced the 24th James Bond installment to halt production while the British actor underwent arthroscopic surgery.
Almost immediately, the industry handwringing began in earnest: Would the delay wind up pushing back the film’s Nov. 6 release date? How costly would Spectre’s overruns be? And just how badly was the star really injured?
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“It could have happened to me getting out the shower. It’s one of those injuries,” Craig says now with a dismissive wave. “I hit it at the wrong angle and it just went.”
So, um, what exactly was being filmed when the knee gave way? “Dave Bautista was picking me up and throwing me!” Craig exclaims. “So I wasn’t getting out of the shower.”
Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), a 6-foot-5, 289-pound former professional wrestler, portrays Hinx, a henchman for the shadowy terrorist syndicate SPECTRE who smashes 007 through walls. In the fistfight scene between the two, which takes place onboard a luxury train rolling through Morocco, things got very rough, very fast.
“We were going at it 100 percent. Very physical,” Bautista recalls. “There was a small, little indentation in the floor. His foot just slipped off it and tweaked and his knee collapsed in. It was that fast” — he snaps his fingers — “It was torn.”
Of course, Craig is no stranger to the physical grind of playing Bond after starring in three 007 movies. Filming Quantum of Solace in 2008, the actor ripped his rotator cuff at one point and also sliced off the tip of his finger.
“I’ve injured myself many times,” says Craig. “My fear was, if I had a proper surgery on it, it would stop filming for a long time. The amazing thing was, it didn’t need it. It slowed me down. I couldn’t run without pounding pain. So I took two weeks off, had the surgery and got back to work.”
He insists the hiatus was actually a blessing in disguise: “Everybody agreed it helped the movie immeasurably. Because it allowed [director Sam Mendes] to take a break, look at the footage he got and the story. I’d recommend any movie doing it. It really slowed me down, which is good. Because I tend to go at this at like 100 miles per hour.”
Once production resumed, however, reshoots for that fight scene resulted in more bloodshed. “There’s one part where Daniel lands a punch, and you just heard it,” Bautista says. “My nose just spattered blood. I’m grabbing it, trying to feel it, the suit’s completely ruined. Daniel goes, ‘Oh my God, I broke his nose!’” (For the record, it wasn’t broken.)
Stunt coordinator Gary Powell has worked on all four of Craig’s Bond films and remains philosophical about the demands of the role over the years.
“Wear and tear comes with the job,” Powell says. “Bonds are always like this. Something always happens. You just never hear about it. This time, we got more publicity.”