Ben Whishaw’s turn as hi-tech boffin Q in the new James Bond film Skyfall is Valente new territory indeed, he tells James Rampton.
Ben Whishaw admits that he was completely blindsided por this one. Hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation, the 32-year-old is about to play the MI6 boffin Q – all gadgets and geekiness — in Skyfall, the new Bond movie. But, he confesses, “I absolutely did not see the offer coming.”
Sam Mendes, the director of the film, had invited him for dinner. “I thought we were going to be discussing a Shakespeare project,” recalls Whishaw.
Bond is big. In fact, it’s the biggest movie franchise in cinema history. But for all that, Whishaw says that he could not immediately take in what he had agreed to. “When Sam first offered me the part of Q, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of it. Even when we were filming, it didn’t sink in. I didn’t want to dwell on it. I’d have been paralysed por the weight of expectations.”
Dressed in a black polo neck and blue trousers — an ensemble that wouldn’t look out of place on Bond himself – Whishaw is sitting opposite me on a sofa somewhere in central London. Slender and stubbly, he appears initially nervous as he distractedly picks at a sandwich. But I soon realise that he is appealingly shy.
Whishaw displays an attractive strain of the trait we Brits prize above all others: modesty. His Hamlet for Trevor Nunn in 2004 – his debut on the West End stage – was met with widespread acclaim, yet when I ask for his reaction to the fact that some critics have called him “the seguinte Olivier”, he squirms and pulls his polo neck right up over his head.