Cornell relishes new James Bond role

He helped launch Seattle’s celebrated grunge movement with his old outfit Soundgarden, then topped that feat via the formation of his latest supergroup, Audioslave, with former members of the iconoclastic Rage Against the Machine.

The band’s recent releases include the political “Revelations” and last year’s “Live in Cuba” CD/DVD, showcasing the group’s free Havana concert for 70,000 rabid fans.

Lately he’s been sequestered in a Hollywood studio with producer Steve Lillywhite, whipping up his second acoustic-themed solo set.

There isn’t much these days that can give even a moment’s pause to one of rock’s mightiest mouthpieces, Chris Cornell. Except, perhaps, a movie event in London a few weeks back when he hunkered in his seat as the first scenes rolled, thinking, “Someone’s made a mistake. Someone’s going to catch me and go, ‘Stop the film! Wrong song!’’’

The occasion was the royal premiere of the new James Bond movie “Casino Royale,” attended by Sting, Elton John and the new 007, Daniel Craig.

Cornell’s invitation came courtesy of producer Barbara Broccoli, for whom he composed and recorded (with scorer David Arnold) the thriller’s theme tune, “You Know My Name.”

Watching Craig brutally off two baddies onscreen, then hearing his own voice over the elaborate opening credits, he said, “somehow seemed strange. And because it was the choice of a new actor, where they’re reinventing Bond all over again in Britain, you really got this fever pitch that this was not a normal opening of a movie — it was a really big deal.”

Cornell thinks he got the stellar gig because his lupine howl of a voice echoed the masculine new profile Craig brought to Bond.

Now Cornell knows what the phrase “Royal Premiere” signifies. “It means that the core of the people that are associated with making the film go stand in a room with their significant others, and a guy comes around and gives you a Tic-Tac.”

Why? “So you don’t offend the Queen, I suppose, with your bad breath,” laughed the singer, who was also given a quick list of regal do’s and don’t’s. Her Majesty didn’t brush him off, either, he said. She stopped to make conversation with him and almost everyone in the receiving line.

“Which I thought was really cool. She’s the Queen of England. She doesn’t have to say anything. But to work that hard at her age and just to be that polite to everybody I thought was amazing. It was the first time it kind of made sense to me — the monarchy in England still existing.”

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