Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(March 2, 1968–     ; birth name: Daniel Wroughton Craig): Rugged British actor who made his dynamic debut as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale, and completely transformed the 007 series for a new generation of fans. Craig brought a visceral, feral quality to the part of Bond in his first film and its follow-ups Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die.

A native of Chester, Cheshire, England (near Liverpool), and well educated in the British theater (Joseph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor were classmates at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London), Craig made a modest film debut in 1992 as Sergeant Botha, a pro-apartheid cadet in The Power of One (1992). Moving easily between TV and film assignments on both sides of the Atlantic, his profile began to rise when he appeared in such films as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), as Angelina Jolie’s boyfriend; Steven Spielberg’s Road to Perdition (2002), opposite Tom Hanks as Paul Newman’s gangster son; Layer Cake (2004); Munich (2005), once again for Spielberg, portraying a Mossad assassin; and Infamous (2006), as one of the In Cold Blood killers.

Taking on the iconic role of 007 was not an easy choice for Craig to make. He knew it would change his life, not only as an actor but as a human being. As for every new 007, the stakes were enormous. A success would make him an international superstar; a failure would turn him into a cocktail party joke. He consulted friends, family, business associates. Hampering his decision was the lack of a final script—often a problem on Bond movies. But when producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson finally shared the screenplay with him, he was thrilled. However, he still had the same concern that Sean Connery had half a century earlier: would he be typecast as Bond? Would he be denied an eclectic career on the big screen? Craig told Esquire magazine, “I mean, of course, I want to win Oscars. Every actor wants to win Oscars. But then it sunk in: If I don’t take something like this when it comes around and have a go at it, then what? Yeah, there’s gonna be negatives, but . . . I figured, Fuck it, it’s Bond. Enjoy it.”[1]

To prepare for Casino Royale, Craig read all of Ian Fleming’s novels and talked with Mossad and British Secret Service agents who worked on Craig’s Munich as technical advisers. In the beginning, Bond fans were skeptical; he was hardly the tall, dark, and handsome poster boy previous 007s Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan had been. He was disparaged as “James Bland” and “that blond Bond.” There was even something thuggish about him. But as soon as Casino Royale was released, fans abandoned their criticism for elation. Ironically, Craig’s less polished and more ruthless air was just what the part now called for.

When asked about these aspects of the new Bond, Craig told Playboy, “For [Casino Royale], my feeling was he should look like the man who had yet to make his first kill. I wanted to play around with the flaws in his character. . . . In the books, Bond is suave and sophisticated, yes—Sean Connery really nailed it—but there’s also a flawed aspect of Bond. In the novels, he is quite a depressive character. When he’s not working, he’s at his worst.”[2] Craig told Hello! magazine in London, “The character of Bond is nothing new. In every culture there’s a character like this, a lone warrior who goes after the bad guys. But he’s a bad man, too, and that, I think, is part of his attraction. He burns brightly, both for men and for women.”[3]

Craig’s arrival to the series also coincided with a severe reduction in humor, wordplay, and ardent sexism. A vibrant realism took over. Said Craig, “These days I don’t think you can make puns as easily. . . . They’ve been sent up in such a way they almost ring like parody. Austin Powers did them in the extreme. So making a Bond movie, you have to keep that in mind. As soon as you go that way, you’re making a parody of a parody. It looks like you’re doing Mike Myers.”[4]

Another factor that separated Craig from some of the other 007 actors was his ability to dive into the action sequences with an exuberant physicality. It used to be somewhat of a joke that Roger Moore could vanquish the bad guys without getting his hair mussed. Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were polished fighters whom the writing didn’t ask much of on an action level. But Craig came to the Bond series when the writers were creating pulse-pounding action sequences that harked back to the early days of Bond, when Sean Connery used his fists to make a point. Said Craig, “I wanted to make my role as physical as possible—if you don’t get bruises on a Bond film, you’re not doing it properly.”[5]

It wasn’t just his physical prowess in action scenes; right out of the gate in Casino Royale, Craig worked beautifully with his female costar, actress Eva Green. In doing his research, Craig had developed definite opinions on Bond’s relationships with women; as he explained to Playboy, “In Fleming, there’s misogyny till the end. Rereading the books reminds you of the time they were written. They are sexist and racist. It’s time to put all that in its place. One thing that remains from Fleming is that the women always leave Bond—as opposed to his leaving them. It’s the opposite of the way we think of him, that he beds a woman and says bye-bye and flies out the window. In the books, he has relationships and occasionally is nearly getting married when she dumps him because he turns moody and dark . . . his true personality comes out, and he’s impossible to live with.”[6]

[1] David Katz, “Bond Is Dead, Long Live Bond!,” Esquire, September 2006.
[2] Daniel Craig, interview by David Sheff, Playboy, November 2008.
[3] Daniel Craig, interview by Gabrielle Donnelly, Hello!, November 20, 2006.
[4] Craig, interview by Sheff.
[5] Craig, interview by Donnelly.
[6] Craig, interview by Sheff.


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