In an interview with Time Out magazine London in 2015, Daniel Craig said that he would rather slit his wrists than play James Bond again.
A few negotiations and a handsome paycheck later, the actor changed his mind and accepted to portray Agent 007 for the fifth and final time in No Time To Die.
Craig first played Bond in Casino Royale in 2006. His portrayal of the secret agent invented by author Ian Fleming caused astonishment. Bond was nursing a broken heart, and his past was suddenly an issue in the film.
This blond and chest-hair-free Bond didn’t quite fit the image many associated with the character’s previous avatars famously played by actors Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Even the role of Bond’s superior, M, was given for the first time to a woman — Judy Dench.
This repackaging proved successful.
Two years later, Craig returned to the screen for Quantum of Solace. The film featured far fewer special effects than its predecessor, and also does without the usual bells and whistles typically provided by weapons expert Q in the movies.
The storyline is elegant, and Craig portrays a rather mirthless Bond struggling with his personal demons as well as real-life villains.
Reflecting the sign of the times
Skyfall (2012), directed by Sergio Mendes, also saw the return of the agent’s Aston Martin DB5 car that previously featured in Goldfinger (1964) and Fireball (1965), equipped with the necessary extras by a nerdier Q, played by actor Ben Whishaw, best known from his lead role in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006). And Miss Moneypenny is also back, played by Black British actress, Naomie Harris.
In Spectre (2015), Bond’s personal story reaches its conclusion. In the films featuring Craig, the secret agent’s past — the loss of his parents, growing up with a foster father — became an important storyline for the first time in the history of the series. His Bond is human: He loves, suffers, and, in contrast to earlier versions, is not invulnerable. Thus, he better fits the image of today’s male.
Craig’s Bond also has a different relationship with women. He still has various dalliances, but the ladies are no longer unquestioningly submissive to him. This starts with his female superior and ends with the women he falls in love with — and who ultimately break his heart.
The chauvinism, as once embodied by Sean Connery, would also be unthinkable in today’s world, remarked Cary Fukunaga, the director of the current Bond in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman? She says, ‘No, no, no,’ and he says, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ That wouldn’t work today.”
Thus, the 25th Bond film received the female touch in the form of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of the film’s screenwriters. The film will premiere in London on Tuesday, after being postponed three times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking time to celebrate Craig
Fans are eagerly awaiting the Craig finale because, despite the long wait, no significant details have been leaked. Producer Barbara Broccoli said that they are not currently looking for a successor. “We want to take the time to celebrate Daniel Craig,” Broccoli told the film magazine HeyUGuys.
Craig himself sees little point in this. “There should simply be better roles for women and PoC actors.” If there were equally prestigious roles like that of James Bond for women, the question would be superfluous, he added.
In the end, whoever succeeds the Brit, it’s certain that the most human of all the Bonds to date will leave big shoes to fill.
Featured image credit: Reuters