“I did it knowing it would change my life,” says Daniel Craig, thinking back to the moment in 2005 when he accepted the part of James Bond, on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast. Craig, one of only six people who have played the role, and the person who has held it longest of all — his five installments of the franchise, 2006’s Casino Royale, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, 2012’s Skyfall, 2015’s Spectre and 2021’s No Time to Die, span 15 years, or a quarter of its 60-year history — continues, “I knew that it would flip it and that there would be no going back to who I was or what I was, either personally or professionally. And that was very, very, very scary. It felt like I was risking something — I didn’t know what that was, but I was risking something. But the decision I made, at the end of the day, was that if I didn’t do it, I would regret it. I had this joke with a friend that [if I passed on the role then] in 20 or 30 years’ time I’d be sitting at a bar in a corner going, ‘I could have been Bond, you know!’ And that’s not the person I wanted to be.”
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You can listen to the podcast here. (The article continues below.)
But first: Barbara Broccoli — previously a guest on episode 192 — who, along with her half-brother and EON Productions partner Michael G. Wilson, has overseen the James Bond franchise for the last 27 years, discusses the decision to cast Craig as 007 and his contributions to the franchise.
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Craig, 53, who is the only person ever to receive a best actor BAFTA Award nomination for a Bond movie (Casino Royale), also did fine work in other big-screen projects before and between his Bond films — among them, John Maybury’s Love Is the Devil and Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth in 1998, Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition in 2002, Christine Jeffs’ Sylvia in 2003, Roger Michell’s The Mother in 2003 and Enduring Love in 2004, Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake in 2004, Steven Spielberg’s Munich in 2005, Edward Zwick’s Defiance in 2008, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011, Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky in 2017 and Rian Johnson’s Knives Out in 2019.
But it was as Bond that he truly made his name. The Los Angeles Times called him “the best Bond since [Sean] Connery,” and the New York Times concurred, declaring that he “fits Fleming’s description of the character as appearing ‘ironical, brutal and cold’ better than any actor since Mr. Connery.” Meanwhile, Esquire argued, “He had Connery’s hard-edged danger, [Roger] Moore’s carnal appetite, Timothy Dalton’s laser-eyed focus and [Pierce] Brosnan’s confidence. He even threw in a dash of George Lazenby’s romantic vulnerability.”
You don’t have to take the media’s world for it, though — consider the opinions of his fellow Bonds. Connery called Craig “fantastic, marvelous in the part.” Lazenby said he was “quite impressed” with Craig. Moore gushed that he thought Craig was “absolutely marvelous.” Dalton submitted, “There’s a case to be made that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever.” And even Brosnan, who Craig replaced in the part, acknowledged, “Daniel was magnificent, and he can walk away head up, shoulders back. He truly left an indelible mark on the franchise.”
Over the course of our conversation, Craig reflects on his life and career before Bond; why he initially resisted the part (until, he reveals for the first time, he slipped Spielberg the Casino Royale script to read, and Spielberg then urged him to do it), and what it was like, after he accepted it, when members of the press and the public slammed his casting (he calls his introductory press conference “a fucking train wreck … I was terrified”); what he feels worked and didn’t work about his five Bond films, and what it was like to say goodbye to the character after No Time to Die; and much more.