Casino Royale director Martin Campbell reveals why he was uncertain about casting Daniel Craig as James Bond. Craig’s run as Bond is set to end with No Time to Die, which is facing another potential COVID-related release delay, but is sure to come out eventually.
When No Time to Die finally arrives on screen it will of course mark Craig’s fifth time playing Ian Fleming’s famed secret agent 007. The record-holder for most appearances as Bond remains and will for now remain Roger Moore, who played 007 in seven official Eon Bond films. Sean Connery technically also played Bond seven times but his final appearance was in the non-Eon Never Say Never Again. Pierce Brosnan made it to four appearances, while Timothy Dalton lasted for two. George Lazenby remains the only one-and-done in Bond movies (unless one counts David Niven who played Bond in the non-Eon Casino Royale).
By now Craig has indisputably put his stamp on the Bond franchise and deserves a place alongside the men who preceded him as 007. But in fact there was a time when Craig’s first Bond director wasn’t sure the actor was the right man for the job. Speaking to CinemaBlend, Casino Royale helmer Campbell explained why he initially had reservations about casting Craig:
Even at the time I had certain reservations, only because there was no doubt he was a terrific actor. He was a superb actor. But of course I’d been brought up in the tradition of Connery, and Roger Moore, and Pierce, all great looking guys. You know, there was a stereotype, if you see what I mean, with those three characters. And Daniel, of course, is much more like Ian Fleming’s conception of that part. I think it was Hoagy Carmichael he said would be the perfect Bond. He was a Bond for the time, basically whenever we started. I think in 2006 we made Casino [Royale], and he was just perfect for the complete reboot, to be honest. Which was much more reality based.
Indeed if one looks only at Fleming’s literary version of Bond then the rough-edged and unconventional-looking Craig makes perfect sense. But the Bond films established a different type as 007, beginning with Connery’s suave and flippant portrayal in the 1960s. Of course, the ‘60s Bond movies were less concerned with accurately representing Fleming’s Bond than making popular entertainment for the movie fans of the time. Certainly, Connery’s portrayal made sense for the “Swinging Sixties.” Moore and later Brosnan then carried on the tradition of good-looking, debonair Bonds but by the time of Brosnan’s run, it was clear that this archetype was becoming embarrassingly out-dated and a new approach was required.
Thankfully for movie fans Campbell was able to see beyond his own preconceptions about what makes for a good Bond to embrace Craig’s unpolished, morally conflicted take on the character. Craig’s performance indeed was the one single factor that helped Casino Royale move the Bond franchise forward and set up the next four movies, the last two of which were major box office smashes. But now the Bond franchise finds itself at yet another crossroads with Craig about to leave. It remains to be seen who will take on the role of Bond after No Time to Die but it may be time for another shift in thinking if the franchise wishes to survive. Making Bond female could even be seen as an option, but series producer Barbara Broccoli has made it clear that will never happen.