7 Days of 007 – Day 7: Daniel Craig

“I’ve been trying to give 110% since the beginning, but after all the fuss, maybe I started giving 115%,” Daniel Craig said regarding the fan backlash he’s received as the world’s most famous superspy, even before Casino Royale was released.  “I just wanted to see him [James Bond] make a few mistakes.  I want to make the audience believe that it’s all going to go wrong and then when it goes right it’s much more exciting.  Every day you pick up an injury and you’re battered and bruised.  If you’re not physically fit then it’s difficult to get through.  I’m a Bond fan.  If I go and see a Bond movie there are certain things I think should be in it.  And they’re there.  We’ve got them in spades.  Nobody knows more than I do how important this is, and it’s my job to get it right.”

How serious about the role is Craig?  He hates firearms, and yet if you pay really close attention, you’ll note that Bond never even blinks every time he fires a shot.  Clearly he’s done something right, if gaining the support of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and legions of 007 fans worldwide means anything.  Casino Royale remains to date the best-selling title on the blu-ray format, and Craig became the first actor nominated for a BAFTA (British Oscar) for the role of James Bond.  Craig is now often referred to the in the fan debates as the portrayal closest to Ian Fleming’s literary character.

Yet, he almost didn’t get the part.  In fact, he initially turned it down, claiming the series had settled into “standard formula” until he read the finished script.  As before, there were many in the running; over 200 names were considered before Craig won the role, including Julian McMahon, Hrithik Roshan, Dominic West and Gerard Butler.  Most of them were deemed not appropriate for the role, while some others were nothing but media speculation.  Goran Visnjic, Sam Worthington, Alex O’Loughlin and Rupert Friend were also considered, while current Superman actor Henry Cavill almost got the part, but was considered too young to play it.  (Seeing as how we’ve seen that happen a couple of times now, my bet is we’ll see Cavill play the role, or at least be considered again, after Craig steps down.)  On winning the role, Craig promptly read all of the original novels and talked shop with secret service agents who served as advisors on the set of Munich.

As stated yesterday, the idea behind Craig’s era was the back-to-basic trend that movie audiences have largely embraced with the Batman and Star Wars franchises.  Casino Royale evokes the story and themes presented in Fleming’s first novel of the same name, featuring characters from the novel.  It’s the first film since Dr. No to not feature scantily-clad or nude dancing girls in the title sequence.  And the only equipment Bond gets are firearms and cars.  But more importantly than any of that, this is the first movie in which Bond is portrayed as a rookie, effectively cementing the James Bond identity only by the end of the film.  To lend credence to the idea, this the only Bond film to not feature the opening gun barrel sequence at the beginning, and the one used right before the opening credits is of a completely different style.  (The return to the more traditional version was used for the next outing, Quantum of Solace, albeit at the end of the movie instead of the beginning).  According to Craig, the only CG work in the film was used to erase safety wires from stunt sequences, which truly presents a back-to-basic approach in regards to filmmaking if this is true.

By contrast, Quantum of Solace took the name of a Fleming short story… and used nothing else of the writer’s work.  With scripting finished a mere two hours before the writers’ strike, Quantum of Solace holds the record as the shortest 007 movie, ironically being a direct sequel to the longest-running 007 film.  QUANTUM, while not an acronym like its predecessors SPECTRE or SMERSH, marks the return of the background criminal organizations.  They were actually behind the affairs presented in Casino Royale, but were unknown until this film.  While successful, the lower box office and mixed reviews have encouraged the studio to go all-out in light of this year’s 50th anniversary.

For starters, Craig appeared as Bond in the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony alongside Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.  But the road ahead is all about the latest feature, Skyfall, which opens here in the States on November 9.

So what can we expect?  The film will not be a direct sequel like the previous outing, and it will feature at least one familiar character: Q, this time played by Ben Whishaw.  The last actress to play Miss Moneypenny, Samantha Bond, has confirmed she will not reprise her role, but the rumor is there that Moneypenny is also returned to the lineup.  We’ll know next month.  Also returning is Judi Dench, who has played M since the Brosnan era began.  Beyond that, all anyone knows for sure is what’s in the trailer:

Thus ends the 7 Days of 007.  I know I’ve certainly enjoyed this little series, and I hope everyone else has too.  I’d like to encourage everyone to sign up, chime in, and share your thoughts and opinions about James Bond.  And if there’s enough interest, perhaps I’ll follow through on my threats to do a complete breakdown of each of the Bond films.  I’ll also accept bribes not to do so if these articles are less than successful.  Regardless, the future for 007 looks strong, and I’m chomping at the bit to see Skyfall.  Hope to see some of you there.