Daniel Craig is the longest-serving James Bond. This is hard to believe with only his fifth outing in the role due out in cinemas imminently. Due to delays, a writer’s strike, director unavailability, and injury he overtook Roger Moore as the record holder with a fifteen-year tenure from Casino Royale in 2006 to No Time To Die in 2021. Now Being James Bond looks back and celebrates his time in the role.
Craig sometimes divides opinion in the role. Critics and fans frequently place him near the top of the list, or at the top, of the actors to have played Bond. His take on the character as a grittier, more violent, and sometimes moodier incarnation is frequently cited as just what the franchise needed after Die Another Day and flirting almost with parody at times. His movies have made serious money.
However, you don’t need to spend too long on any internet forum when James Bond is mentioned to see some negative opinions begin to surface. People who perhaps miss Roger Moore’s more whimsical style and yearn for a hover gondola or a submarine car don’t necessarily appreciate Craig’s 007.
This is a shame as he is undoubtedly closest to Fleming. In the books, Bond was frequently frustrated with aspects of his work, and came close to resigning on more than one occasion. He took an absolute beating on a lot of his missions. He didn’t always get the girl. The books also told a recognizable arc from Casino Royale through to The Man With The Golden Gun with aspects of one mission often driving another. So it is with Craig’s time as James Bond.
Being James Bond addresses this different approach to Bond over the course of its very tight 47-minute runtime, and more.
Blond, James Blond
It starts with the now infamous introduction of Daniel Craig to the world as the new 007. The very first commentary is provided in voiceover as a British newsreader opines:
“He doesn’t exactly look the part…”
As a montage plays of the negative headlines, snippets of news reports and screenshots of the now hilarious “Craig Not Bond” campaign. It is at this point you realize that this will not exactly be a puff piece and shy away from the criticism. Indeed one of the strongest aspects of the documentary is just how open and candid Daniel Craig and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson are.
Craig is his trademark sweary self, and you can almost feel Broccoli wince as he drops a few F-Bombs. They talk openly about this reception and their frustrations as they knew they were making something great with Casino Royale. Broccoli talks how the studio wanted a different actor but they always knew Craig was the one since his turn in 1998’s Elizabeth where she says:
“He was lit from within, and I knew he was a great actor to boot.”
Footage from Craig’s screen test for Casino Royale proves Broccoli was on to something as she dug her heels in and fought for him to get the role.
Craig himself admits he didn’t really want to do it at first, thinking he would get the script and turn it down. But then the script was great and Broccoli and Wilson explained what they wanted to do with the character and he knew he just had to be involved. This honesty continues as they walk through Craig’s time as Bond with almost all commentary coming from the three of them.
They talk about how the mood changed once a paparazzi shot of Craig emerging from the Bahamas surf was leaked and suddenly Craig’s transformation in the role was confirmed. The coverage turned positive as news of how good the rushes were looking came out, how strong the cast and the script were.
“Look at those tits!” laughs Craig as they talk about the game-changing release of Casino Royale. Being James Bond doesn’t shy away from the challenges. Craig, Wilson, and Broccoli are especially candid about some of the feedback for Quantum Of Solace. Wilson himself says that due to the strike:
“We just didn’t get Bond’s journey right in it.”
Speaking about Spectre Craig reveals just how serious his injury was, how much pain he was in during the shooting of the movie, and how they had to work around this.
All The Time In The World
An interesting point comes when Craig admits that his being guarded with the press didn’t help, and it was spending time with Hugh Jackman while they working together on A Steady Rain on Broadway that helped him change up his attitude, as Jackman had to deal with the pressures of playing Wolverine that were similar.
One thing shines through. Despite every headline to the contrary (“Bullshit” as Craig calls it) he values, loves and respects the role as much as EON Productions, the world, and the fans. Speaking openly about his infamous comment around slashing wrists than playing 007 again after Spectre, he states it was like asking a marathon runner 200 feet from the finishing line if they wanted to run another marathon straight away.
“Of course they would say no!”
Along with the departure of Judi Dench from the role of M, and her final scene in Skyfall, it is this final go-around as James Bond in No Time To Die that provides some of the surprisingly emotional content.
Showing quite a few behind-the-scenes shots from his final outing, it is poignant to see the final ever shot of Craig playing the role being filmed, as he runs down a Cuban alleyway, pauses, then disappears forever from view in the famous tuxedo.
You also see Craig struggling to hold it together, visibly emotional as he wraps his time on the shoot where the entire cast and crew braved a night shoot to some and see him off.
And as John Barry’s mournful final music from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) plays, Daniel Craig notes how he wasn’t really ready to leave the role after Spectre and wouldn’t have been happy. He feels No Time To Die provides closure to him, his iteration of Bond, and the story arc his movies have been telling. As Craig says, with genuine sadness:
“…it’s alright now.”
Whether a casual fan or a Bond obsessive, it is an interesting and enlightening documentary, especially with the openness and honesty the three main commentators show. If anything, its one weakness is the length. 47 minutes feels short as it leaves you wanting more.
If you are a Bond fan, we have loads of great content for you. Interested in our complete rundown and ranking of all the 007 movies? Check it out here.
With No Time To Die the final outing for Daniel Craig, we check out the runners and riders to take over the mantle of 007.
We are re-reading all of the original Fleming novels in order. Our Fleming Revisited series can be found at the following links: Casino Royale, Live And Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, Octopussy And The Living Daylights
Only The Man With The Golden Gun to go!