“It’s not the job of an actor to judge your character” – Daniel Craig
There are few actors who wouldn’t want to play James Bond. Yet, for most of the men who have played Bond the role so defined them that their post-Bond careers struggled. Despite being one of the most acclaimed actors to ever portray Bond, current 007 Daniel Craig (and star of the upcoming Bond film Spectre) was very candid with Esquire about how the role has affected his career ever since joining the franchise with 2006’s Casino Royale. In the interview, Craig speaks about how different he is from Bond, what he enjoys most and least about the role, and touches on whether or not he’ll return to play Bond for a fifth time.
Craig admits that he was as surprised as anyone that the script for Casino Royale was so different in tone and style from the twenty previous James Bond films. He recalls, “I had been prepared to read a Bond script and I didn’t. They’d stripped everything back and I went, [approvingly]‘Oh, shit!’ It felt to me they were offering me a blueprint, and saying: ‘Form it around that.’ And I went, ‘OK, I can do that.’”
He even adds that he is a longtime 007 fan even if his movies differ from the traditional presentation of the character on screen. He says, “I’m a huge Bond fan. I love James Bond movies, and I love all the old gags and everything that goes along with that. No disrespect to what happened before but this is completely different. It’s got weight and meaning. Because I don’t know another way to do it. However big and grand it is, however boisterous the script is, you look for the truth in it, and you stick to that, and then you can mess around with it. And if you have that and you have the car chases and the explosions as well, then you’re quids in. But there have to be consequences. He has to be affected by what happens to him. It’s not just that he has to kill the bad guy, there has to be a reason for it.”
So with Spectre being Craig’s fourth turn as Bond, does he plan on continuing? Well, although he is contracted for at least one more film, Craig doesn’t sound so sure. “I really don’t know. Honestly. I’m not trying to be coy. At the moment I can’t even conceive it... At this moment, no. I have a life and I’ve got to get on with it a bit. But we’ll see.” Craig wouldn’t be the first Bond actor to leave the series before his contract was up. Later in the interview, Craig even reveals that he doesn’t like to “be with Bond” for a long period of time, adding, “I don’t know if I’d like to spend too much time with him. Maybe an evening but it would have to be early doors. What goes on after hours, I’m not so sure about. But I don’t judge him. It’s not the job of an actor to judge your character.”
In fact, like other Bond actors Craig feels the need to point out that he isn’t the super-spy he portrays. He explains, “I’m not James Bond. I’m not particularly brave, I’m not particularly cool-headed. I have the fantasy that I would be good in a certain type of situation, like all of us, and I put those hopes into [playing]him.” Actually, Craig believes that because he’s so unlike Bond in real life that he can use that in his character. He adds, “There are bits when he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing, and I like that.”
Despite any misgivings he might have in the role, Craig explains that being part of the process of making a Bond film is exciting for an actor. He says, “For me, it’s an opportunity as an actor to take part in movies that are thin on the ground: where you have a producer, in Barbara Broccoli, who’s dedicated her life to this; where you get together a team of people and push them as far as you can; where I can push myself as far as I can. When it boils down to it, if you’re going to make these kind of movies you want to be in that atmosphere. It’s all you can ask for.”
He also no longer feels the desire to “prove” himself as an actor outside of playing Bond — Craig did not appear in any movies since the last Bond film, and his only acting project was starring in a revival of Betrayal on Broadway. He points out, “I worked a lot before [Casino Royale]. I did lots of things, I worked with amazing directors. I was very relaxed about what I did. I knew I could act. There’s kind of a rigidity to [Bond]. You’re playing this very specific character and everybody starts looking at you in that way, and you’re like, ‘I’m not that.’ I did feel like, ‘I’ve got to look like I’m doing other stuff.’ But then it was, ‘Who for?’ So the public think, ‘Ooh, isn’t he versatile?'”
Eventually, he shrugged it off. He says, “I relaxed. It was like, ‘Fuck it. I’m James Bond, for fuck’s sake. So I’ll do James Bond.’ The fact of it is, it’s not a bad position to be in. I used to get asked all the time, ‘Don’t you worry that you’re going to get typecast?’ ‘And?’ I mean, talk about a high-class problem.”
Speaking of high-class problems, becoming a big star was something that Craig hasn’t entirely embraced. He says, “It threw me for a loop. It really shook me up and made me look at the world in a very different way. It confused the hell out of me. Fame and fortune, for want of a better expression, is fucking scary. I couldn’t find a lot of fun in it.”
Will Craig ultimately return as Bond in the twenty-fifth Bond movie? Give us your take on the future of 007 in the comments.