The Casting Of Craig.
On the 14th of October, 2005, 37 year old British actor Daniel Craig was unveiled as the sixth official James Bond. In a deeply unoriginal stunt, Craig was motored down the Thames on a speedboat. Sans lifejacket, he stepped onto dry-land and looked jarringly out of place and diminutive as photographers asked him to move out of the way because they were waiting for the new James Bond to arrive. Ok, I made that up; but you would hardly have blamed them. If Eon are running out of ideas for their films, this was proof positive that they've certainly run out of ideas for press conferences. Unwittingly evoking memories of Pierce Brosnan's speedboat antics in the pre-credit sequence of The World Is Not Enough, they managed to make Craig look like a complete imposter. Appearing tired and plastered in pancake make-up, the new Bond managed to say the word 's**t' in his first sentence, apparently too stupid to realise he was live on lunchtime news broadcasts. The networks soon cut him off anyway.
There was a palpable lack of 'buzz' at the conference. It all seemed to go very flat very quickly as Barbara Broccoli looked smugly on as if she'd delivered an enormous coup by landing Craig, despite the fact that practically no one seemed to know who he was. The lunchtime news programmes cut their coverage early, far earlier than they did with Brosnan in 1994. A pundit commented on him not having 'film-star' looks but said, rather vaguely, he would be more like Fleming's Bond. That mantra would become a salient fortification for the embattled defenders of Craig, but how much weight does it actually have?
Ian Fleming once sent a memo to Eon stating that Bond was 6'1 and 167 pounds. In modern parlance Fleming's Bond has the build of a tall super-middleweight boxer like Joe Calzaghe. Fleming's Bond is also a darkly handsome, chainsmoking snob with the ability to mix effortlessly in the higher social circles wthout looking unduly out of place. On more than one occasion, he is referred to as dashing and film-star handsome. Taking this into account you would have to go a long way to find someone less like Fleming's Bond than Daniel Craig. The Fleming defence is false as are the equally spurious claims that Craig somehow looks like a young Sean Connery. So why exactly did they cast him?
Someone should write a book about the search for the sixth James Bond. Only Eon truly know what went on and how and when they decided on Craig. Clive Owen and Hugh Jackman,the two obvious front-runners to replace Brosnan never truly featured in the shake-up. We may never know what really happened. Owen has claimed he wasn't interested or approached. Jackman claims he was approached but was asked to sign on without a script or director. Rumours of a leaked Eon memo abounded. Barbara Broccoli supposedly claimed Jackman was too effete to be Bond. The decks were being cleared for Craig.
A rather bizarre collection of young actors - including Henry Cavill and someone called Sam worthington - tested with Craig. Where was Ioan Gruffyd? Surely Ewan Mcgregor, who openly expressed an interest,was worth a test. And where the hell was the naturally obvious compromise candidate Gerard Butler? As it turns out nowhere. Because Barbara had decided on Craig. Nobody too good was going to spoil the party and Craig would battle it out with a 22 year-old and a Croatian television Doctor for the most famous role in cinema.
Broccoli announced that when she sat down with her casting director to discuss recasting the role they both decided Craig would be the perfect person to do it. A scan through Bond forums in 2004 and early 2005 would find that they were completely alone in this theory.
"He defined acting for his generation." So said Barbara Broccoli of Daniel Craig. Craig, who had been carving out a solid, if unspectacular career as a character actor, was now apparently one of the greatest actors of our time. A scan through his curriculum vitae proffered scant evidence. All at sea in Some Voices. Extraordinarily tedious in Archangel. Ropey South African accent in Munich. The less said about Tomb Raider and Love Is The Devil the better. Bland in Sylvia. A weasel like character served him well in Road To Perdition. The evidence was clear. Craig was not a leading man. He was more Sean Pertwee than Orlando Bloom. More David Thewlis than Johnny Depp. The James Bond series for the first time ever would look for an everyman to carry it.
It is clear that Craig is socially on good terms with Barbara Broccoli. The atmosphere on the set of Casino Royale was doubtless wonderful. After the fractious Brosnan affair this may have been a consideration in the casting of the new Bond. Michael G Wilson's long mooted reboot was another pretext. One could see a scenario where the young pretenders simply looked too young in tests and Craig became the 'safer' option to the studio. I need hardly add that Craig is not going to cost them a fortune either. A man who was, until last year, still ready, willing and able to appear in BBC television dramas is clearly not the hot star that Eon would have us believe.
With a few speculative deductions I believe it is possible to understand why they cast Daniel Craig. The decision has been made; but It wasn't one that had me jumping for joy and in that view I am clearly not alone.-Robert Fossil
c 2006 Alternative 007