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The arrival of any Bond movie is always an event. But Casino Royale, the 21st in the series, has got us dribbling like babies: a new direction, a new 007 in Daniel Craig, and a daring reboot for the franchise. We explain why we should be excited…
No Stranger to art house audiences, the question remains does the new 007 have what it takes to deliver a blockbuster? That certain something, that je ne sais quoi, that – well – 00 quality.
The subject of feverish speculation on Internet chatrooms since his casting in this iconic role was announced, from the moment Daniel Craig was filmed bouncing up the Thames in a military fastboat, looking distinctly uneasy and – worse – wearing a life jacket over his Savile Row suit – the weight of opinion has erred on the negative.
Which is not entirely fair. Eon Productions would have got entirely the wrong sort of publicity had their new star drowned on his way to meet the press. He’s an actor, not a real secret agent after all. And this is a world of make believe, so it’s probably no bad thing to cast a decent actor in a role that has found a place in the hearts of audiences long before Harry Potter challenged the notion that this might be cinema’s most enduring screen franchise.
Craig first found himself before the movie cameras while still at Guildhall School of Music and Drama school, being cast as a thuggish Afrikaaner cop in the 1992 film The Power of One. “That was major fish out of water territory,” Craig said some time later, “I went into the audition and just went for it, with the accent and everything.”
With his blond hair and blue eyes he looked every inch the part, but was keen not to become typecast in this or any other role. He has consistently rung the changes in a career that has seen him find TV success in Our Friends In The North, as Geordie protégé of Malcolm McDowell’s villain and art house fare like Love Is The Devil, The Mother and Enduring Love. All of which have earned him plaudits for his acting, and showed an admirably broad taste.
“I have to say,” Craig confided, “there’s always been a conscious decision with me to look for the more challenging roles. Money is an important consideration of course, but since Our Friends I knew that the pressure was off, I realized that for a while I could look for the best roles I could. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s about making the next thing you do better than the last. Also it’s a question of not looking at normal things, trying to do the odd and unusual things.”
It may seem curious then that Craig has now taken on a role more likely than almost any other to cast him in the public imagination as one character and one character alone. With his background in theatre this notion may not loom too large in his thoughts, and he has not been slow to sign on to other roles – Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials, and the Devil in I, Lucifer among them. He is used to taking on fresh challenges and Bond is certain to offer plenty of those.
by Anwar Brett
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