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Feature: Casino Royale

To be sure…

We tracked down star Daniel Craig and director Martin Campbell to find out how they created a 007 to rival its predecessors

When the press filed out of the first screening of Casino Royale last November, filling Leicester Square, there was a palpable air of relief about them. The film didn’t suck. Actually, it was rather good. Better yet, in Daniel Craig we had discovered a 007 for a whole new generation, so good that you could almost hear the collective, relieved sigh underscored by the hushed whisper, ‘Pierce who?’

Seldom had there been such a frenzy of anguished speculation than that which accompanied the news that Craig had been cast to fill the shoes of fiction’s most famous spy. He was portrayed so memorably by Sean Connery, Roger Moore and the aforementioned forerunner Pierce Brosnan after all. The sight of Craig being revealed to the press before filming began, sat uneasily on a motor launch up the Thames hardly laid to rest the fears of the naysayers.

But a couple of hours in his company, seeing the 39-year-old transform himself from rough hewn government functionary to suave secret agent was enough to win most of us round. Yet, if we were fretting, how must it have been for Craig himself, caught as he was in the eye of this negatively charged media storm before anyone could judge his work on its merits?

“The flak came along and there was nothing I could reply to,” he said, matter of factly a week or two after that first screening. “I wasn’t going to make a statement, I wasn’t going to get into a public discussion about it. Ordinarily when I do a movie I wait for it to be edited and have people to see it and then make their decision. I did get affected by it. I probably had 24 hours of darkness and then thought, ‘You know what, let’s just get on with it’.”

Such strength of character is a useful trait in a man playing so single minded a character. But for Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, heirs to Cubby Broccoli’s cinematic legacy and producers of the most successful franchise in movie history, there must surely have been some doubts early on when the chatrooms were alive with cruel thoughts about their choice.

“I think for us it was pretty clear that Daniel was the frontrunner,” Wilson explains. “The problem was that Daniel himself wasn’t sure, and he wanted to read a script. But we weren’t prepared to give him a draft until it had gone quite a way towards what we thought would be the final version. That being the case we had about two years of uncertainty where we were looking for a back-up. That’s why we looked at a lot of other people for the role.”

by Anwar Brett

Read the full interview and much more on Casino Royale in
Ultimate DVD #82

Casino Royale image © Sony Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #82
March 2007
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