Casino Royale – How Daniel Craig’s Bond triumphed over expectations.

Posted on June 2, 2011

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When Pierce Brosnan took over the role of James Bond in 1995, some said it was a role he was destined to play. Tall, dark and handsome, he’d even been married to a former Bond girl, Cassandra Harris, who sadly passed away in 1991. After Cubby Broccoli met Brosnan on the set of For Your Eyes Only, he apparently said: “If he can act, he’s our guy.” Well, whether you think he can act or not, he got the part, and in GoldenEye, Brosnan brought Bond back into the public consciousness in a big way.

Brosnan & Harris at the premier of "For Your Eyes Only".

Fast-forward ten years and a new actor was put into the frame. However, this time the actor in question certainly wasn’t everyone’s mental image of James Bond. Daniel Craig wasn’t what you might call born to play the part. He was blond for a start, which prompted the tabloids to quip, “No Mr. Bond, we expect you to dye!” He was also an inch or so below the regulation six feet, and for many people was that was an unforgivable sin. It wasn’t helped by the fact that at the press conference announcing his introduction as the new James Bond, Daniel Craig, nestled amongst several Royal Marine Commandos, seemed to be rather gaunt and ill-at-ease. Not only that, but, on this auspicious occasion, he was criticised for wearing a life jacket on his trip across the Thames – despite a Royal Marine insisting that he wear it.

Craig, about to be introduced to the press.

In fact, so against archetype was Daniel Craig, that the tabloid press had a field day, and it seemed not a week went by during the filming of Casino Royale without some derogatory article hitting the headlines, making insinuations about his less than Bond-like credentials. Amongst Craig’s host of apparent sins were that he hated guns, he lost a tooth in a fight with a stunt man, he had heat stroke, he was afraid of water, and could not drive a manual car.

The press conference introducing Daniel Craig as James Bond.

All this was compounded by the fact that the producers had bravely decided to reboot the franchise and have Bond start afresh with a newly-minted OO7. Of course, to die-hard fans, this was too much to take. Ordinarily, the fans are fairly positive and encouraging when it comes to the introduction of a new Bond, but this time there was undisguised hatred. A website called DanielCraigIsNotBond.com was launched and was instantly picked up upon by the tabloid press.Even though the released image of Craig in the tux looked great, and the reports from the set were very favourable, many people expected, nay, demanded, that Casino Royale should be a flop. Certainly, no one in Fleet Street expected to be eating quite so much humble pie.

The Sun does an about face.

The reason I bring this up is that it is easy to forget the negativity in the build up to one of the best, if not the best James Bond films of all time. It was so well received, so utterly brilliant,  adored by fans and critics alike, that it seemed to simply wash away the criticisms of its detractors. Chief amongst its assets was the incredible performance from Craig, who, with bags of charisma, style and charm, simply bulldozed though the negative expectations.

Craig's impressive physique in Casino Royale scored him a legion of female fans

At the end of this, there were no smug we-told-you-so’s from EON Productions, no rubbing it in the face of the tabloids. They simply allowed the film to stand on its own merits and for the positive word of mouth from the public to announce that James Bond was indeed back. Daniel Craig may not have been the safest bet, but, just like in the film, sometimes playing safe doesn’t win the game.

The cover of the latest issue of Confidential.

Casino Royale is a fantastic James Bond film with a very interesting history. To learn more, order a copy of this month’s MI6 Confidential magazine, which takes a detailed look at the build up to Casino Royale, and offers in-depth articles, as well as behind the scenes insights and exclusive interviews with cast and crew.

Dublo.

Photos courtesy of http://www.mi6-hq.com & mi6confidential.

MI6 Confidential:

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