Despite my ongoing appreciation for every actor who has taken the 007 reins as our favorite British master spy, my favorite is Daniel Craig. Every actor who has played James Bond has had his own interesting spin on the character, whether you’re talking about the cool baritone-voiced Scot, Sean Connery, or the straight-laced but campy Roger Moore, or the seemingly born-for-the-role Pierce Brosnan, or even the suave and modern (if not overlooked) Timothy Dalton.
What I like about Craig is his ability to so easily and visibly take over the room as he enters, simply through his walk and attitude. Like John Wayne used to do, albeit in a very different manner. He has presence, and it reflects the sure-footed, suave, and brilliant character Ian Fleming created in his novels. As Bond, Craig has become “the man every man wants to be, and the man every woman wants to be with.” Craig is the ultimate British hero, but he plays it as a different, more modern type of British character, more relaxed in his mannerisms than the classic, more rigid and maybe even stodgy portrayal.
In Casino Royale Craig took the character to new places returning to Bond’s first 007 super-spy mission. Edgier than ever before, we saw someone in a foot race that seemed like he really was actually in a foot race and actually trying to catch the bad guy, and not caring whether he got scars along he way or his clothing rumpled, unlike some past Bonds. Playing a high-stakes card game this Bond is not mild-mannered so much as cool and cocky. Like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, this Bond doesn’t care what anyone else is doing around him. As much as we are glued to the every move of each “Bond girl” in this film–Caterina Murino as the first bad guy’s girlfriend, and then Eva Green as Vesper, soon to be his first and last love in the series–they are focused on Bond.
The follow-up film, Quantum of Solace, whose title comes from a Fleming short story, was not as great from a a story standpoint, but Craig made the best of it. His best on-screen relationship is with Judi Dench’s M, who strangely comes across as a determined and scornful but somewhat caring mother figure to Bond as much as a boss and head of covert ops at MI6.
Luckily we get to see Craig at least one more time as Bond, as production of the 23rd James Bond film begins this week with Craig reprising the role for the third time. Titled Skyfall, the new film will feature Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) as the villain, with Dame Judi Dench (Henry V, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs. Brown) returning as M, with Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter series, English Patient, Schindler’s List), Albert Finney (Big Fish, Tom Jones), Helen McCrory (Life, Harry Potter series, Doctor Who) and Ben Whishaw (The Hour, Layer Cake) in key supporting roles, and Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean series) and French actress Berenice Marlohe as the next “Bond Girls.” Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) will direct, with filming locations in Scotland, Istanbul and Shanghai. No word has been released as to whether we will see anyone reprise the role perfected by Desmond Llewelyn and later by John Cleese as Q.
But as with past actors in the Bond role, especially more recently, they don’t stay around for very long, with Dalton playing Bond twice and Brosnan playing the role four times.
So…who do you think is a good candidate for the next James Bond? Check back later this week for a few of my ideas.