Actor of the Week: Daniel Craig
With us being Brits here at Life of Films, it was only a matter of time before James Bond was mentioned. And so it is with this week’s Actor of the Week, and my favourite James Bond of all time, the one and only Daniel Craig. There was a lot of controversy when Craig was cast as the legendary English spy, due to his blonde hair and blue eyes, but Craig quickly put that to bed with his incredible performance as 007. I remember the first time I saw Daniel Craig, but at the time I didn’t take too much notice, and that was as Alex West in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Alex West was Lara’s love interest and another Tomb Raider similar to Lara, but just not as good! This was Daniel’s first big Hollywood film, leading him to his lead role in the popular british film Layer Cake. Layer Cake, directed by one of my favourite directors; Matthew Vaughn, is about a very successful Cocaine dealer, played by Craig, who is coming to the end of his career and about to retire. He is given two final assignments by his boss, that do not go according to plan. Not only did this film launch both Craig’s and Vaughn’s careers, it also introduced us to a former Actor of the Week - Tom Hardy. With Daniel Craig now a recognisable face, he cemented himself in Hollywood by landing one of the biggest jobs an actor could hope for, and that is taking on the role of the iconic English spy with a license to kill - James Bond. Not only has Craig done an incredible job by portraying the most iconic british character of all time, he revolutionised him for a modern world. Before Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale, James Bond was somewhat farfetched, and very cheesy - albeit belovedly, with the likes of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan playing the character beforehand. The James Bond we were used to had an arsenal of gadgets coming out of unlikely places, and ridiculous villains, with Bond getting out of impossible situations whilst impressing the ladies at the same time. This type of spy fitted perfectly in its time, but as we came into the 2000’s it started to wear thin, until 2006’s Casino Royale was released, which completely changed the face of 007.
What made Casino Royale so special was that it was an origin story for Bond, seeing him gain his 007 rank very early on in the film. With great origin stories we get to see how our favourite characters become who we know and love, which is exactly what happens in this film. Craig plays a very amateur but over confident spy learning the ropes. Sent on a mission to stop a terrorist funding banker - Le Chiffre, played by another former Actor of the Week, Mads Mikkelsen, Craig is entered into a high-stakes Poker match, where we see Le Chiffre trying to win back his clients’ money that he has lost earlier in the film. This was a very different take on the Bond we know - with few gadgets, and very raw and gritty fight scenes, but still executed with enough English demeanour. This took Bond in a very different direction, a direction I personally love, making Daniel Craig my favourite 007. Craig went on to play 3 more Bond’s and seems set to play one more, which would take his total to 5 James Bond movies. Not all the 007 films Craig did were perfect, but his performance was always top drawer. My favourite Bond film of his is probably Skyfall as I feel it blends this new take on 007 with the more familiar, classic Bond really well. However I do feel Casino Royale, as a film, generally is superior. You may think with Craig having played such an iconic role he would struggle to play other characters in other films, as people would find it hard to see him as anything else but the spy with a license to kill. If this is something you had thought, you would be wrong. Craig has gone on to star in many different films whilst playing Bond, such as Cowboys & Aliens, where he works alongside yet another former AotW in Olivia Wilde. Cowboys & Aliens saw him dabble in a bit more of a Sci-Fi role. Another new angle for him was in Defiance, a film set during World War II. On top of this he has done a bit voice acting, starring in Spielberg’s ‘The Adventures of Tintin’.
Recently, Craig made a very short cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, playing a Stormtrooper who Rey mind-controls. This was a bit random for Craig, but it does show off some of his personality; that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And speaking of Star Wars, Craig recently starred alongside Adam Driver, aka Kylo Ren, in Logan Lucky. Sadly I missed this film in the cinema, but I look forward to catching it upon its digital release, as I am yet to see a bad performance by Craig, and his role in this film looked to be very funny. Daniel Craig may have taken a while to hit the big screen, but it was certainly an inevitability. Craig is an incredible actor, and I feel I am not alone when I say he is the best James Bond we have ever had. Enjoy the video below - I don’t think there has ever been a better delivery of the line “The name’s Bond, James Bond”.