Many skeptics had their doubts at the time; he would be the first blond-haired Bond ever, and was barely known to mainstream moviegoers.
Casino Royale, of course, turned out to be a global box office and critical smash, leaving many to believe that Craig was one of the best actors ever to play the role of the martini-drinking, butt-kicking, woman-loving Bond.
This Friday, Craig reprises the role in Skyfall, exactly 50 years after Bond first hit the big screen in 1962’s Dr. No. Keeping the anniversary in mind, Craig told Celebuzz he wanted to honor the franchise’s history as it moves onto its next chapter in cinema.
“I think we’ve made a movie that hopefully encapsulates a lot of what the past 50 years have been about,” Craig revealed. “When you look at the whole body of work from Sean onwards, I want to be part of that and I want to make sure that I leave it, when I do eventually leave, in as a good a shape as when I found it.”
The franchise began during the Mad Men era when women were mainly looked upon as helpful assistants in the office and the bedroom. For James Bond, a keen womanizer, to endure as he has through the decades took considerable updating.
When producer Barbara Broccoli inherited the family franchise after her father’s death in 1996, she made sure that women took on a more respectable role, making Bond’s boss, M, a woman (Judi Dench) and dispensing with monikers like Holly Goodhead, Pussy Galore and Plenty O’Toole.
For Craig, Bond’s chauvinism is an essential part of who he is, but the actor who now plays him tries not to let that color his performance.
“That’s what I like about him, the contradiction in that character,” smiled Craig. “He can’t help himself, he’s a chauvinist but he loves women. So it’s adapting that character that still existed then to now, keep him James Bond, which is that he loves women and he likes to sleep with women and he doesn’t apologize about it, but also kind of putting him in the real world. Sex is still part of the story. It’s kind of an important part of the story.”
Six years ago, when Craig first started on Casino Royale, he had to learn the rules of the beloved franchise. Rule number one is Bond’s super-suave look.
“If you look at those early Sean Connery movies, they set a specific style for movie-making and fashion. The look of movies really changed when Dr. No and Goldfinger were made,” said Craig who recalled how Connery was told to go home and sleep in his suit to make it conform better to his body.
Craig took that advice himself, lying down for a catnap between setups wearing suits designed by Tom Ford.
In Skyfall, MI6 finds itself under fire when politicians start wondering whether it has outlived its usefulness. Likewise, an aging and wounded Bond, last seen in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, is pushed toward retirement. But when a surprise attack occurs in downtown London and M’s life is put in peril, Bond must strap on his Beretta and spring into action.
Javier Bardemplays ex-agent Raoul Silva, a man out for revenge against M, whom he claims abandoned him to die in the field.
Before the final credits roll, we’re treated to a hair-raising fist-fight atop a high-speed freight train, a deadly subway pursuit and a fiery siege at a remote country estate.
“We had one story we needed to tell with Casino and Quantum and we wrapped that up,” explained Craig. “And this one has allowed us to open up. We’re starting afresh. We’re starting with brand new characters. We’re bringing in old characters.”
Among the new additions to the cast are Ralph Fiennes, as MI6 intelligence and security chairman Gareth Mallory; Ben Whishaw, as Q; and Naomie Harris, as Eve Moneypenny.
With such classically trained actors working under the hand of director Sam Mendes, also a product of the London stage, Craig enjoyed the best of both worlds with character and performance given equal footing to car chases and fiery explosions.
The real danger was the fiftieth anniversary. Craig confesses that the pressure to live up to the legacy was just too great, so the best he could do was put it out of his mind.
“I remember saying, ‘We’ve got the next 50 years. We have to make the best Bond we can and to have something that really represents and we can go, ‘We made it well,'” recalled Craig, who’s signed on for two more movies. “We made Skyfall now, but I feel like we’ve got other stories to tell. And as long as the audiences agree, then we’ll keep making them.”
Skyfall hits theaters nationwide on Nov. 9.
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