IN 15 years as 007, Daniel Craig has taken to all the heights of being the world’s most famous super-spy – but he says the role isn’t always what it’s meant to be.
The actor has revealed he has struggled with the pressures of succession from James Bond to Pierce Brosnan, saying he often feels “physically and mentally under siege.”
In his one major interview before he bowed out as 007, Daniel admits he was initially reluctant to take the job, insisting he told the movie’s bosses, “I wouldn’t know what to do with it. . “
Sitting alongside producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson for new Apple TV documentary Being James Bond, he talks about how he got so drunk on martinis – 007’s go-to drink – after landing the role he got. a three-day hangover.
And when it was finally announced as the Sixth Cinematic Leap in 2005, he lay awake all night reading the negative reactions.
Daniel, 53, adds: “I read everything, because that’s what happens if you do that. And it was hard – really hard and filled with hate.
“I woke up the next morning and went to hell. I know the movie is going to be good. I knew we were doing something really special.
The turning point for the concerned cast and crew at Casino Royale came when a paparazzi photographer snatched the first image of Daniel as 007, emerging from a Barbados beach in tight blue trunks.
Barbara explains, “I remember Daniel coming out of the water and the whole crew saying ‘Oh my God’.
“Strange art films”
“And there was a picture of daddy that changed the whole idea of what Daniel’s Bond would look like. He was suddenly the coolest guy on Earth.
Daniel laughs as he replays the scene and says, “Look at those t * ts.” He admits he wasn’t prepared for the fame or scrutiny that came with such an iconic role.
He says, “My personal life was affected by being so famous all of a sudden.
“I used to lock myself up and close the curtains, I was in the land of cloudy cuckoos. I was physically and mentally under siege.
“I didn’t like the new level of fame. It was Hugh Jackman who helped me to accept and appreciate it.
Producer Barbara, who first saw Daniel on the 1996 TV series Our Friends Up North, insists she was determined to hire him for the film despite her reluctance.
She says, “I always thought that whenever he was on the screen, you couldn’t look at anyone else. It is lit from the inside. It was clear that he is a movie star and a great actor to boot.
I was going to take the script, read it and say ‘thank you but no’. But I didn’t know it was Casino Royale.
Michael adds: “At this point in his career he was not seen as a leading man, but rather as a great supporting actor. Barbara and I could see that he was actually a leading man.
Daniel had never considered becoming Bond, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, I was already more successful than I ever would be as an actor – I didn’t have a cool personality.
“Pierce had done Remington Steele, Roger Moore had done The Saint – they had done those parts where people had been, ‘It’s James Bond’.
“I had made some bizarre artistic films. It was harder to sell. And I didn’t really want to do it, because I thought I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
“I was going to take the script, read it and say, ‘Thanks but no.’
“But I didn’t know it was Casino Royale. The story was solid, the script was solid.
During the audition process, MGM chiefs did not believe Daniel was the man allowed to thrill.
Barbara adds, “Michael and I really wanted to, but the biggest problem was he didn’t want to do it. He walked into the office and I said to Michael afterwards, “He wants to do it.”
“We were determined to have it. We continued to freak out the studio as they tried to get us to meet other people.
She refused to budge and called Daniel personally to tell him he got the job, as the actor recalls: And I took a bottle of vodka, vermouth, a shaker and went back to my apartment. and I started making vodka martinis.
“It was my first exercise. I had a hangover for three days.
Daniel pledged to build muscle with a personal trainer, saying, “I had to look like I could play the part.
“I met a PT while smoking a rollie and eating a bacon sandwich, but I said, ‘I want to change’. And we did – it was seven days a week from then on. “
Despite being in great physical shape, Daniel endured the excruciating pain and psychological trauma of injuring himself during filming.
The second Quantum Of Solace movie was also hampered by a 100-day Hollywood writers strike and a script that “wasn’t so great.”
He adds: “I basically volunteered for every stunt and looking back it was a big mistake because I got seriously injured. I was overwhelmed. ”In terms of film success, Oscar winner Skyfall in 2012 made up for the falls of Quantum, and it’s also home to one of Barbara’s most memorable scenes.
When villainous Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem, strokes 007’s thigh as the spy is strapped to a chair, he asks, “You’re trying to remember your training now. What are the regulations to cover this? Well the first time for everything I guess. But in a victory for diversity, Bond responds, “What makes you think this is my first time?
Barbara was proud to have secured the stage despite studio bosses demanding that they cut the line.
She said, “We said ‘no, no, no’. We resisted. And I remember the night of the world premiere – the whole place erupted with that line. “
It was also an “emotional” time for Daniel, as he had to bid farewell to co-star Dame Judi Dench after his character M was killed after three films together.
And yet there were more injuries. Daniel broke his leg while filming Specter in 2015, but insists, “I had a lot of fun on this movie but part of the problem was that I broke my leg. We had to choose if we could shut down for nine months and I could have the surgery, or I could continue with the film. I didn’t want to close.
“So I wore a bionic leg for the rest of the movie, which wasn’t the best way to make a Bond movie. It was extremely distracting for me. He adds,“ At the start of the movie, I was walking. on a ledge 100 feet above a street in Mexico, I was literally like, “Don’t give in, don’t give in.” I have a thread, but it’s very traumatic. cool but my leg is affected.
Barbara adds, “He could barely walk. I looked at him, wondering how he was handling this.
It was this physical toll that led Daniel, then 47, to point out that he would rather “cut my wrists” than replay Bond after the release of Specter in 2015.
After being persuaded to reprise the role of No Time To Die, which will make him the longest-serving actor as 007, Daniel says, “I don’t want to talk about how difficult Specter is, but I needed to. of a break. I needed to switch off.
“I felt really psychologically at the end of this movie too old. Barbara negotiates hard. I don’t think I was going to make it after Specter.
Barbara adds: “There is still work to be done. There is one more story to be told. So we started this time we have to go bankrupt.
The magnitude of leaving the role came to Daniel during his farewell address to the crew after the filming of No Time to Die, which will finally hit theaters on September 30, almost two years later than planned.
He says, “My tenure is what it is, but it’s only part of something bigger. I think back to the movies and I’m incredibly proud of each one of them. Leaving this role is not easy.
“I can be as cheeky and jaded about it as I want, but it’s always hard to walk away from it. And it’s not about money and fame.
“I am incredibly lucky to have been able to do this. But I think it’s okay now [to leave the role], and that’s because we made this movie.
- Being James Bond is on Apple TV.