It’s been just over two weeks since the announcement of Daniel Craig as James Bond and the media has not been kind to the actor. Articles have appeared harping on the fact that Craig just doesn’t LOOK like 007. Pundits complain that he’s not as tall as the other actors who have played the part, and that he has blonde hair (ignoring that fact that Roger Moore sported near blond hair in one of his best Bond films, For Your Eyes Only).
The media has also cavalierly characterized Bond fans as rejecting Craig, snatching negative comments from the various online forums to run as “evidence” of this. The Contra Costa Times even characterized CBn’s satirical “What are you blaming Craig for today?” thread as a prime example of fan discontent.
However, two separate polls taken on CommanderBond.net show 80% of Bond fans here on the internet’s largest James Bond forum support the casting of Daniel Craig as 007 or will wait for the movie before they judge.
In a poll taken on the day of Craig’s announcement, 59% of Bond fans said they approved of Craig; 28% disapproved; and 13% elected to “wait and see.” The same poll taken two weeks later — after the avalanche of negative publicity — showed CBn support of Craig actually moving up to 61% with 21% electing to wait and see. Craig’s disapproval rate fell to only 18%. (These results are as of 29/10/05 — the CBn Daniel Craig poll remains open.)
Composer David Arnold, who scored the James Bond screentests for EON Productions, takes aim at those who have judged Craig too quickly: “It would be a very foolish person who made any kind of judgment from how he answered tabloid questions at a press conference,” Arnold told the BBC. “People should be very excited about what’s going to happen.”
Indeed, “what’s going to happen” seems to be the key to understanding why EON dropped former Bond Pierce Brosnan in favor of Daniel Craig.
Both director Martin Campbell and EON Productions have said Casino Royale will be a Bond film grounded in realism and suspense, much more that any pervious Bond film. One the largest and longest “set-pieces” in this new film will be an intense gamble scene. As in the original Ian Fleming novel, Casino Royale will also feature a brutal torture scene. It’s a bold and risky approach. The last attempt at realism, 1989’s Licence To Kill, did not find favor at the U.S. box office. Nevertheless, Bond fans on CBn approve of the new approach by 76%.
But even going beyond this new realistic approach is the fact that Casino Royale will attempt to restart the James Bond franchise. Director Campbell has confirmed that his film will portray one of Bond’s first missions as a double-oh agent. But Casino Royale will NOT be a prequel, nor is it meant to fit into a chronology with the other 20 films (despite the re-casting of Judi Dench as M). As screenwriter Paul Haggis puts it, “the producers are doing with James Bond what the Batman franchise did with Batman Begins.” Casino Royale is not Bond 21 — it’s Bond #1.
Daniel Craig is James Bond
Taking all this into account (which the media has universally failed to do), the casting of Daniel Craig as James Bond begins to make perfect sense. Eon has vowed “back to basics” Bond films before, but they usually fall short. “We always start out trying to make another From Russia With Love and end up with another Thunderball,” says producer Michael G. Wilson. But the selection of Craig shows the filmmakers are deadly serious this time, extending this new “realism” to casting the lead role. An impossibly handsome male model type or an actor known for light comedy would not work in Casino Royale (just as Craig would not work in, say Moonraker). This is a film that will show what James Bond would really look and act like. The REAL James Bond. Even Columbia Pictures head Amy Pascal ultimately gave her thumbs up to Craig based on this criteria. “He seems like he could be a spy,” she said.
Meanwhile, back here on CBn, even some Bond fans who initially rejected Craig are starting to rethink their position.
“I was very against Craig becoming Bond, but now he has I actually really welcome it,” says member MKKBB. “I have now totally changed my mind about Craig, and can’t wait to see what he does, and hope all fans will get behind him, and all the others will wait to see how he turns out next November.”
Casino Royale will be the 21st James Bond film produced by EON Productions. The MGM/Columbia Pictures production begins shooting in January in the Czech Republic, the Bahamas, Italy and the UK. It will be release worldwide on November 17, 2006.