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The True Story Behind Daniel Craig Nearly Passing On 007, And Why He Changed His Mind

Eva Green and Daniel Craig smile as they stand closely in an elevator in Casino Royale.

Opportunities sometimes arise in the most unlikely of places. Daniel Craig certainly didn’t intend to become the longest running actor to hold the role of James Bond, and at a certain point, he wasn’t sure he’d make No Time To Die. But perhaps the greatest story of Craig’s unintentional 007 legacy is the fact that he nearly passed on the role when he was offered the lead in Casino Royale, his debut picture in the franchise.

Throughout his early journey into the role of James Bond, uncertainty and reservation are two of the forces that conditioned the playing field for Daniel Craig. As director Martin Campbell himself was unsure of the relatively fresh actor’s potential as Bond, Craig himself had thoughts of skipping the tuxedo altogether. While speaking in the documentary Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story, the soon-to-be-former James Bond described his initial feelings as follows:

I suppose all of these are a little like hurdles, is what I was saying to myself. 'It’s all right. What’s going to happen is, I’m gonna get the script, I’m gonna read it, I’m gonna go, ‘No, thanks very much, it’s really not…,’ ‘cause it’s like... I mean, ultimately, that’s all the actor can really do is, be kind of like, you know, you read the script, and you go, 'I don’t like the script. Sorry.' Little did I know.

By this point in his Casino Royale journey, Daniel Craig had screen tested for the role of James Bond, alongside a handful of other hopefuls, including Henry Cavill himself. While he wasn’t sure about signing on to become the Bond that would succeed Pierce Brosnan, series producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were dead set on landing Craig for the part. So much so that they wouldn’t accept anyone else, which freaked out their studio backers.

Of course, the ending to this story isn’t a suspenseful climax, as we all know that in October 2005, Daniel Craig was announced as the sixth James Bond. Just as audiences were wowed by Casino Royale’s gritty, but entertaining, reboot of the 007 legacy, it was the impression the film’s script left on Craig that changed his mind. Sure enough, he read the script as planned, but his reaction to the work that had presented to him was this:

The story was solid, the script was really solid. And it was just like, I didn’t imagine the scope of it. I didn’t imagine, like, the crane sequence, or all of those sequences. I had no idea about any of that. But I knew the story stuck together. You know, it just... it flew.

If the James Bond series were to have kept serving the cocktail of tongue in cheek humor with over-the-top action, Daniel Craig might have passed on Casino Royale for the same reasons that Martin Campbell rejected returning to the director’s chair until that very same movie. Much like a brick through a plate glass window, the script penned by Bond stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, alongside efforts from writer Paul Haggis, blew Daniel Craig’s mind. 15 years later, and five movies to his credit, Craig’s choice has had a lasting effect on how James Bond is seen by modern audiences.

With No Time To Die on everyone’s minds, now’s a good time to buy tickets, which are now available in a wide array of viewing formats. And you can catch the rest of Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story on Apple TV, as it’s available for free rentals until 10/7. For all other cinematic inquiries throughout the remainder of the year, please consult the 2021 release schedule.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.