James Bond Casting Director Recalls Backlash Against Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale

After a number of delays, Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond, No Time To Die, is set to release this October. The final trailer teases that this adventure will be the culmination of Craig's work as Bond and, hopefully, this translates to a proper sendoff for the actor. While the fan-favorite actor has had a fantastic run in the role, it wasn’t always smooth, specifically during the early days of his casting. And as a Bond casting director recalled, there was some significant backlash aimed at Craig's casting.

Daniel Craig has been James Bond for the past 15 years and has set the standard for the modern Bond with revolutionary movies that push the boundaries of the genre. It’s difficult to imagine Craig having had a difficult time being cast as Bond, based on his body of work, yet the initial backlash was strong. Casting director Debbie McWilliams sat down with Entertainment Weekly and described the pushback against Craig's casting, saying:

It was unbelievably negative, I have to say. The press response was awful and I felt so sorry for him, but in a funny kind of a way I think it almost spurred him on to do his damndest to prove everybody wrong. The whole way through the film, stuff would come out about he couldn't walk and talk, he couldn't run, he couldn't drive a car properly, so much stuff which was completely and utterly untrue. And he just kept his head down, got on with the job, and then the film came out and everybody went, ‘Oh wow, I think we quite like him after all.’ He's going to be a tough act to follow.

Like Debbie McWilliams, those who were covering the James Bond casting at the time will likely remember that some members of the press were harsh when Daniel Craig was confirmed for the role. In hindsight, the actor may have used this as motivation to do his best in the role. At the time, he kept his head down and, years later, not only is he still standing, but he's arguably the most successful 007 actor in history.

Believe it or not, there were actually people within the 007 franchise that actually had their doubts about Daniel Craig's ability to play the super spy. Casino Royale director Martin Campbell recently recalled how he had "reservations" about Craig, but he ultimately trusted longtime producer Barbara Broccoli and her decision. And even Craig even had reservations about playing Bond, as he almost passed on the role.

Casting a new James Bond actor isn't easy, and Debbie McWilliams has actually described the rigorous casting process that will follow No Time To Die. It’s a significant decision with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, so the next actor has to be right in order for the next slate of films to remain critically and financially successful. At the moment, the odds for the next 007 actor are shifting. Bridgerton's Rége-Jean Page has been atop the leaderboards, but there are also major stars like Tom Hardy, who seems to be in pole position.

While we'll continue to speculate on the next actor take on the designation of 007, in the immediate future, we can look forward to No Time To Die, which is said to do something no James Bond movie has done before. You can bet fans will be flocking to the theaters to see Daniel Craig's swan song when it arrives on October 8.

Jamil David

Movie and TV obsessive. A good Heist movie is the way to my heart. Enjoyer of everything from Marvel Movies to Rom-coms.