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Daniel Craig Wasn’t Thought Of As A Leading Man. That Is Until James Bond’s Producers Changed All That

Daniel Craig sitting in a tuxedo in Casino Royale.

No matter which previous James Bond you're looking at, observing any actor before and after they’ve played the role is a curious thing. While most previous 007 actors have come from backgrounds that saw them as established leading men, Daniel Craig wasn’t exactly viewed as such a quantity by most ahead of his casting. Regardless, leading into the production on Casino Royale, if you had asked James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson what they thought, they would have told you that they knew he had what it takes. In fact, they've always known it.

Speaking during an interview in Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story, Broccoli and Wilson open the tale of Daniel Craig’s Bond casting with some rather interesting insight. While the world at large may not have known the actor's potential at the time, he had two very important superfans in his corner from square one. In their own words, here’s just what Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson saw in their future franchise lead:

Barbara Broccoli: I always felt about Daniel, ‘cause I had seen a lot of things, from Our Friends in the North, and then obviously, Enduring Love and The Mother. And I always felt like whenever he was on the screen, you couldn’t watch anyone else. You’d be interested in the scene stuff, but he just… he’s lit from within. I remember the thing that really set me, and I went, 'It has to be him,' was years before anything. It was in Elizabeth, him walking down the corridor. And it was just like, that is the most charismatic person I have ever seen on the screen. So it was clear that he’s a movie star, and a great actor to boot.Michael G. Wilson: I think to put it in perspective, at this time in Daniel’s career, he wasn’t thought of as a leading man. It was not what people thought of him. They thought he was a great supporting actor, and Barbara and I could see that he was actually a leading man.

In his own recollections provided for Being James Bond, Daniel Craig actually saw himself as ramping up in those pre-Bond years. As roles in films like Layer Cake and Road To Perdition would raise his public profile -- with the latter film also enforcing Craig’s connection with Skyfall director Sam Mendes-- it did feel like the actor was ramping up to something bigger. All he needed was the right chance to prove himself, which is exactly what Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson gave Daniel Craig when casting him in Casino Royale.

On the metaphorical eve of No Time To Die’s release, the conversation surrounding Daniel Craig’s career metamorphosis is about to hit the “after Bond” phase in the near future. Already, judging by the projects that he’s scored even while playing James Bond, Mr. Craig is definitely leading man material. Even better, with chances to also play villains and ensemble characters, as respectively seen in The Adventures of Tintin and the wildly successful Knives Out, Daniel Craig now has the opportunity to pursue any type of gig he might want within the world of acting.

Things would have probably shaken out differently had Craig turned down the role as he initially intended. Fate, as always, wove its magic, and the Craig era of James Bond helped usher in a new type of Bond and new type of Bond movie. For now, no new James Bond has been named, but who knows what rising star in need of a boost may have caught Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson’s eye this time? No Time To Die opens in theaters on September 30th in the UK, and October 8th in the US; but at least we have the new documentary to peruse in the meantime. Don’t wait too long, however, as the documentary is only available for free on Apple TV until October 7th.

Mike Reyes

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