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James Bond is one of those characters that you’d think any actor would jump at if they were offered. The legacy goes back decades and joining that club will make you world famous overnight. It isn’t actually the case in practice though. Several actors have turned the role down over the years, for assorted reasons. Pierce Brosnan had to turn the role down due to Remington Steele commitments before later taking it on, as an example. Others have actually turned the role down because they didn’t want to do it. Daniel Craig fully expected to turn the role down himself, because he wasn’t interested in the comedic, gadget heavy films that the franchise had become. That all changed when he saw the script to Casino Royale
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Craig spoke about he had already planned to turn down the iconic role because he assumed he knew what the script was going to look like. He said:
They were going to show me a script that was like other Bond movies. It was going to have the gags in it, what Pierce did, what Sean had done. They’d all be in there. And I could go, ‘Thank you very much, good luck with that.’ And that would have been wonderful. I would have been totally at peace with it...but they didn’t.
Instead, Casino Royale was a nearly complete reinvention of the character. The filmmakers went back to the first Bond story, which had never been filmed outside of the truly comedic David Niven version, and used that as a springboard to launch a more serious James Bond with rougher edges than his predecessors.They took the Cold War British agent of the novels and simply moved him to the present day.
It’s completely understandable that Craig would have a pretty strong opinion about the James Bond films up to that point. The movies had been upping the ante of the ridiculous gadgets throughout Pierce Brosnan’s tenure. The remote control BMW had evolved into an invisible one by the time we got to Die Another Day. It would have been flying in the next film if they’d continued. We’re not even going to get into how diamond mines in Iceland are a terrible cover story because they’re geologically impossible. While those movies still had their charm, and were still popular, if that’s not the kind of movie you’re interested in being in, it makes the decision easy.
Not only are we glad that Craig took the role, we’re as glad as he was that the movies changed things up for a more realistic character. While the upcoming Spectre may, or may not be, Craig’s last round as James Bond, he’s been a refreshing change that we hope continues whenever the mantle is passed.