This article contains significant spoilers for No Time to Die.
As No Time To Die continues its streak of domination at cinemas worldwide — to the extent that it’s being feted in some corners as the savior of the film industry — audiences and fans are having the chance to consider the film’s elegiac send-off to Daniel Craig, who is retiring from the role of James Bond.
The film’s conclusion sees (spoiler alert) the first-ever time in the franchise’s almost 60-year history that Bond is killed off. It’s put a full-stop on Craig’s 15-year run and, while it has certainly divided critics and audiences, it also gives fans a chance to reflect on his mammoth role and dwell in the decades-long fantasy that Craig has given to the world of Bond.
With the Daniel Craig-James Bond franchise coming to a close, No Time To Die gives an emotional goodbye to Craig, the man behind the character who has propelled the storyline of the iconic spy into the modern world. HYPEBEAST sits down with the British actor to dive deeper into the immaculate journey that has seen international audiences fall in love with the Daniel Craig-era of James Bond.
HYPEBEAST: Can you talk about how you have taken the role and made it your own? How does your Bond differ from your predecessors?
Daniel Craig: I came in knowing not very much, but what I did know is that I couldn’t be like what had come before, not because I didn’t think they were brilliant. I was a big fan of everybody, but I couldn’t do an impression of something that had happened before. I felt there was a danger of falling into a pastiche of itself and that’s what I was worried about most.
When Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson approached me I thought, I think you might have the wrong guy. I’m not all of those things…the vodka martini and you know the “Bond, James Bond” line, I just said, “I don’t know if I can deliver those the way you want me to deliver them.” But they said, “No, just be patient.” To properly remake it was one of the biggest gifts I was given. I wanted to try and ground it in as much reality as I possibly could. So I tried to do as many stunts as I could and you know, he kills people for a living, and I thought, well, how does that affect people…that’s not just nothing. And then we had this great story and he fell in love and gave everything up and then was betrayed. And that’s where we started and that’s where we’ve kind of come to this movie that sort of the combination of all of that from Casino Royale.
Your Bond is probably one of the more complex of the group. How has the titular character of James Bond transformed over time, especially in terms of the social progress and advancements in today’s environment?
I think they’ve always mirrored politics and they’ve certainly mirrored the styles at the time. We’ve definitely had a lot of discussion between the producers, the directors and creatives involved about trying to push it in a direction that stays on the Bond path but make it work in the present time frame. One of the things I’m proudest of is that with this film, we’ve brought all of the characters up to his level, especially the female parts. As complicated and as f***ed up as he is, they interact with him in a very interesting way. We’ve definitely tried to push it in that direction without losing the spirit of a Bond movie but it kind of tries to strike that balance.
Some may call the ending of your final Bond film to be quite poetic. Are you content with the ending and how it leads to the next era for the James Bond franchise?
It’s a combination of lots of things. I mean it’s a conversation I had very early on with the producers about where I wanted to take the movie. I’ve always felt that the man had a big heart. I kind of feel like in spite of the fact that he’s a killer, he loves humanity – that’s what he’s trying to protect. He’s a good man inside, he’s honorable and those things in life that are most important affect him just as strongly as they affect everybody else and that’s kind of what I was steering towards. I’m very proud and satisfied with the movie as a whole, but hopefully, it leaves it in a place now where whatever happens can grow from that and be better and bigger than what we’ve done.
“I knew that this is the biggest job I’ll ever have, just the sheer scale of it.”
What is your favourite moment filming the James Bond movies? From your films, which is your favourite?
Oh gosh. I’m genuinely not saying this for the interview but, I don’t look back with any bad feelings about any of it, because everything is so far outweighed by the good stuff. If we could sit and remnisce, I could just come up with the most extraordinary stories about the crew, the producers, the actors I’ve been with for so long. I can’t quite believe that I’ve been involved with it. Sometimes it feels like someone else to me.
I’ve got very dear moments about each movie. Each movie, whatever was going on there was an incredible moment. Whether it was Spectre in Mexico City. Skyfall, we’re in Turkey. Quantum of Solace, we’re in Chile – which is just incredible. And then, Casino Royale is always going to hold a dear place because it was my first movie and I was just sort of wide-eyed and I didn’t know a great deal and that was a nice place to be. I think sometimes it’s better not to know too much.
Excluding you, who is your favorite James Bond?
Sean Connery. He was the first Bond I ever saw. I love Roger Moore. But I think Sean is always going to be the one.
Is there a fond piece of advice that you have received from one of the previous Bonds?
Pierce [Brosnan] was incredibly lovely when I talked to him about it — he just said, “It’s going to be a ride. Try and enjoy it.” It’s a good bit of advice and you’ve got to try as much as possible to enjoy it. I knew that this is the biggest job I’ll ever have, just the sheer scale of it. I thought, I’ve got to give this my best shot because if I’d done Casino Royale and that was it, it didn’t work out – I at least had to know in myself that I had given everything I could.
How do you hope people will remember the Daniel Craig era of James Bond? What was your biggest takeaway from the many years playing the character?
It’s probably up to other people to figure out my legacy. I’ve given everything I could and I’ve tried to put as much as I can into it and raise the bar as high as I could. With each film, I hope they work as a whole. There are five of them, there’s a narrative and they go from beginning to end. I’d like to think people will be watching them but who knows? I have children and what’s relevant to them is not going to be relevant to me is not going to be relevant to them in 10, 20 years time so we’ll see if they’re still around.
Over the course of five James Bond films, you have become a global sensation, a feat that transcends Hollywood and British culture. How does it feel to be recognized as a global cultural icon?
It’s impossible to comprehend what that would actually mean. In fact, I do know that in most places on Earth that I go visit, people recognize me, which is incredible. But it’s still very bizarre to me. But, I couldn’t be prouder and more grateful for the fact that our movies have spread that far and the fact that people around the world respond to them, is quite frankly a blessing. It’s amazing.
There’s one drink of choice that has become a staple in these films and we must know – do you personally like a Vesper Martini?
You know, the Vesper Martini is a lot of alcohol. I can’t remember what’s exactly in it – gin, vodka, I can’t remember what the other ingredients are, with a twist. It’s a lot of alcohol. I’ll maybe have one and then after that move onto straight Vodka Martinis.