Beyond James Bond: 5 of Daniel Craig’s Best Movie Roles

With last year’s Spectre, actor Daniel Craig made his fourth appearance in the role of iconic superspy James Bond. Rumors have run rampant as to whether the film will be his last as 007 and who might take over for Craig if he does exit the franchise. However, in the meantime, we look back at some of the actor’s most memorable roles outside of the Ian Fleming-created Bond.

1. Road to Perdition (2002)

Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition

Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition | Dreamworks

As the vengeful son of mob boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), Craig gets to tap into his darker side as he comes head-to-head with Tom Hanks’ hitman in this Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of the graphic novel. Craig brings a quiet sense of dread to the role of Connor Rooney, and even though he isn’t the main attraction in the film, his performance opposite Oscar winners like Hanks and Newman did help to take his career to that next step, paving the way for his scene-stealing roles in future films.

2. Layer Cake (2004)

Daniel Craig in 'Layer Cake'

Layer Cake | Sony Pictures Classics

Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class) made his directorial debut with this crime thriller based on the J.J. Connolly novel. Craig stars as the infamous XXXX, an unnamed figure that is among the most prominent players in the London underworld. Exhibiting a sense of cool that very likely inspired his casting as James Bond, Craig delivers a confident, cunning performance that served as an early breakout for his ascension to the Hollywood big leagues.

3. Munich (2005)

Daniel Craig in 'Munich'

Munich | Dreamworks

This Steven Spielberg-directed historical drama deals with the 1972 Olympic massacre and the squad of assassins that assembled to track down the terrorists responsible for the bloodbath. Eric Bana stars as former Mossad agent Avner Kaufman, but Craig is a standout in the ensemble cast as the South African volunteer joining the cause. Just before becoming Bond, the actor once again demonstrated a knack for action and intense thrills, gearing up for Casino Royale the following year.

4. Infamous (2006)

Daniel Craig in 'Infamous'

Infamous | Warner Independent Pictures

Coming a year after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning role in the better-known Capote, this film tells essentially the same story, as author Truman Capote (here played by Toby Jones) interviews convicts Richard Hickock (Lee Pace) and Perry Smith (Craig) as research for his book In Cold Blood. As the more violent of the two, Craig arguably delivers one of the best performances in the film, receiving critical acclaim as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination in the process.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Daniel Craig in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | Sony Pictures

American remakes of foreign-language films don’t always work, but this David Fincher release — the second film based on Stieg Larsson’s novel, following the 2009 Swedish film — managed to win over audiences and critics alike, thanks in no small part to performances by Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. In the film, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) investigates the fate of a woman from a well-to-do family who has been missing for forty years. Although a sequel to the film remains in doubt, Craig’s role is among his more interesting choices in recent years.

Honorable mentions

  • The Mother (2003)
  • Enduring Love (2004)
  • Defiance (2008)
  • Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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