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In hindsight, Casino Royale turned out to be a monumental James Bond movie. It helped Daniel Craig overcome his lifelong fear of heights. It turned the franchise into a box office behemoth after it stagnated in the later stages of Pierce Brosnan’s four-film run. And it gave us a bit of a Bond origin story, a story Craig said he is “incredibly proud” to have followed throughout his five Bond films.

Daniel Craig, who helped create a narrative in his 'James Bond' movies, attends the 2015 premiere of 'Spectre.'
Daniel Craig | Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images

Craig proves his ‘James Bond’ doubters wrong with ‘Casino Royale’

Craig’s time playing James Bond started with casting backlash by vocal fans who doubted his ability to fill the tux. It ended with the five films earning nearly $4 billion at the box office. 

He’s an actor, not a fortune teller, but Craig knew Casino Royale would prove his doubters wrong. The assembly of talent — Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Mads Mikkelsen in front of the camera; veteran Bond director Martin Campbell and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis behind it — was too great to make it a failure. 

And he was right.

Casino Royale made more than $616 million worldwide (per Box Office Mojo), which was $185 million more than Die Another Day, Brosnan’s Bond finale.

But Casino Royale’s biggest breakthrough came with the way its storyline informed the rest of Craig’s Bond movies.

Craig ‘incredibly proud’ he built a narrative theme in his ‘Bond’ movies

Quick synopsis time: In Casino Royale, James falls in love with Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green) amid foiling the plan of a villainous criminal organization. In the end, James reveals his feelings to Vesper, and she reciprocates, only to betray him and soon die.

Craig revealed that betrayal affected Bond, not just the character but the way the franchise approached the four films that followed. While promoting No Time to Die, Craig told James Cordon on The Late Late Show that the story arc influenced his portrayal of the world’s most famous spy.

“Every time we came to make another movie, sometimes we said, ‘Let’s make a standalone, let’s just make a standalone, just a Bond movie,’ and we could never leave that story alone. It always came into the plot. And so somehow, we had this narrative all the way through, and that feels very unique, and I’m incredibly proud of the fact we’ve done that. It really feels like it’s tying them all together.”

Daniel Craig

Craig and the filmmakers returned to the Casino Royale plot time and again. Craig, in his quest to carve out his unique approach to Bond, and the filmmakers to create a character-driven narrative that the franchise lacked up until that point.

The next ‘James Bond’ is still unknown

Now that Craig is done with the role, the producers need to find a new leading man. However, producer Barbara Broccoli hasn’t even considered who will fill Craig’s shoes (per Esquire). 

Tom Hardy, Tom Holland, and Robert Pattinson are rumored to be in the running. So are Bridgerton actors Tom Hopper and René-Jean Page, and a slew of British-born gentlemen.

If history is any indication, whoever plays 007 next will have a group of Bond producers standing by their side. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson deflected criticism and provided praise for Craig, and they’ll almost certainly do the same for the next person to don the tux.