Why Daniel Craig Never Wanted to Play James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’

GQ went ahead with their Daniel Craig cover story on March 9. The article would have been in the works to hit magazine racks and news stands before the April release of the latest James Bond film No Time to Die. Only in March did EON Productions and MGM decided to delay the film to November out of concerns for the coronavirus around the world. 

Daniel Craig in No Time to Die
Daniel Craig in No Time to Die | Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

In the profile, Craig explains why he didn’t want the James Bond job back in 2006 when they were making Casino Royale. The full cover story goes all the way back to Craig’s childhood and through his acting career. Here’s what he revealed about his Casino Royale auditions and why he’s ready to retire from James Bond after No Time to Die.

First, Daniel Craig didn’t believe they wanted him for James Bond

When producer Barbara Broccoli first invited Daniel Craig to an audition, he didn’t believe they were casting. Pierce Brosnan had just made Die Another Day and Craig assumed he would continue.

Craig told GQ, “I was like, ‘This is what they do. They get people in. They’re just feeling around. Plus, Pierce was not leaving Bond, right?”

The three stages of Daniel Craig refusing James Bond

First Craig rejected all the James Bonds that came before him.

“I remember saying to them early on, ‘I can’t do a Sean Connery impression. I can’t be Pierce,’ ” Craig told GQ.

Then Craig worried about becoming a household name.

James Bond No Time to Die
Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux | Nicola Dove/Danjaq, LLC and MGM

“I could be anonymous in the world,” Craig said. “It was genuinely like, My life is going to get f*cked if I do this.”

Then came anger: “It was literally like, ‘F*ck off. I don’t fucking want this. How dare you? How dare you offer this to me?’ It’s just ludicrous. But it was all defense.”

Daniel Craig didn’t make ‘Casino Royale’ easy

Even after he got the role, Craig was pretty outspoken. Martin Campbell directed Casino Royale, Craig’s introduction movie. Campbell asked Craig to eat a grape once.

“I just went, ‘No,’” Craig said. “I said, ‘No, I can’t. I’m not going to do it. You do that.’ It was about ‘How am I going to be James Bond?’ ”

No Time to Die: Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux
Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux | Nicola Dove/Danjaq, LLC and MGM

Craig was responsible for giving his James Bond a harder edge than many before him. He looked at moments of Ian Fleming books, like in Moonraker when Bond put some speed in a glass of champagne. That did not make it into the Roger Moore adaptation.

“I think it’s more interesting,” Craig told me. “I know we can’t have him having amphetamine and speed and doing all these things. But inside, I know I’m doing that. And I wanted to inform the part and say that’s what he is. He’s kind of a f*ckup. Because this job would f*ck you up.”

He reluctantly accepts the mark he’s left on James Bond

Whoever plays James Bond after No Time to Die has a tougher act to follow than Craig had. GQ pierced Craig’s humility and got him to admit that. 

“What you’re saying, it’s like, if I say it… It’s raised the bar,” Craig said. “It’s f*cking raised the bar.”

The GQ article also details the many injuries Craig suffered making James Bond movies. Physically, he was ready to retire after Spectre, but after No Time to Die he’s emotionally ready.

“I don’t think I would have been if I’d done the last film and that had been it,” Craig said. “But this, I’m like let’s go. Let’s get on with it. I’m fine.”

Daniel Craig still doesn’t like publicity

Perhaps what Craig will be happiest to say goodbye to is the publicity circuit for the James Bond movies. However, he’s going to have it again with the Knives Out sequel.

“You’re front and center while filming, and then they tell you to go and sell the movie,” Craig said. “Literally, you’re standing in a crowd of people and suddenly they’ve all pushed you forward. And they’re like, ‘Go on!’ It’s really disconcerting. And you think you’re responsible. And actually, of course, you are.”