After fifteen years and five films as James Bond, Daniel Craig’s made such a distinctive and celebrated mark on the 007 series that it’s hard to believe the initial news of his casting once caused an uproar (though there are still people protesting it, apparently).
After putting the cries of “Bond can’t be blond” far behind him, Daniel Craig surprised the world by bringing a real depth to the role, exploring the pathos of a spy that’s licensed to kill, and finding the humanity in the man formerly described by his creator as a “blunt instrument.” As such, No Time To Die is both the finale to a narrative set in motion by 2006's Casino Royale, and a proper send-off to the actor who forever changed the way we’ll see 007.
In keeping with No Time To Die’s reflective nature, The A.V. Club asked a trio of Craig’s co-stars to consider the legacy he’ll leave behind for the franchise. First up was Jeffrey Wright, who’s turn as Bond’s longtime CIA ally from across the pond debuted in Casino Royale alongside Craig. He offered up a first-hand perspective on how the star’s performance has only gotten better and more complex over time:
“I think, initially, what Daniel brought to it was a kind of authenticity and a kind of grittiness, a muscularity to the elegance of Bond—a kind of groundedness. And I think he’s continued to build on that, not only from the heroic side, but also in terms of the relationship to the women in this story.”
Léa Seydoux—who reprises her role as Madeleine Swann, Bond’s beau—echoed Wright’s sentiment, stating that Craig helped the character leave his misogynist ways behind to become a true feminist. She also remarked that the actor’s influence raised the bar for the films in general, imbuing them with a complexity and an artistry: “They’ve [become] very interesting films, visually, but also in their depth.”
As Leiter’s by-the-book CIA colleague Logan Ash, Billy Magnussen may be new to the franchise, but he’s long admired how Daniel Craig stepped into the role and stepped up. He recalls the opening parkour action sequence in Casino Royale—where Bond’s target moved “like a ballerina” while Craig “was a sledgehammer”—as a shining example of the star’s physicality. But he says the real beauty of the performance was in its arc, that someone who was initially so hardened could slowly open up and learn to love and trust people again. “I think it’s just a nice metaphor for how we all should let go a little bit,” Magnussen claims.
Whoever assumes the 007 mantle next will have a tough act to follow. Daniel Craig’s surely left a lasting impact on the series and, as Jeffrey Wright sees it, has changed James Bond for the better:
“It’s a more grounded, more authentic, more nuanced thing than we’ve seen in the past, where it’s [been] a bit more superficial. So I think he’s been able to infuse it with a deeper kind of humanity. We still have all of the dynamism, we still have all of the edge, and the adrenaline, and all of that stuff that you expect from a Bond film. But now there’s more breadth within it. It’s more blood-filled and more emotional than it has been in the past. So I think he’s really left a very positive stamp on this.”
You can watch more of our conversations with Jeffrey Wright, Léa Seydoux, and Billy Magnussen in the videos above.
No Time To Die finally opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, October 8. For our review on the 25th official 007 movie, you can read A.A. Dowd’s review here.