The meteoric rise of Daniel Craig as Bond star (Essay)November 25th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS
When Daniel Craig first heard from the Bond producers that he had got the part of the super spy, he was in a store buying dishwashing tablets. After the call, he dropped them and bought a bottle of vodka instead. This perfectly sums up Craig.Without the James Bond role, Craig would have very likely ended his career in anonymity, toiling in critically acclaimed but unacknowledged roles. He never cared for fame, reluctantly took up the Bond role, but is now positioned to be one of the biggest stars of his generation.
The two recent releases starring him - “Quantum Of Solace” and “Flashbacks of a Fool” - perfectly point out the ambiguity of Craig.
“Quantum Of Solace” is a big- budget 22nd instalment of the Bond franchise and “Flashbacks Of A Fool” is a small independent movie, which he took on mainly because a good friend (Baillie Walsh) of his directed the movie with him in mind for the lead role.
When Craig was announced as the new Bond, almost everyone was surprised, but not pleasantly. There was severe backlash and the nasty criticism carried on well into the filming of his debut in “Casino Royale”.
But after the smashing success of the movie and Craig’s brilliant performance of a more raw, muscular, gritty, darker Bond, the actor has been flying high and is well on his way to becoming one of the most popular Bonds.
The beauty in the meteoric rise of Craig’s stardom is the absolute obscurity from which he rose. He did not have a major hit. He did star in the hit “Elizabeth”, but even there he played a monk featured in very few scenes, who is only remembered for bashing someone’s head with a rock.
He also starred in the critically acclaimed “Munich” directed by Steven Spielberg, but played second fiddle to Eric Bana.
Hardly anybody would have heard of the movies that Craig starred in before he became famous. There was “The Mother” (2003) where he played an unhappily married building contractor having an affair with a woman and her old mother. That same year he starred in the forgettable “Sylvia” co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
In “Infamous”, he played a killer involved in a torrid homosexual relationship with the complicated author Truman Capote. The only role that looked somewhat similar to the Bond role he would take on in the future was in “Layer Cake” where he played a violent drug dealer.
Though Craig appeared in numerous below the radar roles, there was one aspect of his acting that he has effortlessly transplanted into the Bond role - intensity. Craig’s Bond is not only muscular but also more dangerous. Even his sexuality is more primordial.
In one scene in “Casino Royale”, he emerges from the sea in just his swimming trunks, his well-toned body glistening. Later he is captured by the villain, tied up naked and tortured. In both, his body is on display but used to relay contrasting messages.
Craig clearly had to shoulder one of the weightiest burdens of any actor in recent memory when he took on the Bond role. He was a virtual unknown, the first blonde Bond to be born after the franchise began and clearly the most gifted of all Bond actors.
He has more than fulfilled all expectations and is a bona fide superstar. He is here to stay.
(Sevanand Gaddala is a film writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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