It’s nearly impossible to fathom now, but the public and even the director of Casino Royale had their doubts about Daniel Craig playing James Bond back in the early 2000s.
The bona fide heartthrob (exhibit A: photo above) has solidified his place in the 007 canon with five films as the beloved secret agent.
But rewind nearly 20 years ago and Royale director Martin Campbell admits he worried Craig was not traditionally handsome enough for the role championed by the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan.
Campbell admitted he had his doubts early on when recently talking with Express UK.
The director had previously helmed a Brosnan installment in the franchise, GoldenEye back in 1995, and was returning to the universe to kickstart a new era for Bond.
“My only reticence with Daniel…he was really a superb actor, there’s no doubt about that,” Campbell told Express. “It was the fact that with people like Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan was that they were all traditional-looking Bonds. All handsome guys, all sexy, all very attractive to women and so forth.”
“Daniel was obviously tougher and rugged, but he wasn’t a traditional handsome guy,” he explained. “So I just thought about that for a minute and apart from that, absolutely it was always him.”
Campbell went on to recall how there were eight people in the running to take over the role of Bond after Brosnan’s final farewell with 2002’s Die Another Day.
“It’s very democratic,” he said of how the new Bond is decided upon. “You sit around a table…It was myself and the producers, casting director, etc. And you go through the eight people and you put your hand up as you talk through each person and ultimately everybody has to be unanimous in their decision, if you see what I mean.”
Henry Cavill was in contention at the time, but as Campbell previously noted, they felt “he just looked a little young at that time back then.”
Long-time 007 casting director Debbie McWilliams noted back in 2021 that the fan-base also had their concerns with Craig assuming the mantle of the beloved character. However, once Casino Royale arrived in theaters, most if not all doubts about Craig’s capability to not only carry on the franchise but ultimately redefine it were dispelled.
Craig’s five-movie long run as Bond came to a close with 2021’s No Time to Die — a new Bond has yet to be announced.