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007 MAGAZINE OnLine
(August 2007)

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From Bland to BAFTA

When Daniel Craig was announced as the sixth James Bond in October 2005 the reaction was negative to say the least. The headlines were bleak for the Chester born actor from the off, and there followed seriously poisonous press and internet campaigns against the Layer Cake star, culminating in ridiculous websites calling for all ‘true’ fans to boycott the movie upon its November 2006 release. All this before even a camera had rolled. CRAIG BUNYAN looks at how both media and public opinion has turned a full 360 degrees!

This is a tale of 'Zero to hero!'

Having written a similar piece for 007 MAGAZINE Issue #49, I find it extraordinary that I now find myself writing a piece that is virtually a mirror image of my earlier report highlighting the initial negative media and public response. Now I discover that my recent findings on the media and public reaction to Craig and Casino Royale belong to the same extreme, but at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Here we shall evaluate the extent to which both the media and, as a result, the public performed a complete u-turn in opinion about the man we’d all call Bond.

This is a tale of ‘zero to hero!’ They say ‘James Bond’ is a world of its own and Daniel Craig’s roller coaster ride has been like a soap opera that has been played out on our news channels, computer screens and front pages over the last two years that has seen him go from being called bland to being nominated for a BAFTA.

“It did affect me,” said Craig, of what appeared to be a witch hunt against him. “But it gave me a resolve, and the resolve was that beforehand I wanted to make a great movie and when that started happening it was like we've got no choice now – we have to make the best movie we can. In fact it spurred me on a little because I can't answer criticism like that. Some of it was maybe valid, but most of it was name-calling, it was like playground stuff. What am I going to do, get involved with tit-for-tat arguments over the Internet?”

Now in August 2007, Daniel Craig is a global superstar. How fickle the media is!

Early negative press response Early negative press response Early negative press response

A majority 29% of voters stated that they were unhappy with the casting of Craig on an Internet Movie Database (IMDB) poll in November 2005. In November 2006 40.6% of voters claimed that he was one of the best two Bonds of all time. Meanwhile on the same website after a poll of over 12,000 voters, Casino Royale was voted the best Bond movie of all time.

Pre-Credit sequence Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig is announced as the new James Bond 007
Pre-Credit sequence Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig is announced as the new James Bond 007
Pre-Credit sequence Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig is announced as the new James Bond 007
Casino Royale main titles designed by Daniel Kleinman Daniel Craig is announced as the new James Bond 007

ABOVE: (left) Daniel Craig's gritty hard-edged James Bond in Casino Royale is a far cry from the image he first projected when appearing at the press conference in London on 14th October 2005 which launched him as the new 007. Stylised images of Craig also appear in Daniel Kleinman's cleverly reinvented title sequence which confirms his '00' status following the two killings seen in the stark black-and-white opening to the film.

Esquire Magazine

For some he was “too ugly” to play Bond with his “potato head” and “blonde locks.” However, since the release of the film he has appeared on countless magazine covers; been voted best-dressed man by Esquire magazine readers and in a poll by Durex voted the sexiest man on the planet, and consistently ranked near the top of the ‘most searched celebrities’ list on Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Daniel Craig has openly admitted that he was hurt by what was said and written about him. However, like the consummate professional Craig is he harnessed the negativity and used it to spur him on to make the best movie that he possibly could.

Entertainment Weekly Magazine

He told Entertainment Weekly when questioned about the early criticism, “I get the passion that people feel for this. I understand it. But it was like, ‘See the movie, and then you can say what you like about it.’ There's no point in getting into arguments about the way I look.”

Then came the turning point! A few weeks before the public release of Casino Royale the reviews started to make their way into the press and online. Sneak previews for the media were given overwhelming thumbs up. The superlatives followed. The headlines left every one wondering what the original fuss was about.

The media buzz created prior to the nationwide release of Casino Royale was coupled by a multi-million pound marketing campaign that saw no newspaper, commercial break or advertising space without featuring something ‘Bond-related’. This was the first Bond film being released by Sony, and they were pulling out all the publicity stops!

This was the first Bond film being released by Sony...

Daniel Craig in action as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig in action as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig in action as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006)
Shooting Casino Royale (2006) Daniel Craig in action as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006)

ABOVE: Daniel Craig threw himself into the action sequences more than any other 007 actor before him and his physical prowess is ably demonstrated in Casino Royale's breathless opening chase between Bond and bomb-maker Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan). Craig's ability to convincingly use the physical side of Bond's character and look as if he is genuinely getting hurt is later contrasted with his mental agility during the card game sequences and his more intimate moments with Vesper Lynd played by Eva Green.

Shooting Casino Royale (2006) Shooting Casino Royale (2006) Shooting Casino Royale (2006)

“Every decade gets the Bond it deserves and we are living in some pretty scary times. Craig is up there with the best,” said The Times a fortnight before Casino Royale hit the screens for the public. This was followed shortly with the bold statement, “Craig’s performance rescues the franchise from the trough into which it had fallen in the last outing.”

On the same day the Daily Mail concluded, “Despite showing us his sensitive side, Craig looks a far more convincing killer than any 007 since Connery.” Meanwhile The Mirror could hardly hide its enthusiasm for the movie, echoing virtually every review stating, “Casino Royale is a breathless, thrilling romp that will win over a whole new generation of fans.”

The movie was met with endless positive reviews with Daniel Craig receiving the bulk of the credit for its success. “New guy comes up aces,” was the headline run by The Voice, which more or less summed up the consensus within the media.

Daniel Craig proudly displays his BEST ACTOR award from the EVENING STANDARD

CONTINUED


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