Most Known For: “Casino Royale,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Skyfall”
Snubbed For: “Casino Royale,” “Skyfall”
It’s not easy coming out of the shadow of James Bond, just ask Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan. To date, Sean Connery is the only actor to come out of Bond and have nearly as strong of a career afterwards, and you can probably base a lot of that on the fact he has had the most time to do so. However, by no means is Bond a trap for actors, during or post. Look no further than the current incarnation of 007, Daniel Craig.
Craig was a relative unknown when he landed the role of James Bond – much to the chagrin of the Internet. After three films however, Craig has made the character his own and brought something rarely seen in Bond before, emotional complexity. The Academy is not one for rewarding big budget tentpoles in their major categories, but Daniel Craig has received strong notices for his work as Bond and has pushed that envelope as well as laid a ground work for an immensely successful career post Bond.
The early part of Craig’s career kept him primarily based in the UK. He had some films that would garner attention in the US, “Elizabeth,” “Tomb Raider” and “Road to Perdition” chief among them, but none of them helped him break out. His biggest notice would come as the lead in Matthew Vaughn’s directorial debut, “Layer Cake.” A fun film that would gain a cult following, Craig made his first real in roads internationally. Not enough, however, to avoid backlash when it was revealed that he would follow Brosnan as James Bond. And to make matters worse… he was blonde!
When “Casino Royale” came out, Craig’s hair color quickly became irrelevant. It was clear that this was a Bond that audiences had not seen before. Those early sequences not only showed that he was perhaps the most physical Bond to date, but that he had a raw edge to him. The prior Bonds were polished; finished results of their training and experience. We found Craig at the beginning of all of it, and with that came a deeper connection to the character we all thought we knew.
This has been the staple for Craig’s Bond. Each film has given him much more emotional baggage to deal with. Connery, Moore, Brosnan, all of their baggage was child’s play compared to Craig’s. Boy does he make the most of it too. Whoever you think is the best James Bond, it is hard to argue that Craig has created the most compelling Bond.
Critics seem to think so too. Craig received a Best Actor nomination from BAFTA for his work in “Casino Royale.” “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall” have been two of the most praised entries in franchise history; “Skyfall” had a serious campaign to become the first Bond film to get a Best Picture nomination. Alas, it didn’t happen, but “Skyfall” was the first of the franchise to take home multiple Oscars (Best Original Song and Best Sound Editing).
The day may never come when James Bond takes over the film world with a Best Picture, or even a Best Actor, Oscar, but that does not mean that Daniel Craig’s future is bleak. He has managed his workload outside of Bond incredibly well, including interesting roles in film and even on the stage.
Craig will have his license to kill for at least two more high-flying adventures, but even if the Academy continues to ignore one of the greatest franchise’s in film history, Craig is more likely to follow in the footsteps of Connery post-bond, making an Oscar nomination not to hard to conceive.