The Name’s Bond

As he bids farewell to every actor’s dream role, we look at the legacy Daniel Craig’s James Bond has left behind.

To equate his Bond experiment to the process of the average gymgoer, Daniel Craig is showered, moisturised, halfway towards being dressed and grateful for the occasional glimpse in the changing room mirror… one which flashes back reflections that his 007 persona might casually approve of with a muttered, “good job”.

Speculation that the actor was saying his farewell to James Bond has been circling for some years, but now, unequivocally, he is done. And as the furore builds towards the deafening crescendo that is the somewhat bland and clumsily named No Time To Die, the 53-year-old emerges with a few things – a life-defining imprint on the CV, a multimillion-pound war chest, and the knowledge that he has influenced a generation of cinemagoers in refining the definition of the modern-day hero… a warrior, a sleuth, but more and more now someone inspired by health, fitness, vitality and self-improvement.

“I’ve always thought the image of a good actor is someone who leaves the big gestures and sweeping statements for when the cameras are rolling,” he begins. “That should really be the beginning and the end of what we expect of our actors.

“I don’t want to be the type who puts himself on a pedestal away from that. What right do I have to comment at length on politics or society or the environment? And why should anyone take any notice of me anyway? I’m an actor!”

Back on screen, it has been interesting to see how far removed the modern version of Bond is compared to his immediate predecessors Brosnan and Dalton. And while Connery and Moore never strayed into dadbod mode, they represented an era where Bond smoked, drank and copulated his way through problems.

At the heart of what defines Bond is, according to Daniel Craig, a good yarn, purely and simply. “Just stick to the old adage that a good story goes a long way…. and blow stuff up every few minutes,” he laughs heartily. “That’s how it’s done.” 

Yet what makes the man himself is something rather more complex. It begins with 007’s fear and loathing, yet ends in physical prowess that is so reflective of our wider changed attitudes towards health and fitness.

“Health, wellbeing… call it what you want – it’s not something influenced by age or access or even the amount of spare time you have in your schedule, because an hour a day should be more than enough. Mostly it’s about state of mind. You either want this thing or you don’t.

“I equate it in much the same as I do when auditioning for a role,” he says, before pausing and adding with a sultry smirk, “back in the days when I had to”, and laughing.

“If you want it too little – a great body, a great film role, a beautiful girl – you won’t get it. The same thing will happen if you want something too much – you’ll go too far the other way, burn out, overdo it, get injured. The secret is ensuring you do enough without going overboard, and that takes a little while to work out.”

DC, the UK’s highest paid actor, has impressed at every turn. It’s a long way from his breakthrough television performance in the critically-acclaimed BBC series Our Friends in the North. Compelling performances as Ted Hughes in Sylvia, a stalking victim in Enduring Love and work with future Bond director, Sam Mendes, as Paul Newman’s embittered son in Road to Perdition, increased his stock further.

The husband of actress Rachel Weisz has certainly perfected the art of keeping it all in check. “Bond has always been a combination of so many things,” he says. “He has managed to combine brute warfare with effervescent charm. It’s fair to say I have thoroughly enjoyed it… I only wish I could be more like him in real life!”