Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig Image Credit: Ador Bustamante/Gulf News

We’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond for so long now during lockdown. But No Time To Die, the latest instalment in the long-running franchise of Agent 007 is out now to audience and critical acclaim. And it marks the fifth and last outing for Daniel Craig as Bond — James Bond. From a film fans’ point of view, the English actor has breathed new life into the franchise that had previously become a little stale.

Pierce Brosnan seemed like a terribly nice chap, lots of suave just but lacking the edge that Her Majesty’s Secret Service requires when it comes to exercising that licence to kill.

Then there was Roger Moore, who looked like he was on safari the whole time instead of defeating Smersh and saving the world from nuclear, financial or biological annihilation. Before Craig, the last credible Bond was Connery — Sean Connery — who defined the role and planted 007 firmly in popular culture. Craig was in that ilk. But Craig was tougher, more robust. Half of the stunts he has pulled off would have been beyond Connery’s abilities — and certainly the computer-generated graphics that they require. That’s why, in my opinion, Craig is the best so far. The rest, they leave me shaken, not stirred. Craig can stir you, and with No Time To Die being some two-and-a-half-hours long, that’s a good thing. Think of it as a long goodbye as you nibble on our popcorn.

Born in 1968 in Chester in the northwest of England, he is the first Bond to be born after the series began — which speaks more to the durability of the franchise. The current release is the 25th and first, Dr. No, was released in 1962.

As Bonds go, Craig is actually the shortest of the lot, the first one under 6 feet in height. 007 touches 5-feet-10 and was actually a factor that almost stopped him from getting the role. Connery, who stands at an estimated 6-foot-2, set the bar high.

And as 007s go, Craig is actually the actor to hold the role over the longest timespan — which in itself is remarkable given that he was initially reluctant to take on the role and needed some convincing from producer Barbara Broccoli. She commented at the time that “there was a period of trying to woo him.”

When he was nine, his parents divorced and he moved to Liverpool with his sister and mother. He enjoyed going to the theatre and many of his mother’s friends were actors.

“I kind of fell in love with the idea of acting,” he said. “I liked the idea of it — you know, shouting a lot and dressing up and all that.”

He moved to London when he was 16 to join the National Youth Theatre, and then studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

After graduating, Craig made his film debut in The Power of One, a 1950s drama set in South Africa released in 1992. His career then received a substantial boost with his role in the 1996 BBC miniseries Our Friends in the North. The serial drama enjoyed great critical acclaim and won several major awards in the year following its broadcast, including two British Academy Television Awards, two Royal Television Society Awards and four Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

According to his official biography, another important role came in 1998 with the film Love Is the Devil, a biopic about the artist Francis Bacon portrayed by Derek Jacobi. Craig co-starred as Bacon’s lover George Dyer, a small-time thief. Craig later described the project as “the first film I did that ‘made me’.” That same year, Craig had a small role in the historical drama Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett as the Tudor monarch.

His career developed in films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Road to Perdition, where Tom Hanks plays a mobster hit man with a conscience under the direction of Steven Spielberg. The two also teamed up on Munich, the story of revenge after terrorists killed Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in 1972.

His first Bond role came in 2006 with the release of Casino Royale. The reaction was very positive and saved what had become a stale and predictable formulaic series. He then added to the franchise’s restored reputation the blockbuster hits Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.

Unlike other Bond actors who stuck with working solely on the franchise while they held their licence to kill, Craig expanded his licence to thrill with leading roles in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Logan Lucky.

For all of his romantic encounters as Bond, Craig has been romantically linked to actress Sienna Miller and model Kate Moss, He has a daughter, Ella, from his two-year marriage to Fiona Loudon. In December 2010, Craig began dating actor Rachel Weisz, his co-star in Dream House. The couple married in June 2011 in New York, and had a daughter in September 2018.

My own personal favourite of Craig’s body of work is a small budget British movie called The Trench, a tense drama about a platoon of First World War soldiers waiting for orders to go over the top. He’s a hard-bitten sergeant who must somehow convince his men to do their duty for the king and country.

When he was offered the Bond role, critics said it was a bad fit for a serious stage-trained actor like Craig. He thought differently, agreeing to a five-film contract.

“When I accepted the job to work on Bond, I genuinely did it to change my life,” he said. “I knew that it would flip everything on its head. I’ve never made movies for money — I’ve always made them because I truly wanted to do them,” he told Interview magazine. I just wish he wanted to do more Bond movies. Five isn’t enough.