With enough leading man roles under his belt, he'd have to know that he's easy on the eyes, a circumstance that's all the more compelling for his lack of Pierce Brosnan-like prettiness. His face often appears creased, even rumpled, yet sooner or later, and it's usually sooner, women and even straight men describe him as sexy. "He has a much darker, more vulnerable quality than Bond has shown before, a toughness and a sexiness," says "Casino Royale" director Martin Campbell. "Whenever Daniel was on screen in 'Munich,' he was the one your eyes went to."
Nevertheless, the anti-Craig posts were brutal enough to demolish the healthiest ego. When a bully starts picking on you for having big ears, it can dredge up long buried childhood insecurities.
When the early round of bile hit the fan, Craig was on location in the Bahamas, working long hours. His three stunt doubles -- specialists in driving, fighting and acrobatics -- took their share of punishment, but he performed much of his own derring-do. "I'd be just bruised, battered, cut and bleeding, all the time," he says. "I'd get out of bed very slowly in the morning. Getting hurt wasn't fun, but pushing myself, physically and mentally, hanging off the back of a truck, running across a 4-inch beam, 150 feet up in the air as quickly as I possibly could without looking down or falling, that was great. There's this feeling of finishing the shot and breathing a sigh and feeling so alive."
Going for it
THE demands of the six-month shooting schedule would serve as a positive distraction from the Internet vitriol, which the British tabloids enthusiastically spread. Craig says he suffered through a few very dark days and ultimately decided his revenge would be proving his critics wrong. "Beforehand, I wanted to make a great movie," he says, "and when all that started happening, it was like, we've got no choice now."
Trouncing the doubters with excellence -- what a reasoned reaction. Ever been in therapy? "Not enough," he says, laughing. "Nowhere near enough."
Craig's capacity to feel wounded when body-slammed, a quality he's shown often on camera, worked in his favor. Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson wanted "Casino Royale" to be different from its predecessors in a number of ways. Product placements survived, but the filmmakers all but eliminated CGI effects and Bond's toy chest -- no fountain pens that turn into Uzis this time around.
Although Bond epitomized suave British masculinity on film, in Ian Fleming's books, 007 has been known to throw up from anxiety. Since the "Casino Royale" story begins back when Bond became Bond, it offered the opportunity to rewrite the canon. The hunt was on for a more emotional, edgier guy.
Craig jumped to the top of Broccoli's list after she saw him in "Layer Cake," a nasty little British gangster movie he dominates as a pragmatic killer whose brash exterior is designed to protect a nervous core. And then there's the moment when he first spots temptress Sienna Miller on a crowded dance floor. With a cinematic cliche waiting to happen, Craig is so thoroughly, instantly lust and love-struck that you'd think he invented romantic longing.
Will he bring depth to James? Does Queen Elizabeth love her Welsh corgis?
Just because the producers considered Craig their front-runner didn't mean he was ready to be fitted for his tuxedo. "He said to us, 'If I take this part, I will do it wholeheartedly. But I can't say I will till I've read the script,' " Wilson says. "So we had to pursue other possibilities." Five actors, including Craig, were screen-tested, two little-known Australians, another Brit, and Goran Visnjic, from "ER."
Before Craig would accept the role, he made it clear that he wasn't prepared to be a puppet Bond. He remembers thinking, "If I don't feel that I'll actually have my say, then my first response is 'No. Not in a million years.' On a movie, I just feel if I'm included, I might be able to help out. I ask the director, 'What's the big picture? Tell me what's going on ... then maybe I can make it better.' "
He had some fear of being typecast as 007 and discussed the decision with his family, including his 14-year-old daughter from a two-year marriage to a Scottish actress, with close friends and his American girlfriend, Satsuki Mitchell, a production executive. He asked directors he'd worked with if they'd employ him again, post-Bond.
"They all said yes, so I'm holding them to it," he says."
"Daniel can do Shakespeare next week and a western the week after," director Campbell says. "He's someone I know will do art house movies and blockbusters."