With “No time to die” in the rearview, Can we all agree that “Casino Royale” is the best Bond movie? If it weren’t for the 2006 reboot, Sean Connery would still be the undisputed King Bond and, who knows, maybe the notorious super-spy and his decades-old franchise would have faded as society moved into modernity.
Thanks to Daniel Craig’s melancholic and agitated performance and the general trend of the “naked reboot” From the early 2000s, 007 was reinvigorated for a new generation. Yes, before Bond became a parody of himself again, for a brief moment we all got a glimpse of a 21st century 007 that remained true to Ian Fleming’s original vision. With Craig’s scarred spy, it seemed that beneath the icy bravado and soft affectation, there was a real person.
It seems Craig kept some of that bravado off camera, too. In his retrospective of “Casino Royale” in 2021, he recalled being “very tense, not tense, but nervous about everything, because everything was very important, very important” during filming. It is clear that the actor couldn’t relax with the weight of a Bond reboot on his shoulders, which thankfully translated into a performance of searing intensity on screen. That may have also made him a killjoy during production, such as when he refused to participate in his coworkers’ poker games because he “had other things to think about.” Even after the success of “Casino Royale”, the actor repeatedly downplayed his experience as Bond, once commenting that he preferred to “cut his wrists”. before playing 007 again.
In general, Craig treated his time as Bond with self-deprecation and awkward forced humility during interviews, especially when discussing one of the most memorable shots from “Casino Royale.” Speaking to The Guardian in 2008, Daniel Craig explained that the scene was originally intended to have him swimming in and out of frame: “Actually it was an accident. The place where we shot, in the Bahamas, is one of those places where there are a sand platform and it turns out that it is a meter deep. The idea was for me to swim and float, but I swam and stood up. And it was one of those things.”
The actor admitted that he was vaguely aware that the shot would be interpreted as an homage to Ursula Andress in “Dr. No,” but quickly switched to his trademark self-deprecation by stating that “I had no idea it would haunt me for the rest of my life”. It sure was frustrating to have developed a complex version of James Bond for “Casino Royale”, only to be repeatedly asked about the scene where he takes off his shirt. But it’s not that the film wasn’t celebrated for other reasons as well.
Yeah, the blue trunks sold for almost £45,000 at auction and everyone was messed with the beach scene. But “Casino Royale” became the highest-grossing Bond film of all time upon its release, taking in $594 million at the worldwide box office. Critics also praised Craig’s performance as Bond, and the franchise as a whole was successfully reinvigorated for a new era. If you have to put up with a few questions for going shirtless, it doesn’t seem like such a high price. Evidently Craig, who was still in his “I’m more than Bond” mode, didn’t think so. Luckily, it seems that he has softened since then.