With the release of “Skyfall,” Daniel Craig has cemented his reputation as an exciting and talented addition to the James Bond franchise. His selection was a surprise to fans, many of whom had a tough time getting used to the first blonde actor to take on the role of the suave secret agent. However, Craig’s portrayal of 007 has won audiences over. The success has also garnered up a good deal of interest in his start in the entertainment world.
Daniel Craig began acting at the age of six. His mother was responsible for fostering his interest in the stage with frequent trips to the Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Throughout his younger years, he appeared in several school plays. When he was 16, Craig auditioned for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. He was accepted in 1984 and subsequently moved to London to focus seriously on his acting career.
As part of the National Youth Theatre, Craig was able to tour Europe and Russia, fine-tuning his acting skills in the process. After four years, he succeeded in gaining entrance to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where further training would introduce him to a new wave of top British actors, including Alistair McGowen, Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes, and Damian Lewis.
The advanced instruction and career contacts paid off. Craig graduated in 1991, and he appeared in his first motion picture a year later. “The Power of One,” starring Stephen Dorff and Morgan Freeman, turned out to be a lackluster adaptation of the popular book by Bryce Courtenay. Thankfully, it didn’t slow down the young actor’s career.
Throughout the 1990s, Craig stuck mainly to television roles in series like “Our Friends in the North” and “Tales from the Crypt.” It wasn’t until playing Alex West opposite Angelina Jolie in “Laura Croft: Tomb Raider” that his movie career really took off. Playing the underhanded treasure hunter-and rival to Britain’s female counterpart to Indiana Jones-led to a role in the Tom Hanks hit “Road to Perdition” in 2002.
Craig’s first award-nominating roles would come in 2004. The first was as sly cocaine dealer XXXX in “Layer Cake.” This frantic, complicated story takes audiences deep into the British Mafia, where favors are owed and respect is earned and burned in a moment. The second was as Joe, a would-be rescuer and witness to a fatal accident in the drama “Enduring Love.” Craig received European Film Award nominations for Best Actor for his work in both movies.
In 2005, Craig starred in Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” the story of the five men hired to kill the assassins responsible for killing 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Craig starred alongside Eric Banna and Geoffrey Rush in the drama that went on to be nominated for five Oscars and two Golden Globes, and it also won the AFI Film Award for Movie of the Year.
The next year would see Craig’s debut as British spy, James Bond, in the twenty-first official movie in the series. “Casino Royale” wasn’t just the first time a blonde James Bond hit the screen. It was a reboot of the Bond experience, resetting the clock on the spy’s years in service and establishing a new canon for the franchise.
Despite critics and fans struggling to accept these new changes, “Casino Royale” opened to great success. The film has earned just short of $600 million in sales worldwide, and at the time was the highest-earning movie in the series. The studios were shocked when the movie’s popularity was surpassed by “Quantum of Solace” in 2008.
Originally resistant to be tied into a long-term contract, Craig was dismayed when studios put the brakes on James Bond installments while the economy teetered. Unlike other leads for the franchise, Craig did not put his acting on pause during his contract. From 2008 to the release of “Skyfall” in 2012, the actor starred in four major films, including the English version of the popular Swedish trilogy “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” as well as the science fiction favorite “Cowboys & Aliens.”
Looking back on his long and varied career, many wonder how Daniel Craig joined the ranks of Hollywood’s top actors. With his reserved demeanor and knack for staying out of celebrity gossip, Craig certainly seems to have the level of professionalism it takes to make it big. His talent in action, adventure, drama and even fantasy roles show he has the talent to continue making great films for years to come. It’s humbling to realize he got his start on a typical stage in primary school among a crowd of six year olds.