Daniel Craig: 007 over and out

LONDON (AFP) – After 15 years playing the legendary British spy James Bond, Daniel Craig is making way for a new generation of actors after his fifth 007 film, No Time To Die, which has its world premiere in London tomorrow.

The blond-haired, blue-eyed actor was not well known to the general public when he took over from Pierce Brosnan in 2006, and seemed far removed from the character created by writer Ian Fleming.

Even Sam Mendes, director of 2015 Bond film Spectre, admitted that he thought at the time that it was a bad fit.

“I thought Bond had become the opposite of what Daniel is – a slightly disengaged, urbane, jokey, eyebrow-raising, you know, a pastiche in a way,” he told the BBC.

But the intensity Craig brought to the part won over doubters and allowed the multi-million dollar franchise to be rebooted with a harder, more serious edge.

He celebrated landing the role by paying a tribute to the iconic spy, previously incarnated by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

“I got inebriated,” Craig told the official James Bond podcast.

Producer Barbara Broccoli, however, explained that Craig had resisted her advances for some time before agreeing, saying “the big problem was that he didn’t want to do it”.

Although a fan of the famous MI6 agent since childhood, the actor feared that his personal life would suffer from the pressure and fame that come with being the franchise figurehead.

His private life remains relatively secret, although the tabloids have reported he had affairs with supermodel Kate Moss and actress Sienna Miller before marrying the Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz in 2011.

The couple had a baby girl in 2018. He already had a daughter, Ella, with his first wife, Scottish actress Fiona Loudon.

Born in 1968 in Chester, northwest England, to a landlord father and art teacher mother, Craig spent part of his childhood in Liverpool, where he moved with his mother and sister following his parents’ divorce.

He started acting at an early age, attending drama school in London before landing a string of roles in television, art house cinema and on stage before breaking through in Hollywood with films like 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

He has played the painter Francis Bacon’s lover in Love is the Devil (1998) and starred alongside Tom Hanks in Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition (2002).

He is also known for playing a cocaine dealer in Matthew Vaughn’s 2004 film Layer Cake, before signing for the James Bond films.

After 2006 debut Casino Royale, he starred in Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

Craig, 53, then seemed intent on calling it quits, but Broccoli convinced him to make a swansong in No Time to Die.

He has always insisted his own personality is a long way from the tuxedo-wearing Bond.

In real life, he prefers jeans, a T-shirt.