It’s safe to assume that Daniel Craig doesn’t just want to be known as the sixth actor to play sexist super-spy James Bond.
Craig has been an impressive agent, but it’s worth remembering his work outside of the role he’s best known for. As Spectre lands in cinemas, here’s a look at some of his earlier career highs.
In 2003, after breaking out in Hollywood with an ill-advised role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and then impressing in Sam Mendes’s Road to Perdition, Craig went back to his roots for this intimate British drama. He stars as a handyman who embarks on an affair with an older woman. His performance, like co-star Anne Reid’s, is natural and believable, which grounds their relationship and involves us in the mess they create around them.
This was the best Guy Ritchie film that wasn’t actually made by Guy Ritchie. This crime thriller touched upon some similar comic ground to Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but was a more adult story than either. Craig’s commanding presence as a lead – relatively untested before this point – gave him immediate movie-star status. (Rumour has it that Jason Statham is making a sequel.)
In 2004, Craig showed up as a very different Londoner in this adaptation by Roger Michell of Ian McEwan’s troubling thriller about obsession. Rhys Ifans made a memorably creepy stalker. But it was Craig who stole the show as an unravelling English professor whose ideas about love impact his life.
This is one of Craig’s highest-profile roles since taking on 007. (If we all pretend that Cowboys & Aliens never happened, then one day it might be erased from history.) He made a compelling duo with Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s dark thriller. Their chemistry surpassed even that of Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist in the original, making the lack of sequel a sorely missed opportunity.
Craig impressed as Bond in Casino Royale, bringing grit to a role that had been served with extra ham and cheese by Pierce Brosnan. But it wasn’t until Skyfall that Craig was matched by a script and supporting cast that allowed him to truly soar. The Dark Knight-influenced thriller delivered on all levels and even gave Craig some genuine emotions to convey. If he really hates the role as much as he often suggests, he hid it well in this one.
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