A new James Bond is on the way following Daniel Craig’s exit in “No Time to Die.”
While rumours circulated last year that a younger actor was being courted and that the age of 007 would decrease considerably from Craig’s era, such claims were squashed by franchise producer Michael G. Wilson.
He assured fans the new Bond would be a “thirty-something” actor, keeping with Craig’s age range when he started his run as 007 in 2006’s “Casino Royale.”
In a new interview with Radio Times, longtime James Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams explained why younger actors usually don’t fit when it comes to finding a new James Bond.
“When we started, it was a slightly different feel,” McWilliams said about the last search for a new 007 that ended with Craig’s selection. “We did look at a lot of younger actors, and I just don’t think they had the gravitas. They didn’t have the experience, they didn’t have the mental capacity to take it on, because it’s not just the part they’re taking on, it’s a massive responsibility.”
McWilliams added, “So we kind of scrubbed that idea and went back to the drawing board and started again.”
The team settled on Craig, who was in his 30s at the time. The decision did not receive unanimous praise. As McWilliams told Entertainment Weekly back in 2021, she “felt sorry” for Craig after his casting led to extreme blowback from press who thought Craig didn’t fit the part of Bond.
“It was unbelievably negative, I have to say,” McWilliams said about the reaction to Craig’s casting. “The press response was awful and I felt so sorry for him, but in a funny kind of a way I think it almost spurred him on to do his damndest to prove everybody wrong.”
“The whole way through the film, stuff would come out about [how] he couldn’t walk and talk, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t drive a car properly, so much stuff which was completely and utterly untrue,” she continued. “And he just kept his head down, got on with the job and then the film came out and everybody went, ‘Oh wow, I think we quite like him after all.’”
Craig went on to star in a total of five James Bond movies. The search for his replacement will begin at some point this year, producers Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have said repeatedly.
“When people go, ‘Oh, who are you going to get?’ it’s not just about casting an actor for a film,” Broccoli told Variety last year. “It’s about a reinvention, and ‘Where are we taking it? What do we want to do with the character?’ And then, once we figure that out, who’s the right person for that particular reinvention?”
In her Radio Times interview, McWilliams pointed out that most James Bond actors are relatively unknown on a mainstream film level when they are cast.
“Timothy Dalton was known, but he was known as a Shakespearean actor, really,” McWilliams said. “Pierce [Brosnan] was known, but that was basically from television. Roger Moore was known from television. Sean Connery wasn’t [known] – nobody had ever heard of him.”
“A certain audience had heard of Daniel Craig, but much more the kind of independent cinema audience. He hadn’t done any huge commercial film at all, really – [2004 film] ‘Layer Cake’ I suppose was the most popular, should we say, of the things he had done prior to Bond, but he wasn’t a hugely well-known actor.”
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