Daniel Craig

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Daniel Craig Pencil Portrait
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Comments

I have drawn Daniel Craig as 007. I think most people would agree that the makeup team got the look right for the role by working on a close cropped hairstyle. There was much opposition to the official announcement that he had secured this much coveted role, with particular emphasis on his colouring. No, we didn’t expect a blond James Bond but the chosen style definitely deflected attention away from this minor quibble. The shape of his head is quite interesting and in particular his ears. Viewed from the back he bears a striking resemblance to Connery who of course, still casts a long shadow over the franchise.

Daniel Craig (born 2 March 1968) is an English actor best known for playing British secret agent James Bond. As of writing he is currently filming his third 007 outing Skyfall which is due in November this year and will tie in with the franchise’s 50th cinematic anniversary.

I originally became aware of Craig when I saw the BBC’s acclaimed drama series Our Friends in the North in 1996. Encountering quality drama on television has become more of the exception rather than the rule since the medium’s heyday in the 60’s and 70’s and frankly I mostly find other things to do whilst it is on. However, just occasionally a piece of work appears that is not derivative and totally engrossing and Craig was fortunate to secure the role of Geordie. I purchased the DVD box set of “Our Friends in the North” last year and the passage of 15 years had not dimmed my appreciation of either the actors or the quality of writing.

I saw very little of Craig after that (and prior to his 007 debut) save for his appearance in Lara Croft (courtesy of my youngest daughter), and “Road to Perdition” with Paul Newman and Tom Hanks.

He faced the difficult challenge in 2012 of getting the Bond series back on track after the misfire of his second outing in “Quantum of Solace”. His debut in “Casino Royale” was excellent but the follow up lacked both focus and a suitably larger than life villainesque character. Reassuringly, and responding to such a landmark anniversary the franchise was back on track with “Skyfall” garnering near universally positive reviews.

Director Sam Mendes and the outstanding British cinematographer Roger Deakins dovetail well to produce a Bond movie with unusually dark overtones yet by the end, all the ingredients are back in place to move forward in more comfortably familiar terrain; the gunbarrel sequence, M’s office, a dutiful Moneypenny and a disbelievingly young Q.

Prior to the film’s release, it was reported that he had contractually signed to deliver five more Bond films but I remain sceptical this will happen. Assuming one new film every other year that would make him 54 when he completes his eighth outing and frankly he already looks a very mature 44. In addition, the physical demands on any actor in the Bond role are extreme to say the least. For now though, I take my hat off to him.

Recommended viewing

Our Friends in the North (BBC TV series) 1996

“Our Friends” was the biggest and most ambitious contemporary serial ever produced for BBC2. The corporation spent all of its 1996 drama budget on the series. The eleven hours took forty weeks to film and featured a cast of thousands with 160 speaking parts and 3000 extras.

The series charts the lives and loves of four individuals from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne between 1963 and 1995 in addition to examining the sociological and political changes in England over the thirty year period. The principal characters were Nicky (Christopher Eccleston), Mary (Gina McKee), Tosker (Mark Strong) and Geordie (Daniel Craig). Other notable characters were Nicky’s parents, Florrie and Felix (Freda Dowie and Peter Vaughan) and the ruthless Benny Barratt (Malcolm McDowell).

The programme scooped many awards, including BAFTAs for Best Drama Serial and Best Actress (Gina McKee).

Layer Cake (2004)

This is not a personal endorsement as I have little interest in gangland movies, but he garnered good reviews for his performance.

Casino Royale (2006)

Confounding the sceptics Craig arrived in top gear to breathe fresh life into the Eon franchise. Lacking Connery’s one liners but with more than sufficient physicality for the role, the new man is licensed to thrill and emotionally vulnerable. No Moneypenny and Q though. The sequel “Quantum of Solace” (2008) picks up the storyline again but the humour quotient is still woefully deficient and the plot lacks a suitable villain with the gravitas of an Auric Goldfinger.

Defiance (2008)

This movie is excruciatingly slow throughout its first half but perseverance pays dividends. “Defiance” tells the true story of three brothers, Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski who beat incredible odds and ultimately kept thousands of Jews safe from being murdered by the Nazis and their supporters. The settings, costumes, cinematography and acting are all first rate, but the development of lead roles and even supporting characters is ponderous to say the least. There are a number of unresolved emotional issues at the film’s end, yet Craig remains an object lesson in studied concentration and credible in his combat scenes.

Recommended reading

Craig has merited little more than ‘scissors and paste’ star biographies to date with little real insight into the man.

Some Kind of Hero The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films (Matthew Field & Ajay Chowdhury) 2015

Supported by a hundred new interviews with the stars, directors, writers, filmmakers, studio executives and the men who played James Bond, “Some Kind of hero” charts the changing fortunes of Albert R. Broccoli’s Eon Productions amidst the ups and downs of a volatile British film industry.

Lacking only fresh insight from Connery himself, the book offers valuable recollections from all the other Bond actors and key personnel involved in this long running film franchise.

A major literary endeavour – 600+ pages – the book will remain a strong contender for obligatory updates.

Surfing

YouTube

The usual mishmash of TV interviews on vacuous shows like Jonathan Ross but don’t hold your breath for any revelations.