Before I get to the meat of this piece, I want to go ahead and lay all my cards on the table. I am a James Bond fanatic and have been since 1994. While I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember, the Bond franchise was my first true cinematic obsession. I didn’t want to seek them all out and learn everything I could about them. I HAD TO. I don’t think I need to explain such a feeling to you, as I’m sure you all know it. I’ve spent almost two thirds of my life obsessed with all things Bond and will likely continue to do so until the day I die.
I usually do my best to keep my pieces for this site short and sweet, but this is a rare occasion where I am allowing myself to be long-winded. If that bothers you, I’m sorry. Consider yourself warned. Now, let’s get down to business…
Producer Michael G. Wilson wants Daniel Craig to become the longest running James Bond of the franchise. Yep, he wants his current lead to finish out with a total of eight films. No official deal is in place at this time, but the sheer fact that he is making this desire public shows that it is likely more than just spitballing on his part…
“Daniel’s been a terrific Bond, a superb actor and a terrific man. The fans love him and I don’t think there’s a better actor to play the part,” Wilson told the paper at last Monday’s premiere of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’.
On the subject of extending Craig’s contract, he said: “It’s certainly something we’ll be discussing with him once we finish shooting Skyfall.”
“Filming has gone very well so far and I’d love Daniel to surpass Roger’s record and do eight pictures. Daniel’s been an absolute pleasure to be around because he takes the role so seriously. There’s really no one more passionate about making these films work than him – he’s a film maker’s dream.”
“A lot of people have said Daniel’s been their favourite Bond since Sean Connery and I can’t argue with them. He’s doing a great job.”
So there you have it. Skyfall is shooting right now for release next fall and a 2014 release is practically a done deal for Bond 24. Craig has first refusal rights* on the latter and will more than likely sign the dotted line, so he will at least be tying with Pierce Brosnan for 4 installments with the series. Will he be willing to go beyond that? It’s hard to say.
For better or worse, he has yet to be proven a box office draw outside of the franchise. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is gearing up to become a hit film (and potential second franchise) for the actor, but that comes from being based on a popular trilogy of novels. Will Craig be able to stay on top after Bond? While things could certainly change, at the moment it appears doubtful. Sticking with Bond for the long haul would allow Craig to remain on top of the industry for another decade and offer him the freedom to do virtually any project (be it studio or indie) we wants between entries. On the flip side, it would cement him as Bond even deeper in the public consciousness for the rest of his life. Then again, even Connery has and will always be viewed first and foremost as James Bond……..despite having a very successful career after leaving the franchise behind. If the shoe fits, why not just wear it proudly? The only actors that have been able to escape the character’s shadow are George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton, but that has more to do with the fact that they only made a combined three films in the role than anything else.
If he goes for the golden gun, EON will be behind him all the way……whether he re-ups for another contract or pulls a Moore and does it on a film-by-film basis. With the exception of passing on using Brosnan for a fifth time, EON have always stuck by their actors. They attempted (and failed) to keep Connery around for both On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Live And Let Die. They fully intended on continuing with George Lazenby before he wrongheadedly walked out on the role after one film. The never tried to retire Roger Moore, instead letting him choose to do so himself after filming A View To A Kill. Hell, they even took Goldeneye to Timothy Dalton before ultimately recasting the role.**
If he enlists for Wilson’s proposal (with a HEFTY payday) and assuming they keep to the “every other year” schedule, Daniel Craig would conceivably be portraying 007 through 2022. That would make him 54 years old upon the release of his eighth outing. He will have starred in 8 Bond films over the course of 16 years…………and would still finish out a full four years younger than Roger Moore did in his last appearance. As our own Princess Kate has already stated, you can bet that Craig will probably still be in top shape at that point, unlike Sir Roger. While I’ve never had a problem with Moore’s performance in his later films, he was definitely looking his age.
Craig is approaching a crossroads in his career. He will forever be remembered as Bond regardless of his choice, so which path should he take on this issue? Realistically, I’m not sure I have an answer to that question. Either route could turn equally beneficial or sour. Now that Wilson has openly admitted their desires in public, I suspect we’ll be getting some sort of answer to this whole situation in 2012…………which (not so) coincidentally happens to be the 50th anniversary of Bond’s big screen debut in Dr. No.
Removing logic and care for the well-being of Craig’s future as an actor, what does the MASSIVE Bond fan within me want to scream to the heavens?
HELL YES! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!
When 2006 rolled around, I was ready for a new Bond. Hell, I was really ready for a new spin on the franchise after walking out of theater during Die Another Day‘s opening weekend four years earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Pierce Brosnan in the role. I still enjoy Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies very much. Unfortunately, the two that followed them left a lot to be desired. Despite DAD’s record grosses, apparently EON thought so as well. As we approach the release of Skyfall next year and the presumed debut of Bond 24 (2014), it pains me to think of the series going through another shake-up so soon. Anyone who has discussed it with me in the forums or elsewhere knows that I’ve been hoping Craig would stick around for AT LEAST five films. I would love for us to end up with another long-term Bond who is around for at least a decade. Could that change after the next two entries? Of course. Come 2014, I could easily be walking out of the theater and saying that it’s time for EON to move on. Craig and/or EON could also decide to opt out of the contract at some point on down the line before we reach that eighth installment.
The real issue isn’t whether or not Daniel Craig should play Bond five more times after Skyfall. The issue is whether or not we are excited about the PROSPECT of him having a longer than usual run with the character, instead of already spending time fancasting his inevitable replacement.*** I want you all to wipe any fancasting from your mind and focus on the only question at hand: Do you want to see Daniel Craig potentially continue in the role for up to eight films? I expect plenty of responses both below and in the forums, be they “yay” or “nay”. You know how I feel about it. Now let me know how you feel…
* – The standard Bond Actor contract is the same as the typical Hollywood franchise contract: three films, with an option for a fourth.
** – Dalton was actually still under contract for the role. After the release of his second outing, 1989’s Licence To Kill, EON was hit with a barrage of legal issues. By the time things we cleared up years later in the early 90s, Dalton felt that enough time had passed that they should move on. He easily could have insisted on starring in it and they certainly could have forced him if they wanted to. Instead, everyone did the classy thing and parted ways as friends……which is something that usually doesn’t happen in show business.
*** – Would Michael Fassbender be a great James Bond? I have no doubt he would be. It’s not going to happen though. Even if Craig vacates the role in the next few years, Fassbender will not be his replacement. Just like McGregor, Jackman, and Owen were never going to replace Brosnan. You can carry on as much as you want to about it, but it isn’t going to change anything. EON has never really been one to go for the “obvious” choice and they certainly won’t do it whenever the time comes to pick Bond #7…………be it 3 years from now or 11.