It feels like just yesterday that Daniel Craig was anointed as the ‘new’ James Bond. But somehow the former bit-part TV actor is now the second-longest tenured 007, and his career outside the series has grown to be equally as successful.
Among many, here are our top five performances by Craig.
Director Sam Mendes got the idea of directing a James Bond film while talking to a drunken Daniel Craig at a Broadway-after party in 2009. Two years later, the two were collaborating on Skyfall, now the highest-grossing Bond film ever and the 7th highest grossing film in history at the time.
After the minorly disappointing Quantum of Solace, Craig regained his footing in his third series appearance. Like any good Bond would do, he remains masterfully steely while racing through the streets of Istanbul on a motorbike, covertly escorting boss M to a secret hideout, and trying to sweet talk the film’s femme fatale.
Casino Royale (2006)
Many wondered how Daniel Craig, who was relatively unknown and did not have the typical ‘Bond look’, would fit as the new 007. But his debut placed a proverbial silencer on his critics, as Casino Royale became a box office smash and currently sits as the fourth-highest rated 007 film on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 95%.
There were also questions on whether the inclusion of a poker scene was just a ploy to capitalize on the online casino and poker boom of the time (and that’s still going strong today, evident by the increasing number of sites dedicated to these kinds of games). But that scene, in which Craig defeats villain Le Chiffre in a game of high stakes hold’em, has gone on to become one of the film’s most iconic.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Even amid scheduling conflicts with other films, Craig won the lead role of Mikael Blomkvist over the likes of Pitt, Depp, Clooney, and other stars. Playing a disgraced journalist, Craig puts forth a top-notch performance alongside Rooney Mara as they investigate the disappearance of a business mogul’s niece 40 years after the fact.
The second adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s posthumous novel, the film and Craig’s performance, in particular, received heavy praise (86% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), particularly in his scenes with chief villain Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård).
Layer Cake (2004)
Before he was Bond, Daniel Craig was…XXXX? This role as a mysteriously-named London drug lord reportedly landed Craig the Bond gig and looking back it’s not hard to see why. As the film’s protagonist slash anti-hero, Craig shows the big screen bravado that would soon become familiar to the world.
The role allowed him to show off his skills in a variety of scenes that would soon serve him well, including tense negotiations, foot chases, and of course sultry seductions.
Road To Perdition (2002)
It was a smaller role, but getting screen time alongside the likes of Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and Jude Law in Road To Perdition no doubt helped prepare Craig for the mega roles he would soon take on. It also put him into contact with director Sam Mendes, who later would be his director for Skyfall and Spectre.
In Perdition, Craig plays Connor Rooney, Newman’s unloved but surly son. It’s a little weird to watch him without a British accent, but nonetheless, Craig still captivates while he’s on the screen.