Remarkably, it’s still a mystery … Daniel Craig in No Time to Die. Photograph: Nicola Dove/AP
No Time to Die is belatedly released on 30 September. To mark the occasion, you get to grill 007. So what do you want to ask the man about to cast off the most coveted tux in cinema?
The Guardian-Catherine Shoard
Nineteen months after its original release date, the 25th James Bond film will finally be seen in cinemas at the end of the month. It was the first major film to be postponed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; many are banking on its eventual appearance marking an end to deep industry uncertainty.
The film itself is still, remarkably, swathed in mystery. Five years after the capture of Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld, Bond has retired to Jamaica, but is then enlisted by CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) to help search for a missing scientist.
The chief love interest looks to be Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann, who may or may not have some impactful news for our hero. The chief villain is, probably, Rami Malek’s mysterious, mask-and-anorak wearing megalomaniac, who may or may not also be a bit of a blast from the past.
Craig’s tenure as 007 has been nothing if not dramatic. Outcry over his blondness when he was first enlisted for 2006’s Casino Royale was replaced by appreciation for his grittiness, emotional depth, eagerness to do his own stunts and ease in a pair of speedos.
The Quantum of Solace wasn’t quite such a success, but the two movies made with Sam Mendes – Skyfall and Spectre – were critical and commercial smashes (the former remains the best-performing Bond movie of all time). The latter was also evidently hard work for its hero: Craig broke his leg early in the shoot but, still committed to the verisimilitude of the action sequences, soldiered on in agony. It was this gruelling experience that reportedly led him to reply with some scepticism when asked if he’d return to the role.
He did, of course, but No Time to Die also had considerable teething troubles, with Danny Boyle and co-writer John Hodge exiting the project citing “creative differences”, to be replaced by Cary Fukunaga, with series regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade scripting – with help from Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Following the release of No Time to Die, Craig is reprising another immaculately suited crime-buster: detective Benoit Blanc in the sequel to Knives Out. For some, his mad-accented turn in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit was their first real introduction to the range of an actor who, pre-Bond, had a career whose course seemed impossible to chart.
After training at Guildhall and small roles in film and bigger ones on the stage, Craig made his breakthrough in the TV series Our Friends in the North as the magnetic and amazing-haired Geordie, before his first film lead, in 1997’s Obsession and debut starring part in the West End: Hurly Burly at the Old Vic.
Craig was a Jesuit priest who plotted to assassinate Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and the lover of Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi) in Love Is the Devil. In 2001, he starred opposite Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider before his first collaboration with Mendes, mobster drama Road to Perdition. Then came two standout and idiosyncratic romances: as Ted Hughes opposite Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sylvia Plath in Sylvia, and as a builder who romances Anne Reid in The Mother.
Other pre-Bond turns included Layer Cake, Enduring Love and Steven Spielberg’s Munich as well as a man cloned by his father (Michael Gambon) in Caryl Churchill’s much acclaimed A Number at the Royal Court theatre.
Once Bond came along, Craig kept evading the pigeonhole with work in films such The Golden Compass, Defiance, Dream House (opposite future wife Rachel Weisz), Cowboys & Aliens, The Adventures of Tintin and Logan Lucky as well as turns on Broadway opposite Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain and David Oyelowo in Othello. He and Weisz also led a revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal with Rafe Spall in New York.
In the recent short film Being James Bond, Craig credits Jackman with helping him cope with – and even enjoy – his vertiginous rise to fame. This relaxed attitude is borne out by his involvement in occasions such as the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, apparently parachuting with the Queen from a helicopter above the stadium and ushering in the Weeknd in an episode of Saturday Night Live taped last spring and memeified ever since.
So: some substantial fodder for questions – and that’s before you’ve got into his views on the EU, politicians and, most recently, the “distasteful” nature of inheritance. Post your posers for the outgoing 007 below and we’ll do our best to ask him as many as possible. Comments close on Sunday at midnight BST; you have no time to digress.