Danel Craig was born in 1968 in Chester in Cheshire. He had been building up a solid reliable portfolio of work when he became the sixth actor tp olay James Bond in “Casino Royale” in 2006. His early performances include the wonderful television drame “Our Friends from the North” in 1998. He also gave a terrific performance in “The Mother” in 2003 with Anne Reid. The next Bond film was “Quantum of Solace”. Recent work includes “Defiance” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.
Though he enjoyed a deal of anonymity early in his career, actor Daniel Craig was launched to international stardom in 2005 when he was named as Pierce Brosnan’s successor to play the role of James Bond. Following years of over-the-top action and reality stretching plotlines, Craig helped to bring the Bond franchise back to its grittier espionage roots with the critically hailed “Casino Royale” (2006). Prior to his portrayal of Bond, Craig appeared in films like “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) and “Road to Perdition” (2002), before garnering attention as an unorthodox drug dealer in the British crime thriller “Layer Cake” (2004). From there, he earned more kudos for “Enduring Love” (2004) and struck fear as a single-minded Mossad assassin in “Munich” (2005). But it was “Casino Royale” that turned the rising star into an overnight sensation, though his second go-round as Bond, “Quantum of Solace” (2008), was not as well received. Meanwhile, Craig delivered strong performances outside the Bond universe in the World War II drama “Defiance” (2008) and the much-anticipated American adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011), while making celebrity news for his marriage to English actress Rachel Weisz in 2011. Regardless of his succession of the Bond role, Craig possessed the talent and presences that would have made him a star regardless.
Born on March 2, 1968 in Chester, England – also known as the Walled City – Craig grew up in nearby Liverpool, where his mother studied art at university and his stepfather, the painter Max Blond, plied his craft. At 16, he moved to London to train at the National Youth Theatre and later graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1992, Craig made his film debut in the coming-of-age drama, “The Power of One,” wherein he played an Afrikaner soldier who beats and humiliates a white South African boxer (Stephen Dorff) trained by a black man (Morgan Freeman). Craig then appeared in “Genghis Cohn” (A&E, 1993), a satire about a Nazi SS officer (Robert Lindsay) confronted with the ghost of a Jewish comedian (Antony Sher) he killed in a concentration camp. After playing a commoner involved in a forbidden love with King Arthur’s daughter in the children’s fantasy, “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court” (1995), Craig gained fame in native England playing a hapless musician turned homeless person in the BBC’s “Our Friends in the North” (1996), an ambitious nine-part serial about the lives of four friends spanning thirty years.
In the PBS adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s “Moll Flanders” (1996), he played the enterprising bride’s one true love. He next appeared in the romantic thriller, “Obsession” (1997), wherein he was one of several characters whose divergent lives cross in Berlin. The period biopic, “Love is the Devil” (1998), offered him an opportunity to expand his range. Playing petty thief George Dyer, renowned painter Francis Bacon’s lover and artistic inspiration, Craig earned critical kudos in a film otherwise subjected to mixed reviews. A return to PBS in “The Ice House” (1998) found Craig playing an assistant investigator who doubts the Chief Inspector’s conclusion that a recently discovered corpse is the dead husband of a woman previously suspected in his disappearance. That same year, he appeared in “Elizabeth,” the widely acclaimed historical biopic starring an Oscar-snubbed Cate Blanchett as the Virgin Queen.
After landing major roles in smaller projects, including the World War I drama “The Trench” (1999) and the late 19th century drama “Love and Rage” (1999), Craig earned a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a schizophrenic man adjusting to the real world after his release from an institution in “Some Voices” (2000). He next appeared in a supporting role in the bland and uninspired romantic adventure, “I Dreamed of Africa” (2000), starring a well-meaning Kim Basinger. Craig then made the jump to larger Hollywood fare, appearing as old flame and fellow tomb raider Alex West in the live-action take on the popular video game, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001), starring Angelina Jolie. In “Road to Perdition” (2002), he was the angry son of an Irish mobster (Paul Newman) who treats one of his hit men (Tom Hanks) like the son he never had. He next played poet Ted Hughes, husband to feminist icon Sylvia Plath (Gwyneth Paltrow), who committed suicide after he left their deteriorated marriage, in the uneven biopic, “Sylvia” (2003).
Craig caused a stir in the unsettling erotic drama, “The Mother” (2004), playing a man who beds a woman (Anne Reid) twice his age while sleeping with her daughter. The stark May-December romance earned rave reviews, but made little impression at the box office. After a stint as a university professor stalked by another man (Rhys Ifans) in the Hitchcockian “Enduring Love” (2004), he was an inmate at an institute for the criminally insane in the derivative thriller, “The Jacket” (2005). Meanwhile, the Bond rumors began to swirl amidst the release of “Layer Cake” (2005), a crime comedy from Matthew Vaughn, producer of “Snatch” (2001) and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1999). Craig played a cocaine dealer seeking early retirement who is forced by a crime boss to find the missing daughter of an old pal (Michael Gambon). Meanwhile, Craig was cast by Steven Spielberg to co-star in “Munich” (2005), the true story about the massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics and the secret Mossad mission to exact revenge. Craig delivered a razor-edged performance as the one member of the team who whole-heartedly embraces the righteousness of their mission.
Just prior to the release of “Munich” and after months of speculation, Craig was officially revealed as the next James Bond in October 2005, becoming only the second British actor to play the role, though he held the distinction of being the first blond. Initially, Craig was greeted with concern – and in some corners, outright scorn – from critics, who felt his blond hair and relatively short stature at under six-feet tall, went against author Ian Fleming’s original vision of the character. Adding injury to insult, Craig reportedly lost two teeth while filming a fight scene, but it turned out that he had simply lost a crown. Nonetheless, the media hounds enjoyed their continued snipping at the actor’s heels. When “Casino Royal” (2006) was released, however, critics suddenly changed their tune, stating that the film was one of the best in years and that Craig rivaled Sean Connery with his complex and in-depth take on the Bond character. Meanwhile, Craig starred opposite Nicole Kidman in “The Invasion” (2007), voiced Lord Asriel in “The Golden Compass” (2007), and played a hedonistic British actor nearing the end of his career in “Flashbacks of a Fool” (2008).
Of course Craig returned to the James Bond role for the highly-anticipated “Quantum of Solace” (2008), but fans were roundly disappointed with Craig’s second go-round because of a weak storyline and over-reliance on a flash-cut editing. Still, the actor was generally praised for his depiction of Britain’s most famous spy. Craig went on to star in director Ed Zwick’s World War II drama, “Defiance” (2008), in which he played a simple farmer who, along with his brother (Liev Schreiber), turns a group of Jewish refugees into a crack team of freedom fighters against the Nazi regime. He next starred in the high-profile “Cowboys & Aliens” (2011), a sci-fi/Western hybrid set in 1873 in which he played an unwelcome stranger in the fear-gripped town of Absolution who wears a mysterious wristband that helps in the fight against an alien invasion. While plans for the 23rd Bond movie were put on hold due to the financial struggles of MGM, Craig earned considerable attention for his starring performance opposite a completely transformed Rooney Mara in the U.S. remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011). Craig played crusading journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who investigates the 40-year-old disappearance of a woman from a wealthy family with an emotionally disturbed computer hacker (Mara). Once MGM put its house in order, Craig returned to play Bond in “Skyfall” (2012), in which 007 is presumed dead, only to be used by M (Judi Dench) to track down a notorious criminal (Javier Bardem) who has a crucial personal connection to both.
The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.