James Bond Casting Director Recalls Intense Backlash Against Daniel Craig

In retrospect, Daniel Craig has been the ideal James Bond for the modern era; the actor’s ruggedly handsome looks and steely-eyed intensity offered a completely different spin on the iconic secret agent than fans had been used to, with his rough and ready 007 a long away away from previous interpretations that relied on suave charisma married to a twinkling charm.

Needless to say, a lot of longtime Bond supporters weren’t best pleased when Craig was first announced to be headlining Casino Royale, with petitions and campaigns springing up in an attempt to have him removed from the role. Of course, by the time the opening credits had even started on Martin Campbell’s 2006 reboot, the doubters had been well and truly won over by the bruising black-and-white prologue.

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, casting director Debbie McWilliams recalled the intense backlash towards Craig at the time, admitting that it was startling to witness firsthand.

“It was unbelievably negative, I have to say. The press response was awful and I felt so sorry for him, but in a funny kind of a way I think it almost spurred him on to do his damndest to prove everybody wrong. The whole way through the film, stuff would come out about he couldn’t walk and talk, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t drive a car properly, so much stuff which was completely and utterly untrue. And he just kept his head down, got on with the job, and then the film came out and everybody went, ‘Oh wow, I think we quite like him after all’. He’s going to be a tough act to follow.”

The leading man has been open with his struggles over becoming a household name overnight, revealing that Hugh Jackman offered a helping hand, having experienced the same thing some years previously when Bryan Singer’s X-Men turned the relative unknown into a movie star in the space of less than two hours. No Time to Die is almost upon us, and those who decried Craig at the beginning will no doubt be there on opening day to watch him bow out as James Bond, in what’s hopefully a fitting swansong.