For me the choice is simple. Who else but Daniel Craig. For two reasons…the first being that I really enjoy his movies and have done so before he became Bond. Back in the day when not too many people had heard of him (or so I think was the case).
And more fittingly, because he is the only Bond I actually enjoy. Pre-Craig, I couldn’t be bothered with 007 movies, the odd snippets I had seen were just, dare I say, kitsch and cheesy and just not my cup of martini, oops, tea…especially where a dude has silver bits (or was it diamonds in his face?) or some people prance around glass palaces. Anyway…back to the topic at hand…
I had initially noticed Daniel Craig in I Dreamed of Africa but only when he appeared in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (cringe, did I just admit to watching that?) did I consciously register this actor but hey, he still wasn’t in many movies at the time (or it was just pre-IMDB and I was none the wiser). But then came L4yer Cake (2004) and that’s where he was absolutely fantastic. And note-worthy. Re-watching it this last month, I recognised the Bond he was to become.
L4yer Cake (yes, L4yer) is one of those brilliant British movies (think Lock, Stock… or Snatch) where a successful (businessman) drug dealer, ? as we never know his name (Daniel Craig) decides he wants “out” but of course it isn’t that easy. Just as he decides to call it a day he is tasked with one last job: to find the daughter of a seriously influential friend of his boss. This task in itself isn’t easy and to complicate matter more (I mean, why not? We wouldn’t have a story otherwise), the stakes go up with a huge number of Ecstasy pills needing to be moved coming into the mix (no pun intended). layer after layer of back-stabbing, gangs, lies and a pretty lady (Sienna Miller) are stacked upon each other, make for an interesting watch. No longer knowing who to trust our unknown leading character must navigate his way through this dangerous mess.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching L4yer Cake again for the first time in many, many years because it is just such a great movie but because it was so interesting to see Daniel Craig in a role that I felt almost gave hints of what was to come. Obviously, this wasn’t the case but I definitely felt some Bond recognition. Then again, I guess it is the style of the actor that makes the character. In fact this scene just sums it all up:
Oh, and to see Tom Hardy, wow, I couldn’t even remember he was in this one – not the biggest role but still fun to watch. Sir Michael Gambon and Colm Meaney star as the double-crossers yielding the power. All in all, L4yer Cake is well made with the layers (yes, picture a cake made up of different criminal layers) adding to the one already there i.e. our nameless dealer just wants to get out of the business but one job is added to another, one challenge to the one before making for an interesting end.
Well, then we have a total opposite of a role for Daniel Craig. Another one that I saw pre-Bond i.e. pre-Casino Royale. Here I saw what a brilliant actor Mr Craig is, how he delivers such contrasting roles to perfection. Or, at least I think so. The Mother is the movie I’m talking about now.
Here we have Darren (Daniel Craig of course), boyfriend of Paula and repairer of Bobby and wife Helen‘s conservatory. But, that’s the simple part. The complexity is that we have mother of Paula and Bobby, May (Anne Reid). Still all good, right? Well, not for long because while May is staying with Bobby and Helen in London, she is introduced to Darren. The form a connection around art and well, ultimately other things. Darren is also a married man. I think you see this is all one complex family setup but the movie revolves around May and the relationship (let me say that we’re not talking about just “friends”) she has with Darren but also with her children. May fears she will become an “invisible old lady” but also struggles to come to terms with her depression while raising her children and the effects this has had on them.
While this isn’t a feel good movie by any means, it is thought provoking (controversial?) and raises interesting questions around family relationships, growing older and parenting. But, it shows what a versatile actor Daniel Craig was/is. He is able to take on complex characters and portray them perfectly – from the quiet (and destructive) handy-man to passionate lover.
Granted, The Mother is definitely not for everyone but after having seen this and the previously mentioned L4yer Cake, I was totally hooked on an actor I’d never heard of before. And one who, at that time, wasn’t so well known as he is now.
And he’s the only reason I ever watched Casino Royale. I honestly wouldn’t have bothered otherwise. I’m not sure (and I’m not really interested, sorry 🙂 ) what the previous Bond movies were like, but ever since Casino Royale, I’ve enjoyed them (ok, exclude Quantum of Solace).
For some more reading on non-Bond Bond actor movies, head on over to Real Weegie Midget Reviews or Pale Writer for their You Knew My Name: The Bond not Bond Blogathon.
PS: Gill and Pale Writer, I’m sorry I’m late – I had in my mind that I still had today. Arghhh, the calendar in my brain is a bit out at the moment. Could we use the excuse…ahm…Daniel Craig?