From the start, Daniel Craig was looking ahead to his final outing as James Bond.
This week on The Hollywood Reporter‘s “Awards Chatter” podcast, the actor shared that he first asked that his Bond be killed off after learning how many movies he was expected to star in.
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“I was sitting in the back of a black Mercedes driving away from the Berlin premiere of [2006’s] ‘Casino Royale’ with [producer] Barbara Broccoli in the back — just me and her — everything was good, the movie was doing great, it was like, ‘We’d done it, it was time for a bit of celebration,'” he recalled.
“I said, ‘How many of these movies do I have to make?’ And she was like, ‘Four.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, really? That’s a lot.'”
That was when Craig offered his plan to upend the franchise by having his iteration of the iconic British spy killed off at the end of his run.
“I said ‘OK, if I make four can I kill him off at the end?’ And she paused, and she just went, ‘Yes.'”
He explained, “I had a sort of plan in my head, I don’t know what the plan was, that if we got it right and if we got it to a place, then they needed to reset.
“And to properly reset you need to get rid of one idea of it and start another idea of it. And I just felt like, ‘Get rid of my version and someone else can start, and they can start their version.’ But it also meant that what I could do is there could be some sort of arc, emotional arc, that I could aim for, and that something he does or has to do means he has to end and that he can’t be around anymore.”
The actor added, “And that was a really, really difficult story to figure out, but I knew that if we got it right then it would be the ultimate sacrifice, but the ultimate sacrifice for a good reason.”
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While Craig would star in five Bond movies — not four — his plan to kill off the character came to fruition in the recent “No Time to Die”, and reflected his desire for his death to have real emotional stakes and resonance.
“He didn’t commit suicide, there was no choice, and basing it around a love story and a family love story seemed to me to be the obvious thing,” he said of the storyline that leads to Bond’s death in a missile strike at the end of “No Time to Die”.
“I and [director Cary Joji Fukunaga] and [screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge] all had a lot to do with the end. We wrote it. I scribbled stuff down on paper what I thought it was. Phoebe scribbled her magic over it. It came together. We just had to get the right reasons. And the right reasons were ones where there was a diabolical villain who did something diabolical that there was no going back from, and the only thing that he could do to keep the people he loved alive was to sacrifice himself.
“And it felt right. And he went out a happy man. He was fulfilled.”
Craig also remembered his final day shooting on “No Time to Die”, over a decade after his first outing as Bond.
“That last day on a movie set is always a fairly anti-climactic thing. You go, ‘Bye, see you, lovely working with you, see you again soon,” he said.
Talking about the hundreds of cast and crew gathered at the end for his sendoff, Craig admitted, “It was very difficult not to get emotional. It wasn’t about the fact that it was over. It was about the people who were standing around me were the reason that I went to work every day.
“And I realized that at that point, that that was the reason. I just looked around, I went, ‘I come to work for you guys.'”