Friday, November 6, 2015


Daniel Craig, Toronto, September 11, 2004

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE BOND, a year before he signed on the dotted line. Before he became the sixth movie 007, Daniel Craig was an actor with a serious reputation known for his work on English film and television as well as the odd role in Hollywood films like Road to Perdition and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. I photographed him when he was at the film festival here in Toronto promoting Enduring Love, a small and intensely depressing British drama.

I doubt I'd have this sort of access to Craig today - or that he'd be allowed to present himself so casually to the press, at least as long as he's part of the Bond franchise. Shot in the standard festival hotel room, either at the Intercontinental or the Park Hyatt, I honestly don't remember which. I'd found my sweet spot of light in a corner of the room just past where the window light lost its sharp edges, and I'd shoot my portraits there whenever possible.

Good hotel room celebrity portrait shoots are always as much a matter of luck as skill. With no time to convince the subject to play a role or take part in a concept, you're basically doing a still life with a living subject, hoping that they'll meet you halfway at best, and able to summon enough life in their eyes to hide their exhaustion or indifference.

Pulling back to anything less than a head shot with a short lens usually means they lose their focus; not surprisingly, invading a subject's personal space with a camera forces them to engage with you, even if just defensively. In the assembly line of a press junket, it's imperative that you elicit something from your subject that can be read in the eyes, even if it's surprise or irritation.

Of course it always helps when your subject has eyes of an arresting, icy shade of blue.

Daniel Craig, Toronto, September 11, 2004

There would be a great hue and cry when Craig was cast as Bond - apparently he was too blonde, or not conventionally handsome enough. I didn't get it, but the protests melted away about halfway through the pre-credits bathroom fight scene in Casino Royale. The first Bond film with Craig was fantastic - easily the best Bond since Goldfinger, and if the next two were as good I'd probably be saying that Craig had done the impossible and edged out Connery as the best 007 ever.

But Quantum of Solace and Skyfall were grim and, despite the pyrotechnics, even a bit dreary, and while I still have a lifelong Bond fan's high hopes for Spectre, Craig's very public statements that he's tired and probably done with Bond suggest that the trend hasn't been reversed. And so Craig might vacate the role short of Connery and Moore's tally of appearances, beating Lazenby and Dalton and matching Pierce Brosnan's run as 007.

Which is fine, really. After all, Bonds are far more dispensable than we imagine - there have been more actors playing 007 than filling the roles of M, Q and Moneypenny - and part of the ongoing drama of the franchise is the ritual recasting, roughly every decade.

Perhaps Craig's Bond was a victim of the success of Casino Royale; maybe the new coarse, damaged 007 got too dark, too fast and it's time for the pendulum to swing back again to a lighter, more antic Bond. I'm trying to imagine who might fill that role - top contender Idris Elba could fit the bill nicely - but it'll take a really radical, misguided reinterpretation of Bond to stop this lifetime fan from adding each new film to my collection.

And with luck I hope to get a Bond villain in front of my camera one day.


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