Daniel Craig made his debut as the iconic James Bond in Casino Royal (2006). The movie served not only a fresh Bond, but rebooted the super-spy franchise with a new time line that allowed the plot to precede everything that had taken place before it. Craig has deftly delivered a grittier, more authentic representation of the worlds most famous spy.

With three Bond movies under his belt and his fourth, Spectre set for worldwide release in November, fans are speculating whether Craig will continue to portray the character beyond his current contract. The actor has signed on for one more installment after Spectre and discussion is already rife regarding possible replacements – once Craig does hang up his Tom Ford suit for good.

The Bond movie franchise is one of the longest running of all time (Spectre being the 24th addition in 53 years). The 23 movies released have cumulatively grossed $11.6 billion and Craig is the sixth actor to play the spy. Craig has discussed his role with the Mail Online, revealing what drew him to the part and his thoughts about his future involvement:

“I remember saying, “If this is the last thing I do in my career, then that would be OK” because come on – it’s not that bad a role to have under your belt….. But after Casino Royale I panicked a little about people only seeing me a certain way and I started thinking, did I need to play someone totally opposite from Bond? But as time goes on, I’ve relaxed about that attitude.”

This role has arguably bolstered Craig’s career advantageously. Bond is a man of few, albeit very quotable words and it is his finesse in subtly conveying the inner workings of the character that largely contributes to the movie’s success. The recent installments have allowed for a less suave version of Bond that humanize him by examining his psychological conflicts, past traumas and origins (due to be explored with Spectre). As Craig put it:

“He’s a killer. He kills for a living….But it’s an honor to play him. I get such a big kick out of doing it. I had an opportunity with Casino Royale to wipe the slate clean….. Although I’m not saying it was a rebirth of Bond – that sounds conceited – I was a huge fan of Bond before.

“But I couldn’t just do a movie where I would straighten my tie and drink a Martini. It’s all been done. It had to happen in the right way. And we’ve done that. That for me, as an actor, is so important.”

Spectre Lea Seydoux Madeline Swann Spectre: Daniel Craig Discusses His Future As James Bond

When asked if he would reprise his role after Spectre‘s follow-up, the 47-year old actor gave an expected non-committal answer:

“It’s getting harder. But such is life. I’ll keep going as long as I’m physically able. I’m contracted for one more – but I’m not going to make predictions.”

Bond movies have the unusual license to transcend period to be re-imagined as contemporary stories. This character survives multiple versions, actors and styles and this has become the signature of the franchise, fittingly representing the context of covert government operations and even the man 007 himself. In theory, the future success of Bond should not pivot on Craig’s involvement, but with current themes matching his enigmatic performance so artfully – and with the James Bond movie distribution rights edging towards availability – one has to wonder where the franchise will take us when that time comes.

With two more Bond installments featuring Craig yet to reach theaters, though, there is still time left for the actor to fulfill his personal commitment to this icon. After that, we’ll have to wait and see if he’s both still “physically able” and willing to continue on as 007.

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Spectre opens in U.K. theaters on October 26th, 2015; it arrives in the U.S. shortly thereafter, on November 6th.

Source: The Mail Online

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