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Why Daniel Craig Decided to Leave His James Bond Role

Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/ Getty Images for Omega/ Cropped
Photo Credit: Mike Marsland/ Getty Images for Omega/ Cropped

Actor Daniel Craig has played the role of James Bond for 16 years (2005-2021), making him second only to Sean Connery for the longest time as 007. For many, particularly newer fans of the franchise, he might as well be synonymous with the character as he’s all they know. Yet Craig decided that No Time to Die, the 2021 release, would be his last time in the role. He finally opened up about why he made that decision.

This article contains spoilers for No Time to Die and the James Bond franchise.

Taking on the role

It was 2005 when Daniel Craig was approached by Eon Productions which wanted him to take on the role of James Bond. This was following Pierce Brosnan’s departure from the franchise after he starred in 2002’s Die Another Day. Surprisingly, Craig was extremely hesitant about Bond. He was concerned about both becoming a household name and trying to emulate the acting style of those who’d taken on the role before him.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in a black suit, sunglasses, and holding a large gun.
Daniel Craig as James Bond in a publicity still from Casino Royale, 2006. (Photo Credit: Dolo_Dolo/ Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Columbia Pictures/ MovieStillsDB)

After some convincing from friends, family, and the producers, he finally agreed to do Casino Royale which would be the first of many movies. Craig wasn’t the only one with hesitations, however. When it was announced that he would become Bond, the public was openly concerned that he simply didn’t fit the same image that had been curated in the past. Nonetheless, he proved his worth when the film came out, earning much praise for his acting.

Years in the making

What the public didn’t know, however, was that even back in 2006 Craig was preparing for his departure from the role after only just getting it. In an interview with the UK Times after leaving his role as Bond in 2021, he explained that he made an agreement with producer Barbara Broccoli after the incredible success of the Berlin premiere of Casino Royale. 

Daniel Craig as James Bond straddles a motorcycle in the middle of a busy street.
Daniel Craig as James Bond in a publicity still for Skyfall, 2012. (Photo Credit: Zayne/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists, and Columbia Pictures/ MovieStillsDB)

He recalled, “I had genuinely thought I would do one Bond movie, then it would be over. But by then we knew we had a hit on our hands. I realised the enormity of it, so I said to Barbara, ‘How many more? Three? Four?’ She said, ‘Four!’ I said, ‘OK. Then can I kill him off?’ She said, ‘Yes.'” As it turns out, she honored her statement and the two of them worked to make this happen, despite a lot of pushback from MGM Studios.

Going out with a bang

Once No Time to Die was underway, Craig simply felt: “This is it. I don’t want to do any more.” Yet it was also important to him that his Bond went out in the right way. “We had to find a way to make his death no choice. It was the happiest Bond had ever been because he’d found exactly what he was looking for. Like everyone on Earth, he was just looking for love.” He tasked the creation of an ending that would show his character’s humanity to Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in a white shirt, suspenders, and dark pants.
Daniel Craig as James Bond in a publicity still for No Time to Die, 2021. (Photo Credit: michaella92/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and United Artists/ MovieStillsDB)

Craig’s decision was not only something that made him happy and allowed him to move his acting career in a different direction, but it also meant the James Bond franchise could do so as well. He stated, “If we kill Bond, we can begin again.” Although there was initially a lot of pushback to this, he had Broccoli in his corner.

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As of December 2022, no one is officially slated to replace Craig, despite many names being tossed around as possible candidates.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.