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SYFY WIRE Daniel Craig

No Time to Die: How Steven Spielberg and Eric Bana Convinced Daniel Craig to Play James Bond

Imagine being the dude who passed on Bond!

By Josh Weiss
Screenshot 2024 05 01 At 4.29.54 Pm

On October 14, 2005, Daniel Craig was officially confirmed as the sixth big screen iteration of British super-spy, James Bond. His tenure in the role of the martini-shaking MI6 operative would ultimately span five blockbuster films, culminating in 2021's No Time to Die (now streaming on Peacock).

Not only was it the first Eon-produced Bond movie directed by an American filmmaker — True Detective alumnus Cary Joji Fukunaga — it was also the first entry in the long-running espionage franchise to kill off its titular character. That's only something you can get away with when your leading man has become inextricably linked with the role, and Craig really knocked it out of the park. He nailed it so perfectly, in fact, that it's a little hard to imagine anyone else headlining the most recent era of 007 adventures. What you might not know, however, is that he considered turning the part down until Steven Spielberg and Eric Bana set him right.

For More on James Bond:
Daniel Craig explains why his James Bond had to die
'No Time to Die' director on building James Bond a city – and the unnoticed Easter egg hidden within
No Time to Die Director Reveals Scrapped Ideas for James Bond’s Unprecedented End

How Steven Spielberg & Eric Bana Got Daniel Craig to Accept James Bond Role

Daniel Craig, Steven Spielberg and Eric Bana pose together.

While breaking down some of his most iconic characters for Vanity Fair in 2021, Bana recalled how Craig was offered the role of James Bond during production on Spielberg's historical spy thriller, Munich (now available to own from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment).

"Steven and I were getting in his ear like, 'Dude, you have to play James Bond,'" Bana said. "There's a scene in Munich where Daniel and I are storming a private villa in the middle of the night. It was right at the point where Daniel had to make a decision about whether he was gonna play Bond or not. Daniel and I have to jump over a fence and creep through the grass and approach this house. Steven got a Bluetooth speaker out and on 'Action!' he played the Bond theme during the take. We climb the fence to the James Bond theme, came through the bushes, and were running down the road whilst the music was playing. Then [Steven] yelled 'Cut!' and Daniel was like, 'You bastard! What are you doing?!' It was so much. It was a good challenge trying to keep a straight face."

As longtime Spielberg fans know, the celebrated director attempted to land a Bond movie twice in his career: once after Jaws and once after Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The young filmmaker was rebuffed both times by producer Cubby Broccoli, and "now they can’t afford me," Spielberg joked in 2016.

Despite those rejections, he still got the last laugh when Eon used the iconic five-note sequence from Close Encounters in 1979's Moonraker. Several decades later, Spielberg explored his love for 007 in Catch Me if You Can when charismatic con artist Frank Abigail (Leonard DiCaprio) sees Goldfinger for the very first time.

With Craig now retired from the Bond universe, the search is on for a new actor take on the mantle. Nothing is confirmed just yet, but The Fall Guy (now in theaters) star Aaron Taylor-Johnson does seem to be the frontrunner at the time of this writing.

No Time to Die is now streaming on Peacock.