As the build-up continues to Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 in the Covid-delayed No Time to Die, a look at some of the actor’s other roles on film. Some you will no doubt recall, others could be worth discovering for the first time.
Layer Cake (2004) – Amazon Rent/Buy & STARZ Player
This was the role that apparently clinched the Bond gig for Craig, playing an unnamed middle-class cocaine dealer who (at first) gets in over his head.
Matthew Vaughn’s debut movie (which plot-wise bears a distinct resemblance to Guy Ritchie’s later RocknRolla) provides a fine showcase for the actor, with his smooth exterior gradually chipped away by a succession of WTF? moments revealing the budding crime lord within.
Vaughn gives London the sheen of a Michael Mann picture, making sure to enlist an impressive blend of established (Michael Gambon, Kenneth Cranham) and up and coming talent (Tom Hardy, Ben Wishaw).
The chemistry between Craig and co-star Sienna Miller is palpable…
Munich (2005) – Amazon Rent/Buy
Craig oozes charisma as Israeli hit-squad driver Steve in his last film role before Casino Royale.
Admittedly he doesn’t have all that much to do in Spielberg’s gripping picture, but when he does, he makes an impression, for instance in the scene where the team unwittingly share a safe house with the PLO:
Munich is also notable for the fine performance by the late great Michael Lonsdale, who brings real gravitas to the part of information broker Papa.
Infamous (2006) – Amazon Buy
Overshadowed by the previous year’s Capote, Infamous depicts the events surrounding the diminutive author’s ‘non-fiction novel’ In Cold Blood.
Craig takes the role of murderer Perry Smith, who with criminal associate Richard Hickok (Lee Pace) slew all four members of the Clutter family after a failed robbery.
Capote (Toby Jones) establishes a friendly relationship with Smith, but we are led to believe that the writer secretly wants the pair to be executed, in order to end his book on an appropriate note of finality.
Craig delivers the goods as Smith, going head to head with the excellent Jones, who (for many) captures the essence of Capote.
Flashbacks of a Fool (2008) – Amazon Rent/Buy
I have a soft spot for this meandering tale of a washed up/coked up English actor Joe Scot in Hollywood (Craig) and the tragic events of the past that soured his life. South Africa stands in for California in video director Baillie Walsh’s only dramatic film to date.
A strong cast also includes Felicity Jones, Emilia Fox, Jodhi May, Helen McCrory, James D’Arcy, Olivia Williams, and Keeley Hawes.
Defiance (2008) – Netflix
Edward Zwick (Glory)’s true-life story of the armed resistance by Belarusian Jews against the invading Nazis and their local collaborators.
A traditional WWII movie in many ways, with plenty of combat sequences to keep the action fans satisfied whilst making sure that there’s enough character development to appeal to a wider audience.
Craig stars as partisan leader Tuvia Bielski, with Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell as his brothers Zus and Asael.
All three put in solid work, with the accents all a few notches down from Tom Hardy/Kenneth Branagh faux Russki territory.
Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998) – BFI Player
An early eye-catching role for Craig in John Maybury’s portrait of ghoulish artist and Soho habitué Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi).
Daniel Craig plays burglar George Dyer, who becomes Bacon’s lover in a tortuous relationship that resulted in his death from a fatal mixture of booze and drugs. Craig puts in a committed turn as an old school bruiser adrift in the demimonde, echoing James Fox in Performance (1970).
The Adventures of Tintin (2011) – Netflix
Daniel Craig’s second picture with Steven Spielberg couldn’t be more of a contrast to Munich.
A relatively faithful take on three Hergé stories (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure), the computer-animated movie gives Craig the opportunity to exercise his underrated vocal talents as snobbish baddie Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine.
Although recognisably Craig, he really does give the character a life of its own.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Amazon Buy
I may be part of the relatively small club that prefers David Fincher’s adaptation of the Stieg Larsson novel to Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 original movie.
Aided by a much larger budget ($90m vs $13m) Fincher elevates the material with superb cinematography and a first-rate cast, not least Craig as the flawed but righteous journalist Mikael Blomkvist.
As in Layer Cake, Craig has an ability to convey sheer panic through his eyes, notably in the scene where a bound Blomkvist is about to be tortured by Stellan Skarsgård’s twisted Enya-fan Martin Vanger.
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Some may say why no Enduring Love (2004), The Mother (2003) or Road to Perdition (2002) rather than Jon Favreau’s flop graphic novel adaptation?
In my defence, all I can say is that I enjoyed this dopey genre mash-up as one of those movies that you may well end up watching if it’s on the box and you can’t be bothered to deep dive into the EPG.
Craig plays (with a vibe vaguely reminiscent of Robert Redford’s Sundance Kid) an amnesiac outlaw who teams up with grizzled cattle baron Harrison Ford to stick it to invading aliens intent on mining Earth’s gold – with a side order of human experimentation.
Knives Out (2019) – Amazon Prime
Rian Johnson’s Sleuth homage gives Craig the opportunity to essay a more playful part than usual, as Benoit Blanc, a curiously accented super sleuth brought in to investigate the apparent suicide of acclaimed mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer).
He could be suspected of channelling Albert Finney’s idiosyncratic take on Poirot (Murder on the Orient Express, 1974) in his gleeful undermining of the conventions of the genre (‘I suspect foul play’), but, at least in my eyes, that’s all to the good.
And lets not neglect Craig’s work on TV, which has included hits (Our Friends in the North, Moll Flanders), misses (badly miscast in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour) and the odd undiscovered gem, for example his turn as the truly nasty Gilbert Stokesay in Thames TV’s magnificent adaptation of Angus Wilson’s Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (1992).