Becoming James Bond was the role of a lifetime for Daniel Craig, catapulting him from being a little-known British actor to a global superstar – and making him a very, very, wealthy man, reportedly worth £116 million (R2,2 billion).
But initially, getting his licence to kill – when he took over the role of 007 from Pierce Brosnan with Casino Royale (2006) – brought Daniel nothing but misery.
The actor has admitted he felt “physically and mentally under siege” while trying to cope with his newfound fame as the iconic, debonair secret agent.
Speaking in the Apple TV+ documentary Being James Bond, the 53-year-old said that he wasn’t prepared for the level of scrutiny that came with the role.
“My personal life was affected by being that famous all of a sudden. I used to lock myself in and close the curtains, I was in cloud cuckoo land. I was physically and mentally under siege.”
The star said he made the mistake of reading numerous nasty comments about him online.
“I went online and stayed up all night and read everything, because that’s what happens if you do that. And it was tough, really tough – hate-filled,” he recalled.
“And I woke up the following morning, I went, ‘F**k it, I know the film is going to be good.’ I knew we were doing something really special.”
He credits fellow actor Hugh Jackman for helping him “come to terms with it and appreciate it”.
The Aussie actor, who starred alongside Daniel in the 2009 play Steady Rain, was approached for the role of Bond before Daniel but turned it down.
“I was also worried that between Bond and X-Men I’d never have time to do different things,” said Hugh (52), who played Wolverine in the comic-book franchise.
Daniel was prepared to pass up the chance to be Bond, but after he read the Casino Royale script he couldn’t say no to the role.
“As far as I was concerned, [at that point] I was already more successful than I’d ever be as an actor – I didn’t have a cool persona,” he says.
“Pierce had done Remington Steele, Roger Moore had done The Saint – they’d done these parts where people had gone, ‘That’s James Bond.’
“I’d done weird arty movies. It was a harder sell. And I didn’t really want to do it, because I thought I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I was going to get the script, read it, and say, ‘Thanks but no.’
“But little did I know it was Casino Royale [based on the first James Bond novel]. The story was solid, the script was solid.”
He starred in three more Bond films, Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).
In 2015 Daniel, who’s married to actress Rachel Weisz (51), with whom he shares a three-year-old daughter, infamously remarked that he’d rather “slash his wrists” than make another Bond film.
He later explained himself to talk-show host Stephen Colbert, saying, “Look, there’s no point in making excuses about it, but it was two days after I’d finished shooting the last movie. I went straight into an interview, and someone said, ‘Would you do another one?’ And I went, ‘No!’
“And instead of saying something with style and grace I gave a really stupid answer.”
With 15 years of Bond under his belt, Daniel is now the longest-serving 007, and he’ll make his final appearance in the upcoming No Time To Die.
*No Time to Die will be in South African cinemas on 1 October.
Sources: independent.co.uk, nzherald.com, dailymail.co.uk, menshealth.com