James Bond Casting Director Recalls Outrage After Hiring Daniel Craig

News that Daniel Craig was to play James Bond in “Casino Royale” was met with an “unbelievably negative” response.

CASINO ROYALE, Daniel Craig, 2006, (c) Sony Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Daniel Craig, “Casino Royale”

©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Debbie McWilliams might not be a household name, but her work as a casting director has shaped the legendary James Bond franchise for three decades now. McWilliams is the casting director responsible for hiring Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. With Craig exiting the 007 franchise after the upcoming “No Time to Die,” McWilliams joined Entertainment Weekly to reflect on the actor’s casting ahead of his Bond debut, “Casino Royale.” The casting director said she “felt sorry” for Craig after his casting led to extreme blowback from press who thought Craig didn’t fit the part of Bond.

“It was unbelievably negative, I have to say,” McWilliams said about the reaction to Craig’s casting. “The press response was awful and I felt so sorry for him, but in a funny kind of a way I think it almost spurred him on to do his damndest to prove everybody wrong. The whole way through the film, stuff would come out about [how] he couldn’t walk and talk, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t drive a car properly, so much stuff which was completely and utterly untrue. And he just kept his head down, got on with the job and then the film came out and everybody went, ‘Oh wow, I think we quite like him after all.’”

McWilliams added that “Craig’s going to be a tough act to follow.” Craig’s debut in “Casino Royale” earned acclaim, and the film was largely credited with reigniting worldwide interest in the Bond franchise. Craig’s tenure with the Bond franchise would include “Skyfall,” widely considered one of the greatest 007 movies ever made.

“There was a massive search before he was cast and it had started out as a slightly different slant on things,” McWilliams said of casting Craig. “Originally the story of ‘Casino Royale’ was meant to be a sort of new, young tryout growing into James Bond rather than the fully formed character, but we struggled to find anybody who could fill those shoes…Then as time went by they decided, let’s just stick with the old formula and let’s look at it again. And that was after a long, long search and Daniel became the obvious choice to me in the end.”

“No Time to Die,” Craig’s Bond swan song, debuts in theaters October 8.

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James Bond Casting Director Recalls Outrage After Hiring Daniel Craig