Daniel Craig knew within days of Casino Royale’s release that he wanted James Bond to die.
The 54-year-old actor made his debut as the suave spy in the 2006 blockbuster, which served as a reinvention of the long-running franchise, and hadn’t expected his tenure to last more than one movie.
But after seeing the universally positive reception to the film, he asked producer Barbara Broccoli to come up with a long-term plan for his character.
He told Sunday Times Culture magazine: ‘I was driving away from the Berlin premiere of Casino Royale with Barbara Broccoli. 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.”‘
Despite the agreement, Daniel returned for a fifth movie, 2021’s No Time To Die, but he admitted planning for Bond’s death had to be kept secret because studio bosses weren’t thrilled at the idea of killing off the iconic character.
He recalled: ‘I said, “This is it. I don’t want to do any more.” If we kill Bond, we can begin again. I think Barbara thought that too.
‘But, bless them, the studio, MGM, were, like, “What are you talking about? Are you out of your minds?” There was reluctance. So we had to do it in secret, really.’
The film saw Bond killed in an explosion after opting to stay on an island after being deliberately infected by a biological weapon that would mean he could never again touch his lover Dr. Madeleine Swann, played by Lea Seydoux, or their daughter, and Daniel felt it was the right way to bow out.
He said: ‘Real tragedy is when you have absolutely no choice. 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.’
Daniel previously addressed the outdated James Bond plotlines of past films in the franchise – such as the idea of glamorous disposable so-called Bond girls.
He told Lorraine: ‘Certainly a lot of what went on in the earlier movies is sort of questionable now… different times, but we didn’t want to lose the essence [in the new film]. It’s still a Bond movie.
‘I’ve been given free range to put my influence on it, but I’ve never forgotten that. We can have all key elements and things people have loved over the years, but you adapt.
‘One of my biggest things is all the characters, especially the women, have to be brilliant and believable.’
Daniel also told Lorraine about becoming overcome with emotion when he shot his final scene as Bond.
‘Everybody turned up – all the heads of department came down, and I thought “Oh God, I have to make a speech, this is my worst nightmare.” It all just came out, I tried to keep it together.
‘All of those people I go to work with every day, particularly on this movie, the collective effort was so huge and meant so much to me that everyone put that hard work in – that’s what I’ll miss so much.’