Younger Actors Lacked 'Gravitas' and 'Mental Capacity' to Play James Bond: Casting Director
Super spy James Bond has been portrayed as British and male throughout the entirety of the character’s on-screen existence.
Apparently, there was one more crucial characteristic that the masterminds behind “007” noted during the critical recasting of Bond for 2006’s “Casino Royale” — and that was a certain level of maturity.
Speaking to Radio Times as part of a larger Bond blowout, franchise casting director Debbie McWilliams revealed that younger actors simply weren’t ready for the “responsibility” of the role.
“We did look at a lot of younger actors,” McWilliams told the outlet.
The soft reboot of the movie franchise 17 years ago was meant to chronicle the beginning of James Bonds’ career (you see his “first kill” in one of the film’s earliest scenes), so it would stand to reason that McWilliams would look at younger actors to portray the British agent.
The problem with the younger actors that auditioned?
“I just don’t think they had the gravitas, they didn’t have the experience, they didn’t have the mental capacity to take it on, because it’s not just the part they’re taking on, it’s a massive responsibility,” she said.
Radio Times noted that one younger actor who auditioned for the Bond role in “Casino Royale” was the most recent actor to don Superman’s iconic red cape on screen: Henry Cavill.
But Cavill’s loss (and others’) was ultimately Daniel Craig’s gain, as the latter secured the role and five total films thanks in no small part to his “gravitas,” “mental capacity” and “experience.”
Of note, McWilliams did stress that “experience” doesn’t necessarily mean “famous.”
“A certain audience had heard of Daniel Craig, but much more the kind of independent cinema audience,” she told Radio Times. “He hadn’t done any huge commercial film at all, really – [2004 film] ‘Layer Cake’ I suppose was the most popular, should we say, of the things he had done prior to Bond, but he wasn’t a hugely well-known actor.”
McWilliams pointed out that other Bond actors weren’t exactly established names in the film industry, perhaps throwing a little cold water on fan expectations of a well-known name being cast as the next Bond. (Craig retired from the role after 2021’s “No Time To Die.”)
“Timothy Dalton was known, but he was known as a Shakespearean actor, really,” she said. “Pierce [Brosnan] was known, but that was basically from television. Roger Moore was known from television. Sean Connery wasn’t [known] — nobody had ever heard of him.”
I spoke to the legendary Debbie McWilliams – casting director on the Bond films since 1981 – about the most challenging role to cast, her proudest moment on the series, and how you pick the next 007#Bondat70 #70yearsof007 #BondTwitterhttps://t.co/DoTh0Px3tw pic.twitter.com/iBLlKKKJYI
— Morgan Jeffery (@morganjeffery) April 13, 2023
McWilliams, for her part, has been integral to the ongoing success of the James Bond film franchise.
She has been with 007 since 1981 and has helped oversee the casting of all the actors she mentioned; Dalton, Brosnan, Moore, Connery, Craig and whoever will eventually replace Craig.
That last bit is of particular fascination for Bond fans, as Craig was a generally beloved version of James Bond, leaving behind a rather large pair of Crockett & Jones “Highbury” shoes to fill.
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