Mikael Blomkvist, the hero of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is fair piece from the shaken-not-stirred of Daniel Craig’s James Bond persona. But that broad leap from indelible character to indelible character is certainly Craig’s acting M.O., whether on stage—or on screens large and small. No matter what part he plays, Craig slides so naturally into the role, it hardly seems like acting. But of course, it is—very skillful acting.
Educated at the Barbican’s Guildhall drama school, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the 44-year-old British actor is classically trained, and before becoming a bona fide movie star when he assumed 007’s mantle from Pierce Brosnan in 2005, he’d long been a fixture on the London stage. In 1992, he starred in the Royal National Theatre’s London production of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America.
Craig appeared on British television and in smaller films, before landing roles in larger movie projects like Road to Perdition (2002), Enduring Love (2004), and Munich (2005). But then came Casino Royale, and the search for the sixth incarnation of Ian Fleming’s hero James Bond.
Craig’s Bond has a harder edge and takes a more serious angle than either Brosnan’s or Moore’s. Perhaps not quite as dark as Timothy Dalton’s, but certainly more successful at playing the iconic role, Craig earned a BAFTA Best Actor nomination in 2006 for his portrayal in Casino Royale. The film also proved to be the highest grossing Bond film of the decades-long movie series to that point—no small feat for a 50-year-old movie series.
In interviews, Craig has noted that he’s not sure whether Bond (who is, ultimately, after all, an assassin) is a good guy or a bad guy, lending his character a wonderfully conflicted world-weariness. Hero or anti-hero, Craig’s 007 certainly is compelling. Following on the success of Casino Royale a second Bond film, Quantum of Solace was released in 2008, with a third, the 23rd entry into the Bond opus, Skyfall, due out this autumn. And Craig has not lost his love for the theatre, starring on Broadway with Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain in 2009.
Currently, Craig stars in David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, playing the male protagonist Mikael Blomkvist, a discredited journalist hired—at least on the surface—to write the memoirs of Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). The actor imbues Blomkvist with a blend of gravitas and confidence, seemingly shaken only when a bullet nearly takes his head off, but deeply stirred by his brilliant, but deeply troubled research assistant Lisbeth (Rooney Mara). It’s a perfect role for Craig, playing the humbled successful journalist who uncovers more than he’d hoped on a small island off the Swedish coast.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will be released on Blu-ray and DVD March 20, and is now available for pre-order.