This weekend Daniel Craig appeared on Saturday Night Live to promote the (eventually) forthcoming Bond film, No Time To Die. Bond 25 was recently pushed to November due to global fears over Coronavirus, but Craig was already booked for the slot and so cracked jokes about how suave and Bond-like he was nonetheless.
Craig's opening monologue saw him mention that they had Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board to help with dialogue, joking that he would be turning to the camera to ask the audience, “Is it bad that I fancy the pope?”
He also shared a sneak peek scene from No Time To Die in which Bond goes on a huge winning streak at the craps table, orders a pint of vodka Red Bull instead of a vodka martini and gives zero fucks about the identity of Spectre, or his mission. Hot on the heels of a very funny turn as Detective Benoit Blanc in Knives Out, the SNL sketch was a reminder of how hilarious Daniel Craig can be.
In the casino skit we see him convulsing as he shouts, “If I roll a hard four y'all gonna call me Simba, because I am the King of the Jungle”, then standing on a chair to bellow the Zulu vocals at the start of the 'Circle of Life'. The humour ends when the croupier, in fact a Spectre agent, pulls a gun on Bond, but the drama is short-lived after Bond takes him out before discovering he's rolled snake eyes and shoots the air in celebration.
Craig's time as 007 has seen him play the assassin as a steely and emotionally closed killer, the occasional wry line peppering a lot of very serious action. A break from the tongue-in-cheek humour of Roger Moore, or the debonair charm of Pierce Brosnan, Craig's Bond has been a gritty anti-hero which has made the franchise more cerebral.
Speaking to Esquire in 2006, Craig spoke about how Mike Myers' as Austin Powers had made Bond feel beyond parody: “By the time we did Casino Royale, [Mike Myers] had blown every joke apart. We were in a situation where you couldn't send things up. It had gone so far post-modern it wasn't funny any more.”
As such the Craig years have been imbued with a dry humour rather than many laugh-out-loud moments. It's suited this era of the franchise, giving him a cool edge and helping to turn 007 into a character that requires proper acting. It has turned Bond from a gun-toting, martini-swilling caricature into a character that can be taken seriously, well, at least semi seriously.
But it does mean that when we see Craig dressed in Bond's tux and in a casino, we're prepared for something against-the-clock and weighty. Instead when we get him pulling off his bow-tie to try and roll an eight for a woman wearing a green plastic visor, it feels like seeing your teacher let loose in Vegas, or your earnest CEO ordering a round of shots.
The chances of No Time To Die being a funnier outing for 007 were upped when it was announced that Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a virtuoso in comedic writing, was punching up the script. The trailer for the film did show some promise of humour to come with an amusing moment where 007 arrives at MI6 and has to awkwardly repeat his full name to a security guard who has no idea who he is.
Given that director Cary Fukunaga has many months of extra time ahead of the delayed release date for the film, perhaps it's worth calling Craig in to shoot some crap table scenes.
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