Daniel Craig's Journey To Hollywood Star

Daniel Craig is one of the most prolific stars working in Hollywood today. You probably know him best for his role as James Bond. However, when he nabbed the career-making role in 2005, it was a total surprise. As elated as he may have been initially, Craig grew to have complicated feelings about the character that made him a household name. By the time he'd completed 2015's "Spectre," Craig was so done with the role that he joked he'd rather die than do another film as the British secret agent.  "I'm over it at the moment," he told Time Out. "We're done. All I want to do is move on."  Well, fair enough. Sadly for him, he ended up filming one more — 2021's "No Time To Die."

It's a bit surprising that Craig would be so eager to move on, given how hard he worked to get there. Below, we chronicle Craig's journey to the top, starting with his humble beginnings as a drop-out waiter, to his A-list (and very private) marriage, all the way to his post-Bond career and potential plans for the future. If you're wondering about his opinion of the future of 007, though, don't ask us — or him — because he does not want to talk about it. When questioned by Time Out on the matter, he curtly said, "I don't give a f***" and again stated his eagerness to move on.

Daniel Craig always wanted to be an actor

Growing up in Merseyside, U.K., Daniel Craig discovered his love of acting in the audience of Liverpool's esteemed Everyman Theatre, renowned for cultivating rich theatrical talent like Julie Walters, Bill Nighy, and Pete Postlethwaite. "I saw some of the best actors of their generation and it was a home-from-home for me at the time," he told the Liverpool Echo about the theatre. "It was inspirational for me, seeing plays there, and being backstage in the theatre."

At 16, Craig appeared in his first Shakespeare production, "Troilus and Cressida," before studying his craft at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. However, his formative acting years also featured some of his least favorite memories of working on a stage. Speaking to The Guardian, he recalled that busloads of bored schoolchildren would come to his matinee shows — and promptly throw candy at him. "Eventually, I just got so weary of it I started eating them, which got a round of applause," he quipped.

One of the more influential lessons Craig learned from the stage was how to treat people on set. "I came up through theater and was taught very early on that you've got to look after each other," Craig told the outlet. That collaborative work ensured that he was also prepared for the similarly close-knit and creatively satisfying environment of the James Bond sets, with him stating, "It's one big family."

He waited tables while chasing his dream

Unlike some famous Hollywood stories, Daniel Craig didn't fall into acting — he wasn't discovered walking down the street and offered a dream role. Instead, he worked hard at his craft for years before getting his big break. Upon graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1991, he was immediately offered a small role in "The Power of One" which came out the following year. Over the next decade, Craig appeared in a lot of supporting or smaller roles as he built a name for himself around town.

But here's the thing, small inconsistent roles don't exactly pay the bills, and like so many other actors, Craig had to take a job as a waiter to make ends meet. "I was full-on silver service, bow ties, and, had to do cocktails and do the whole thing. I did that for years," he said during an interview with NPR. According to the actor, the odd waiting and catering jobs actually helped him hone his craft. Craig insisted that being a successful actor took the same skill set as being a successful performer. "You need a persona, I'm sure, as most waiters will tell you, just so you can ignore ... how rude people are a lot of the time," he shared. It's hard to imagine anyone being rude to Craig — or him putting up with it — but apparently, it was an invaluable experience.

He's close with his daughter from his first marriage

Here's something you may not know about Daniel Craig: he was married before Rachel Weisz. The actor's first marriage wasn't a long one, but the romance was seemingly hot and heavy as he and his first wife, Fiona Loudon, had so much in common. A few months after welcoming their daughter, Ella Loudon, the struggling actors said "I do" at just 23. Craig and Loudon divorced just two years later. He's the first to tell you that the marriage likely fell apart due to their young age. However, things have a funny way of working out, and while the heartbreak may have been hard, Craig sees Ella as the blessing of a lifetime. On the topic of becoming a father, he told the Mirror, "[It's] the most wonderful thing that'll ever happen to you."

As for Ella, she inherited her father's good looks and his love of acting, having spent most of her twenties working as a model before dipping her toe into the acting pond. In contrast, Craig is super private about his young daughters from his second marriage. However, he's been spotted out and about with Ella on multiple occasions. In 2022, for instance, the pair looked like twins while posing for photos at the "Glass Onion" premiere (above).

He was surprised to be cast as Bond

Daniel Craig reportedly did not expect to land the coveted career-making role of 007. He told The New York Times that when he was asked to audition, he assumed it was so the producers could flesh out the numbers — not because anyone thought he was a serious contender for the role. In fact, Craig believed producers had contacted him as a spare part — someone to help highlight the actual best man for the job. "I was just amongst the mix — someone to dismiss," he said. Craig added that while he thought he didn't have a chance at the lead, he was hoping the producers might throw him a bone and let him have a small role as a villain.

Nonetheless, series producer, Barbara Broccoli knew he was the one from the moment she saw him. "You just look in those eyes and you know he's capable of doing anything," she told GQ in 2020. As for Craig, he was a bundle of nerves on opening night, and almost burst into tears at the premiere when he heard chuckles in the audience. "I intellectualized all of it," he recalled. "'I know why they don't like me. I know why I don't like me. So I know why they don't f***ing like me,'" he explained. Thankfully, you know how the story ends — "Casino Royale" was a massive hit, and Craig went on to star in two more Bond films.

He enjoys a very private marriage

After the end of his first marriage to Fiona Loudon, Daniel Craig stayed single for a while. Eventually, he found his one and only in Rachel Weisz. The actors had actually known each other for years but it took a while to see a future together. They met in college and remained friendly, but it wasn't until they were cast in the same film in 2010 that things started to heat up. According to the Mirror, they were both in relationships at the time but quickly split with their partners. A little over a year later, they were married.

Craig and Weisz are an extremely private couple. Their wedding was also very small and intimate. The pair said "I do" in New York City in front of Craig's elder daughter, Ella Loudon, and Weisz's son from another marriage, along with two family friends. Seven years later they welcomed their daughter, Gracie. Even after more than a decade of marriage, the couple still strives to stay under the radar. "When you are young, you tell your girlfriends everything. One of the great pleasures of not being an adolescent is that you don't have to share everything," Weisz said in an interview with More Magazine (via Express). "When you're married, that door closes. The audience goes, and you're in your own life." The actor added that she simply isn't comfortable dishing details about Craig or their marriage, stating, "[Daniel is] just too famous. It would be a betrayal."

Daniel Criag isn't comfortable in the spotlight

Daniel Craig may be an international sex symbol and one of the most respected actors working today, but he isn't exactly comfortable in the spotlight. During a 2022 Q&A at the Montclair Film Festival (via GVN), the actor told Stephen Colbert that he's never particularly enjoyed the celebrity that comes with his job. "I used to hate [the spotlight], but I think that [it] was fame I didn't like. I had to get used to being famous, which is still so foreign to me," he said. As for why he felt so uncomfortable in the public eye, Craig had some theories about that too. The actor hypothesized that he didn't like attention because he felt like a lot of it was negative. "Everybody f***ing hated me," he joked.

Perhaps in light of that, Craig has long had a reputation for being something of a Hollywood curmudgeon. "I don't do much to dispel [that rumor]," he told NPR (via Female First). "I probably don't have a particularly good public persona. Some do. Some can go on talk shows and tell stories, but I'm just not wired that way." However, Craig insisted that despite what you may have heard, he's actually quite friendly and absolutely loves the industry and his job. "I just grew up in an era when, if you were trying to be an artist, you didn't look for approval," he added. 

Craig loves the theater

When he wrapped his tenure as James Bond, Daniel Craig went back to his roots. A few months after "No Time to Die" premiered, Craig made his broadway debut in Macbeth. "I couldn't imagine not doing it," Craig told Vogue of the play. As for the rehearsals, they were as intense as they were humbling as it was the first time he had been around so many acclaimed theater actors in a while. "It opens up everything and makes you realize you know very little, which is scary, but it allows for all the possibilities to come in," Craig said. "I don't have the hubris to say something like, 'We're going to save Broadway.' We want to do this play because I think we can put on a really good show."

Well, it turns out that he was half right. While Craig as Macbeth was the most exciting thing to happen on Broadway that season, it wasn't necessarily well-received. The New York Times theatre critic, Jesse Green, noted that while Craig performed well, the play fell flat and was too analytical for its own good, writing, "Despite the star power of Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga, the overthought production ... seems unsure of its welcome." Still, Craig seemingly served a good performance in what may have been an underwhelming production. But hey, it happens to the best of actors.

He has interesting plans for his fortune

Over the years, Daniel Craig has built up an impressive net worth, estimated to be $160 million as of 2022. While that vast fortune could easily be carried down to his two children, it would appear that Craig doesn't plan to leave them too comfortable. "Isn't there an old adage that if you die a rich person, you've failed?," Craig said during an interview with UK magazine Candis (via Women's Health). "... I don't want to leave great sums to the next generation," he continued. "I think inheritance is quite distasteful. My philosophy is get rid of it or give it away before you go." Rather than setting his kids up with a luxury lifestyle, Craig has focused on giving back by getting involved with various philanthropic efforts.

The actor is particularly interested in mental health and suicide prevention. In 2022, Craig made multiple donations to the U.K. mental health charity, Humber Bridge, per Grimsby Live. "We got a phone call from a lady in America saying she would love to make a donation after seeing an article about us," a staffer explained. "She didn't say who she was speaking on behalf of, but a donation came in shortly after, saying it had come from Daniel Craig." Craig also sent a signed photo from the set and, a few weeks later, reached out and made another sizable donation.

Daniel Craig received a Hollywood star

Other than a big bank account and name recognition, the only thing wanted in a critically acclaimed actor's life is a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2021, Daniel Craig finally earned himself one and became the 2,704th person to receive the honor. In a statement published by Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Walk of Fame producer, Ana Martinez, said, "Daniel Craig is a British cultural icon as is James Bond, the man he has portrayed in five 007 films. Fans will be thrilled when they see that their stars are appropriately located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard!"

The actor was just as excited as his fans. "The idea that my name will be alongside those of so many actors who have inspired me during my life is really quite incomprehensible and not something I could have ever imagined," Craig told Variety. "So all I can really say is that it is an enormous, mind-boggling privilege to have been invited to join the road." Whose star was Craig's placed next to? None other than that of fellow James Bond actor, Roger Moore — a personal fave of the star. 

In 2021, the "Knives Out" star named Moore's performance in 1973's "Live and Let Die" as being part of one of his favorite cinematic moments. For Empire, Craig recalled a cherished memory of seeing one of the film's standout action scenes by writing the simple phrase, "Cheering as Roger Moore danced over alligators."

He loves taking on producer duties

As Daniel Craig's career has flourished, he has become increasingly comfortable taking creative control over his roles. After debuting as James Bond to critical acclaim in the first three films, the actor signed on as a co-producer for the final two films. Long before he was a producer, Craig revealed that he'd actually negotiated a certain amount of creative control into his role. On an episode of the "No Time to Die" official podcast (via Independent), he revealed the self-proclaimed arrogant deal he arranged which won him the role, recalling, "I said to [producers], Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [G Wilson] ... 'I can't do an impression of something that's come before. I can't recreate what you've done before. Brilliant though that is, I can't do it. I can't come in and try and be something that people expect.'"

Despite his success as both an actor and a producer within the franchise, Craig isn't letting it go to his head. "All I really wanted to do was make a living out of [acting]," he told The New York Times. "I wanted not to have to wait on tables, which I'd been doing since I was 16. I figured that if I could do it and pay the rent, then I was a success." Clearly, he far exceeded his own expectations. 

Daniel Craig worked with Queen Elizabeth II

Undoubtedly one of the highest honors of Daniel Craig's career was working with the late Queen Elizabeth II for the 2012 London Olympics on a small sketch piece. The plot saw James Bond picking up his royal guest and transporting her across the city to make it to the opening games. Originally, Elizabeth's role was supposed to be silent, but when she heard the pitch, she reportedly had other plans. As detailed by Angela Kelly in her book, "The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe" (via People), when asked if she'd like a speaking part, Elizabeth was adamant that she would. "Without hesitation, Her Majesty replied: 'Of course I must say something. After all, he is coming to rescue me.'" As a "James Bond" fan, she chose to say, "'Good evening, Mr. Bond."

Craig told Radio One (via Express) that Elizabeth was a natural on set. "She was great. Calmer than me," he said. "[I'm thinking to myself] 'Ok, keep it together, keep it together.'" By far the hardest part of the shoot was working with the queen's dogs. "There's literally corgis tripping you up, there's like five corgis," he said. "If you put it in 'The Crown,' you'd think it was rubbish, they would be like, 'Nah, it's not real.' Footmen with corgis, you know. I was rolling round on the floor with the corgis at one point in the Palace."

Knives Out pushed his career in a new direction

It's easy to think of Daniel Craig as nothing more than our generation's James Bond, but since leaving the franchise he's made waves in new roles. In 2019, Craig made his comedy debut to favorable reviews in Rian Johnson's "Knives Out." In it, he played southern detective, Benoit Blanc, who is investigating the murder of the patriarch of one very dysfunctional family. "That script arrived and I was literally like, 'Are you kidding me?' I couldn't believe that [Johnson] wanted me to play it," Craig said during an interview with Empire

Not only was the script great, but being a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie movies certainly helped. Noting the similarities between the mystery adaptations of decades past and "Knives Out, he told NPR, "They were event movies with lots of big stars in them. Just sort of grand pieces of entertainment," he mused.

Craig's payout from the mystery franchise has been almost as lucrative as his role in "James Bond." For his stint as 007, Craig reportedly walked away with an estimated total sum of more than $85 million, per Stylecaster. As for "Knives Out" it's unclear how much Craig made for the first one, but for its two sequels he reportedly signed a contract of somewhere around $100 million. That might sound over the top to some, but according to Craig, it is worth it. The actor told Empire he thought the sequel was even better than the first –– if that's possible.