Most Impressive Debuts


Daniel Craig


British actor Daniel Craig signed a five-film contract in October 2005 to become the next James Bond

All it took was one shot in 2006’s Casino Royale—Daniel Craig emerging from the sea in a pair of sky-blue briefs, like a male version of Ursula Andress in Dr. No—to shake up the Bond franchise. The film series had grown moribund in the early part of the decade; gadgets like Die AnotherDay’s invisible car turned Bond into just another teen-boy commodity. Craig, with a physique that hinted at brutality and an attitude more antisocial than impertinent, put an end to the somewhat foppish, fantastical 007 and returned the franchise to the realm of adult guilty pleasure. The choice of the “blond Bond” paid off—both Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace were major hits commercially and critically (though in truth Quantum was a pale follow-up). More importantly, though, the franchise that has long stood for British gentility and dignity finally seemed up-to-date with modern espionage and modern filmmaking. Craig’s Bond could go toe-to-toe with Jason Bourne; Craig himself has been launched into the stratosphere, starring as a Jewish freedom fighter in Defiance and a Chicago cop in Broadway’s A Steady Rain.