No time for tonic: Daniel Craig shows Bonds just wanna have fun in Taika Waititi vodka advert

The former 007’s new commercial seems designed to show the world he’s a fun guy now. But Mr Intensity has always had a gift for comedy

If you have seen the new Taika Waititi-directed commercial for Belvedere Vodka, you will have almost certainly been struck by one profound, core-shaking question; is Daniel Craig actually having fun?

It certainly looks that way, doesn’t it? Although it begins as you would expect anything starring Daniel Craig to begin – there’s brooding, there’s black and white, there’s a tuxedo – it quickly bursts into life. Suddenly he’s in a leather jacket and sunglasses, sucking in his cheeks like Bet Lynch at the Rovers. He struts. He spins. He thrusts his crotch around with total impunity. He’s like Christopher Walken in the Weapon of Choice video, if Christopher Walken had been dressed like a member of Bros.

It’s a confusing thing to witness at first because, for the last decade and a half, Daniel Craig seems to have gone out of his way to present himself as Mr Intensity. He took James Bond – a film franchise full of space lasers and fake nipples and invisible cars – and turned it into a series about a monosyllabic nightclub bouncer. And this attitude persisted offscreen too; in perhaps the most famous interview of his career, Craig mournfully announced that he would rather slash his own wrists than appear as Bond again.

For the most part, the other films he made during his 007 stint didn’t try to convince us of hidden layers, either. In The Golden Compass he was flat and stoic. In Cowboys and Aliens he was flat and stoic. In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo he was very flat and incredibly stoic. In fairness to the man, in all these projects he was flat and stoic in the best possible way, but he didn’t strike you as someone who would necessarily make a booze advert where he had to dry hump the interior of a hotel lift.

That is, unless you looked a little closer. Some have said that the Belvedere ad is a deliberate focus-grouped attempt to reframe Daniel Craig’s public persona. After all, he has a Knives Out sequel out imminently, and his Benoit Blanc is a much lighter character than James Bond, so this could be seen as a way to clear the decks. His Knives Out co-star Dave Bautista has been underlining this point in interviews, telling Entertainment Weekly that Craig “was really put through it on Bond. You could feel that he was under a lot of pressure. He didn’t seem like the happiest person,” whereas he was chattiness personified on the set of Knives Out. And in the commercial itself, Waititi himself pops up at the end to tell Craig to “Just be yourself”; a clunker of a line designed to reinforce the point that Daniel Craig is fun now, guys.

But I’m not sure this is quite the 180 that this view would have you believe. If you could see past the tuxedo and the glare, Daniel Craig has always had big comedy potential. This isn’t just thanks to his choice of project – although in Logan Lucky he did seem to be busting a gut to show the world that he was a wild and crazy guy – but in the decisions he made in the more serious roles he took.

Looking back at his time as Bond, you really notice what a gifted physical performer Craig is. His films, in particular the last three, were studded with moments of delicate grace. The way he tugged at his cuffs after leaping on to a train, the half-skip as he hopped off a ledge, the look of total bewilderment on his face halfway through his first big No Time to Die setpiece. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a silent-era comedy. He was really, really very good at it. And, it’s worth pointing out, he was also the funniest stormtrooper in Star Wars history.

So this vodka advert might not be the dramatic pivot that some have claimed. But it is a sign that Daniel Craig is finally enjoying himself again. Long may it last.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
No Time to Die review – Daniel Craig dispatches James Bond with panache, rage – and cuddles
The long-awaited 25th outing for Ian Fleming’s superspy is a weird and self-aware epic with audacious surprises up its sleeve

Peter Bradshaw

28, Sep, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
Daniel Craig: post your questions for the actor ahead of his final Bond film
No Time to Die is belatedly released on 30 September. To mark the occasion, you get to grill 007. So what do you want to ask the man about to cast off the most coveted tux in cinema?

Catherine Shoard

14, Sep, 2021 @12:11 PM

Article image
Knives Out review – Daniel Craig goes Columbo in Cluedo whodunnit
Craig grills an all-star lineup of suspects when a wealthy novelist is found dead in Rian Johnson’s sharp, country-house murder mystery

Peter Bradshaw

29, Nov, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Never say never again: Daniel Craig ‘offered $150m for two more Bonds’
Despite ongoing speculation as to who might replace the actor, Sony have reportedly tried to secure Craig’s services for a further couple of movies

Catherine Shoard and agencies

05, Sep, 2016 @9:18 AM

Article image
Daniel Craig to have surgery on ankle injured while filming Bond 25
Producers say April 2020 release date will be unaffected by recovering star’s two-week absence from shooting

Andrew Pulver

23, May, 2019 @8:54 AM

Article image
Bond film delayed again after Daniel Craig hurt
Shooting suspended after star injured his ankle, adding another setback for the spy franchise

Andrew Pulver

14, May, 2019 @10:58 AM

Article image
James Bond producer: Daniel Craig still first choice
Executive producer Callum McDougall has told the BBC that franchise chiefs Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson are hoping the actor returns

Catherine Shoard

30, Sep, 2016 @11:33 AM

Article image
Daniel Craig stars in Heineken campaign ahead of new James Bond film
007 teams up with new female side-kick in $100m global ad campaign that launches on TV and in cinemas on Tuesday

Mark Sweney

20, Sep, 2015 @11:01 PM

Article image
David Thomson on Daniel Craig

Craig's Bond is thinking too much and doing too little

David Thomson

16, Oct, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
Taika Waititi wins best adapted screenplay Oscar for Jojo Rabbit
The New Zealand actor-director takes writing honours at the 92nd Academy Awards for his film based on a book about a Hitler-obsessed 10-year-old

Andrew Pulver

10, Feb, 2020 @1:45 AM