Live and Let High! Current James Bond actor Daniel Craig, along with Naomie (Miss Moneypenny) Harris and two-times Bond director Sam Mendes, have all appeared in high positions in the Film 50 Power List 2017, which appeared in the UK’s newspaper The Times on Saturday, February 4th.
The List, which is a detailed survey of the Top 50 British actors, directors, writers, composers, producers and studio bosses, is based on an assessment by The Times of who they think currently wields most power and influence in the British film industry as we enter 2017. While top earnings and big film budgets are all part of the assessment of ‘power’ in the List, other equally important factors include cultural influence and wider global clout. An additional 50 others are also part of the List, taking it to 100, but the newspaper decided to cover only the Top 50 in its news article on Saturday. Current 007 Craig was placed at no. 38 in the list of the Top 50, while the every-busy Naomie Harris came in at no. 23, and director Sam Mendes at no. 31. Interestingly, Pinewood Studios boss Ivan Dunleavy was placed at no. 2.
During the course of the List countdown, The Times offered its view of the Top 50 ‘movers and shakers’ in the British film industry and added some mini-commentaries on each of the entries, although – as ever – we should be very cautious about some of the information and comments the newspaper offered.
For Daniel Craig, for example, the newspaper commented: ‘To be or not to be Bond? That’s the question that hangs over the franchise as Daniel Craig dithers over playing 007 in a fifth movie, out in 2018. Millions hang in the balance and negotiations are rumoured to have reached stalemate’. However, the Times noted that, ‘either way’, Craig is ‘much in demand’, has four Bond films to his name, and ‘gave the franchise its mojo back’.
In the Top 50 entry for Sam Mendes, the 007 speculation was also a ghost at the feast. According to the Times, the 51-year old director ‘would be higher in the list if we knew he was directing the next Bond film’. After overseeing Skyfall and Spectre, Mendes, in the newspaper’s view, ‘would be the natural choice’ for the next Bond movie, ‘but like his potential 007, Daniel Craig, his participation is uncertain’.
Naomie Harris, who was deservedly placed ahead of some big-name British actresses in the Top 50 List, was praised by The Times for her recent ‘scalding’ success and, in the estimation of the newspaper, ‘has finally become a serious Hollywood player with her standout turn in Moonlight‘. Significantly, the Top 50 profile in The Times came shortly after the award-winning actress was interviewed in the same newspaper just a week previously, on January 28th. In a pre-Oscars profile Naomie gave to the ‘Saturday Review’ section of the newspaper, the Moneypenny actress was inevitably quizzed about the current Bond situation and her possible participation in Bond no. 25. She responded: ‘I would be very upset if I wasn’t in the next one, but we just don’t know. I met Barbara [Broccoli] a couple of weeks ago and I said, “Come on Barbara, what’s happening?” And even she didn’t know. And I believe her. If she knew, believe me, she would’ve told me’. Naomie’s highly acclaimed Moonlight will be released in the UK on February 17th.
Spy Another Day
Meanwhile, Sam Mendes, who was recently said to be linked to a new spy project entitled The Bureau (a series which will explore the early origins of the British domestic Security Service MI5), will soon be back in the theatre to direct Jez Butterworth’s new play The Ferryman, which is the story of four generations of one family in Northern Ireland. It will commence at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on April 24th, 2017.
And, after his highly successful run in Othello at the New York Workshop Theatre in December and January, all eyes will now be back on Daniel Craig as he ponders his future as 007 during 2017. As the JBIFC has noted before, Craig last took the opportunity to explain some of his thinking on Bond in an interview given in the autumn of 2016 in New York. He gave a rare live interview on the evening of Friday, 7th October, at the New Yorker Festival at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. At one stage in the interview, which was conducted by New Yorker magazine scribe Nicholas Schmidle, the conversation turned (unsurprisingly) to the hot topic of Ian Fleming’s secret agent and, perhaps inevitably, to the wave of rumours that have swirled around Craig’s status as 007 over the last year or so.
Referring to comments he had made in an interview with Time Out magazine in 2015, very shortly after he had completed work on the 24th 007 movie Spectre, he repeated his previous explanation about the context of the interview and the tiredness he had felt at the time: ‘When asked 20 feet from the end of a marathon, will you do another marathon? The answer is simple: no, I won’t. But the things I get to do on a Bond movie and the type of work it is, there’s no other job like it. If I were to stop doing it – just say – I’d miss it terribly. It’s one of the most thrilling things as an actor you can do’.
Staying on the topic of Bond, Daniel also commented further to the interviewer that: ‘I love this job. I get a massive kick out of it. And, if I can keep getting a kick out of it, I will. I’ve got the best job in the world doing Bond’. His legions of fans are now hoping that this will mean some very good news in 2017.
Publicity still for Craig’s recent smash-hit stage play ‘Othello’ (he played Iago alongside David Oyelowo as Othello)