Daniel Craig Was 'Haunted' By His Half-Naked Beach Scene In Casino Royale

With "No Time To Die" in the rear-view mirror, can we all agree "Casino Royale" is the best Bond movie? If it weren't for the 2006 reboot, Sean Connery would remain the undisputed Bond king, and who knows, maybe the famed super-spy and his decades-old franchise would have fizzled out as society moved into the modern-day.

Thanks to Daniel Craig's broody and embattled take on Bond, and the general "gritty reboot" trend of the early 2000s, 007 was reinvigorated for a new generation. Yes, before Bond once again became a parody of himself, for a brief moment we were all treated to a glimpse at a truly 21st Century 007 that still remained true to Ian Fleming's original vision. Craig's scarred bruiser of a spy gave the impression that beneath the icy bravado and suave affectation, there existed a real person.

It seems Craig maintained some of that icy bravado off-camera too. Looking back at "Casino Royale" in 2021, he recalled being "So uptight, not uptight but just kind of jangling nerves about everything, because everything was just so important, so important" during filming. The actor clearly couldn't relax with the weight of a Bond reboot on his shoulders, which luckily translated to a searingly intense performance on-screen. That may've also made him a bit of a killjoy during production, like when he refused to join his co-stars' off-screen poker games because he "had other things to think about." Even after "Casino Royale" was a success, the actor repeatedly played down his experience as Bond, at one point infamously remarking he would rather "Slash [his] wrists" than play 007 again.

In general, Craig treated his tenure as Bond with self-deprecation and awkward forced humility during interviews — especially when talking about one of the most memorable shots in "Casino Royale."

Subverting Bond

For all the emotional complexity beneath James Bond's surface in "Casino Royale," the film was packed with memorable action scenes and stunning visuals. Whether it was the Parkour sequence in the opening moments or the taut poker game itself, director Martin Campbell made sure to include as much style as he did substance — all the while subverting the classic Bond tropes audiences had come to expect.

A particularly memorable shot recalled a famous moment from the first Bond movie, "Dr. No," wherein Ursula Andress's Honey Ryder emerges from the ocean in an ivory cotton two-piece bathing suit. This shot alone helped launch the relatively unknown Andress to fame back in 1962, and caused quite a stir in pop culture due to its apparent embrace of the female body at a time when Western society was still outgrowing the more buttoned-down culture of previous decades. The suit itself reached almost $150,000 when it was auctioned off by Christie's back in 2001 and was expected to reach almost $500,000 when it went back up for auction in 2020 (no final figure was announced).

In "Casino Royale," Campbell seemingly both subverts and pays homage to Andress' indelible scene by having Bond himself emerge from the Bahamian waters in a similar fashion. In an inversion of the male gaze approach taken by director Terence Young in '62, Daniel Craig's 007 can be seen in all his sculpted glory, rising from the ocean and surveying the beach in a pair of, frankly, unbelievably tight pale blue trunks. It was an image used across the promotional material for "Casino Royale" and one that turned Craig into somewhat of a sex symbol, as well as reinforcing his more muscular spy.

Clever stuff — or at least it would be if the whole thing wasn't an accident.

'I had no idea I would be haunted by it'

Speaking to The Guardian in 2008, Daniel Craig explained that the original intent for the scene was to have him swimming in and out of frame:

"It was actually by accident. Where we filmed, off the Bahamas, it's just one of those places where there is a sand shelf and the sand shelf happens to be three feet deep. Because the idea was, I was supposed to swim in and sort of float off, but I swim in and stand up. And it was just one of those things."

The actor admitted he was vaguely aware the shot would be interpreted as an homage to Ursula Andress in "Dr. No," but quickly shifted into his characteristic self-deprecation by stating, "I had no idea I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life." I'm sure it was frustrating to have developed a complex take on James Bond for "Casino Royale," only to be repeatedly asked about the scene where he's got his shirt off. But it's not as though the film wasn't celebrated for other reasons too.

Yes, the blue trunks sold for almost £45,000 at auction and everyone made a fuss over the beach scene. But "Casino Royale" became the highest-grossing Bond movie ever upon its release, eventually making $594 million the global box office. Critics also heaped praise on Craig's performance as Bond, and the franchise as a whole was successfully revitalized for a new era. If you have to endure some questions about being shirtless, it doesn't really seem that big a price to pay. Evidently, Craig, who was still in his "I'm more than Bond" mode, felt otherwise. Luckily, he seems to have softened on the whole thing since then.