Before he was Bond: Daniel Craig.

As a person who abhors violence and is sick of boys either ruling the world with violence or fighting back against violence using violence, you might not guess that I am a huge James Bond fan.

But, I am. And yes, I know that makes you take my personal anti-gun stance less seriously. But what can I say? Although I am not old enough to have seen firsthand and enjoyed many of the classic James Bonds movies starring Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, or Timothy Dalton, I AM old enough to remember being very excited when they picked Pierce Brosnan to be the new James Bond for 1995’s “Goldeneye” (exact thought, circa my teenaged self: “Remington Steele as James Bond, that is so hot.”) and saw most of his outings in the theater.

They were so bad. But, on the other hand, they were so bad you could enjoy them as pure camp. Which I did.

But then Daniel Craig came along and did this to the franchise:

But here’s the thing about Daniel Craig. He’s a lot more than just Bond.

If you follow the link above you’ll see Craig’s massive IMDb resume as an actor. His earliest roles are listed starting in 1992, but the performance of his that I’m most concerned with here is his turn as Detective Sergeant Andy McLoughlin in 1997’s adaptation of Minette Walters’s thriller The Ice House.

Have you seen it yet? It’s one of my all-time favorite literary adaptations/BBC productions. The basic story is this: a decomposed body has been found in a deserted ice house (a type of underground brick bunker where things were kept cold before the advent of refrigeration) on the grounds of the local manor house. Living there currently are three women rumored to be lesbians, although the owner of the house (Phoebe) was previously married, has two children, and is suspected by the locals of having killed her husband ten years previously–although the husband’s body was never found.

Has it been found now? That’s the question the police, including McLoughlin, arrive back at the manor house to answer. Typical thriller hijinks ensue, with the household help turning out to have police records of their own, numerous people in the village revealing secrets of their own, and always, always the question: Did Phoebe do it? How much do her two friends know?

What is not typical about this production is the energy between Craig and one of the female leads, Kitty Aldridge*, playing Anne Cattrell. When they’re together, you simply can’t look away. And although some of the interactions are circa-1990s clumsy (actual dialogue: “because I’m thinking with my prick”), overall you get the sense that these are two complex people who just may stay together to challenge each other. Or not. They’re probably not going to end up together, but who the hell cares? The sexual tension’s a lot of fun to watch for 3 hours (two 90-minute episodes), so the happy ever after, which will most likely not be forthcoming, shouldn’t really be your concern.

It hit me just now, typing this up, that another thing I loved about this story and adaptation is that for once women were not really the victims. They were in the sense that the community was threatening them and they were suspected murderesses (and there is another part of the story’s back story that includes sexual violence to another woman**), but unlike seemingly 99% of today’s thrillers, the lovingly detailed violence here is not against a female victim. YAY! And yay Minette Walters.

And Craig? Yeah, he’s dead sexy here. Check it out. And in the meantime–tell me if you’ve got any fave pre-Bond Daniel Craig roles. He was also hilarious in this Comic Relief story where he falls in love with Catherine Tate. (He likes martinis AND he’s got a sense of humor–WOWZA.)

*Fun trivia: Aldridge is married to Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler; they have two kids.

**In thinking back, yes, there was some violence against women in this movie. But it never really seemed like the women characters in this film were victims. I really, really liked this movie.

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