When Daniel Craig emerged dripping from the ocean in Casino Royale (2006), the universe of James Bond was as shaken as 007’s preferred martini. With his tiny blue swim trunks and a dramatically toned physique, the sea-drenched Craig instantly transformed the decades-old super-spy into a new kind of sex symbol: A rugged, body-confident hero as gawkable as any Bond girl. Though Craig swears the iconic beach scene happened by accident, it hardly matters. The moment not only impacted swimwear trends, but it defined Craig’s Bond for the decade to come. With Spectre (most likely Craig’s final Bond film) opening November 6, here’s a deep dive into Casino Royale’s splashiest scene.
Watch the famous beach scene from ‘Casino Royale’
The wet-and-wild moment comes early in the film, when Bond (Craig) travels to the Bahamas to track down Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian), a business associate of terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). The British spy takes a dip in the ocean, where he makes eye contact with Alex’s beautiful wife Solange (Caterina Murino), who’s riding a horse on the beach. And that’s all the set-up we need for Craig to emerge from the water. The camera seems to linger forever on Craig’s saltwater-drenched body; in fact, the shot lasts about thirteen seconds.
So why did this fleeting scene make such a big impression? For one thing, it was heavily played up in the film’s advertising. Craig had been a controversial choice to play Bond; the then-37-year-old actor was a blonde working-class rogue taking on a role recently vacated by the posh, dark and handsome Pierce Brosnan. Many doubted Craig was up to the task, so the swimming scene proved a useful P.R. tool for establishing his leading-man cred. The scene was featured in the Casino Royale trailer, and a still was released as a promotional image for the film. Not only did the scene confirm Craig’s sex appeal, but it also served as a callback to another famous franchise moment: original Bond girl Ursula Andress’s bikini-clad emergence from the ocean in the very first James Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No.
At least, audiences assumed that the Ursula Andress reference was intentional. According to Craig, the entire scene happened “by accident,” the result of a shallow sandbar that forced him to stand up instead of swim away. “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,” Craig told ITV’s The South Bank Show while promoting Quantum of Solace in 2008. “Because the idea was, I was supposed to swim in and sort of float off, but I swim in and stand up. And it just was one of those things.“ Although he swears it wasn’t planned, Craig immediately realized that he’d duplicated Ursula Andress’ big scene. "As I did it, I went, ‘Oh f–,’” Craig said with a laugh. “And as soon as I did it, I knew. I didn’t realize the repercussions of it. I had no idea I’d haunted by it for the rest of my life.”
Daniel Craig in the first publicity still from ‘Casino Royale’ (Everett)
If Craig was unprepared for the attention paid to his swimsuit-clad body, one key member of the crew knew better: Costume designer Lindy Hemming. Hemming had been the designer for all of Brosnan’s Bond films, including Die Another Day, which featured Halle Berry in her own Ursula-Andress-inspired ocean homage. When she learned that Craig had a swimsuit scene in his first Bond movie, she meticulously selected a pair of light blue swim trunks by GrigioPerla (the men’s division of Italian lingerie and beachwear designer La Perla) after what she described to the New York Times as a long and "very amusing” fitting session with Craig. “It’s a joke between all of us [on the crew] that there is often someone coming out of the sea in a Bond film and I said, ‘Well, if someone is coming out of the sea, they have to look as sexy as Ursula Andress,’” Hemming told the fan site MI6 in 2006. “And he was every bit as sexy in that scene as the girls ever are. And he 100 per cent went along with that.”
Eva Green, Casino Royale’s leading Bond girl, was also supportive of Bond’s flesh-baring (and spotlight-stealing) moment. In response to a Guardian writer’s crude question, “Did you feel that it was ungallant of Craig to have bigger boobs than you?,” she coolly responded, “Well, he is the Bond girl, not me. He’s the one who comes out of the sea with his top off.”
Daniel Craig on set in the Bahamas (Splash News)
The ocean scene was an immediate sensation, an encapsulation of the character’s new direction in Casino Royale: a Bond who had been toughened and chiseled by life, yet still remained emotionally vulnerable. As critic Dana Stevens wrote in Slate, “Director Martin Campbell has chosen to give us a Bond who’s both metaphorically and literally stripped bare. Let me take this opportunity to thank him for both.” The moment inspired, and continued to inspire, much highbrow academic chatter about whether Craig had reversed the male gaze in the Bond franchise.
And of course, Bond’s swim trunks became a bona fide trend. A week after Casino Royale hit theaters, the light blue GrigioPerla swimsuit worn by Craig in the film was selling out in stores and online. Six years later, a New York Times article entitled “More Men Are Taking a Size 007” documented the popularity of “Bond trunks” (described as a “happy medium” between traditional men’s swim trunks and Speedos), which had increased steadily every summer since Craig’s blue swimsuit made its debut. Due to high demand, the stretchy GrigioPerla swimsuit never went out of production, and is currently available from the website International Jock for $168. As for the actual pair of trunks that Craig wore in the film, they sold at a UK charity auction in 2012 for £44,450 (the equivalent of around $83,377 U.S. dollars at the time).
The original ‘Casino Royale’ swimsuit on display at Christies in 2012 (Getty)
Nearly a decade after Craig’s quick swim, the moment remains in Bond fans’ affections. Not so for the star of the film. When studio executives tried to re-create the moment in a promotional photo for 2012’s Skyfall, placing Craig in a blue swimsuit by a pool, the actor would have none of it. “They wanted a picture of me with my shirt off,” Craig told Vanity Fair. “And I said, ‘You can have the one with my back turned.’ That’s as simple as that.” Sure enough, the teaser photo shows Craig sitting poolside with his back turned, a far cry from the brazen exhibitionism of that first Casino Royale publicity still. And now that he has fulfilled his four-movie Bond contract, Craig seems more ready than ever to leave the Bahamas behind. When asked recently by Time Out New London how he feels looking back at the iconic image of himself soaking wet, Craig replied, ‘I don’t look at it! I don’t look at it, weeping, going ‘Wasn’t I beautiful!’”
Watch a supercut of outrageous Bond Girl names below: