Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has revealed that Daniel Craig auditioned for the role of James McKinley in Rang De Basanti. But when the actor was approached for the role of James Bond, he requested for some time.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra made the revelation in his autobiography The Stranger in the Mirror, co-written by Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta. He recalled how producers David Reid and Adam Bowling were instrumental in the casting of Alice Patten and Steven Mackintosh as Sue and James McKinley, respectively.
But another promising young actor had tested for the role of James McKinley, the filmmaker recalled. “I remember vividly that one of the people who auditioned for the part of James McKinley, the young jailor who walks Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to be hanged, was none other than current James Bond, Daniel Craig,” he wrote, according to PTI.
The director continued, “Daniel Craig was my first choice but he requested if we could allow some time as he was also being considered to be the next James Bond. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Rang De Basanti, which released in 2006, starred Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan, Sharman Joshi, Kunal Kapoor, and others. Rang De Basanti was chosen as India’s official entry for the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Daniel Craig debuted as James Bond in the same year, with Casino Royale. He has played the iconic British spy in four other films — Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and the soon-to-be-released No Time to Die. He has set up a new franchise for himself, in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. He plays the detective Benoit Blanc in the series, the second instalment of which is currently filming.
In a recent interview, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had said that his Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Toofaan actor Farhan Akhtar had also been approached for a role in Rang De Basanti, but he was focused on his career as a director then.