007 in Lenox: Craig and wife, Rachel Weisz, tour Shakespeare & Company


LENOX -- You might not guess that Daniel Craig, famous for his film portrayal of secret agent James Bond, is a Shakespeare fan. Or maybe, you would. There may not have been bikinis or revolvers in Elizabethan England, but there was certainly drama and political intrigue.

Craig and his wife, award-winnning actress Rachel Weisz, visited Shakespeare & Company in Lenox on Wednesday where founder Tina Packer gave the couple a tour of the company's grounds.

Weisz introduced herself to Packer after seeing her perform off-Broadway in the critically acclaimed "Women of Will" earlier this year. Many well-known members of the theater community, Packer said, came to see her show, which, in five parts, traces the role of women through Shakespeare's works.

Meeting this particular couple was a happy chance.

"They're actors," Packer said. "We come from the same place. The same background."

Packer showed the couple "everything," she said: the theaters, the set shop, the offices, the costume shop, the ruins. The campus was formerly home to Lenox School for Boys and then the Bible Speaks Organization, and it holds clues to both in its abandoned buildings.

And then, of course, Packer showed Craig and Weisz the rehearsal rooms. She introduced them to the cast of "Richard II," Shakespeare's history play, which the company will perform this summer for the first time in its history, beginning July 5.

Craig and Weisz appeared impressed, according to costumer Amy Sutton.

The visit came as a surprise for many at the theater company. The company is a flurry of preparation as the summer rolls in, with more than nine plays to be performed in at least three theaters, but few expected to look up from fitting costumes or building sets to see the bona fide movie star.

But they were not too busy with work not to notice Craig and Weisz.

"I felt like a 14-year-old girl for a hot second," said James Bilonski, lighting designer and electrician for the company.

Costumer Ben Hover posted news of the visit on Facebook, garnering 29 "likes."

Craig and Weisz have a house in nearby Kingston, N.Y. Both are known fans of live theater when they're not acting on stage themselves. Craig and Weisz are now in rehearsal for a Broadway revivial of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," which will open this October.

Packer, meanwhile, is preparing for a role in Martin McDonagh's "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," which comes to Shakespeare & Company on Aug. 8.

Packer is wary of the notion of celebrity. To her, Craig is worthy of the highest respect, but no more so than any other hard-working and talented actor.

Packer smiled as she recalled the reactions the couple elicited from the Shakespeare & Company crew.

"They came on just a little visit," Paker said. "For everyone else, it was like, ‘Oh gosh, here's 007.' "

"You don't necesarily recognize him at first," Sutton said. "They're human beings, too."


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