The tortuous development process of the next 007 adventure left many fans of the franchise shaken and stirred. With the film now shooting, here’s what we know for sure about No Time to Die.
Who is playing James Bond?
Craig. Daniel Craig.
In August 2017 during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the British actor confirmed rumors that he would return to play 007 for a fifth time on the big screen. “Yes,” he told the late-night star on CBS. “I couldn’t be happier.”
A couple of years earlier, it looked as if Craig had voluntarily relinquished his license to kill. In October 2015, prior to the release of the last Bond film, Spectre, the actor said he hadn’t given any thought to playing the part again.
“For at least a year or two, I just don’t want to think about it,” Craig told Britain’s Time Out. “I don’t know what the next step is. I’ve no idea. Not because I’m trying to be cagey. Who the f— knows? At the moment, we’ve done it. I’m not in discussion with anybody about anything. If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money.”
Craig told Colbert that plans had been in the works on his Bond return for “a couple of months.”
“We’ve been discussing it. We’ve just been trying to figure things out,” he said. Craig later said he felt this will be his last outing as the MI6 agent. “I think this is it. I just want to go out on a high note. I can’t wait.”
Who is directing?
No Time to Die is being directed by Cary Fukunaga, whose credits include 2015’s Idris Elba-starring Beasts of No Nation, the acclaimed first season of HBO’s True Detective, and the recent Netflix show Maniac.
But that wasn’t always the plan.
In March 2018, it was reported that Trainspotting and 28 Days Later filmmaker Danny Boyle had revealed he would direct the next Bond movie. “We are working on a script right now,” the filmmaker told Metro US at a screening of Boyle’s FX drama Trust in New York. “And it all depends on that really. I am working on a Richard Curtis script at the moment. We hope to start shooting that in six or seven weeks. Then Bond would be right at the end of the year. But we are working on them both right now.”
Boyle also confirmed that he was working on the Bond script with screenwriter John Hodge, whose professional relationship with the filmmaker dates back to his debut movie, 1994’s Shallow Grave. “We’ve got an idea. John Hodge, the screenwriter, and I have got this idea, and John is writing it at the moment,” said Boyle. “And it all depends on how it turns out. It would be foolish of me to give any of it away.”
In May 2018, Eon Productions — the company which oversees the Bond franchise — and Metro Goldwyn Mayer confirmed that Boyle would direct the film from a screenplay by Hodge. “We are delighted to announce that the exceptionally talented Danny Boyle will be directing Daniel Craig in his fifth outing as James Bond in the 25th installment of the franchise,” Eon Productions’ Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement.
Then, on Aug. 21 of that year, it was revealed that Boyle had departed the project. “Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig today announced that due to creative differences Danny Boyle has decided to no longer direct Bond 25,” 007 fans were informed via tweet.
What exactly were those creative differences? One rumor had Boyle quitting because he refused to go along with Barbara Broccoli’s alleged desire to kill off Bond — or at least Craig’s version of the spy. More recently, it has been suggested that Boyle himself wanted to kill Bond, which led to a clash with the film’s producers.
Fukunaga has been tight-lipped about what fans should expect from the next Bond adventure, but in an interview last year with Inquirer.net the filmmaker confirmed that the film will be at least partly a continuation of the previous Craig-starring adventures. “In terms of what I can bring to change the character, Bond is on a character arc that started with Casino Royale, and I will be carrying that on,” he said.
No Time to Die is written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns with Fukunaga and Fleabag creator-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The latter reportedly polished the script at the request of Craig.
“There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not [the Bond franchise] is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women,” Waller-Bridge told Deadline earlier this year. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now. It has just got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”
What’s it about?
The film finds Bond no longer on active service and enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. According to the official synopsis, “his peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”
Who else is in it?
The cast also includes Bond veterans Léa Seydoux, who will reprise her Spectre role of psychologist Dr. Madeleine Swann; Jeffrey Wright, who is once again playing CIA operative Felix Letter; Rory Kinnear, who portrays Tanner; Naomie Harris, who plays Moneypenny; Ben Whishaw, who is back as Q; and Ralph Fiennes, who returns as M. In July, Variety reported that Christoph Waltz is also returning to reprise the role of iconic Bond baddie, Blofeld.
Franchise newbies include Ana de Armas, Billy Magnussen, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, and Lashana Lynch. According to a report in the Daily Mail, Lynch will take over Bond’s 007 title. The film’s villain will be portrayed by Oscar-winner Rami Malek.
How has the shoot been going?
It is fair to say the production has suffered a couple of moments which left participants shaken. In May, it was announced that, after sustaining an injury while filming, Craig would be undergoing minor ankle surgery. The film’s official Twitter account stated that production was set to continue during Craig’s two-week rehabilitation following the procedure. Then, in June, the same account announced that damage was caused to the exterior of the 007 stage at Pinewood Studios during a controlled explosion and that one crew member had sustained a minor injury. More happily, the same month, the production released footage of Craig and other cast members from the days spent shooting in Jamaica.
When will it be released?
No Time to Die was originally set to be released in the U.S. on Nov. 8, 2019. That date was later pushed back to Feb. 14, 2020 and then, in February of this year, was delayed again, to April 8, 2020.
The release date for Bond 25 has changed. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli: “We are absolutely thrilled to be releasing Bond 25 on 8 April 2020." pic.twitter.com/YQMRoVoTei— James Bond (@007) February 15, 2019
Who will replace Daniel Craig?
There are plenty of rumors about who will replace Craig as 007, if the next film does prove to be his last. Many folks would dearly love Idris Elba to take the role, an idea with which The Wire actor had some fun at last year’s Golden Globes when he posed for a photograph with Craig (see below). Later, the odds of Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy being cast in the role were slashed by British bookmakers Ladbrokes, with a spokesperson for the company telling the Daily Express newspaper in February that “no other actor has seen more bets placed on them playing Bond since the turn of the year.”
Whoever takes over the role is likely to be male. In October 2018, Barbara Broccoli told The Guardian, “Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male. And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters.”
This post has been updated with more details on No Time to Die.