About that fuss over Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The fuss about writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge working on No Time to Die’s script isn’t going away. In part that’s because it’s getting hyped by various parties.

Case in point: The Sunday Times this week published an interview with star Daniel Craig. The actor said Waller-Brige is a great writer and there’s no reason she shouldn’t be on the project.

“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f****** ridiculous,” Craig told the newspaper.

The online entertainment site IndieWire decided to add some drama to the proceedings.

The IndieWire story ran with the headline, “Daniel Craig Shuts Down Reporter for Asking if Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a Bond Diversity Hire.”

A headline on Entertainment Tonight’s website boosted the hype a bit more. “Daniel Craig Claps Back At Reporter’s ‘F***ing Ridiculous’ Question About Whether Phoebe Waller-Bridge Was A Diversity Hire.”

That was an interesting take, especially given that the scribe for The Sunday Times didn’t feel shut down after Craig’s comments about Waller-Bridge.

It was then that I realised the more Craig shouts at you, the better things are going. He enjoys this sort of debate and, by virtue of the energetic rate he punches out words, nothing comes across as rude as it seems on the page. He is, instead, brusque and open. Just a really big fan of ironing things out and, like a friend in a pub during a fourth pint argument, any bad blood will be forgotten by the journey home.

Hence, we got a little drama where it perhaps really didn’t exist.

In a perfect world, Waller-Bridge’s gender would have nothing to do with her work on No Time to Die. But that’s not going to happen for a variety of reasons.

First, not that many women writers have worked on Bond films until now and only Johanna Harwood received a credit (Dr. No and From Russia With Love).

Second, Waller-Bridge is also a performer as well a scribe and has more visibility than most writers, female or male.

Finally, Waller-Bridge’s participation in No Time to Die may become a talking point for the movie.

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye had a September story quoting an unidentified executive (described as being close to the production) as saying Waller-Bridge’s “great” contribution to the script was “the savior of Bond, really.”

If Bamigboye’s source really is “close to the production,” then expect to hear more of this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, the notion of Waller-Bridge as No Time to Die’s savior is amusing given how another entertainment website, The Playlist, earlier this year essentially hyped another No Time to Die screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, as saving the movie.

Who knew Bond needed so much saving?

For her part, Waller-Bridge hasn’t said much about No Time to Die. She said in a Deadline: Hollywood interview that Bond doesn’t have to change but the movies need to treat women better

In any case, expect more fuss related to Waller-Bridge between now and April when No Time to Die comes out.

Craig talks loving Bond films, Waller-Bridge as writer

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace.

In a new interview, Daniel Craig talks about he loves making James Bond films, the contributions of Phoebe Waller-Bridge to No Time to Die and denies being grumpy.

Craig talked to The Sunday Times in a story published today. It’s behind a paywall but there are ways to view it if you register for the site (two free articles a month) or get a subscription.

The Mr. Obvious takeaway is that Craig, 51, wants to set a different tone from SPECTRE. In 2015, he gave at least two interviews immediately after a long shoot that apparently were embargoed until just before the movie came out. One had a famous (or infamous) quote that all fans know so I won’t repeat it here.

With that in mind, some of the Bond-related highlights:

He loves being James Bond: “This may be hard to believe, but I love the fact I’m Bond. We’re in rare air, making Bond movies. It is one of the most intense, fulfilling things I’ve ever done, but it takes a lot of energy and I’m getting old. I’m getting creaky. And so what I do outside of that has got to be really good.”

On Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Craig was asked if it was his idea to recruit her to work on the script. “Yeah.”

He dodges a question about what specifically the writer-actress brought to No Time to Die before making more general comments.

“But she’s just brilliant. I had my eye on her ever since the first Fleabag [TV series], and then I saw Killing Eve and what she did with that and just wanted her voice. It is so unique — we are very privileged to have her on board.”

He also said there’s been too much attention paid to Waller-Bridge’s gender.

“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f****** ridiculous. She’s a great writer. Why shouldn’t we get Phoebe onto Bond? That’s the answer to that. I know where you’re going, but I don’t actually want to have that conversation. I know what you’re trying to do, but it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. She’s a f****** great writer. One of the best English writers around. I said, ‘Can we get her on the film?’ That’s where I came from.”

He says he’s not grumpy: Craig acknowledges his reputation for being grumpy. “But then I don’t do much to dispel it, because I’d just be chasing my tail to prove that I’m not the person people think I am.

“But I’m not grumpy. Genuinely, I’m not. I hope you can tell. I love what I do. I love this business, and I don’t mind talking to journalists. I mean, I don’t love it. Yet I don’t mind talking about stuff I love.”

The article also discusses in detail Knives Out, his newest non-Bond project which comes out later this month.

Bond 25 questions: The composer edition (again? maybe?)

No Time to Die teaser poster

On All Saints’ Day 2019, the James Bond Radio podcast raised the question whether Dan Romer may not score No Time to Die after all.

On posts on Twitter and Facebook, the fan site said it heard from a source that Romer has left the 25th James Bond film. Romer has worked with No Time to Die director Cary Fukunaga on other projects.

At this point, there’s no way to know. In the James Bond Radio post on Facebook, there was this caveat: “Our source does seem credible, but of course you never know for sure until we get an official word.”

With all that in mind, the blog has some questions:

Is Romer really gone?

There’s no way to know. Eon Productions isn’t likely to say until a replacement is lined up.

Is this sort of thing unusual?

Not really. Bernard Herrmann scored a number of films for producer-director Alfred Hitchcock. But Herrmnn delivered a score for Torn Curtain (1966). Hitchcock hated it and that was the end of the long collaboration between director and composer.

More recently, Warner Bros. superhero film Justice League (2017) started out with a score by Junkie XL. But the powers that be rejected it and Danny Elfman came in Elfman included his own theme for the 1989 Batman movie as well as John Williams’ theme for the 1978 Superman movie.

If (repeat IF) Romer is gone, who might replace him?

A lot of Bond fans would love to have five-time Bond film composer David Arnold back. Arnold hasn’t scored a Bond film since 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Arnold has a following among Bond fans, many of whom have been wishing he’d return. Director Sam Mendes insisted on Thomas Newman to compose the scores for Skyfall and SPECTRE. Then, Romer was the man for No Time to Die, presumably because he worked with Fukunaga before.

Another fan favorite is composer Michael Giacchino, who has worked in John Barry-style flourishes in a number of scores including The Incredibles (2004) and other films. His credits include one Mission: Impossible movie and a number of Marvel Studios films.

Any other thoughts?

Not really. The James Bond Radio social media posts quickly spread among fans. It remains to be seen what’s really happening. That’s not a criticism of James Bond Radio. We just don’t know what’s happening.

Bond 25 questions: The Empire magazine edition

No Time to Die teaser poster

A (short) Empire magazine article is due out on Oct. 31. Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Will this movie be different from other Daniel Craig Bond films?

Perhaps not.

The Empire article has this quote from Barbara Broccoli, the boss of Eon Productions:

“We always like to have a very personal trial for him emotionally, put him up against something that he finds difficult to deal with emotionally.”

So, if this quote is accurate, No Time to Die will have the same tone that began with 2006’s Casino Royale and which extended into 2015’s SPECTRE.

No differences at all?

Not necessarily. Director Cary Fukunaga may come up with visual differences. Screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge may contribute some bits. Already, Daily Mail scribe Baz Bamigboye has floated a story saying Waller-Bridge’s contributions to the script have saved the movie.

At this point, Waller-Bridge saving the movie is about to become a talking point in the marketing.  We will also hear about how Daniel Craig is the best and/or favorite James Bond performer.

Any conclusions?

If you love Daniel Craig versions of James Bond films, you’ll love this one. If you’re indifferent to Daniel Craig versions of James Bond films, you’ll probably be indifferent to this one. If you hate Daniel Craig versions of James Bond films, you’ll hate this one (most likely).

Really?

It’s possible director Cary Fukunaga comes up with some visual/style changes. There may be surprises audiences can’t anticipate.

We’ll see.

Broccoli talks Bond’s emotional travails

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

In Empire magazine’s 2020 preview issue, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli talks about the emotional stress James Bond is under in No Time to Die.

The issue is due out Thursday, Oct. 31. However, @corneelvf obtained an image of the short article.

“We always like to have a very personal trial for him emotionally, put him up against something that he finds difficult to deal with emotionally,” Broccoli told Empire.

Emotional travails have been a big part of the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. Craig’s run began with an adaptation of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first novel. Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd, who betrays him and commits suicide. That’s followed up by Bond seeking revenge in Quantum of Solace. Other emotional highlights include the death of M (Judi Dench) in Skyfall.

Meanwhile, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson said it really is possible this will be the end of Craig’s run.

“It looks like the end of this era,” Wilson told Empire.

Finally, Empire said “it’s rumoured” the 25th James Bond film will have “the biggest explosion in cinema history.” Part of the publicity for 2015’s SPECTRE boasted that movie had the biggest explosion in cinema history.

Name of No Time to Die’s villain revealed

Rami Malek

Yes, it’s a spoiler

The name of the villain played by Rami Malek in No Time to Die was revealed in an online story by Empire magazine.

Empire magazine put up a story that carried a Barbara Broccoli quote about the villain and said his name is Safin. The key excerpt:

“We’ve thrown the book at him on this one,” teases Barbara Broccoli in an exclusive report from Empire’s upcoming 2020 Preview Issue – and by ‘the book’, she means Rami Malek’s Safin. “He is really the supervillain. He’s the one that really gets under Bond’s skin. He’s a nasty piece of work.”

None of this is that revealing but the character name had been kept under wraps until now.

There has been fan speculation that Malek was playing a rebooted version of Dr. No.

In SPECTRE, Christoph Waltz was announced as playing a character called Oberhauser who turned out to be a rebooted Blofeld.

We’ll see if Safin is the real character name for No Time to Die or another case of misdirection.

Bond 25 questions: The end of filming edition

No Time to Die logo

No Time to Die wrapped up principal photography this week. Naturally, the blog has some questions.

Does it seem like there’s been less publicity than other Bond movies?

Compared to the films earlier this decades, yes.

Skyfall and SPECTRE each had a series of video blogs. A crew member would describe his or her responsibilities, for example. One of the SPECTRE vlogs showed preparations for a car chase. Another highlighted the preparations for a big explosion.

Also, with SPECTRE, some news outlets were given access to do stories about the car chase. The Associated Press posted a short video. The Mail on Sunday ran a story with behind-the-scenes details about the chase sequence.

Not so much with No Time to Die.

There was a single promotional video in June showing filming in Jamaica. A visit by Prince Charles in June to the set generated a lot of TV images. In one video, star Daniel Craig can be seen explaining how the Aston Martin DB5s in the film are replicas, with carbon fiber bodies and BMW engines.

On the other hand, cast and crew members (particularly director Cary Fukunaga) made social media posts. And when the crew went to Matera, Italy, tourists took many smartphone videos that spread quickly.

When will things change?

No Time to Die added to its publicity efforts on Saturday when Empire posted a story with an image from the movie.

The entertainment publication said the image is part of its 2020 Preview issue out next week.

What’s next?

There still isn’t a trailer. The James Bond & Friends podcast said months ago there was a rough cut of a teaser trailer. For whatever reason, that has stayed under wraps. No word on when it will come out.

Based on Empire’s story, there may be articles by other outlets that have been prepared but are embargoed until closer to the movie’s April release.