Bond 25 questions: THR’s Fukunaga story edition

No Time to Die’s back story is often opaque

The Hollywood Reporter has come out with a big feature story about Cary Fukunaga, the director of No Time to Die.

But there are elements that don’t square up previous tellings of No Time To Die’s back story. Naturally, the blog has questions.

Whose idea was it to bring aboard Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a writer for the 25th James Bond movie?

According to THR, it was Fukunaga’s, of course.

At Fukunaga’s suggestion, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought in to work on the draft he wrote with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have worked on every Bond film since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

Except, supposedly it was the idea of star Daniel Craig. For example, there’s this story from IndieWire in February 2020:

 The “Fleabag” creator, whose Amazon Prime Video series picked up six Primetime Emmy Award wins last year, was brought onto the film back in 2019 at the behest of star Daniel Craig.

Oh. Well, the winners get to write the history. Both Fukunaga and Waller-Bridge were among the winners of the No Time to Die saga.

How big a factor was #MeToo in No Time to Die’s development?

Apparently, a lot. We won’t really know until the movie comes out shortly. But THR’s story has some clues.

A quote in the THR story from Lashana Lynch: “Cary had big discussions with Barbara (Broccoli) and Daniel about how to give the female characters equity, how to keep them in charge of themselves, how to give them solo moments where the audience learns who they are.  It was really important to empower the female characters as stand-alones. And I think that he kept that in mind throughout the whole shoot.”

A quote from Barbara Broccoli in the new story:

“I think people are coming around — with some kicking and screaming — to accepting that stuff is no longer acceptable. Thank goodness. Bond is a character who was written in 1952 and the first film [Dr. No] came out in 1962. He’s got a long history, and the history of the past is very different to the way he is being portrayed now.”

Finally a quote from Fukunaga himself in The Hollywood Reporter:

“Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where, like, basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman?” Fukunaga told THR. “She’s like ‘No, no, no,’ and he’s like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ That wouldn’t fly today.”

Why did Bond 25 switch from Danny Boyle to Cary Fukunaga as director?

Bond 25 has a complicated history. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, long-time Bond screenwriters, were hired in 2017 to develop a script. They worked on it for months. Then, in 2018, it became known than director Danny Boyle and his writer, John Hodge, made a pitch.

An announcement came out in spring 2018 that the Boyle and Hodge team were hired. The initial script was set aside.

But later that year, they were gone. Fukunaga would soon be hired.

The key excerpt from THR’s story:

With Boyle, there was a deviation of visions. His version was more tongue-in-cheek and whimsical. Broccoli and Wilson wanted something more serious for Craig’s final outing.

This leads to a lot of questions. Did Eon, which at one time loved the Boyle-Hodge pitch, not realize the tone was different? Did Eon not vet Boyle and Hodge?

We’re less than a week before the premiere of No Time to Die. Many fans don’t want to hear about this.

Still, The Hollywood Reporter raises more questions than answers

No Time to Die podcast returns

The official No Time to Die podcast returned Wednesday evening U.S. time. The podcast began in September 2020 but went into hibernation after the movie’s release was pushed back into 2021.

The first two episodes are online. The first, Bond in Context leads off with a discussion about how the 25th James Bond film has been delayed three times because of COVID-19. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions are interviewed about that subject.

Also, “You can also be the first to hear exclusive score from Hans Zimmer released by Decca Records,” according to the episode’s description. The episode runs 44 minutes.

The second episode is titled A Name to Die for: Allies and Enemies of Bond.

“Led by interviews from Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw and Lashana Lynch, we’ll explore what makes a classic supporting character and look back at some of 007’s most iconic nemeses,” according to a description.

James King is the host.

UPDATE: In episode 1, Barbara Broccoli says No Time “is a cinematic masterpiece.” We’ve all heard hype for movies but those are strong words.

Lashana Lynch talks up Nomi to LAT

Lashana Lynch publicity still released during April 2019 “reveal” event in Jamaica

Lashana Lynch discussed her No Time to Die character, MI6 agent Nomi, in a feature story published today by the Los Angeles Times.

First things first, the story mentions something about the character in the first paragraph. I’m not sure if it actually qualifies as a spoiler at this point. But I’m going to leave it out for those who’ve managed to remain unaware of it.

“Nomi is a fine example of your modern-day woman who doesn’t take anything lying down and who gives everyone and anyone a run for their money,” Lynch told the Times. “Mentally, physically, energetically and spiritually, she has everything covered so that whatever questions you had about women and this franchise are shot down completely.”

Here are some other quotes from the Times article:

On some fan critics: “I don’t have anything to say to the trolls apart from it’s none of my business what you think, you have the freedom to live in your truth just like I have the freedom to live in mine.”

On Black women getting to see characters such as themselves: “We [Black women] know how it feels to be mis- and under-represented and we know how it feels to yearn for someone, anyone in the world to speak our truth for us when we feel like we don’t have a voice. And I’m hoping that my career and my choice in roles and me just being me, authentically, is shining a light on our power.”

Lynch’s description of the movie: “‘No Time to Die’ feels very much like a few genres in one. It’s kind of a feast for new cinema-goers who love classic cinema but love a throw forward so you’re keeping it fresh whilst respecting the classics.”

Bond 25 questions: The Total Film edition

One of the many No Time to Die posters

This post includes spoilers. Stop reading now if spoilers aren’t your thing.

Total Film this week published a detailed story about No Time to Die. Naturally, the blog has questions

Did Daniel Craig really say No Time to Die’s theme was “love and family”?

He did. Sounds almost like a Fast and the Furious movie, doesn’t it? In this case, Craig told Total Film that Bond’s family is Moneypenny, M and Q with Lashana Lynch’s Nomi “a distant cousin who you’re not sure about.”

One of the most hyped aspects of the movie was how Phoebe Waller-Bridge was among the screenwriters. Any additional details?

Of course. “Phoebe came on, and she injected some brilliance into the situation, and a tone I was really after,” Craig told Total Film.

“What we wanted to do was… not ridicule (Bond). It’s sharing in the fun with the audience,” Craig told the magazine. “But you’ve got to be respectful of what it is.” 

According to Total Film, Waller-Bridge “punched up Ana de Armas’ character Paloma – a fresh-faced CIA field agent who Bond crosses paths with in Cuba – and brought a myth-pricking irreverence to the story.”

What about agent Nomi and her relationship with Bond?

“Bond is going to be Bond no matter what happens,” Lashana Lynch told Total Film. “But it’s about how people react to him. That’s the difference between the earlier films. In this film we are vocal. We are opinionated. We know how to stop [Bond] in his tracks, and to teach him something.”

What about the sets?

“We have really gone out of our way to make some really gorgeous big sets,” says production designer Mark Tildesley. The designer originally was recruited to the film by Danny Boyle, the project’s first director who departed over “creative differences.”

What about Rami Malek’s Safin?

“Safin is pulling all the strings,” Eon boss Barbara Broccoli told Total Film about the character. “He’s controlling all of those megalomaniacs out there. He’s created them.”

What does that mean?

I suppose that in Quantum of Solace that Quantum was BIG. In SPECTRE, SPECTRE was BIGGER. Perhaps Safin is EVEN BIGGER!

New NTTD trailer emphasizes action, large stakes

No Time to Die poster

If you consider a trailer to be a spoiler, then leave now.

The new No Time to Die trailer debuted today. It emphasizes action and large stakes for the story.

Specifically, the 25th James Bond film is back to “saving the world” (or a substantial piece of it).

At one point, agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch) says, “He’ll kill millions.” Bond (Daniel Craig) says, “If we don’t do this, there will be nothing left to save.”

Saving the world, at one time, was old hat in the Bond film series, with such films as You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Even somewhat smaller scale films such as A View to a Kill, GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies had storylines where the lives of millions were at stake.

The Daniel Craig era hasn’t gone down that path. While there was a lot of mayhem, the stakes involved preventing money from getting to terrorists, water rights, a grudge against M (Judi Dench) and being able to observe people.

The new trailer also demonstrates, briefly, that a special aircraft shown in a television ad that aired during the Super Bowl has even more capabilities. And there are references to past Craig films.

You can judge for yourself below if you haven’t seen it already.

UPDATE (8:02 a.m.): Around the 1:00-mark of the Italian trailer, Bond appears to refer to Nomi as “007.” h/t Jack Lugo, who spotted a tweet from @thricechampion. I’m advised the same thing is in the Spanish trailer.

Ana de Armas speaks in (another) new NTTD spot

No Time to Die is out with yet another new spot, this time the viewer finally gets to hear Ana de Armas’ speak.

In the 30-second commercial, de Armas’ Paloma character chides Daniel Craig’s James Bond for tardiness. “You’re late,” she says when the characters meet.

This marks the second time a woman character has put Craig/Bond in his place. In the first trailer, Lashana Lynch’s Nomi threatened to shoot him in the knee (“the one that works”) if Bond didn’t stay out of her way.

Also, M (Ralph Fiennes) is heard from a bit more. In a previous spot, he said, “Come on, Bond.” Now it’s, “Come on, Bond, where the hell are you?”

The spot is below if you want to view it for yourself.

Broccoli & Wilson talk up diversity in Bond films

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions have talked up how the James Bond film series has embraced diversity over its almost 58-year history in an interview with the Blackfilm website.

We’ve always tried to have diversity in the films,” Wilson said in the interview.

“We’ve always had international casts, and they’ve all been different ethnicities,” Wilso added. “So it’s nothing new. However, people are more sensitive to what they want to see, and when they see it — they point it out. I think we have a great diverse cast from all over the world. It’s in keeping with the times, but I think we’ve always been a little ahead of the times.”

Barbara Broccoli added the following: “Look at Live and Let Die, which was 1973. It was one of the first interracial relationships, Bond with Gloria Hendry. I mean, it’s crazy.”

Fact check: In Dr. No, Sean Connery’s Bond told Quarrel to “fetch my shoes.” This occurred seven years after the Montgomery bus boycott (a major event in the U.S. civil rights movement) and hasn’t aged well since.

What’s more, Live And Let Die screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz got shot down when he proposed that Solitaire (Jane Seymour in the movie) be played by an African American actress. So Bond films weren’t that ahead of the times. (Soliaire was written as a white woman in Ian Fleming’s novel.)

Broccoli also talked about Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas:

“These women have trained like you can’t imagine. They are absolutely in tip-top, peak condition, and they could take anyone on. It is not just strength; it’s flexibility. Your muscles have to be in good condition, you have to be able to stop and start. So it’s a constant training thing. And then they have weapons training. They have to look like they know how to shoot a weapon, and you want them to be safe, and you want them to look good. It’s been a long, intensive training program for both of them.”

Broccoli also talked up how No Time to Die ties up the Daniel Craig era for Bond films.

“I think the story is really an accumulation of the past four films and this one. So the five-film cycle, and I think the arc of his character — particularly the emotional arc of his character, is completed. We feel it’s a very satisfying conclusion to his movies; hopefully, the audiences will too.”

No Time to Die spot airs during Super Bowl

A 30-second commercial for No Time to Die aired late during the second quarter of the Super Bowl.

Much of the footage in the spot was different than the first trailer for the movie that debuted in early December. One scene involved Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Lashana Lynch’s Nomi in some kind of unusual aircraft.

The commercial promised, “THIS APRIL…THE 25TH FILM…WILL CHANGE…EVERYTHING.” In between there were scenes from the movie.

Super Bowl commercials aired on the broadcast by the Fox television network cost more than $5 million each for 30 seconds.

Shortly after the spot aired, the official James Bond account on Twitter put out a post that embedded the commercial.

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UPDATE (8:20 p.m., New York time): The spot has now been posted to YouTube.

UPDATE II (8:45 p.m., New York time): Hans Zimmer puts out a tweet saying the commercial doesn’t have any of his music for the movie. He also says he’s working on the score with Steve Mazzaro. The latter is affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions and scored Eon’s The Rhythm Section.

 

Broccoli & Wilson considered ‘shutting down’ B25: EW

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson “considered shutting down” No Time to Die “entirely” after the film’s first director, Danny Boyle departed, Entertainment Weekly said, citing comments from Broccoli during an interview for a new EW story.

The entertainment publication didn’t provide additional details. It merely says the production continued after the producers met Cary Fukunaga, who got hired as the new director.

Eon Productions makes the Bond films and controls the franchise along with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. No Time to Die is being released by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures, in the U.S. with Universal internationally. Presumably those parties would have had to be consulted had a shutdown been ordered.

The movie originally had a fall 2019 release date. With Boyle’s departure because of “creative differences,” it was pushed back, first to February 2020 and finally to its current April 2020 release.

Some other details in the EW story:

–David Dencik plays a kidnapped scientist referenced in previously released plot summaries.

–Broccoli appears to deny that Lashana Lynch’s Nomi character received the 007 designation after Bond left MI6. “People write these theories without knowing,” Broccoli told EW. The Mail on Sunday reported in July 2019 that Nomi had been assigned the 007 code number in the film

UPDATE (4:55 p.m. New York time): Reader Jeffrey Westhoff notes that Brie Larson, star of Captain Marvel (where Lashana Lynch was a co-star) wrote a tweet in December where she believed Lynch’s character had the 007 code number.

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No Time to Die trailer debuts

If you consider a trailer an unforgivable spoiler, stop reading.

No Time to Die’s trailer — we can safely stop calling it a “teaser trailer” — debuted today. The 2:35 trailer may have answered some fan questions while raising new ones.

Confirmed: Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is a double-0 agent. More information: she and former agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) don’t get along, at least not at first.

“So stay in your lane,” she tells Bond. “If you get in my way, I will put a bullet in your knee — the one that works.”

Unconfirmed: Whether Nomi now has the 007 code number following Bond’s departure. There is a scene in the trailer where M (Ralph Fiennes) asks, “Where’s 007?” That would be a perfect setup to introduce Nomi as having Bond’s old code number — if the filmmakers choose to do so.

Seemingly confirmed: Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld and is visited in prison by Bond. Given the franchise’s embrace of continuity, it looks pretty certain he is playing Blofeld again. He taunts Bond about Madeline Swann.

New question: What happened between Bond and Swann (Lea Seydoux) after the end of SPECTRE?

A number of scenes indicate the relationship between Bond and Swann got rocky, with questions about secrets.

New question: What is Rami Malek’s villain character up to?

That’s not really answered but there are a few intriguing lines from Malek’s character.

In the U.S., the trailer was unveiled on ABC’s Good Morning America show. Afterward, some of the main cast were interviewed but said little.

Lea Seydoux said Swann has secrets (which we knew already from the trailer). Lashana Lynch said Daniel Craig is her favorite James Bond (joining Rami Malek and director Cary Fukunaga who made that declaration previously). Malek said it was an honor to work with Craig. At least that talking point remains consistent.

Here’s the trailer:

UPDATE (12: 30 p.m., New York Time): I had a chance to re-watch the Good Morning America interview. Director Fukunaga says No Time to Die “carries on the tradition of the previous four films…We’re trying our best to wrap them up in a really exciting way.” He also says he hopes new generations discover Bond.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): It turns out the entire No Time to Die segment on Good Morning America was sponsored by MGM. In other words, it was an informercial.

NTTD-GMA-MGM