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.

No Time to Die wraps filming (evidently)

No Time to Die logo

No Time to Die has apparently completed (or is about to complete) filming. At least it is done enough that crew members are taking to social media to say their goodbyes. (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for examples.) Even if those posts are a bit premature, this stage of the saga is ending.

To say the journey has had its ups and downs is an understatement. An ankle injury to its star, Daniel Craig. An explosion in June that damaged the exterior of the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. More than one tabloid headline referring to a doomed production.

Meanwhile, a team of writers, including Bond newcomers Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Scott Z. Burns, wrestled with the story. A new director to the series, Cary Fukunaga, is following in the footsteps of Terence Young and other directors for the Eon series.

There is, of course, a lot that fans are curious about. What’s the name of the villain played by Rami Malek? To date, there have been no stills of the actor in character. What about a trailer? Who knows at this point. What will new composer Dan Romer bring to the party?

Still, there have been some of the usual moments in the lead up to a new Bond film. A Bond actress proclaiming her character is different than all those other Bond women? Ana de Armas just came through in a feature story.

Next up: Putting the movie together in time for an April 2020 release. By now, Bond films are well known for tight post-production schedules. There will likely be some late nights in the editing bays ahead — if they haven’t started already.

UPDATE (5:40 p.m., New York time): The MI6 James Bond website says filming is scheduled to be actually completed on Friday, Oct. 25. See the tweet below.

 

Scott Z. Burns talks (a little) about No Time to Die

Scott Z. Burns

Scott Z. Burns, one of No Time to Die’s screenwriters, discussed the 25th James Bond film as part of a longer feature story in Variety.

“It was being able to throw in with a group of really talented people on a franchise that had a huge impact on me,” Burns told Variety.

“I mean, it’s a dream come true to have grown up in Minnesota watching James Bond movies, and then you look at your laptop and you’re writing the name Bond and then writing dialogue underneath it. If anybody would have told me that was ever going to happen, I would have never believed them.”

The writer received Variety’s 2019 Creative Impact in Screenwriting Award. The outlet’s article was a look at Burns’ screenwriting career.

Burns’ credits include scripts for The Bourne Ultimatum and Contagion. He also has a reputation as a top “script doctor” in Hollywood.

The Playlist reported in February that Burns was working on the No Time to Die script. The hiring was confirmed in late April during a “reveal” event in Jamaica that also disclosed various casting movies. Burns was hired to work for four weeks, The Playlist said in its story.

Burns coming aboard initially created a buzz. It later got overshadowed when it came out that actress-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge was also working on the movie. The original No Die to Die writers were Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Waller-Bridge says 007 ‘relevant,’ films must evolve

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The character of James Bond remains “relevant” while the 007 film series needs to treat women properly, Bond 25 screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge said in an interview with Deadline: Hollywood. 

“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. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now.

“It has just got to grow,” she added. “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.”

The Deadline story contains some of Waller-Bridge’s most detailed comments about Bond 25. She has been interviewed a lot recently, with most of the stories concerning the second season of her streaming series Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge’s involvement with Bond 25 became known in April. In the Deadline interview, she complimented star Daniel Craig and said the movie’s story is in good shape.

“When I saw (Craig’s) Bond for the first time, there was a wryness to his performance that I really loved,” the writer-actress told Deadline. “So, I was really excited about writing dialogue for him. I mean, the script was there. It’s already there. I think it’s unfair to say that I’m writing the script.”

Besides Waller-Bridge, Bond 25’s roster of writers includes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Scott Z. Burns.

Baz strikes with Bond 25 plot spoiler

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Like it says in the headline, it’s a spoiler so stop reading if you don’t like them.

Bond 25’s story line concerns “genetic warfare” and one reason scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge was hired was to “boil it down,” the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported.

Bamigboye quoted a studio executive as saying:

“The movie’s premise is genetic warfare, which is fascinating — but you gotta boil it down and make it accessible”

Bamigboye didn’t identify the executive or say which studio he works for. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is 007’s home studio. A joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures will distribute Bond 25 in the U.S. while Universal will release the movie internationally.

“And that’s why Phoebe was hired,” the scribe quoted the executive as saying. “She has somehow made sense of it.”

The Daily Mail scribe didn’t provide many additional details.

An Eon Productions press release last month said the story involves “a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”

A number of writers, also including Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as well as Scott Z. Burns, have also worked on the script.

The Mail on Sunday reported in April that Waller-Bridge had joined the roster of writers. But the MI6 James Bond website said earlier this month that Waller-Bridge had begun work earlier.

Bamigboye has had a number of Bond stories proven correct this decade. Among them was a March 2017 story that Purvis and Wade had been hired to start work on Bond 25’s script.

Bond 25 questions: The script edition

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Bond 25 filming is underway. Work has wrapped up in Jamaica. Things should be moving along nicely, right?

Not according to tabloid newspapers, specifically The Sun and Daily Mail in the U.K. and the New York Post in the U.S. And a lot of the hubbub has to do with the film’s script.

Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is there really “no script”?

From the time the first draft is submitted, there’s a script. The question is whether there’s a script everyone is happy with.

Still, at any time, there’s a document that exceeds 100 pages and says “The End” at the end. The first draft is replaced by a second draft and so on and so forth.

Nevertheless, the tabloids say differently. The Post in an April 25 story quotes a person it didn’t identify as saying, “They don’t have a script.”

The Sun in an April 26 story said “there is no script.”

Not to be outdone, the Daily Mail began a May 9 story thusly: “The joke on the Bond 25 set is the script’s under wraps. And the response is: ‘What script?’” The story said the story is being rewritten “endlessly.”

So what’s really going on?

Clearly, a number of writers have worked on the project at one time or another. Among them: the team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade; John Hodge when Danny Boyle was attached as director; and Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge since Cary Fukunaga (who also writes scripts) replaced Boyle.

In the past week, Waller-Bridge has gotten a lot of attention. She’s both a performer and writer and worked on various high-profile projects.

Waller-Bridge was interviewed on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast. That mostly concerned her career generally but included a few minutes about Bond 25 at the end. She was also the subject of a separate Daily Mail feature story.

In both instances, Waller-Bridge made it sound as if Bond 25’s scripting is under control.

“We have a script and we’re continuing to work on it, all of us floating ideas around and creating characters together,” she said in the Daily Mail story.

Anything else catch your eye?

The Daily Mail’s May 9 story about the “endless” rewriting of Bond 25’s script said it was being revised by Waller-Bridge, director Fukunaga and star Daniel Craig.

Back in 2011, Craig said how he and director Marc Forster supposedly rewrote Quantum of Solace on the set. “A writer I am not,” Craig said then.

If the Daily Mail is correct (something I am not assuming), did Craig change his mind?

Is there context we should keep in mind?

At various times in the 57-year history of the 007 film franchise, there’s been frantic rewriting: From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies come to mind. Things turned out well at the end.

Still, past performance isn’t a guarantee of future success. You can’t take success for granted.

That’s something to keep in mind. But not something to lose sleep over, at least not at this stage in the proceedings.

UPDATE: A Japanese outlet, Cinema Today, posted a story dated May 12 but is based on an April interview with Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. According to a translation, the duo say that director Cary Fukunaga recruited Scott Z. Burns as a writer while they brought in Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Wilson said work on the script “struggled for a while” but they have a story “with a lot of twists and surprises.”

Bond 25 script rewritten by committee, Baz says

“We can’t go yet, dear. I have to help out on the script rewrite.”

Bond 25’s script is being “endlessly” rewritten by a committee, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye wrote in a story published Thursday night.

The committee consists of “director Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and 007 himself, Daniel Craig,” Bamigboye reported.

Bamigboye quoted a source he didn’t identify as saying Waller-Bridge is “writing a re-write of a re-write…‘They have an outline of plot, but dialogue is all last-minute. It’s not the way to make a movie.”

Efforts to devise a Bond 25 script began in 2017 when 007 film veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired. For a time, the production shifted to screenwriter John Hodge when Danny Boyle was hired as director in 2018.

A few months later, Boyle exited and Hodge followed him out the door. Fukunaga, who often writes his own scripts, was hired to replace Boyle. Scott Z. Burns and Waller-Bridge subsequently were hired to work on the Bond 25 story.

Bamigboye has a record of coming up with 007 film scoops that were later proven correct. Among them was the fact that Purvis and Wade were brought back to begin Bond 25’s scripting.

A Bond 25 sequence was filmed in Norway in March. Principal photography began late last month.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks (briefly) to THR about Bond 25

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Actress-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter Podcast about her career. Toward the end of the interview she discussed Bond 25 a bit.

Waller-Bridge is among several scribes to have a go at Bond 25’s script.

“I think I’m still processing it,” she said during the May 8 podcast. “It’s really exciting.  The film they’ve got is such an exciting story.”

Host Scott Feinberg asked the scribe if her feminist humor will show up in the script.

“We’ll see, we’ll see what I can sneak in,” Waller-Bridge replied. “I was really just making them real people,” she said of the story’s female characters.

Waller-Bridge was recruited to the project by star Daniel Craig. She signed up after script doctor Scott Z. Burns spent four weeks doing his rewrites. The script originated with veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

The Bond 25 portion of the interview doesn’t start until more than 53 minutes in.

Bond 25 gets a cast but no title yet

Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Eon Productions today introduced the Bond 25 cast during an event in Jamaica today. But the 25th 007 film still lacks a title.

Cast members include Rami Malek, who spoke remotely from New York, where he’s filming Mr. Robot. He also did a separate interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. The actor essentially confirmed he’s the movie’s villain, saying he’ll make life difficult for Daniel Craig’s James Bond.

Also on board are Lea Seydoux, continuing as Madeline Swann. Meanwhile, making a return after more than a decade is Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. That means he’ll set a record in the Eon series, breaking a tie with David Hedison, who appeared twice as Leiter.

The MI6 “Scooby Gang” (Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear) also will be back in force. To see the other members of the cast, go to Eon’s official 007 Twitter feed.

Barbara Broccoli said during the event that Bond won’t be on active service at the start of the film and “his journey starts here,” referring to Jamaica. No other plot points were discussed.

Listed writers are Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

However, there was no word on Christoph Waltz making a return engagement as Blofeld following SPECTRE. Rodrigo Perez, editor of The Playlist, wrote on Twitter early today that Waltz will be back unless the script was drastically altered. Perez was the scribe who originally broke the story that Scott Z. Burns was rewriting Bond 25’s script.

If you’ve ever attended the media days of a car show, that’s how the event came off. Pretty much people are saying things that have been worked out and reinforce talking points. Director Cary Fukunaga, for example, declared Daniel Craig is his favorite Bond actor.

UPDATE: The MI6 James Bond website, in its story about today’s event, presented a more detailed synopsis than occurred during the presentation. Don’t read ahead if you’re spoiler adverse.

Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. 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.

UPDATE II: The James Bond Dossier posts a copy of a Bond 25 press release. It lists director Cary Fukunaga as one of the writers in addition to the four aforementioned scribes. It also contradicts THIS TWEET from Eon’s official 007 Twitter feed, which didn’t mention Fukunaga as a writer. This suggests the final writing credit won’t be settled until after a Writer’s Guild arbitration.

Mail on Sunday delivers newest B25 writing rumor


Possible spoiler below.

The Mail on Sunday (the Sunday edition of the U.K. tabloid Daily Mail) just came up with a Bond 25 curve ball.

The publication says Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator and star of the BBC series Fleabag, is the latest writer to tackle Bond 25’s script.

Here’s an excerpt:

One plot being considered involves (Daniel) Craig’s ageing Bond retired and now living in Jamaica – the island where 007 author Ian Fleming had his Goldeneye retreat. The 007 number has been taken up by a new agent – a woman – who embarks on a mission which forces Bond to come out of retirement.

Despite Bond’s legendary reputation as a womaniser, the new 007 manages to resist his charms.

A source said last night: ‘Phoebe is the hottest young writer in the UK and Hollywood at the moment.

The story also says Bond 25 is scheduled to begin filming in Jamaica “within weeks.” Last month, a unit shot a sequence in Norway.

If the story is correct, Waller-Bridge joins a growing roster of Bond 25 scribes, including Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Hodge, Paul Haggis and Scott Z. Burns.

Also, if Waller-Bridge joins the Bond 25 writing brigade, she’ll join a select group of women screenwriters who’ve worked on 007 films. Others include Johanna Harwood (Dr. No and From Russia With Love) and Dana Stevens (The World Is Not Enough, uncredited).

Here is an appearance Waller-Bridge made on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Myers.