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.

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.

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.

Ready or not, the DB5 reports for service again

A replica Aston Martin DB5 rolls off the truck in preparation for Bond 25 filming

Italian news outlet Sassilive had a story about Bond 25 getting ready for filming in Matera, Italy. The article included a photo gallery, including a picture (see above) of an Aston Martin DB5 coming off a truck.

So, ready for not, the DB5 is back. Again.

Most people won’t care that the car (actually one of several) is an expensive replica of the DB5. Carbon fiber body. BMW engine. New suspension components that were never included in the DB5s that Aston Martin made in the 1960s.

Regardless, Eon Productions is turning to one the most iconic images of its James Bond film series. The question is whether this may be one time too many.

The original DB5 was introduced in Goldfinger and made a return in Thunderball. While other Aston models showed up in various Bond films, the DB5 wasn’t seen again in a 007 outing until 1995’s GoldenEye.

In that film, the DB5 appeared to be Bond’s personal car. Ditto for 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. A left-handed drive version then appeared in 2006’s Casino Royale, something he won in a card game.

But the DB5 — an original right-hand drive version — was back in 2012’s Skyfall. This time, director Sam Mendes made sure everyone knew it was (or at least it was supposed to be) the original Goldfinger car. And, indeed, every time I saw the film in the theater, it got a rise out of the audience.

The DB5 was blown up in Skyfall, a somewhat emotional moment. But all was forgotten in 2015’s SPECTRE when Q (improbably) had it rebuilt. And Daniel Craig’s Bond appeared to drive off into the sunset at the end of the movie.

Since then, we’ve gotten expensive Lego DB5s and even more expensive replica DB5s with replica gadgets that Aston Martin is selling for more than $3 million each. That’s a lot of money, especially they’re not legal to drive in actual traffic.

Regardless, the DB5 (at least a faux version) is back for Bond 25. Daniel Craig told Prince Charles the secrets of the Bond 25 DB5s when the prince visited Pinewood Studios in June. Now the replica DB5 will soon be at work when Bond 25 begins filming in Italy in a few weeks.

I never really thought I’d say this, but I’m getting tired of the DB5.

Yes, people collect vintage cars. But does it really make sense for Bond to drive what’s supposed to be a 55-year-old (or so) car on a regular basis?

Yes, the DB5 is an iconic Bond car — or at least it was. But is it getting used too much?

Haphazard Stuff, which does very amusing, detailed videos, recently did a long look at Bond 25. He examined the DB5 issue, starting at the 33:36 mark. You can see the video below. (If I did this correctly, it’ll go to the DB5 discussion when you click.) Anyway, some food for thought.

Bond’s special relationship: Broccoli and Craig

Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and current James Bond star Daniel Craig

However Bond 25 turns out — and there’s a lot of filming yet to go — the movie may wrap up a noteworthy era: the relationship between Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig.

The two have a closer producer-star relationship than any other in Bond film history.

Don’t take the blog’s word for it. Statements and actions made over the years demonstrate it.

2006: During production of Craig’s debut Bond film, Casino Royale, the Eon boss commented during an interview about Craig in historic terms.

Well, he’s a phenomenal actor. I think he’s the actor that defines his generation of actors.

Generation is an imprecise term. Still, it’s probably fair to say the generation of Craig (b. 1968) includes George Clooney (b. 1961), Brad Pitt (b. 1963), Matt Damon (b. 1970), Ben Affleck (b. 1972), Idris Elba (b. 1972) and Leonardo DiCaprio (b. 1974).

2015: SPECTRE poster reveals that Daniel Craig is one of three co-producers. It’s the first time that a Bond actor has received any type of producing credit.

2015: With SPECTRE, Craig’s fourth film as James Bond about to come out, Barbara Broccoli says in a Huffington Post story she’s in denial about a Craig-less James Bond future.

“I just don’t want to think about it,” Barbara tells HuffPostUK on the subject of 007’s eventual replacement. “I’m in denial. I don’t want to think about that day. Daniel Craig is Bond, forever, as far as I’m concerned.”

2017: With Daniel Craig secured for Bond 25, Barbara Broccoli describes her feelings to a podcast by The Hollywood Reporter.

Until Craig announced in August 2017 he’d be back, Broccoli said: “My heart was breaking.” In response to a question, she says all the Bond actors have been good but Craig is the best Bond. “He is particularly incredible.”

2018: A number of Bond 25 press releases (SUCH AS THIS ONE and THIS ONE) list Daniel Craig along with Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson at the beginning as if Craig was right there in making the decision. That’s new territory for the Bond film series.

2019: During a livestream about Bond 25, the host, sitting with Barbara Broccoli says, “Let’s have a little reminder of how he took on this iconic character and truly made it his own.” A montage of clips from Craig’s James Bond films follows.

2019: Barbara Broccoli says in an interview she hasn’t given up on the idea that Daniel Craig may return after Bond 25.  “He’s so much a part of the whole process, we’ll make a great movie and then see what happens.”

Blofeld: Why the character deserves fan admiration

Spoiler adverse should stop reading now.

Christoph Waltz in SPECTRE

By Gert Waterink, Guest Writer
Last week, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported that Christoph Waltz, who played Blofeld in SPECTRE, would reprise the role in Bond 25.

I support Waltz’s return. Yes, SPECTRE wasn’t a masterpiece of a Bond film. Far from it. The foster brother plot element was far fetched and perceived as a forced effort to bring back a new kind of Blofeld.

Most Bond fans and general movie audiences didn’t buy it. Nor did they buy the rather convoluted scheme from SPECTRE to sell large amounts of intelligence data packed in a new intelligence IT system to its highest bidder: the British intelligence community.

Execution, Smart Writing
Still, Blofeld is alive and Bond’s links to that man and his heritage have compromised the British Secret Service.

The history of Daniel Craig’s Bond (young bloke in Casino Royale while being an orphan from Scotland in Skyfall) is in place. Some sense needs to be made out of that.

By completely ignoring those elements, you risk producing an adventure that doesn’t do justice to Bond as a a fully rounded character.

Turning Bond 25 into an action flick reminiscent of the last 007 films of Roger Moore and Sean Connery doesn’t work.

I find it plot wise more logical to do something with the radical (and badly executed) fact that a legendary Bond villain (Waltz’s Blofeld)  has been left alive with a broken leg and a bloody scar on his face.

Only now it must be executed better.  Blofeld’s return will admittedly be a precarious affair..

Anthony Dawson (with Eric Pohlman dubbing the voice)  played puppet master Blofeld in From Russia With Love and Thunderball.

His uncredited Blofeld managed to have a tiny amount of screen time, while at the same time being a pivotal plot device to the overall villainous scheme and infusing some much needed horror and scare to movie audiences.

Add to that James himself, who after retiring from M6 isn’t aware about Blofeld shaking and stirring a new and much better executed villain’s plot. A return of Blofeld can become more palatable for even the most orthodox Bond fan.

Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux at the end of SPECTRE.

Respect for an Antagonist
Apart from bringing back Blofeld, some fans should also try and find some love for a character that was, indeed, (co-)devised by Ian Fleming himself.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the books was the head of SPECTRE, but he introduced the character foremost to get out of too much political waters (an antagonist not bound to any nation has got its advantages).

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman found that admirable. They changed the plot of the cinematic adaptation of From Russia With Love in such a way that Russia wouldn’t be the prime aggressor.

Instead, it was Blofeld all along! He was, together with Kronsteen, the author of all that humiliation to James Bond! Ian Fleming eventually was very pleased with the film.

Blofeld: A ‘Push the Buttons’ Villain
There is also a larger-than-life quality to Blofeld that makes his actions more defensible than many fans would like to see.

Blofeld has weird psychotic traits. Blofeld is much more the man who acts out of sheer psychotic…..fun. Just revisit The Garden Of Death in Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice, and we are back with both feet on the ground: the world of Bond isn’t that logical sometimes!

Even in the first Bond films, Blofeld was the man who took great pleasure in torturing and killing his adversaries in an all too theatrical way. Pressing a button here, drilling a little hole in Bond’s skull there: that’s Blofeld. But it was fun, entertaining and, admittedly, slightly gory. And Fleming knew that aspect too.

More Logic, Better Explanations
Yes, I think it’s pivotal to get rid of that bit of foster brother backstory. It turned Blofeld and Bond into two brotherly losers who could not stay professional within their own organisations: MI6 and SPECTRE.

Yet, I think it’s not a big problem to simply ignore that aspect while at the same time let Blofeld return with some of the aforementioned brilliance.

Let us also not forget that the prime villain of Bond 25 will be played by Rami Malek. So we should also not panic like headless chickens now Christoph Waltz has been seen at Pinewood Studios.

It is Rami Malek who gets more screen time in Bond 25. It is his role who probably devises an ingenious plot, which, rumour has it is about genetic warfare.

Such a scheme, and a hopefully rich performance by Rami Malek, will probably leave not too much space for more complicated revelations about Bond and Blofeld’s failed childhood.

Patience, Please
In any case, ignoring SPECTRE is one way to create a more critically acclaimed Bond film in cinemas as of next year. But there are more ways to Rome, more ways to produce a masterpiece of a Bond film.

So patience is a virtue too. Perhaps the Bond fan community should look into that a bit more often, so that we don’t write off a film before it’s even released.