With the arrival of No Time to Die, Daniel Craig is hanging up the tuxedo after five movies and 15 years of playing one of film’s most celebrated heroes, MI6 spy James Bond. Craig’s widely acclaimed tenure almost didn’t last so long.
Despite all-time franchise coups like Casino Royale (2015) and Skyfall (2012), Craig almost walked away from the role after the release of 2015’s Spectre (a film he finished with a broken leg), even bemoaning that year that he’d rather “slit my wrists” than play 007 again (the actor has since said he was joking). In 2017, Craig announced he would in fact give Bond one more go.
“I’m just really happy I did, because for a while I didn’t think I was gonna make a fifth one,” Craig tells us during a recent virtual press day for No Time to Die (watch full cast interviews above). “But the story we had in our head and all of these things came together. I had some rest. I’m just tremendously proud. I’m tremendously proud of all of the films we collectively have made. Because as you can imagine, it’s a pretty big effort from a lot of people.”
“He was totally exhausted after [Spectre], emotionally and psychologically, he just didn't even want to think about doing another Bond film,” Wilson tells us in a separate interview with Broccoli. “He throws himself into it, and always puts 100 percent-plus in it. And it’s emotionally draining, it’s physically draining.”
“He felt he’d done enough and didn’t want to return,” Broccoli says. “And we sort of allowed him that for a little brief time [laughs], until he was rested. And then we started talking to him again about the fact that we didn't feel the story had concluded, that his story had concluded. And once we started talking to him about the possibilities, he got really excited.”
Craig ultimately felt like he had unfinished business. And for Craig, Broccoli and Wilson, the key was in unlocking a truly emotional Bond story that would give the actor’s deeply loved personification of 007 a proper send-off. Early receipts say they were successful: No Time to Die is being widely hailed as one of the most emotional Bond movies ever made.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) from a script he co-wrote with Neil Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the series’ 25th film finds Bond trying to get away from the spy life, too. Having abandoned both MI6 and his girlfriend Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) five years earlier and now living in Jamaica, Bond is drawn back into action by old CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) as a terrorist named Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) threatens the globe with a fast-acting bioweapon.
Craig has said he’s hoped Bond has “changed a lot” while he’s been a part of him the past decade and a half, and one very noticeable evolution apparent in No Time to Die is Bond’s faithfulness to his love interests. It started with his deep affection for Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, and it continues with his relationship with Madeleine in No Time to Die. It’s 2021, and James Bond is far less promiscuous than he’s ever been.
“Listen, he's not done too badly,” Craig laughs. “I hope we've sort of changed things. A lot of things that were acceptable in 1962 when they made [the first Bond movie Dr. No] are just not part of the world anymore. And I feel like to have someone that reflects modern life is really important… Bond movies have always sort of mirrored the world around [them].”
Seydoux credits gender portrayals and the treatment of women in Craig’s Bond movies in large part to the actor himself, calling him “a feminist.”
Lashana Lynch, who play rival MI6 agent Nomi, has seen that trend develop since Craig's first rodeo.
“As soon as Daniel joined the franchise and I saw Casino Royale, I thought, ‘Oh, there's something happening here,'” she says.
“Relationships have always been a challenge for him,” explains Broccoli. “And that's been an area that we've really loved exploring, both in the romantic side of his life, but also in his relationships with the people at MI6 that he sort of developed as a family as well. So we really wanted to push the character in those directions as much as possible. And Daniel was the man to do it.”
No Time to Die is now playing.
Watch the trailer:
— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jimmie Rhee