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For decades now, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli’s Eon Productions has maintained creative control over James Bond’s silver screen presence, including final word on scripts, casting, and promotional materials. Before passing in 1996, Cubby left the keys to the Bond kingdom (and all those Aston Martins) to his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, and son, Barbara's half-brother Michael G. Wilson, who have been at the wheel since 1995’s Goldeneye.
Together, the duo has been instrumental in shepherding Bond from a post-Cold War world to a post-9/11 one, to now, in which the English super spy has found himself dealing with the darker side of espionage, such that Roger Moore might not know what to make of it.
A lot of the franchise’s success in navigating such a gritty shift can rightly be attributed to then-character actor Daniel Craig boldly being cast as Bond ahead of 2005’s Casino Royale. Ever since, the now capital-A-list leading man has put his own stamp on the role, and will do so again for one final bowtie-adorned bow when No Time to Die opens wide this weekend.
The (MGM) lion’s share of credit for casting Craig can go squarely on the shoulders of Broccoli and Wilson, who stuck to their initial instincts about the relative unknown, even as backlash to the casting choice reverberated loudly. (You can get a good sense of the doubters in the new Apple TV+ documentary that goes inside the Craig era, Being James Bond.)
With Craig finally finishing up his historic run, SYFY WIRE spoke to Broccoli and Wilson ahead of No Time to Die's debut about sticking to their Walther PPKs to initially cast Craig, why Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann is the right character at the right time to finally see a “Bond Girl” return for a second 007 film, and why they haven’t even discussed what comes next in a post-Craig era.
Watching Being James Bond, I was impressed by just how much you both stuck to your guns with the casting of Daniel Craig. I’m wondering how your initial expectations of that have met reality now?
Michael G. Wilson: Well, more than I certainly even hoped for. I knew we had a great actor and we were gonna have a great Bond, but boy, Casino Royale just blew me out of the water, and it’s just gotten better and better the more time goes on.
And it’s not just having a great actor who can do all the things we need to take Bond into the 21st century and develop the character with some heart and emotion, but he’s a wonderful human being, he’s a great person to work with, he’s a wonderful man. And you can’t ask for more than that to have both the talent and the human being, and that’s the great thing, and that’s what’s been a great surprise to me, and makes me feel absolutely delighted with our casting.
Barbara Broccoli: I knew he was going to be great, there was no question in my mind, but he constantly surpasses all expectations, with each film he’s just gotten better and better. He’s now a legend in the cinema, I think.
Do you think Oscar considerations are in order for this film?
Broccoli: Well, that’s up for other people to decide. I mean, I think so many of his performances have been Oscar-worthy in the past, and I’m sure many more in the future too. He’s just an extraordinary actor. I think he’s the best actor around, I mean, there’s no one like him.
I read that Lea is the first “Bond girl” to return in a film, if you can call her a “Bond girl,” why is now the right time to have a “Bond girl” return?
Broccoli: Well it was part of the story. Part of the story was, at the end of Spectre, Bond meets the woman that’s going to be his partner in life, which was Léa Seydoux, Madeleine Swann. She’s an appropriate partner for him, because she understands who he is; you know, she grew up with her father, who was an assassin, so she understands the complexity of that world. And at the end of that film, we saw them go off into the sunset, and Daniel said that was going to be his last movie.
I didn’t feel the story had ended there, and after some time we approached Daniel and said, ‘Look, I think there’s still more to do, to conclude your tenure.’ So we talked about it, so it was obvious that the character of Madeleine Swann would come back. We started by saying, ‘Well, what would happen to them when they went off to have a life outside of the service?’ And this movie is the answer to that question.
Wilson: I think, as Barbara said, that [Madeleine] is the only woman who completely understands Bond, because Mr. White [Jesper Christensen] was her father, and she’s a psychologist. But if we were gonna explore these elements that we wanted to explore beyond what we’ve done in the past, we needed an actress and a love interest that was extremely personal and meaningful to James Bond. And of course, she was it. And in order to do what we did, we needed to have the emotional stakes be extremely high, and she was the one character who could make them significant enough to do what we’ve done in the film.
Is there a tentative timeline for future installments, and how to carry on in the future? And is there anything stopping you from just running it back with what we’ve got with Lashana Lynch as 007?
Wilson: I think that we haven’t even thought about that. We haven’t even discussed among ourselves. You know, this is us getting through the Daniel period, you know, making five films over 15 years with him, exploring the things we’ve done with Bond, and taking the new directions we’ve taken it, has opened up some possibilities.
But they’re not things we’ve discussed, or explored, or even thought about. So I guess we’re just going to wait and see.
This is also the first time that we’ve had an American director in Cary Joji Fukunaga, how has that changed the dynamic?
Wilson: It’s true, it’s the first time we’ve had an American director, but Cary is an international person. He speaks several languages, he’s traveled the world, he’s very sophisticated, he understands a lot of things. Barbara pointed out earlier that he’s extremely curious, that makes him have the intellectual curiosity and the ability to really explore the different ideas. He’s a writer; his films have been extremely diverse; he hasn’t stuck to one genre at all, he’s tried all different kinds of things. He’s certainly not a typical director, American or British or anything else, he’s a man of the world, he’s very sophisticated.
No Time to Die opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, Oct. 8.