In just a few months, the 25th James Bond film from Eon Productions, No Time to Die, will arrive in theaters. It's a milestone movie not just because it marks the 25th release in a franchise that's been turning out hits since Dr. No in 1962, but because it's also the final outing for Daniel Craig, who re-invigorated Bond with his steely portrayal of the character with Casino Royale in 2006 and has since gone on to play the character in four global blockbusters. It's sad to think of saying goodbye to Craig's Bond, to be sure, but it's also worth remembering that for a while no one was sure if he'd stick around for a fifth and final entry.
In 2015, back when the release of Spectre was ramping up, Craig seemed openly exhausted at the very idea of returning for another Bond film, and famously said he'd rather "slash [his] wrists" than think about doing another physically taxing James Bond shoot. Craig later walked back those comments, explaining that they really were due to the sheer exhaustion he'd felt after the Spectre shoot, which included arthroscopic surgery on his knee after an injury during a fight scene.
“I finished that movie with a broken leg,” Craig told Entertainment Weekly about his mindset after making Spectre. “I had to question myself: Was I physically capable of doing [another one] or did I want to do another one? Because that phone call to your wife saying, ‘I’ve broken my leg’ is not pleasant.”
Even after all the talk of exhaustion and injury and recovery, Craig ultimately did agree to return for yet another Bond shoot that ended up requiring a break for yet another surgery, even after he once said he'd only do another Bond for "the money." So, how did producer Barbara Broccoli win her star back? The producer explained that it was all about a feeling that there was still one more chapter in the story.
“He felt at the end of the last movie he’d kind of done it,” Broccoli said. “I said to him, ‘I don’t think you have, I think there’s still more of the story of your Bond to tell.’ Fortunately, he came around to agree with that.”
Even after Craig agreed to return, though, No Time to Die faced plenty of other challenges. Original director Danny Boyle left the project over creative differences, leaving new director Cary Joji Fukunaga with a limited timeframe in which to reshape the film to his liking. Plus, Craig was out for 10 weeks after an ankle injury that required more surgery. In terms of the plot itself, Bond is also facing some serious adversity, coming back to the spy game after a planned retirement that ultimately led to a rather nasty falling out with his lover from Spectre, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux, also returning for this film).
While we won't know exactly how No Time to Die will resolve itself until we see the film this spring, we do know that Craig has framed the film as his James Bond curtain call, which means that Broccoli and her producing partner Michael G. Wilson will soon be on a very serious hunt for a new Bond for the first time in more than a decade. It won't be an easy search, and saying goodbye to Craig will be hard, so Broccoli is doing her best to simply put off thinking about it for as long as possible.
“We still have so much to do to finish this film, to get it right, so we’re really focusing on that,” she said. “I’m in denial, to be honest, about Daniel. I can’t really confront that right now.”
No Time to Die is in theaters April 10.