Daniel Craig and filmmaker discuss shocking conclusion

SPOILER WARNING: This story is about the end of “No Time to Die,” currently available for rental and digital purchase. Please don’t read if you haven’t seen the movie.

If audiences knew anything about entering “No Time to Die”, it was that Daniel Craig’s fifth film as James Bond – and the 25th (official) James Bond – was also Craig’s last film in action. as a dashing secret agent. At first glance, this was not unusual: Created by Sean Connery in 1962 in “Dr. No,” Bond has been played by six actors over the past 59 years, keeping the Bond films perpetually alive as the franchise of oldest films in the history of cinema.

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What most audiences were not to expect, however, was How? ‘Or’ What Craig completed his tenure as Agent 007.

In the film, the main villain, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), comes into possession of Heracles, a microscopic weapon designed by the British government to target a specific person using DNA nanobots. They can pass harmlessly through anyone, often unintentionally, just through skin-to-skin contact, and Safin has modified the weapon to attack the DNA of entire families. Worse yet, he manufactured massive amounts on his secret island, with the intention of killing millions of people.

With no known countermeasure or cure for Heracles, Bond orders a missile strike on Safin Island, then battles a small army of Safin’s henchmen to ensure the missiles hit their target. But then Safin steps in and infects them both with a specific strain of the Heracles virus designed to kill Bond’s great love Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) – and one of her relatives, including Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet), her and Bond 5 -year-old daughter.

If Bond left the island, he would effectively sentence Madeleine and Mathilde to a horrific death once the Heracles virus inevitably passed to them. Faced with an impossible choice, Bond stays and dies in the missile strike.

Although James Bond creator novelist Ian Fleming has tried to kill the character in his books, this is the first time Bond has died onscreen – a huge twist for a franchise that has thrived on the promise that James Bond come back, always.

Remarkably, however, Bond’s death remained effectively intact for most viewers who saw the film. That’s at least in part because Craig, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, and longtime Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have been silent about the film’s ending – until now.

For a Variety In a Streaming Room conversation recorded in early December, Craig, Fukunaga, Broccoli, and Wilson first spoke in detail about the decision to kill Craig’s Bond. Below is an edited transcript of this part of the conversation.

The rest of the awards season Q&A – including how the filmmakers tapped into the rich history of the James Bond films, from production design and score to screenplay and performance, for “No Time to Die ”- will debut on January 6.

You all did something that never happened in a James Bond movie: he died in that movie. Was it something you knew you wanted to do from the start?

Michael G. Wilson: If you say the start of when is the question.

Daniel Craig: I’m going to tell a story here whether someone remembers it or not. But that was 2006. Barbara and I were sitting in the back of a car driving away from the Berlin premiere of “Casino Royale”. Everything was fine. People liked the movie. And it looked like I was going to get the chance to make at least one more movie. I said to Barbara, “How many of these films do I have to make? Because I don’t really look at contracts or any of those things. And she said, “Four,” and I said, “Oh, okay. Can I kill him in the last one? And she didn’t stop. She said yes. “So I made a deal with her at the time and I said,” This is how I would like it to be. “That’s the only way I could. see for myself to end it all and make it happen like that was my mandate, someone else could come in and take over. ”She stuck to her guns.

Barbara Broccoli: And I had to go tell Michael that and we waited to tell the studio! [Laughs] We wanted to get rid of him. It was the reality. It was like, make sure that was the way we get rid of Daniel.

Craig: When he leaves he can’t come back, that’s really what it comes down to.

So, what was this conversation between the two of you, Barbara and Michael, like about this being something Daniel wants to do and we’ve never done it before?

Wilson: Well, I… uh…

Craig: Now, listen, listen, that was ‘no’ for a long time. Do not worry. I thought it was forgotten, say it so. I haven’t traced it to this one.

Wilson: But I think what happened was at the end of the fourth we wanted Daniel to come back and he was very reluctant. I think we thought, we all thought, that was the best way to end it all. Now, you know, that wasn’t unusual, because Fleming, he tried to kill him in “From Russia With Love” and almost killed him in “You Only Live Twice”. But I think it’s the right way to deal with a situation where a person is risking their life all the time. Eventually the chances of you catching up. I think Fleming saw it and I guess in the end we came to that realization as well. Understanding the risks people like Bond take on is also very important emotionally.

There is also the risk of public reaction. There is an audience for these films that expects James Bond to save the day every time. Was that part of your calculation for what you wanted to do with it?

Craig: If you stick around until the end credits, it clearly says, “James Bond will be back.” So, it’s all right.

Wilson: Bond saves the day. He does that.

Broccoli: It is the ultimate sacrifice. As Michael says, it’s very appropriate because people in this job put themselves in danger all the time. What’s amazing is that the audience managed to keep this a secret, and it’s really a testament, I think, to Bond fans that they didn’t want to spoil the fun of others by telling them the end of the story.

Cary, when you came on board to direct the movie, was death already cooked?

Cary Joji Fukunaga: There were a few things that Barbara, Michael and Daniel had in store. It was certainly one of them. How? ‘Or’ What he will meet his end was not yet decided. It was just the fact that he would do it, so the question then is how to do it.

What has been the evolution there?

Fukunaga: There have been many, many iterations.

Can you tell me about some of them?

Fukunaga: Explode it in a rocket.

Craig: Bad oyster!

Fukunaga: A bullet, like an anonymous bullet, I remember that one. But it just seemed that a death by conventional weapons did not seem appropriate. Given how well he’d been able to evade everything else, the fact that it would just be just a bullet that would always have your name on it from the start, as some sort of thematic element seemed, albeit realistic, to Bond, he said. had to be something even beyond that – like the impossible, impossible situation.

Craig: I think the important thing was that we all tried to create a tragic situation. The idea that there is an insurmountable problem, that there is greater force at play, and that no one can do anything about it. And the greatest strength being Savin’s weapon. And that he [kills] the only thing Bond wants in life is to be with the people he loves and can’t be with them, and therefore, there is nothing worth living with. . And he would actually put their lives in danger, and that’s the last thing in the world he wants to do. So this element was incredibly important to sorting the thread in there, because it couldn’t feel like a random act. He must have been heavy – without it it wasn’t going to work. And if we hadn’t had that weight, I don’t think we would have. We would have found another way to end it.

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