The Bond 25 (opens in new tab) trailer has finally arrived! Watch the first footage from No Time to Die above, and read our breakdown with director Cary Joji Fukunaga below.
James Bond will return.
That’s the promise made at the end of each and every one of 007’s big screen outings. But after a series of production setbacks so devious even SPECTRE couldn’t have dreamt them up, Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as Her Majesty’s long-serving secret service agent – No Time to Die, though colloquially known as Bond 25 – is now just four months away. Parachuted in to direct after Danny Boyle’s eleventh hour departure, Cary Joji Fukunaga (best known for the stunning first season of True Detective) has made a film that’s equal parts traditional and unexpected.
“Someone asked me very early on: ‘What are you going to have Bond do that he’s never done before?’” Fukunaga tells GamesRadar+ and Total Film (opens in new tab). “I kind of hated that question, because I don’t think about it that way. It’s more like, ‘OK, let’s make things as hard as possible for him. Now, how is he going to get out?’”
The deck is certainly stacked against Bond in No Time To Die. Officially retired and living off the grid when we re-join him in Jamaica, not only has Bond seemingly been betrayed by his former lover Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld is back to twist the knife. And that’s before we get to Rami Malek’s villainous Safin, who makes his menacing debut here.
At a recent junket in New York, we sat down with Fukunaga to comb through No Time To Die’s first trailer, which you can watch above. Topics covered include Bond’s new tricked out Aston Martin, Safin’s unsettling mask, Blofeld’s surprise return, Ana de Armas’s “subversive” femme fatale and Lashana Lynch’s new double-O agent. Read our Q&A with the director below (edited for clarity).
Let’s start with the No Time to Die trailer’s big talking point – you’ve put mini guns in the Aston Martin!
Yes! I’ve always been a fan of mini guns. I put one in my last show, too – Maniac.
Are you homaging the gadget-packed Aston from Goldfinger?
Not specifically. I built one of the Goldfinger Lego DB5s during prep, when we were first writing the screenplay. It’s nice to be doing something with your hands while you’re hashing out the story, so over the course of a week I built one of these Lego Aston Martins. One of the things that made me realise with the machine guns was having them behind the orange signal lights does not make sense in the real world. So when I was sitting there with Chris Corbould, who’s a special effects magician for many Bond films, and Chris Nolan’s films too, looking at where the mini guns could go I said, “What if we added them to the main headlights?”
The opening chase sequence was filmed in Matera, Italy – a World Heritage Site. How do you film car chases and motorbike stunts in a place like that?
I remember second unit got in first, and when I got there we had lots of conversations about all the tyre marks they’d left. But apparently tyre marks wash off pretty easily. If there was any place where a car would make contact with a building, the art department would build protective walls. There was a lot of care put into making sure that nothing in the city could potentially be damaged by what we were doing. And the city itself was pretty fastidious about making sure everything was safe.
The trailer opens in Matera, but chronologically the film starts with Bond in Jamaica...
It’s funny, when I watched the final version of the trailer I thought, “I wonder what order people think these events take place?” I don’t want to spoil it for you. I’d rather that when you watch the film, you’re not expecting to see something, which is hard to do when we’re so inundated with imagery ahead of time. But, Jamaica does play a part, and Jamaica is a place where Bond is retired. It’s going back to the spiritual home of James Bond, where Ian Fleming wrote the novels.
We shot really, really close to (Ian Fleming's estate in Jamaica) GoldenEye. Early scouts got to go to GoldenEye a couple of times. I took a snorkelling trip with Grace Jones out in the waters in front of Ian Fleming’s house when I was trying to woo her into being in the film. I got to soak it in a little bit. When we ultimately chose the location for the home, there was no house there. We built that house, and used local workers. It was pretty amazing to watch those guys build that in the time they had to do it. Once we tore it down all that timber was used for local structures.
Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter hasn’t appeared in a Bond film since Quantum Of Solace. Why bring him back now?
I really looked at Casino Royale. For me, [Leiter] is a lynchpin for the whole thing. I was trying to figure out: from Casino to this story, what can we tell as a complete arc? It just felt like Felix had to be a part of that story. He was such a key part of Casino, and such a fun character. And Felix in Dr. No was an important character in Jamaica. So, why not?
M seems unaware of Bond’s whereabouts. Has Bond gone off grid since retiring?
Yeah, he’s got burner phones. He’s not really attached to the real world. You’ve seen in other films, after the opening of Skyfall (opens in new tab), but also in Spectre (opens in new tab), there’s this desire to get away. So we decided that in the period between Spectre and now, he would have had that time to just disappear. And live the life that he probably always wanted to live.
Bond drives off into the sunset with Madeleine at the end of Spectre, but it doesn’t seem like they got their happily ever after...
You have to watch the film to find out what happened.
There hasn’t been a returning Bond girl since Eunice Gayson in From Russia With Love. Was bringing Madeleine back an exciting way to break with convention?
I thought Dr. Swann was the first person to continue and not be “fridged”, until Barbara [Broccoli] told me otherwise! Some people might look at it as a burden, and some people might look at it as an opportunity, when you’re inheriting characters or story points. The way I saw it was: there’s a lot of rich material to draw from. And then there’s also the joy of continuity. So for the people who know the stories, to be able topick up on some of these things, plus leitmotifs and other references to previous films; it just enriches the experience.
Blofeld is back as well, and seems to be taking a page out of Hannibal Lecter’s book...
Well, he’s in a maximum security prison. But in terms of being a cannibal… [laughs]
Would it be a stretch to say Blofeld is now helping Bond?
I can’t tell you exactly what that relationship is there. But we’re trying to honour the legacy of the story, and what Blofeld’s meant for the Bond character for so long. In Spectre, they establish different roots to their relationship. So this film, I think in many ways, tries to continue that adversarial relationship. But obviously, with the obstruction that Blofeld’s in prison.
Silva’s cell in Skyfall was Lecter-inspired. Where did the design for Blofeld’s cramped containment cell come from?
I was trying to think of something creepy. I’ve always thought those chairs that take senior citizens up stairwells as being a little… there’s just something really spooky about them. I liked the idea that rather than you approaching that person, that person is foisted on you – it’s much more disconcerting. There was this Japanese variety show that pulls pranks on people. One of them was where patients are pushed into a CT scan, and this old woman is inside – a real person, extremely close to the participant. It freaks everyone out. She licks their nose or something. I like that idea of pushing into the personal space. That was the feeling of the design of the set.
There’s another Japanese connection in Safin’s broken Noh Mask...
I’ve always liked those masks, and I like the duality of them. So their expression subtle changes, based on the angle of the face, which I like. It’s just almost the blankness of the expression, and the paleness of it. So that compared with the wintery landscape when we introduce that mask – to me, it just went really well together. It was harmonious imagery.
Bond says to Safin, “History’s not kind to men who play gods.” Does Safin have a god complex?
Every villain does. Every tyrant and villain is trying to play God in some way, right? They see themselves higher than everyone else. They’re pulling the strings. There’s an entitlement there, and a playfulness. So yeah, I guess all the great villains play God.
Safin appears to have facial scarring. Is that a result of the damage done to the mask, or is there another cause?
I can’t really tell you about that one…
We learn that Lashana Lynch’s Nomi has been a double-0 for two years. Is she Bond’s equal?
She’s younger. In terms of experience, maybe not a match. But in terms of ambition and skill? Definitely.
Does Ana de Armas’s Paloma occupy more of a traditional femme fatale role?
Sort of. We tried to subvert that as much as possible. The character was there when Phoebe Waller-Bridge came on board. But Phoebe and I spent a lot of time discussing: “How do you make what people expect out of this iconic Bond character, that we see in these Bond films, surprising but fun, intelligent and a person in their own right?” Ana was someone I wanted to work with for a while. We almost did a project together the year before. So when this was coming about, that character didn’t even exist in earlier drafts. I just texted her. I was like, “Hey, Ana, do you want to do a cameo?” And basically, I created a character around her, and tried to do something that Ana hadn’t done before.
No Time To Die opens in UK cinemas on 2 April 2020.