The ‘Culture’ section of the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper (September 19) was a real treat for 007 fans, as it carried what it called the ‘exclusive inside story of No Time To Die‘. Adorned with a great-looking Daniel Craig/gunbarrel front cover, the magazine devoted 6 pages to discussion of all things Bond, including a main article penned by Jonathan Dean, who has been following the making of and fortunes of the new Bond movie since it commenced production in 2019.

Dean provided a useful summary of the various stages in the new film’s evolution, ranging from director Danny Boyle’s departure from the film in August, 2018, through to the appointment of Cary Joji Fukunaga as new director in September, 2018, and the commencement of filming a few months later in 2019 – much to the relief of everybody. Some of the ups and downs of the movie were also noted in Dean’s article: Craig’s unfortunate injury in May, 2019; an explosion on set at Pinewood in June, 2019; and Craig’s lobbying for the addition of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of the script dialogue writers.

Four months later, just as Craig and Broccoli were side by side in New York, gearing up for the release of the new movie, Dean was able to ask Craig what he would miss most about being Bond: ‘It was very sad to finish the last day’, he responded. And would he have a say in the appointment of his successor? Craig said: ‘No, and I don’t want to. But I will be front and centre watching that film’.

Dean’s article also contained various extracts from his other interviews with the main stars around the time when the new movie was originally due for release. But then the most unwelcome news hit: that the theatrical release of the film was being delayed until November, 2020, due to Covid concerns. The Covid variants forced the producers to then reluctantly delay the release again, to April, 2021. But, as the situation became even more fraught, the release was delayed yet again, to September 30, 2021. Moreover, as Dean pointed out, the EON producers were insistent that the new Bond film was not for streaming. Barbara Broccoli told Dean: ‘The fact is we’ve stuck to insisting on a theatrical release… We’re holding out, believing cinemas will be coming back in a big way’.

Some other interesting points also emerged in Dean’s ‘Culture’ magazine article. Asked in May, 2021, about the recent purchase of MGM by Amazon, and what the deal may mean for the future of Bond, Barbara Broccoli said: ‘The truth is we don’t know’. She added that, at that moment (May), they (EON) were not really any more enlightened about what Amazon wanted to do and how they saw things: ‘We are hoping they are going to want a strong theatrical line-up. Let us hope that is the case, but we won’t know until later this year…’.

For Their Eyes Only

Similarly, Dean’s article also contained some further thoughts from the EON producers on the future of Bond and who might replace Craig, given in an interview in August, 2021. Michael G. Wilson told Dean: ‘Daniel’s made an indelible impression. So it’s inevitable that what he brought will be, in some way, incorporated. We don’t have any frontrunners – we haven’t even thought about it – but whoever it is will take on the role and adapt the character to their personality. It’s always been the case’.

And Broccoli explained: ‘It’s a big decision for us because we’re entering into a partnership with an actor. It’s not like casting a movie when you find the best actor at the time – it’s about resetting the whole template for the movies to come’. She added: ‘And we have to make that decision. We’re not going to make it based on polls’.

The ‘Culture’ section of the Sunday Times also carried some further tie-in coverage, where key directors, actors and authors were invited to share their best Bond moments. Sam Mendes, for example, pointed to the parachute ski jump in the opening credits of The Spy Who Loved Me, while Wiliam Boyd was full of praise for the novel From Russia With Love and how the movie version was very faithful to some key scenes.

Tickets have already gone on sale for the UK release of No Time To Die. Welcome back, Mr. Bond. We’ve been expecting you.