In the many prolonged months leading up to its release, No Time to Die was touted as the final outing for Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond. Since he first took the role in 2007's Casino Royale, Craig’s time with the character has been a fascinating one, and it was interesting to see how it would end for real this time after seemingly coming to an end with Spectre.
In a spoiler filled interview with Variety, Craig, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson talk about how the ending and Craig’s sendoff was ultimately crafted.
At the end of the film, James Bond definitively, concretely dies. Injected with a bioweapon that would specifically kill his lover Madeline Swann and any of her relatives, including their young daughter Mathilde, Bond orders an airstrike on the island he’s stranded on, ensuring the virus can never be replicated again. Heroic as it is, the fate for Craig’s Bond is a first for the character’s 59-year cinematic history.
The ending came about in part because that’s how Craig wanted his time as the character to go. After the Berline premiere of Casino, he talked to producer Broccoli about his future with the series. Upon learning he had four films in his contract, he knew how he wanted to go out. “I went, “Oh, okay. Can I kill him off in the last one?” Craig recalled. “It’s the only way I could see for myself to end it all and to make it like that was my tenure, someone else could come and take over.”
Fortunately, Broccoli accepted Craig’s proposal, even as Craig himself didn’t bring it up again until this specific film. For Wilson, who’s been a producer on every Bond film since 1972's Moonraker, it just made sense for the character to go out this way. In the Bond novels From Russia with Love and You Only Live Twice, creator Ian Fleming almost killed off the spy, giving the move some precedent. For the films, Wilson and the team realized this was going to come eventually. “Eventually, he said, “the odds catch up with you.” Bond’s so used to being lucky and surviving by the skin of his teeth that everyone considered it “emotionally important” for audiences to realize that the character’s trademark luck can only go so far.
Bond’s death was already decided by the time Fukunaga was brought on to direct, but the method was left all up to him. Fukunaga recalled how there were multiple iterations, including Bond just being shot by an anonymous bullet. Thematically, Fukunaga found it fitting, but both he and Craig knew it had to be a situation he couldn’t get out of, with the actor stressing that it “had to have weight...if we hadn’t have got that weight, I don’t think we would’ve done it. We would’ve found another way of ending it.”
No Time to Die is now available to rent or own.
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