‘No Time to Die’: Who Is the Director Behind the New James Bond Movie?

By the time Bond 25 — aka No Time to Die — arrives in theaters, James Bond fans will have waited five years since Spectre. Despite its financial success, that film wasn’t exactly a high point of the series. So now No Time to Die bears the weight of bringing Daniel Craig’s run as 007 to a satisfying close.

The film’s first trailer hints at a crowd-pleasing sendoff for Craig. Even as No Time to Die updates the series for modern audiences, the film looks like it will check all the boxes for both die-hard fans and newcomers alike. With so much riding on the new Bond film, let’s take a look at the man behind No Time to Die: director Cary Fukunaga.

Cary Joji Fukunaga and Daniel Craig at the 'Bond 25' film launch
Cary Joji Fukunaga and Daniel Craig at the ‘Bond 25’ film launch | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

A first for the long-running James Bond series

Considering No Time to Die is the 25th Bond film, it’s easy to assume the series has run out of fresh ground to cover. However, by all accounts, Craig’s last Bond looks like it’s bringing a bit of a new perspective to the nearly 60-year-old franchise. Part of that might be coming from Fukunaga himself.

No Time to Die is actually the first entry in the Bond series to be directed by an American. Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) was originally slated to helm the film. But when he dropped out, Fukunaga stepped into the director’s chair.

Notably, Sam Mendes directed both 2012’s Skyfall and Spectre. So bringing in a filmmaker like Fukunaga feels like a deliberate change of pace from the last two installments. After all, Fukunaga has never taken on a film of this scope before.

Cary Fukunaga’s road to 007 started at HBO

Fukunaga made his feature film debut with 2009’s Sin Nombre, a Spanish-language thriller produced by Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. Then in 2011, he directed an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. But his real breakthrough came a few years later.

In 2014, Fukunaga directed all eight episodes of HBO’s True Detective Season 1. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the anthology crime drama proved a critical and ratings hit. And Fukunaga’s career experienced a significant boost, as a result.

Since then, he has created the Netflix series Maniac and directed 2015’s Beasts of No Nation for the streaming service. He also has a writing credit on 2017’s It but ultimately did not direct the film. So No Time to Die will be his first directorial feature in five years.

What will this new director bring to ‘Bond 25’?

In all his work, Fukunaga brings a sense of stylized realism. Whether it’s the Louisiana setting of True Detective or the horrors of American-Ghanaian war in Beasts of No Nation, he captures the gravity of his subject without sacrificing visual flair. Based on the No Time to Die trailer, his next project will continue that tradition.

It certainly helps that Fukunaga has cinematographer Linus Sandgren in his corner. Sandgren won the Academy Award for shooting La La Land in 2017. And his partnership with Fukunaga looks like it will bear considerable fruit for longtime Bond fans.

Fukunaga may be untested when it comes to these big event films. But that’s precisely why he’s such an exciting choice. For Craig’s final Bond, the franchise needs something special. No Time to Die should qualify.