Phoebe Waller-Bridge Says Daniel Craig ‘Let Us In’ to James Bond’s Emotions in ‘No Time to Die’

Screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge contributed to GQ’s cover story on Daniel Craig. The magazine published their profile on the James Bond actor on March 9 as No Time to Die was scheduled for release in April. MGM and EON Productions have delayed the film to November out of concerns over the coronavirus around the world.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Phoebe Waller-Bridge | John Sciulli/Getty Images for Turner

Waller-Bridge is a new addition to the James Bond canon. No Time to Die will be the 25th official 007 film, and Craig’s fifth and last. GQ’s profile covers Craig’s entire biography as an actor, and some topless cheesecake photos of Craig. Here is what Waller-Bridge and Craig revealed about the new film.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge pierced Daniel Craig’s tough exterior

It was Craig’s idea to hire Waller-Bridge. She e-mailed GQ her thoughts about how he opened up to her, sometimes.

“He let us in a bit, which makes the moments he shuts us out even more arresting,” Waller-Bridge wrote. “Overall he grounded a fantasy character in real emotion, which is what I think we hadn’t realised we’d missed amongst the action and the bravado.”

Daniel Craig still gave Phoebe Waller-Bridge notes

No one needs to tell the writer of Fleabag and Killing Eve how to write. However, after four films, James Bond is Craig’s role. He gets a say and Waller-Bridge was happy to listen.

“He is incredibly passionate about the work,” Waller-Bridge told GQ. “Bond is very close to his heart, and he fights for the integrity of the character every step of the way.”

What Daniel Craig wanted in ‘No Time to Die’

Spectre saw James Bond retire with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). Obviously he’s back in action for No Time to Die and the trailer hints that she’s still holding some secrets. Craig told GQ he was focused on Bond’s capacity for true love.

“The biggest ideas are the best,” Craig said. “And the biggest ideas are love and tragedy and loss. They just are, and that’s what I instinctively want to aim for. I think we’ve done it, with No Time To Die. I think we’ve got to this place—and it was to discover his love, that he could be in love and that that was okay.”

That sort of began with Bond’s very first heartbreak, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale. That came from Ian Fleming’s novel. Now the films are in Craig’s and Waller-Bridge’s territory.

“This is my last movie,” Craig told GQ. “I’ve kept my mouth shut before and I’ve stayed out of it and I’ve respected it and I’ve regretted that I did. I’ve been very forceful in meetings and often way too blunt and probably completely rude,” Craig said. “But I’m like, We’re here! Come on! And I always say sorry.”

‘No Time to Die’ still has a political subtext

Also buried in the GQ story are hints that No Time to Die tackles modern politics, at least inasmuch as any modern James Bond film does in the background.

“We struggled to keep Trump out of this film, but of course it is there,” Craig said. “It’s always there, whether it’s Trump, or whether it’s Brexit, or whether it’s Russian influence on elections or whatever.” 

The hard road to ‘No Time to Die’ 

No Time to Die suffered delays long before the coronavirus. Danny Boyle was originally scheduled to direct. When he dropped out and they hired Cary Fukunaga, they pushed the 2019 release date to 2020. Waller-Bridge added dialogue once Fukunaga was attached.

“Danny had ideas, and the ideas didn’t work out, and that was just the way it was,” Craig said. “I would love to have gone into this and had a script that we could shoot and it just didn’t happen. There were so many things that went against it.”

Daniel Craig as James Bond in No Time to Die
Daniel Craig as James Bond in No Time to Die | Nicola Dove/Danjaq LLC/MGM

Waller-Bridge joined frequent Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with Craig’s input.

“How much of Phoebe’s is in there, who knows?” Craig guessed. “We’re all in it somewhere. Phoebe’s in it, Cary’s in it, the writers are in it. We battled it and battled it and battled it. Who knows?”