The release of Bond 25 is less than six months away but the forthcoming 007 film has had a rocky gestation. The film has so far entertained a number of directors and – according to some reports – was in need of emergency co-writers. Is it on track to be the most haphazard Bond film yet? Here are the ins and outs of the project’s production so far:
Eight months before the release of Spectre, rumours start to fly that the 24th film will form the beginning of a two-story arc, to be completed by the 25th.
Speculation suggests that Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz have already signed on to reprise their Spectre roles.
The first official sign of the 25th film arrives with its shareholding company: the formation of B25 Ltd.
Spectre wraps. Bond actor Daniel Craig tells Time Out London that he would rather “slit [his] wrists” than play the agent for a fifth time. The interview won’t be published for several months. Meanwhile, Sony’s decades-long contract with Bond comes to an end, putting the distribution rights up for grabs – and everything else up in the air.
After a summer of interviews in which Craig suggests he needs a break from the franchise, it is expected that Bond 25 will be at least three years away, given that the actor claims to have a two-year career gap in his diary. Spectre is released, and the ending suggests that a few key characters – including Blofeld (Waltz) and Swann (Seydoux) – may well return for Bond 25.
After a winter of will-he, won’t-he rumour-mongering about both Craig and Mendes following Spectre’s domination of the box office, Bond 25 dominates the press for the beginning of 2016; this comes in spite of little official confirmation of who will star in it, when it will be released or what it will even be about.
Amid the flurry of gossip, the most notable rumours are that Waltz has signed on to play Blofeld in two consecutive Bond films – as long as Craig returns as 007. Craig, meanwhile, is reportedly being lured in to do both Bond 25 and 26 as long as the two are filmed back-to-back. Ralph Fiennes announces on The Graham Norton Show that he will return as M for another time – but it may be his last as the Bond boss.
Tabloid reports gain such momentum that Craig’s representatives are forced to confirm that he’s not quitting the role. This is backed up by Bond 25’s associate producer Gregg Wilson, who says that the actor’s still Bond as far as he’s concerned.
Nevertheless, speculation over who will replace Craig – whether for Bond 25 or beyond – continues to grace the newspaper pages. Every promising male actor with a new project out is asked about the role, including Aidan Turner and Tom Hiddleston. Mendes says that Craig “needs to have a break and do another role and see how he feels after that”. Fiennes backtracks on his previous comments and says his return will depend on Craig’s.
Jamie Bell and Michael Fassbender join the potential Bonds list as Mendes confirms that he will not direct Bond 25, something at which he had hinted over a year before.
In an interview with Deadline, Mendes has a distinct air of exhaustion over the whole affair, saying that Spectre “draws together all four of Daniel’s movies into one final story, and he completes a journey… There is a sense of completeness that wasn’t there at the end of Skyfall, and that’s what makes this feel different. It feels like there’s a rightness to it, that I have finished a journey.”
The announcement kicks off a whole new kind of speculation: that of who will direct Bond 25. The Night Manager’s Susanne Bier is the first thrown into the mix – with the potential of being Bond’s first female director.
A summer of increasingly wild and frustrating rumour-mongering is tempered by Craig’s first interview since the release of Spectre, at the New Yorker Festival. He states that no decision has been made over the 25th film, including whether he would be starring, but adds that he would “miss it terribly” if he were to stop. Craig seems to suggest that all involved in Bond 25 want a break, saying: “there’s no conversation going on, and genuinely because everybody’s just a bit tired.”
Mail showbiz columnist Baz Bamigboye reports that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written six Bond scripts, have been brought in for Bond 25. According to the report, Craig will decide upon seeing the script. There’s no huge rush, it seems, as he believes that filming won’t begin until autumn 2018.
A spring pockmarked by some misleading IMDB updates and Christopher Nolan-based excitement ends and, a few weeks later, the first formal announcement from the film arrives: the 25th Bond film will be released in America on November 8 2019. Cast and director news are still to come. In the meantime, the New York Times confirms that Craig is on board. Directors Yann Demange, Denis Villeneuve and David MacKenzie all make Deadline’s shortlist and the title of Shatterhand is floated.
Craig, who must suffer yet another round of film promo (this time for Logan Lucky) in which he is asked about Bond, says that no decisions have been made, although he knows “that they are desperate to get going”. Days later, he officially confirms to Stephen Colbert that he will return to play Bond for a final time in 2019 while on The Late Show. “It’s been a couple of months,” he says. “This is it. I just want to go out on a high note. I can’t wait.”
The untitled Bond 25 film faces stiff competition, as the ninth Star Wars film has its release date delayed until December 2019. Villeneuve confirms that he has been in conversations with Craig and 007 producer Barbara Broccoli, but that the gig depends on his availability.
Despite slight rent-a-quote tendencies on the film’s progress so far, Waltz now confirms that he won’t be returning as Blofeld in the next film. Those still clinging onto the notion of the film being a second part to Spectre finally have to let go.
Villeneuve rules himself out of directing Bond 25.
After press reports claim that he will direct, Danny Boyle confirms that he will be Bond 25’s director as long as the film’s producers – Broccoli, Wilson and Craig – approve of the script being written by his long-term collaborator John Hodge. Supposed details of the screenplay emerge on Reddit, including that the central villain will be a woman with a “personal connection” to Bond and that another, younger female agent will act as 007’s protégé.
EON Productions confirm that Danny Boyle will direct Craig in Bond 25, with a script written by Hodge. The film will be shot at Pinewood Studios and keep its original November 8 US release date, and come out in the UK on October 25.
Mass confusion reigns as EON Productions and Daniel Craig announce that Boyle will no longer direct Bond 25. “Creative differences” are cited, but it takes a matter of hours for alternative suggestions to emerge, including disputes over the casting of a Polish actor in the role of the villain. Industry reports suggest that Hodge’s script, thought to be a modern-day Cold War plot, has been scrapped, and producers are now looking for a new writer or writer-director to join the project.
Nevertheless, balls are rolling. There are reports of casting auditions taking place in Norway and Production Weekly raises the Shatterhand title again in a list of future film and television projects.
True Detective director Cary Joji Fukunaga is announced as Bond 25’s latest director. The news is surprising: Yann Demange had been brought back into the rumour-mill in the wake of Boyle’s departure, but few others. The release date is pushed back, to February 14, 2020, with production starting on March 4.
Meanwhile, original writers Purvis and Wade return to the script, although it’s not clear whether this is to improve their initial screenplay or improve Hodge’s version.
The Bond we met in Casino Royale will continue his story in Bond 25, Fukunaga confirms. And Waltz waltzes back into the picture, as the new director says he is considering bringing both him and Ben Whishaw, who plays Q, to the franchise.
A happy Christmas arrives for everyone! Cary Fukunaga confirms that Seydoux, Fiennes, Whishaw and Naomie Harris – who plays Moneypenny – will be returning to their roles for Bond 25.
Amid word of various writers being brought in to help with the script (among them Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace co-writer Paul Haggis and Scott Z Burns, who spends four weeks overhauling the screenplay), the film’s release date is pushed back yet again – this time, to April 8 2020.
Off the back of a riotously well-received second season of Fleabag and in the midst of producing a second series of Killing Eve, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the latest writer to be cajoled into the Bond writing room by Craig.
Waller-Bridge was rumoured to be playing to her strengths, namely improving female characters and injecting some humour into proceedings; further rumours suggest that a retired Bond will have to prove he can win back his 007 codename from a female agent.
Within days of the whispers beginning, Variety confirms Waller-Bridge’s involvement.
On April 25, the promotional circus for Bond 25 kicks into gear, importing Craig and a handful of other rewho has been confirmed to play an as-yet-unnamed villain in the still-unnamed film. Speaking from a recording in New York, Malek says: “I will be making sure Mr Bond does not have an easy ride in this, his 25th outing. See you all soon.”
Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux and Jeffrey Wright will also return, alongside Bond newcomers Dali Benssalah, Lashana Lynch, David Dencik, Ana De Armas and Billy Magnussen.
On June 4, there are reports that a member of the crew on set at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire has been left needing medical treatment after a stunt, which required parts of the set to be blown up by a fireball, went wrong. The staff member, who was standing outside the set on a ramp, was partially crushed by the set when it fell on him after the blast, but sustained only minor injuries.
“It was utter chaos,” a source tells the Sun. “There were three huge explosions and it’s blown part of the Bond stage roof off and some wall panels off the stage.”
It’s the latest mishap in the Bond saga, with Craig last week halting filming for a whole week after he slipped and tore his ankle ligaments in Jamaica.
On June 9, The Sun reports that Rami Malek, cast as the villain in Bond 25, would be unable to shoot at the same time as Daniel Craig due to other filming commitments. According to the newspaper, Malek will have started work on another project by the time Craig recovers from his ankle injury.
“They still need to find a time for Daniel and Rami to film together,” a source tells The Sun.
“You can’t have a Bond film where 007 doesn’t come face to face with the villain so it’s a complete nightmare logistically. They are looking at the whole schedule again now and doing everything they can to make it work, but production is going to have to over-run even further now.”
The actress, who played Bond girl May Day in Moore’s final outing, was said to have been under the impression that she would have a significant role. When she realised that she’d been given a short cameo, she walked off the set and didn’t return.
As the Sun’s “source” says to the paper: “She was out of there quicker than it takes to rustle up a martini.”
In more positive news for the production team, a shoot in London goes off successfully. The official Twitter account releases a small set of pictures featuring Daniel Craig with the Household Cavalry, and on the Mall.
Craig is also filmed driving the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, last seen in 1987’s The Living Daylights. Coupled with Jones’s (non-) appearance, rumours grow about an Eighties flavour to Bond 25 – though vintage Aston Martins have been a hallmark of the Craig era.