No Time To Die Writer/Director Cary Fukunaga Pitched an Insane Original Premise
Before No Time To Die co-writer and director Cary Joji Fukunaga had settled on which direction he was taking Daniel Craig in his last turn as James Bond, he had pitched a truly wild idea. Fukunaga revealed this to fellow filmmaker Miranda July in Interview Magazine long before No Time To Die was pushed back from its original April 2020 release date to this November, due to the spread of COVID-19. This pitch was ultimately deemed to be “too out there” by the film’s producers, but its fascinating to hear about it now and imagine what could have been.
Some context before we delve into Fukunaga’s wild pitch; in No Time To Die, Bond’s Caribbean retirement is interrupted and he’s pressed back into duty once more. This time, the main villain is Rami Malek’s Safin, but we know that Bond’s nemesis from Spectre, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) has a role to play here. Another Spectre alum, Dr. Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) returns as well. In Spectre, it looked as if Blofeld had gotten the better of Bond, and was set to erase his memory and all that Bond had fought for—and everyone he’d lost along the way.
Fukunaga revealed to July in Interview that his original pitch was that his Bond film would exist entirely in the super spy’s head. The whole film, all playing out in the tortured mind of Her Majesty’s most lethal double O agent? Yeah, that does sound out there, but also potentially incredible. Here’s how Funkaga described it to July:
“Miranda, I swear to god, I had an idea that this movie could all be taking place inside the villain’s lair from the last film. There’s this scene where a needle goes into James Bond’s head, which is supposed to make him forget everything, and then he miraculously escapes by a watch bomb. And then he and Léa blow up the place and go on to save the day. I was like, ‘What if everything up until the end of act two is all inside his head?’”
Fukunaga and his writing team (including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, no less) ultimately didn’t pursue this cerebral path. We do know that the story they did resulted in the longest Bond film of all time, at 2 hours and 43 minutes.
Here’s what we know of the actual film Fukunaga and his team have made. Bond begins No Time To Die in retirement in Jamaica. It’s been five years since the events in Spectre, and MI6’s legendary super spy has been nursing his wounds. “After five years of retirement, who has he become?” Fukanaga asked in a recent No Time To Die teaser. “He’s sort of a wounded animal struggling with his role as a double O. The world’s changed, the rules of engagement aren’t what they used to be. The rules of espionage are darker in this era of asymmetric warfare.“
Of course, Bond won’t stay retired for long. Once CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) shows up, Bond will be pushed back into action once again. And with this amount of runtime to work with, he’ll have plenty of time to see old friends like Madeleine Swann (Seydoux), old enemies like Blofeld (Waltz), meet new allies like Nomi (Lashana Lynch), and finally, deal with new threats. Specifically, Safin (Malek), who, according to Fukanaga, will be challenging Bond and threatening everyone and everything he holds dear.
At this point, we’ll just be thrilled whenever we find ourselves back in a theater watching Craig’s last go-round as Bond. For now, No Time To Die is slated for a November 25, 2020 release.
Featured image: James Bond (Daniel Craig) visits Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) in his prison cell in NO TIME TO DIE, a DANJAQ and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Nicola Dove © 2019 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.