No Time to Die: Daniel Craig and Filmmakers Discuss the Shocking Conclusion

No Time to Die: Daniel Craig and Filmmakers Discuss the Shocking Conclusion

James Bond No Time to Die
Courtesy United Artists Releasing

Spoiler Alert:

This story discusses the ending of the movie, currently available for digital rental and purchase. Please do not read if you have not seen the film.

Audiences knew that “No Time to Die” was Daniel Craig’s fifth movie as James Bond–and the 25th (official) Bond movie ever– and that was also his final film as the secret agent.

Originated by Sean Connery in 1962’s Dr. No, Bond has been played by six actors over the past 60 years, keeping the Bond movies alive as the longest running franchise in cinema history.

What most audiences were not expecting, however, was how Craig concluded his tenure as Agent 007.

In the film, the villain, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), comes into possession of Heracles, a microscopic weapon designed by British government to target a specific person through DNA-directed nanorobots. They can pass harmlessly though anyone, often unwittingly, just by skin-to-skin contact. Safin has modified the weapon to attack the DNA of whole families. He’s manufactured quantities on his secret island compound, planning to kill millions of people.

With no countermeasure or cure for Heracles, Bond orders missile strike on Safin’s island, and then battles army of Safin’s goons to ensure the missiles reach their target. But then Safin intervenes, and infects both of them with specific strain of the Heracles virus designed to kill Bond’s love Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), and her relatives, including Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet), her and Bond’s 5-year-old daughter.

If Bond leaves the island, he would doom Madeleine and Mathilde to gruesome death once the Heracles virus inevitably passed from him to them. Faced with impossible choice, Bond stays and dies in the missile strike.

Although the creator of James Bond, novelist Ian Fleming, has tried to kill off the character in his books, it is the first time Bond has ever died on screen — a massive twist for a franchise that has thrived on the promise that James Bond will return, always.

Remarkably, Bond’s death remained effectively unspoiled for most audiences seeing the film. Craig, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, and longtime Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have remained quiet about the film’s ending.

Decision about Bond’s dying in this film

Daniel Craig: I’m going to tell a story here, whether or not anybody remembers it or agrees with it. But it was 2006. Barbara and I were sitting in the back of a car driving away from the Berlin premiere of “Casino Royale.” Everything was going well. People liked the movie. And it looked like I was gonna get a chance to make at least another movie. I said to Barbara, “How many of these movies do I have to make?” Because I don’t really look at contracts or any of those things. And she said, “Four,” and I went, “Oh, okay. Can I kill him off in the last one?” And she didn’t pause. She said, “Yes.” So I struck a deal with her back then and said, “That’s the way I’d like it to go.” It’s the only way I could see myself end it all and make it like that was my tenure, someone else could come and take over. She stuck to her guns.

Barbara Broccoli:  I had to tell Michael and we waited to tell the studio! We wanted to get rid of him. That was the reality. It was like, make sure that this was the way twe get rid of Daniel.

Craig: When he goes, he can’t come back was really what it boils down to.

Craig: It was “no” for a long time. Don’t worry. I thought it was forgotten about, put it that way. I didn’t bring it back up again until this one.

Wilson: At the end of the fourth one, we wanted Daniel back and he was reluctant. I think all of us had thought, that was the best way to end this whole thing. It wasn’t unusual, because Fleming, he tried to kill him off in “From Russia With Love,” and almost killed him off in “You Only Live Twice.” But I think it’s the fitting way to deal with a situation where a person is risking their life all the time. Eventually, the odds catch up with you. I think Fleming saw it and we came to that realization, too. It’s emotionally very important to understand the risks that people like Bond engage in.

Risk of the audience response

Craig: If you stay to the end credits, it definitely says, “James Bond will return.” So all is good! Bond does save the day.

Broccoli: It’s the ultimate sacrifice. As Michael says, it’s very appropriate because people in this line of work put themselves at risk all the time. The amazing thing was that the audience managed to keep this secret, and that’s really a testament to the Bond fans, that they didn’t want to spoil other people’s enjoyment by telling them the end of the story.

Cary Joji Fukunaga: There was a few things that Barbara and Michael and Daniel had earmarked. This was definitely one of them. How he meets his end wasn’t decided yet. It was just the fact that he would, so the question then became how to do it.

Process?

Fukunaga: There were many iterations, like blowing him up in a rocket. Bad oyster! An anonymous bullet. But it just seemed that a conventional weapons death was not appropriate. Given how much he had been able to escape from everything else, the fact that it would just be a bullet that always had your name on it from the beginning, as a sort of the thematic element seemed, while realistic, for Bond it had to be something beyond that– like an impossible situation.

Craig: The important thing was that we all try to create a situation of tragedy. The idea that there’s an insurmountable problem, there’s a greater force at play, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. And the greater force being Savin’s weapon. And that it [kills] the only thing that Bond wants in life, is to be with the people he loves and that he can’t be with them, and therefore, there’s nothing worth living for. And he would in fact endanger their lives, and that’s the last thing on earth he wants to do. That element was incredibly important to sort of thread in there, because it couldn’t feel like random act. It had to have weight — without it, it wasn’t gonna work. And if we didn’t have that weight, we would’ve done it. We would’ve found another way of ending it.

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