This post contains spoilers for No Time to Die
Ever since Australian model George Lazenby stepped in for “the other fella” Sean Connery in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James Bond casting has been one of the hottest debate topics in the movie world. Anticipation has only doubled after Daniel Craig left the series, and not just because his five-film run is considered by many to be among the franchise’s best. More tellingly, his movies told a complete story, beginning with his promotion to double-o status in Casino Royale and ending with his death in No Time to Die. Thus, whoever follows Craig will have a strange mixture of a blank storytelling slate and extremely high expectation.
That tension is not lost on anyone involved in the Bond franchise, least of all producers Barbara Brocolli and Michael G. Wilson. The true auteurs of the franchise, Brocolli and Wilson feel a special responsibility to shepherd the movies over cultural shifts and new actors, making sure that it remains a viable concern. They seemingly have no problem taking their time looking for the person who will fill Craig’s designer shoes (that also become a telephone, and a gun, and a telephone gun). Brocolli confirmed as much recently to Variety, telling the outlet, “it’s going to be a couple of years off.”
Of course, standard concerns involve those about the right look and nationality — Craig’s casting originally caught flack because of his blond hair. But more pressing for Brocolli and Wilson is the amount of time involved in being Bond. “When we cast Bond, it’s a 10-, 12-year commitment,” Brocolli noted. “So he’s probably thinking, ‘Do I really want that thing? Not everybody wants to do that.” The duo admitted that they struggled to get a commitment from Craig, who was “in his early 30s at the time” when he was cast in Casino Royale.
While issues such as COVID-19 certainly gave Craig a longer tenure than most Bond actors, its clear that it wasn’t just the length of the commitment that bothered him. By the time he finally did press for No Time to Die, Craig made little effort to hide his irritation with the role. Wilson realizes that fact, revealing that Craig began certain, telling the producers, “Well, I’m going to do it. I really want to be a part of it, the whole thing.” But by the end of the shoot, Broccoli said laughingly, “he lived to regret that.”
The producers’ comments come at an interesting time in the movie business, as long-term franchises are now far more common than they once were. Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark for over a decade, with nine movie appearances between Iron Man and Avengers: Endgame. Even Oscar winners such as Don Cheadle and new stars such as Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston happily sign on for long stints in the MCU, occasionally taking non-superhero roles.
Whoever the producers pick for the next Bond, they won’t be able to rely on the outlook of forerunners such as Connery or Roger Moore. Daniel Craig “cracked Bond open emotionally” Brocolli admitted, forcing Bond to change. “Bond is evolving just as men are evolving,” she said, which means the next Bond has to be more than a suave gentleman. He must also be a full human being.