There’s been radio silence since the shock announcement that Cary Joji Fukunaga would be taking over as director of Bond 25; even the rumours have ranged between the dull and the dubious. However, when the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye drops a scoop based on his exclusive access to EON Productions we sit up, and late yesterday he dropped a doozy.
Bamigboye reports that Léa Seydoux will be returning, apparently at Daniel Craig’s behest, along with Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris. He also reports that the screenplay is still a Neal Purvis and Robert Wade joint, with input from Fukunaga. This hadn’t been entirely clear until now.
While Bamigboye doesn’t say as much, presumably Seydoux is reprising her role as Dr Madeleine Swann, indicating that not only will Bond 25 pick up where SPECTRE left off, it will also deliver the franchise’s first recurring Bond Girl. This is a bold step which trims the variables of the film’s compressed production schedule, even if it short-circuits a traditional pillar of speculation and promotion in the build-up to a new Bond movie.
The production seems to have kicked up a gear: in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer last month, Fukunaga said the script was unfinished and was cagey about whether either Whishaw or Christoph Waltz would return, saying, “Now that I have the job, I just keep my head down and try to figure out how to make this as good as possible,” adding “I am trying to get the narrative stuff sorted out and have a good story to tell.”
That story is still a mystery, tempting as it is to read too much into Fukunaga‘s professed love for Duran Duran and their theme song for Roger Moore’s swansong A View To A Kill, the first Bond movie he saw while growing up in the Bay Area which also provided the setting for much of the film’s action. That said, picking up on the intrusive surveillance theme from SPECTRE would certainly resonate with the backlash currently battering the present-day tech world while continuing its story and giving the new film a chance to return to Silicon Valley.
Speaking of locations, Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende reports that a project called B25 has applied for a government rebate administered by the Norwegian Film Institute of up to $8.8m US against its production costs. Bergens Tidende is confident this is a particularly transparent codename for Bond 25, and points out that taking advantage of this scheme would see James Bond following in the footsteps of Ethan Hunt: Mission: Impossible – Fallout received $700k US for its Norway shoot.
Norway wouldn’t seem to be entirely unfamiliar territory for Swedish cinematographer Linus Sandgren, recently linked to Bond 25 by Variety’s Kris Tapley. Sandgren won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and the pair reteamed this year for First Man with an eclectic mix of Super 16mm, 2-perf 35mm and IMAX 70mm film stock. These disparate but visually stunning films tell us nothing about Bond 25 from an aesthetic standpoint, but it’s clear that Sandgren is highly respected, skilled and flexible behind the camera.
There’s still some stuff to thrash out: the door must now be at least ajar for Waltz to return as Blofeld to continue that strand of SPECTRE, and we know Jeffrey Wright is down to play Felix Leiter again if asked. At the same time, Seydoux’ return opens up the possibility that we’re actually going to get that dreaded On Her Majesty’s Secret Service redux with the newlywed Madeleine Bond slain by SPECTRE assassins (Dave Bautista’s Hinx, perhaps?) in the first act: in a climate of gender politics in which the term Bond Girl is ripe for reassessment, this kind of straight-up fridging would be a distinctly regressive move. In that Philippine Daily Inquirer interview Fukunaga speaks of continuing the character arc Casino Royale set Bond on, and whether he sees that arc as one of redemption or destruction will be the fascinating key to its conclusion.
Over to you. Excited to see Léa Seydoux and the Scooby Gang reunited? Hoping for some Die Another Day-style snowboarding action in the fjords? Tell us your hopes and fears for the movie, and your best guesses for the role Daniel Craig’s new BFF Noah Segan will be playing in Bond 25 below.