In a new interview with Esquire UK, British director Danny Boyle opens up about his vision for Bond 25.
James Bond fans were left in a state of shock back in August 2018, when it was announced via the official 007 Twitter account that Danny Boyle was stepping down as director of Bond 25 “due to creative differences”.
Rumour had it that Boyle’s not so golden idea involved killing off James Bond, something that producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were firmly against. However, the events of No Time To Die (2021), prove the rumour to be untrue. Furthermore, The Telegraph reported that tensions also rose over the casting of the films central villain, with Polish actor Tomasz Kot (Cold War) being considered “too left of field” for a Bond adversary.
So what really went wrong?
Although relatively tight lipped since parting ways with the Bond franchise, Boyle did confirm in the May 2019 Issue of Empire Magazine that it was his close working relationship with screenwriter John Hodge that ultimately became the straw that broke the camels back. Producers, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, wanted to bring in another screenwriter(s) to work on the script being developed by Hodge and Boyle, however, Boyle countered that he and Hodge were a package deal.
“I work in partnership with writers and I am not prepared to break it up. We were working very, very well, but they didn’t want to go down that route. So we decided to part company,” he explained. “What John Hodge and I were doing, I thought, was really good. It wasn’t finished, but it could have been really good. You have to believe in your process and part of that is the partnership I have with a writer. It’s like saying ‘Hey, we are going to give you a different editor…’ Those fundamental partnerships are vital.”
Speaking to The Guardian in March 2022, Hodge said, “I think it was me they really wanted rid of, but Danny took the bullet, too. My understanding was that that twist had been decided even before we came on board because Daniel Craig wanted it. I think, with us, it was that old cliche ‘creative differences.’ It felt very dramatic at the time but it was just another bump in the road of the Bond franchise.” Hodge still carries around his Bond script on his laptop, and confirmed that only half a line of his dialogue made it into what would eventually become Bond 25.
Despite a shooting script not being completed before their departure, construction on a Russian gulag set had already begun on location in the Canadian mountains, and a missile silo had been constructed at Pinewood Studios. Neither of which were repurposed by the new writing team, helmed by Bond stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
Reflecting on his time on Bond, Boyle tells Esquire, “I remember thinking, ‘Should I really get involved in franchises?’ Because they don’t really want something different. They want you to freshen it up a bit, but not really challenge it, and we wanted to do something different with it. Weirdly — it would have been very topical now — it was all set in Russia, which is of course where Bond came from, out of the Cold War. It was set in present-day Russia and went back to his origins, and they just lost confidence in it. It was a shame really.”
One surprising element from Hodge and Boyle’s script, that did make its way into No Time To Die was the inclusion of James Bond’s child. “The idea that they used in a different way was the one of [James Bond’s] child, which [Hodge] introduced [and which] was wonderful,” Boyle tells Esquire.
Is there any prospect of Boyle returning to Bond? “I don’t think so,” he says, but “Robert Pattinson would be a great Bond.“