No Time To Die Director Cary Fukunaga Describes The Last-Minute Scramble Of Replacing Danny Boyle

In addition to directing "No Time to Die," Cary Fukunaga is serving as one of four credited co-writers on it, along with "Fleabag" luminary Phoebe Waller-Bridge and James Bond series veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. The film has already been released in the U.K. and it's coming to U.S. theaters on October 8, 2021, but it's been a long road to that release date, with a few bumps and Boyles along the way.

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle was originally set to helm the 25th Bond movie, but he ultimately left the project over textbook creative differences. In stepped Fukunaga ("True Detective," "Beasts of No Nation"), the first non-British filmmaker to direct a Bond film. He and his team went back to the drawing board with the screenplay, and he only had a third of the usual time to prepare for production. 

For "Quantum of Solace," director Marc Foster and Daniel Craig himself famously made some uncredited contributions to the script because it was mounted during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. It sounds like "No Time to Die" is another one of those tentpoles that was rushing to meet a release date without a completed script.

In a new interview with Esquire Middle East, Fukunaga revealed:

"With 'Maniac' [his Netflix series] we were writing as we shot, and after we finished, I told myself that I was never doing that again. But then with Bond, we were still writing when we'd wrapped. I was even writing in post!"

A 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Approach

Luckily, Fukunaga had a team of seasoned performers to lean on, including Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Naomi Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Rory Kinnear, Lashana Lynch, and Ana De Armas. Craig sustained an injury during filming, however, and Fukunaga was forced to wing it, literally sitting in the corner of M's office, writing from rough draft outlines without being sure how every scene would fit into the film. He explained:

"I was writing dialogue that was intentional enough, but vague enough, that I could apply it to a number of different things happening in the third act. It was almost like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' novel writing these pages: 'If this happened here, and you have to go here, then this page will work for that.' When we finally put the film together, it all made sense, somehow all fit together. But I'll tell you a secret, that I think is okay now that we're so close to release, there are pieces that Ralph Fiennes says in the trailer that neither Ralph nor I knew exactly what he was saying it for."

So this is how the sausage gets made. It doesn't necessarily sound like the best method of writing a multimillion-dollar blockbuster, but so far, "No Time to Die" has been getting better reviews than the last Bond film, "Spectre." So maybe it will all work out in the end and Craig will be able to end his Bond run on a high note.

U.S. moviegoers will be able to judge "No Time to Die" for themselves when it opens stateside this Friday, October 8, 2021.