No Time To Die Star Billy Magnussen Gets Honest About The Art Of Acting And Playing The Douchebag [Interview]

"No Time to Die" is available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD this week, and Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond finds the secret agent having to deal with a 007 fanboy from America in the form of CIA agent Logan Ash, played by "Game Night" and "Aladdin" co-star Billy Magnussen. Having played a series of jackasses and jerks on film and television, Magnussen is in familiar territory, especially as his character's relationship with Bond takes a deceptive turn.

Leading up to the home video release of "No Time to Die," we had the opportunity to speak with Magnussen about his place in James Bond history. But more importantly, Magnussen got quite honest about where he currently finds himself at in his career, including his predilection for playing complete douchebags. Plus, there just might be a movie waiting in the wings about a wild sport that Magnussen plays professionally, and it involves a horse and a dead goat carcass. No, seriously. 

"You are an artist once you choose to be an artist."

I know you've hd a lot of reporters ask you why you did Jeffrey Wright so dirty in "No Time to Die," but I'm more concerned about you potentially repeatedly causing him harm. Because first he got knocked out in Game Night and then you killed him here. What's up with that?

He just has that face! I love Jeffrey. He is a beautiful, kind, generous heart. I could hang out with that dude always. When we were in Jamaica, we went surfing every morning and slammed jerk chicken at lunch every day. He is such a good, good man, and talented.

Being part of the James Bond franchise now, did you ever have a surreal moment while shooting where you kind of just took stock to yourself and think, "Man, I'm in a James Bond movie?"

To be honest, I was going through something personal in my life at that time. It was just a great outlet that I was just there and present and trying to be present as much as I can. It hasn't been until now, a little bit hindsight on it all, where I'm like, "Holy s**t, I went through that. I was a part of that." I can only say I'm grateful for being a part of a legacy, especially the 25th film, Daniel Craig's last one. It's like, "Oh man." Now I'm pinching myself. And I was like, "Why was I worried about this other BS and not just there?"

What do you bring from your acting school days to a role like this? You have professional training, so do you utilize what you learned in these performances?

Training from school teaches you all the technical elements, a communication, you get the dialogue or the nomenclature of what you're talking about with other creative artists, but on the day, I think ...

*Magnussen paused for an extended amount of time thinking about how to respond to this question. I almost said something in order to break the silence, but he seemed to be thinking intensely, and I didn't want to interrupt that potential train of thought*

Sorry, I paused for this. I don't even know how to articulate this idea. You are an artist once you choose to be an artist. And I think a lot of problems with acting schools is they don't encourage you to become the artist then. So when you get on set, and once you start getting into your career, you have to realize, once you claim that you have a voice, and you have an opinion, or you want to specifically put something in a piece of work, we are in a collaborative art form. Once you claim your space, you've really become an artist. I don't think that answered your question at all, but that's what came up in my heart about it.

No, I think that's a good, honest answer.

Yeah, because I think we don't teach that or people don't teach that. I learned all the things about Stanislavski and Meisner and that character development, but once you find ownership of it, then you can bring yourself to it.

"Being called a douchebag is not the best thing."

You have this incredible ability to play these douchebags with s***-eating grins, but you make them simultaneously likable while hating them. I'm fascinated by your mastery of that kind of role. I hope that you take that as a compliment.

I mean, being called a douchebag is not the best thing.

No, you're not a douchebag!

I know, I know, but I always play it. I think it's just the sign of the times and where opportunity is for me work wise. It's steered me down this path. Where I'm in my career, I can't really choose what job I get, I could just pursue jobs. These opportunities have just fallen on my lap. My agents' husband once said to me, "You're in the minor leagues. You have an opportunity to go pitch in the major leagues. Just throw your fastball and get into the major leagues by throwing your fastball and just doing it. And then, expand from there."

You also ooze confidence in any character that you play.

*Magnussen laughs heartily, seemingly in disagreement*


All we have is ourselves. Yeah, thank you. I appreciate the compliment.

"You're on horseback and the ball is a dead goat carcass."

One thing I wanted to ask about, I've read this interesting fact about you, that you play this sport that's called —

Kok boru.


Kok boru.

Please, explain this sport for those who aren't aware, because I feel like there needs to be a movie about it.

It's in "Rambo." It's in the beginning of "Rambo 5," I think.

I haven't seen that one yet.

Neither have I, but someone told me it was. Yeah, I was in Kyrgyzstan. I was part of the first ever American Kok boru team. It's kind of like hockey, but you're on horseback and the ball is a dead goat carcass. It's insane. It's absolutely insane. But it was one of the coolest things, because we were in Bishkek, and we're playing against all these teams and we're literally representing the United States. We're the first Americans some of these people had ever met. So the humanitarian work we did through just this one sport was unbelievable. We were the Jamaican bobsled team [from "Cool Runnings."] It's like showing up to the Super Bowl and never hearing what football was.

Yeah. I was going to say, there has to be an inspirational Disney sports movie here.

We were trying to put a documentary about it called the "Nomad Cowboys." Yeah, there's got to be something there. I think you're right. But it was insane. Out of all the things I've ever done, I think that was one of the coolest, because of the humanitarian work of just connecting people.

"No Time to Die" arrives on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD on December 21, 2021.