Ben Whishaw Calls Q's Sexuality Reveal In No Time To Die 'Unsatisfying'

In "No Time to Die," we spent a little bit of time with James Bond's gadgeteer or "man in the chair," Q — played by Ben Whishaw, the voice of "Paddington" and star of "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer." We got to visit Q's apartment and we learned that he was gay. The reveal was casual, like, "By the way, Q happens to be gay," and that was that. Even as Bond had no time to die, the movie, despite its 163-minute runtime, had no time to dig beyond the surface of Q's sexuality.

In a recent interview with The Guardian (via Variety), Whishaw — who himself identifies as gay and is married to an Australian man — expressed regret over the way Q's coming out, as it were, was handled onscreen. In a time when more and more blockbusters are delivering LGBTQ representation in the margins (two other recent examples being Disney's "Jungle Cruise" and Marvel's "Eternals"), there's often a sense in which studios are pandering to progressive tastes without really going all-in on it. Of his own experience with Q 's character in "No Time to Die," Whishaw said:

"I think I thought, 'Are we doing this, and then doing nothing with it?' I remember, perhaps, feeling that was unsatisfying. For whatever reason, I didn't pick it apart with anybody on the film. Maybe on another kind of project I would have done? But it's a very big machine. I thought a lot about whether I should question it. Finally, I didn't. I accepted this was what was written. And I said the lines. And it is what it is."

Reading this quote from Whishaw makes me think randomly of "Gangs of New York," where Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) taps his glass eye with a knife and quotes the Book of Revelation, saying, "I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. So because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth." That might seem like a strange juxtaposition, but just bear with me (Paddington pun intended)...

Lukewarm Half-Measures

Another relevant (if no less random) quote might be one from the show "Breaking Bad," where Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) says, "The moral of the story is: I chose a half-measure when I should have gone all the way. I'll never make that mistake again. No more half-measures, Walter."

It's all well and good for Hollywood to feign meaningful representation, but the top brass at most studios are undoubtedly driven by commercial rather than artistic motives. This is something that was hammered home to me recently when hearing Peter Dinklage's comments about the upcoming live-action remake of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," where Disney was "very proud to cast a Latina actress," as Dinklage put it. "You're progressive in one way," he said, "and you're still making that f***ing backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together."

Let's face it: studios care about the bottom line, making money, and if they have to throw marginalized or underrepresented communities a bone to do that, they will. What Whishaw seems to take issue with — and this is just my own fallible interpretation of his words — is the half-assed nature of it. On the one hand, it might be refreshing for some folks to see movies make a character gay without making a big deal out of it. On the other hand, maybe these movies tend to stick gay characters in the background as window-dressing: inoffensive drapes that won't detract from the four-quadrant appeal of bid-budget space adventures like "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" or "Star Trek Beyond."

I can relate to Whishaw's experience insofar as I am not always quick on the uptake when it comes to reacting to things that don't sit right with me. I tend to internalize them and process them that way.

Movies can't be all things to all people, and for some viewers, the way "No Time to Die" handled Q's sexuality may have been perfect, or it may have just been better than nothing. Others, including Whishaw himself, would certainly be well within their rights to think, "Nice try, but do better next time, Hollywood."