He’s the brooding bad boy who drives luxury cars, jumps through windows and wrestles on top of moving trains, all while having an array of beautiful women on his arm. But the one thing James Bond has never been is “woke” – until now.
Charlie Higson, the author of the Young Bond novels, says Daniel Craig – who plays cinema’s most famous spy for the fifth and final time in upcoming film No Time to Die – has “given us woke 007, who’s tender, cries and gets into the shower in his tuxedo to comfort a woman”.
Craig, who moonlights as a producer on No Time to Die, has been vocal about his work to ensure the inclusion of strong women in the Bond franchise, and even revealed that he chose to wear his now famous blue swimming trunks in 2006’s Casino Royale as an antidote to bikini-clad “Bond Girls”.
“There are certain things attached to Bond of which we would say: ‘No, you can’t do that anymore,” Craig told the Radio Times. “We’re very conscious of what’s going on in the world at the moment, but we’re still storytellers, we’re still trying to entertain an audience.”
The 53-year old actor, who lost teeth, tore muscles and severed tendons over the course of 15 years’ of shooting for Bond, said he was “more naked than the women” in the upcoming film, adding: “I’ve designed it that way.”
Higson highlighted the level of change since Ian Fleming devised the character of Bond in 1953. “Would the original Bond survive in our modern world, or would cancel culture succeed where Spectre has failed so often and finish him off for good,” he writes in the Radio Times.
Fleming, Higson said, would be bewildered by many of the changes in society. “He’d be able to mansplain the correct temperature that champagne should be served at, but he’d be all at sea trying to negotiate the correct use of pronouns.”
But he maintained that the writer also “kicked against the old-fashioned, 1950s view that women should be simpering housewives, put on a pedestal and wooed. Many in his books were athletic and independent just like the heroines in the new film.”
Bond co-producer Barbara Broccoli said they chose Craig because they were looking for someone who would redefine Bond. “Daniel has given Bond an inner life. His bond is allowed to be vulnerable,” she said.
“Coming out of the sea in skimpy shorts made him a sex object, not Eva Green,” added Higson, whose books centre on a teenage Bond in the 1930s.
Asked if he would support a more diverse appointment as his replacement, Craig said: “There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
No Time to Die, which was initially planned for release in April 2020, premieres in the UK on 30 September.