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The Crazy Coincidence That Happened When Billy Magnussen Was Offered His No Time To Die Role

Sometimes all it takes is a text message to change the course of a person’s fate. It doesn’t even have to be a long text either, as the right context among friends can mean so much more. That’s especially true when it comes to how Billy Magnussen was offered his role in Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film, No Time To Die, as a crazy coincidence occurred when he found himself getting just that sort of text message from co-writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga. What’s crazy is where Magnussen happened to be when he was posed a very simple question by his friend and collaborator. 

During the No Time To Die home video experience in London, CinemaBlend was able to speak with Billy Magnussen in a virtual interview. Knowing that he had gotten that fateful text prior to sitting down, that knowledge was an opening to ask more about how it felt to get the call to play Logan Ash, a State Department stooge that goes on to make a unique mark in the 007 landscape. Citing their work on the Netflix series Maniac as the starting point for this future pairing, Magnussen told the following story involving weird universal coincidence:

I was backpacking in Vietnam, and I like get this text, ‘What are you doing next summer?’ It was from Cary, and I knew exactly what he was talking about. I look up at an address on the wall of the street I’m at, randomly in Vietnam … and it’s 007. The coincidence is unbelievable.

It’s not terribly surprising that Billy Magnussen was given a part in No Time To Die. He certainly isn’t the first person to tell a story about how they landed the gig out of befriending Cary Joji Fukunaga, as Ana de Armas’ role of Paloma also came to be under similar circumstances. Despite not even being in the original script for the film, Fukunaga’s interactions with her led to a role that only she could play. Similarly, there’s no one else that could play Logan Ash besides Billy Magnusen; and for his big invitation to come at that particular address in Vietnam is rather mind blowing.  

Nicknamed “The Book of Mormon” by James Bond himself, you’re never really sure where Logan is supposed to go as a character. Being introduced on screen as a colleague of Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter certainly doesn’t do him any favors, as when we previously saw that character in Quantum of Solace, he was hanging around with the shady Gregg Beam (David Harbour). For some reason, the modern Felix attracts a certain type of friend outside of his work with James Bond, and it leads to some of the most intriguing and humorous moments in the 007 series. 

Magnussen’s resume certainly helps keep that ambiguity in play, as credits in everything from Disney’s live-action Into The Woods and the comedy surprise smash Game Night to Barry Levinson’s holocaust drama The Survivor have kept the man from being completely typecast. In short, Billy Magnussen is exactly the actor you want to bring in if you want to cast the right shadow of doubt on your character’s intentions. Using that expectation to his advantage, Magnussen’s role in the 25th James Bond film is a memorable one, as he uses his full range to keep the audience guessing.

It seems that fate wanted Billy Magnussen to be in No Time To Die, as the circumstances pretty much seem to have spelled out that he belonged there in the first place. Taking the opportunity of a lifetime, the versatile actor gets to surprise fans of both his work and the 007 oeuvre, as his Logan Ash is as complicated as any character in that particular landscape. You can experience that performance for yourself, as Daniel Craig’s dramatic conclusion to his record setting arc is now available to rent or own, both on digital and physical media.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.