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James Bond’s No Time To Die Fate Was Always Sealed, But Daniel Craig And Cary Joji Fukunaga Talk Other Ways It Could Have Happened

Daniel Craig stands in the lab, looking concerned, in No Time To Die.
(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

How do you solve a problem like killing James Bond? Many villains have tried, and ultimately only one seems to have done the job correctly, causing his 25th adventure, No Time To Die, to be the only film so far that’s actually extinguished 007. When you have a twist like that in the works, how do you sell it so that it feels appropriate? Co-writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga, as well as producer/star Daniel Craig, recently talked the other ways it could have happened, and it only further highlights how the ending we got turned out to be the best possible outcome.

How James Bond Could Have Died In No Time To Die

As part of a longer Q&A that will be released by Variety later this week, Cary Fukunaga and Daniel Craig were part of the panel on hand to really dig into the latest Bond film, which also happened to be Mr. Craig’s final ride in the tuxedo. After Craig divulged the story of how he asked producer Barbara Broccoli if he could kill 007 off in his final installment as early as the Berlin premiere of Casino Royale, the question of whether the Commander’s death was “baked into” the framework before Mr. Fukunaga was hired as a co-writer/director was asked. His response to that portion of the subject was as follows:

There was a few things that Barbara and Michael and Daniel had earmarked. This was definitely one of them. How he meets his end wasn’t decided yet. It was just the fact that he would, so the question then became how to do it.

The conversation surrounding Daniel Craig’s request to kill James Bond at the end of his contractual obligation has been a lively one as of late. With the revelation that, yes indeed, this has been in the works since the actor's 2006 debut as Ian Fleming’s literary creation, all sorts of developments have kept that subject front and center. It’s even more surprising to see that it’s taken so long for this former “secret” to be openly discussed, and even Barbara Broccoli seemed pleasantly surprised to know that it wasn’t spoiled too soon. 

But what were some of the other ways that Cary Joji Fukunaga and Daniel Craig were thinking of enlisting to take out Commander Bond? Well, further along in the conversation, there seemed to have been a mix of seriously grounded ideas and Craig having fun with the room. Everything seemed on the table, but as Fukunaga hammered home in his part of the conversation, not just any death would do for 007: 

Fukunaga: There were many, many iterations. Blowing him up in a rocket.

Daniel Craig: Bad oyster!

Fukunaga: A bullet, like an anonymous bullet, I remember that one. But it just seemed like a conventional weapons death didn’t seem appropriate. Given how much he had been able to escape from everything else, the fact that it would just be a bullet that always had your name on it from the beginning, as a sort of the thematic element seemed, while realistic, for Bond it had to be something even beyond that — like the impossible, impossible situation.

While these methods of killing James Bond are rather interesting to discuss, there’s a portion of one of the serious concepts that Cary Joji Fukunaga mentioned that you can see for yourself. In the portfolio of concept artist Tim Browning, a member of the art department on every Bond film from Skyfall to No Time To Die, there are some rather interesting pieces of alternate designs present in his work on Daniel Craig’s big finale. Among those artistic renderings is the potential rocket that could have killed 007; which would have absolutely been more fitting than just getting shot by a random assassin with a non-golden gun.

Daniel Craig looks up bittersweetly in No Time To Die.

(Image credit: Danjaq,LLC and MGM)

Why No Time To Die’s Chosen Ending Is The Most Fitting, According To Daniel Craig

Ultimately, it would be the DNA-targeting weapon known as “Project Heracles” that would led to James Bond’s undoing. Infected by Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) with a variant that was made specifically to kill Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), as well as their daughter Mathilde, Bond would never be able to see his loved ones again without threatening to kill them almost instantaneously. Sacrificing himself in the barrage of missiles that destroyed Safin’s poison island, the world’s best secret agent died protecting those he valued most; and that ties directly into why Daniel Craig prefers the ending that was selected. In the actor's words:

I think the important thing was that we all try to create a situation of tragedy. The idea that there’s an insurmountable problem, there’s a greater force at play, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. And the greater force being Safin’s weapon. And that it [kills] the only thing that Bond wants in life, is to be with the people he loves and that he can’t be with them, and therefore, there’s nothing worth living for. And he would in fact endanger their lives, and that’s the last thing on earth he wants to do. So that element was incredibly important to sort of thread in there, because it couldn’t feel like a random act. It had to have weight — without it, it wasn’t gonna work. And if we hadn’t have got that weight, I don’t think we would’ve done it. We would’ve found another way of ending it.

Daniel Craig wasn’t dead set on killing James Bond in the name of pure spectacle. Were that his rationale, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson probably wouldn’t have even entertained his suggestion from day one. The stakes had to be appropriate, and the story rightfully closed, by Bond’s demise; and director Cary Joji Fukunaga helped complete the team that stuck the landing. Completing the arc of the Craig era, No Time To Die ended the actor’s record setting tenure in an appropriate fashion, with the results undoubtedly ready to be discussed for years to come

No Time To Die is currently available for rental or purchase (opens in new tab), in both digital and physical formats, so you can judge for yourself whether it went with the right ending or not. Don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears open for the many announcements that will be coming throughout the year, with new information on how you can celebrate the 60th anniversary of James Bond. All others can turn their attentions to the 2022 release schedule, in hopes that there's a movie distracting enough to draw your attention from this somber subject. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

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