No Time To Die’s Ben Whishaw Talks Q’s Gay Romance Storyline And How The Scene Came Out The Way It Did

Ben Whishaw answering the door with a look of displeasure in No Time To Die.
(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM.)

While No Time To Die continues to be recognized for making history, there’s a moment in Daniel Craig’s final entry into the James Bond movies canon that forged a path of its own. As Ben Whishaw’s Q was written to have a gay romance storyline in the 25th James Bond film, it could be seen as another sign of progress for the series. However, looking at how the scene came out the way it did, Whishaw himself feels that, in retrospect, more could have been done.  

During an interview with The Guardian, the actor who was introduced into the Bond franchise in 2012’s Skyfall unpacked the moment as more of a footnote than a major revelation. He’s not wrong, as the most that the audience is given to confirm Q’s dating life is a slight mention of an unnamed man who’s supposed to show up for dinner, just as Bond and Moneypenny crash the party to request his help. Noticing the brevity himself, Ben Whishaw laid out the following story about his reaction, and ultimately his acceptance, of the moment as is: 

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.

Besides his hastily cancelled dinner plans, No Time To Die does have another small moment that could be construed as showing Q’s openly gay status in the 007 saga. While reviewing the footage from Primo’s eye camera in one moment, a tuxedoed James Bond shows up and prompts the young quartermaster to admire his colleague’s good looks with another line of dialogue. It's not much more to go on, but it definitely shows that there was an attempt made to broaden Q's backstory. 

That feeling of a “very big machine” couldn’t have been more pressing than while making No Time To Die. Given Daniel Craig’s history of franchise injuries, as well as the shakeup that saw Danny Boyle being substituted with Cary Joji Fukunaga as the film’s director, the process to get to the finish line felt a bit more chaotic than usual. Even through last minute rewrites fleshing out Ana de Armas’ character Paloma, the whole fabric of the story seemed to be up for random changes. Addressing the concerns that some may have had about Q’s same sex relationship being shoehorned in by the higher ups, Ben Whishaw dispelled that notion quickly:

I suppose I don’t feel it was forced upon the studio. That was not my impression of how this came about. I think it came from a good place.

It’s difficult to reconcile No Time To Die’s brief inclusion of Q's love life, especially in light of other moments that happened during Daniel Craig’s tenure. As Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson fought to keep Silva’s seduction of Bond in Skyfall, fans know that the franchise producers are open to pushing the boundaries of 007 modernity. The two moments of Q’s character development do seem to come from a good place, but it’s hard not to agree with Mr. Whishaw that the opportunity was wasted when it came to doing something more substantial. 

Another lesson for the James Bond saga's future has been laid out, even as No Time To Die does still represent quite a progressive step forward. Both the treatment of James Bond and un-conventional Bond woman Dr. Madeleine Swann has shown that huge steps have been taken in the legendary espionage’s continued evolution. This matter seems poised to become another of the many debated moments in the queer history of 007 for years to come, with Ben Whishaw’s place in history secured. More importantly, let’s hope that it opens the door wider for the inclusion of more openly gay characters, as well as other figures that can further the cause of diversity in the long run.

While there isn't a new James Bond movie scheduled on the horizon, there are plenty of adventures waiting in the 2022 movie releases to come. Meanwhile, No Time To Die is available on home video, for purchase or rental; ready for fans to continue this conversation after gathering their thoughts. 

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.