Global Grind Visited The Set Of The 25th Bond Film ‘No Time To Die’
The 25th film in the James Bond franchise is set to premiere on April 10th. Global Grind had the honor of being invited to the film’s London set back in October, but we had to keep the details under wrap… until now!
Our first stop was in London proper, where we visited the Bond in Motion exhibition and witnessed an amazing display of the many cars (and some planes and boats) used throughout the years in all the Bond films. Meg Simmonds the Archive Director for the exhibition walked us through the museum, giving us a detailed breakdown of each and every display. James Bond and the films he’s featured in have always been at the forefront of technology, especially automotive technology.
Of all the cars, this one may have been our favorite.
But this Aston Martin – referred to as DB5 by all the Bond crew – has been a favorite for the franchise. We encountered an entire fleet of them when we made our way to the Pinewood set where the crew were filming night scenes to finalize the production.
After leaving the Bond in Motion exhibition we headed to Pinewood Studios, the iconic location where ‘No Time To Die’ had set up shop. We were preparing to see Daniel Craig film on a set built to look like the streets of Havana. This was the last stop for our cameras, so we made sure to snap a photo outside the studio before heading inside.
Once inside, our first visit was with Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael J. Wilson who gave use an exclusive rundown on what we’d see on set and how they cast the dynamic female leads, Lashana Lynch and Ana De Armas who we’d be meeting later.
“This is the 25th film and it’s the 57th year,” Barbara Broccoli told the room full of journalists. “The first film came out in 1962, October 5, 1962. We’re still excited about it and still making them. This is the 5th one with Daniel. You’re coming up to see the Cuba set where there’s a big action scene happening and it’s our last week of shooting and we’re shooting nights so it’s a good time to come.”
We asked the producers about all the attention that is being paid to Lashana Lynch being cast as 007. To their credit, both Wilson and Broccoli reminded the room that Bond films have included diversity long before other productions started making such considerations.
“We’ve always tried to have diversity in the films,” Michael Wilson told our group. ” We’ve always had international casts, they’ve been different ethnicities, so the diversity is nothing new. Because people are more sensitive now they want to see it, so when they want to see it they point it out. We have a great cast, it’s quite diverse, from all over the world. It’s in keeping with the times, but I think we’ve always been ahead of the times.”
“‘Live and Let Die’ in 1974 was one of the first interracial relationships, Bond with Gloria Henry,” Barbara Broccoli recalled. “The movie was I believe banned in the South in 74, if you can believe it. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”
Both producers assured our group that we’re in for a special treat with ‘No Time To Die,’ as Lashana Lynch will be bringing something incredible to her role.
“Lashana is an extraordinary actress,” Barbara Broccoli told our group. “She’s got a great role in this movie. I’m not going to tell you too much detail about it. There’s been a lot of speculation about it, so it will be interesting to see when people see what it actually is, what they think. But she’s a highly qualified person, she comes from a military background so she’s highly qualified and gives Bond a run for his money.”
Broccoli also gave us some insight into the villain of the film, played by Rami Malek.
“Bond always has to fight some deadly force so we certainly have that with Rami Malek, who is an exceptional villain,” Broccoli told us. “But he also has a very very profound emotional journey with this film which is as epic as the villain he’s fighting so we’ve really thrown everything at him in this movie.”
For those who haven’t already read up on the film, Michael Wilson gave us great insight in the plot, specifically what we’d be seeing at the set visit.
“Bond is living in Jamaica, enjoying retirement when he gets a mission to go to Cuba from Felix Leiter, played by Jeffrey Wright,” Wilson told the room. “What’s supposed to be a no brainer turns into a big firefight, so that’s Cuba.”
“The story is an accumulation of the past four films and this one,” Barbara Broccoli added. “The arc of his character is really kind of completed, we feel it’s a very satisfying conclusion to his movies, but I think the fact that it’s Daniel’s last has given us a huge push to make it the best ever which I think he is really extraordinary, he’s never been better.”
Next up on the set visit was a visit to the Armoury with the Armourer Stephen Wilkerson, he showed us the weapons used on set and a few folks took turns picking up different guns, testing their weights and admiring the detail. We also had the chance to interview the Supervising Art Director Chris Lowe who showed us different mockups of the sets both in Italy and there at Pinewood. It was pretty surreal to look at a detailed miniature of Havana and then stand on the life-size one that had been built at Pinewood.
One of our favorite show and tells was with costume designer Suttirat Larlarb in the Costume Department. She had detailed sketches of ALL of the lead characters that included a photograph of them and had their actual costume from the photo hanging next to it. It was amazing to hear her talk about the inspiration for the costumes and reveal the different designers (Tom Ford was a big one!) who worked with the production to make sure Bond and the other characters would have enough outfits to make it through filming.
Another great show and tell was with the Prop Master Ben Wilkinson in the Props Department. He has quite a job, having to keep track of the many moving parts in the film and make sure that nothing gets lost or misplaced. I couldn’t help thinking about watching late night shows where actors talk about taking home things from set — and how much of a nightmare that must be for guys like Ben.
The last show and tell of the day was with the SFX Supervisor Chris Corbould who showed us the entire fleet for the production, there were a whole lot of DB5’s in various condition (y’all know Bond is a moving target right?) as well as some Range Rovers and a few other sports cars. We all had a chance to take a picture with the DB5 so that was also a highlight of the visit.
Our final stop on set was a visit to the actual “Havana” location at Pinewood where Daniel Craig was shooting. We mostly had to hang back and watch from a monitor but during a break we were able to get close and it was what they call ‘movie magic’.
The absolute peak of the visit was meeting Lashana Lynch and Ana De Armas in a tent set up just outside the Havana set. The weather was pretty frigid, which was ironic since the cast was supposed to be in Cuba — a detail that was not lost on Ana De Armas.
“They told me they were shooting in Cuba, this is Iceland!” De Armas told our group.
De Armas revealed how impressed she’d been with the crew’s reproduction of her native Cuba:
“It was pretty awesome to be honest. I wish we were actually in Cuba, right? To be sharing this experience with my people and to be having some kind of Cuban crew in there, I bet they would have been very excited and proud and all that. But we’re here. And it looks amazing and everything is very spot on, except the weather of course. It’s really beautiful. It makes me laugh. Yesterday I was watching the little kids with the school uniforms and I was like ‘That was me! That was me!” It was really nice and the taxis and the cars… I keep forgetting, the other day I started talking to the extras in Spanish and they were like, “Mmmmmmmmm.”
Lashana Lynch revealed she’s never been to Cuba but felt transported by the set.
“I’ve only seen pictures and videos but for me it seems they’ve done a very accurate depiction of your hometown,” Lynch said, addressing De Armas. “Even though we’re not there it feels like they’ve brought the heat and the authenticity, and the set designers have done an amazing job and it feels very real and it feels incredibly years and even though I’ve been at it for years how they can make a studio feel like another country is very bizarre. It feels surreal that they can make it feel so real. You feel quite childlike when you go on set and it feels like another country or you’ve gone underground or something and you’re completely transported. It’s very cool. So [addressing Ana] thank you for letting us into your home.”
Keeping in mind what Barbara Broccoli and Michael J. Wilson had told us earlier in our visit, I asked Lashana Lynch and Ana De Armas about the history of strong female characters in the Bond films and what it felt like to follow that legacy.
“We were talking about Grace Jones just this weekend,” Lashana Lynch told us.
“There are amazing Bond women that we are now following their steps, but you can tell that there is a shift that we have going on,” Ana De Armas continued. “Our producers understand what the situation in the world is, and what needs to be changed and they’re just always being a part of that and they want to keep moving and they’re aware of how many people follow this franchise and without stepping away from the core and the essence of what a James Bond movie is and staying in that universe and keeping the context that is fantasy and the glamour and that universe of people who seem to be like invincible and perfect, there are these changes happening and there is representation of a black woman or a Latina in these movies. When I got the phone call these characters didn’t exist yet and they were thinking about it and they wrote it in for me and that was like, ‘Excuse me what? For me, I haven’t read it but I think I’m going to like that.’ And on top of that we have writers like Phoebe Waller who is on fire right now. On top of that I think she developed or wrote my scenes and it was just like all these things happening that are really exciting and you feel like we’re doing the same but new and there is a change.”
“We were cast because we are capable women who hopefully were right for the role and we’re going to give this franchise something that is something special and unique and fresh and represents Cuban women, black women, young women, London, different cultures that are meshing together to make a really exciting new movie that I think for me is going to be one of the best Bond movies yet. It’s exciting for me to know we’re doing night shoots for two weeks. I’m hearing from the editors they’re really excited to make it new and fresh. Every department is on their A game. Everyone is giving 100 % and we’re all aiming for the same thing.”
Well we don’t know about y’all, but April 10th can’t come soon enough for us!