Across 24 previous 007 films, James Bond has tangled with women of every background imaginable: some every bit his equal (see Michelle Yeoh in “Tomorrow Never Dies” and Sophie Marceau in “The World Is Not Enough”), and some who’ve felt dropped into his spy adventures as little more than eye candy with next to nothing to do. That hit or miss record is almost certainly because the Bond film franchise has historically only ever had one female screenwriter: Johanna Harwood, who helped launch the series with writing credits on its first two films, “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love.”
Until now that is: “Fleabag” star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has polished the script for Bond 25, currently shooting in Jamaica, after she helped bring a more contemporary edge to the spy genre by creating the acclaimed BBC America series “Killing Eve.”
So does Waller-Bridge want to address the 007 franchise’s historical wrongs against women? According to a new interview with Deadline, her answer is yes… and no.
“There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not [the Bond franchise] is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women,” she said. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now. It has just got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”
Bond himself has treated women poorly throughout its entire big screen history, from Connery’s 007 dismissing a conquest in “Goldfinger” by slapping her derriere and saying she shouldn’t be present for “man talk” to Daniel Craig’s Bond coldly reacting to the death of a lover in “Skyfall.”
Waller-Bridge feels that that may indeed by who the character is, but that the film doesn’t have to share Bond’s point of view and can give its female characters much greater dimensionality, that they feel “like real people.”
Léa Seydoux, who played the female lead in the last 007 entry “Spectre” is back for Bond 25, alongside new additions Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas. Waller-Bridge said, “I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that Lashana, Léa and Ana open them and go, ‘I can’t wait to do that.’ As an actress, I very rarely had that feeling early in my career. That brings me much pleasure, knowing that I’m giving that to an actress.”
Waller-Bridge cautioned that it’s unfair to say she’s writing the script, rather than just polishing the dialogue since the story was already set when she came onboard. The main thing that spoke to her about Daniel Craig’s Bond was the voice of his particular version of the character: droll, deadpan, understated in a very British way.
“When I saw his Bond for the first time, there was a wryness to his performance that I really loved,” she said. “So, I was really excited about writing dialogue for him. I mean, the script was there. It’s already there. I think it’s unfair to say that I’m writing the script.”
The still-untitled Bond 25 will be released in April 2020.