The role of Q, James Bond’s longtime gadget man in the British Secret Service, has been played by a variety of actors over the years. From the original Peter Burton to a memorable turn by John Cleese, the character gets recast almost as frequently as 007 himself. Ben Whishaw is the latest actor to take up the mantle, and his appearance in “No Time to Die” provided what many saw as a landmark moment for the franchise.
In one scene, James Bond (Daniel Craig) shows up to Q’s apartment, and Q is setting the table for a romantic dinner for two. While his guest has not arrived yet, Q mentions that his date is a man. While many cinephiles were quick to point out that it was the first time any Bond character had referenced being anything but straight, plenty of others saw the gesture as far too little, far too late. Q is never actually seen on the date with a man, he simply references it in a brief one-off scene that could easily be edited out for foreign markets. The most cynical fans viewed the gesture as a studio trying to get credit for inclusivity without committing to a gay character.
Whishaw can see both sides. In a new interview with The Guardian, the actor says he understands and agrees with some criticisms of the scene, but does not think there was any malicious intent behind the decision. “Otherwise, no one has given me any feedback,” he said. “So I’m really interested in these questions. And I’m very happy to admit maybe some things were not great about that [creative] decision.”
The actor recalled his reaction when he first read the script and felt bothered by the scene’s brevity. “I think I thought, ‘Are we doing this, and then doing nothing with it?’” he said of the brief scene. “I remember, perhaps, feeling that was unsatisfying.” He went on to say that he may have spoken up about such a choice if he was working on a smaller project, but did not feel comfortable doing so due to the large scale of the movie.
“For whatever reason, I didn’t pick it apart with anybody on the film,” he said. “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.”
However, Whishaw believes that fans and critics accusing the studio of reluctantly being “forced” to include a gay character are going too far. He defended the intentions behind the choice, even if the final result left something to be desired. “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.”
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