The ongoing saga of what in the world is going on with the Bond 25 script got a delightful curveball just before production began, as Fleabag and Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought on to further work on the screenplay. And now Waller-Bridge has offered some details on what her work entailed.
To briefly recap, the initial Bond 25 script hailed from longtime Bond veterans Robert Wade and Neal Purvis, but then when Danny Boyle and his frequent writer John Hodge threw their hat into the ring with an original idea, the producers changed course. That iteration of the project hit a wall last August, when Boyle and Hodge left Bond 25 over creative differences with their iteration of the screenplay, at which point the producers reverted back to the Purvis and Wade draft and then brought on Cary Joji Fukunaga to co-write and direct. As production loomed, noted script doctor Scott Z. Burns was brought in to do what was reported as something of an overhaul, and then literally right before filming began, word came down that Waller-Bridge entered the fray to do a dialogue polish and add some humor.
And according to Waller-Bridge, that’s exactly what she did. Speaking with Deadline, the actress and writer says it would be unfair to say she “wrote” the script, even though she has a credit courtesy of the productions press release:
“When I saw [Daniel Craig‘s] 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.”
Waller-Bridge did say, however, that she was intent on making sure the film’s female leads—played by Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, and Ana de Armas—were treated as three-dimensional characters in the context of the film, while also being careful to acknowledge that the character of Bond himself doesn’t necessarily need to transform into a woke feminist icon in order for the franchise to remain relevant:
“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.”
Indeed, I don’t think anyone expects James Bond to suddenly stop his womanizing ways, but there’s a difference between a film with a misogynistic lead character and a film that is itself misogynistic in the way it treats women, and it’s nice to know that those involved in the Bond franchise aren’t interested in backsliding.
In further detailing her work on the script, Waller-Bridge said she just wanted to make sure the female characters felt like real people:
“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 is only the second woman in Bond franchise history to earn a screenplay credit, following Dr. No and From Russia with Love’s Johanna Hardwood, and I can’t wait to see what her involvement brings to the table.
We’ll find out when Bond 25 hits theaters on April 8, 2020.