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No Time To Die, the 25th James Bond film (in cinemas now), is a huge film in every sense. Not only is the globe-trotting adventure the longest 007 film ever, it’s also packed with Easter eggs, and hidden secrets that begin to emerge with repeat viewings.
Sure to be on the Christmas list of every movie fan this year, here’s just some of the surprising things we learned about Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007.
The film opens with a horror-inspired flashback sequence in Norway with a young Madeleine Swann (Coline Défaud) being pursued by Safin (Rami Malek) across a frozen lake. It was one of the first things shot for the film, with the second unit shooting on location near the village of Hakadal, half an hour from Oslo in March 2019 before the lake melted in Spring.
Read more: The best No Time To Die Easter eggs
Close ups of the actors were captured at Pinewood Studios in the UK, where the conditions could be much more closely controlled. But in order to recreate a portion of the frozen lake on Stage U at Pinewood, 120 square metres of ice were harvested from a Norwegian lake and transported to England, as the director felt the real thing was more authentic than locally created ice.
“We look at using a plastic epoxy version, but nothing was as clear and beautiful as real ice,” Cary Joji Fukunaga explains in the book.
Safin’s introduction in the film was originally slightly different. Earlier drafts of the scripts had Rami Malek's villain and a secondary henchman going to Mr White’s lakeside house, with the henchman killed by Madeleine’s hail of bullets.
However, both characters were amalgamated into one in later drafts, giving Safin his creepy resurrection moment. The Noh mask used in the film was originally the henchman’s, with Safin wearing an 18th century hunting mask. Fukanaga describes this alternative design as being ‘almost like a Hellraiser mask with spikes all over it’.
Fukanaga also admits that Safin’s all white snow gear is a nod to Roger Moore’s Bogner snowsuit that he wore in A View To A Kill — the first Bond film the director saw.
Madeleine’s DB5 moment
The action highlight of the film’s pre-title sequence is the heavily trailed Matera scene with the classic Aston Martin DB5 deploying a number of gadgets while being pursued by SPECTRE goons.
Original drafts of the story had Madeleine driving the car in this sequence, but was switched to Bond later in development. Ten cars in total were used to shoot the scene: two 1964 models, and eight stunt cars, two with driving pods on the roof. One gadget added to the car by Q — a changing LED licence plate — isn’t used in the final film.
Primo was spotted in a music video
Described by Dali Benssalah, the actor who plays him, as ‘a kind of war dog’, the one-eyed Primo is one of the most memorable baddies of the Daniel Craig era. The French-born actor came to the film in a surprising way, as he was spotted by Fukunaga’s assistant in a 2017 music video for Territory by French duo The Blaze.
She showed the clip to Fukunaga who then asked the actor to audition for the part. The character’s haircut and fondness for leisurewear seems to have been lifted straight from the music video too.
The explosion that ripped the wall off Pinewood
In June 2019 an explosion at Pinewood Studios generated headlines around the world after the walls of the famous 007 stage were ripped off, and a member of the crew injured. The new book reveals it was the explosion in the secret Herecles lab that caused the blast.
Pictured below is the aftermath of an explosion which occurred during filming on the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage. The explosion damaged part of the roof and a number of exterior wall panels. One staff member sustained a minor injury. #BOND25 #JamesBond pic.twitter.com/gKyAmUAmeL
— NO TIME TO DIE (Not Official) (@NO_TIME_TO_DIE) June 4, 2019
Special effects supervisor Chris Courbould said it wasn't as bad as it seemed: “It was a lot of fuss over not very much and wasn’t as dramatic as it looked, because the exterior panels are only made of foam.” It put the stage out of action but not for long.
David Dencik's other Bond audition
Russian scientist Valdo Obruchev featured much more heavily in No Time To Die than had been expected, with Chernobyl star David Dencik bringing the snivelling boffin to life with obvious glee.
Read more: Actors who could be the next James Bond
However, he reveals in the book that he had previously met with casting director Debbie McWilliams for a part in 2012’s Skyfall. “I didn’t get the part,” he shares, without divulging which part he was up for. Beyond Bond, the other big non-English roles in that film were Javier Bardem’s Silva and Ola Rapace’s Patrice.
A familiar bar
Outside of Bond’s retirement home (from production designer Mark Tildesley and set decorator Veronique Melery), the most memorable location in the Jamaica sequence is the club in which Bond meets up with Felix Leiter and Logan Ash.
Although it looks very different in the Bond film, the bar has a cinematic past, as it was also used as a location in the 1988 Tom Cruise film Cocktail.
It’s actually an open-sided bar right on the beach that they built out with a new bar and a new LED dance floor for Bond. And despite appearances, they shot the night time sequence during the day “on this absolutely pristine beach with the sea lapping on the shore, ten yards away”.
Watch carefully during the Billie Eilish scored title scenes from longtime series regular Daniel Kleinman, and you’ll see Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 finally being ditched in the drink. After 60 years, and eight appearances, the classic Bond car appears to be going back into retirement.
No Time To Die though brings another classic out of mothballs though, with Bond retrieving an Aston Martin V8 — last seen in 1987’s The Living Daylights — from his lock up. Producer Barbara Broccoli says it was Daniel Craig’s idea to bring this particular model back to the franchise, calling it a ‘really beautiful’ motor. “It’s not even an Easter egg,” adds Craig. “It’s for the fans.”
Chris Corbould confirms that unlike Dalton’s version, Craig’s V8 has no gadgets: It’s Bond’s personal car.
The Blofeld scene
There’s a reductive assumption that Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was simply brought on to punch up the female roles, or to add gags to the No Time To Die script. And while both of those things have some truth to them, the book makes it clear that she brought so much more to the film.
One particular scene that Fukunaga says she had a key part in was Bond’s interrogation with Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), which Daniel Craig is also credited with working on. “I think there were some things that Bond wanted to say to Blofeld that didn’t quite come out in the last film,” he explains. “Phoebe and I went through it and edited it, but the bones of it are what Daniel wanted.”
An alternative Cuba scene
Episode four of the Cary Fukunaga-directed True Detective S1 featured an incredible six-minute, one take, action sequence. Called a ‘oner’ in the trade, the director uses another one for Daniel Craig’s final punch up which takes place in a stairwell on Safin’s Poison Island. “There’s nothing more that puts you more into the ‘present tense’ than a oner,” he explains.
Had it purely been down to Fukunaga though, No Time To Die would have featured ‘ten oners’ — including the entire Cuba fight sequence (can you imagine?!) — but due to the logistical complexity required for them, only one made it into the final film.
Supervising stunt coordinator Olivier Schneider choreographed the bruising three-minute sequence, dubbed ‘brutal stars’ by the production, which culminates in a hand-to-hand scuffle with Primo.
No Time To Die: The Making of the Film by Mark Salisbury is available from Titan Books now. No Time To Die is in cinemas now.
Watch: Daniel Craig reflects on his tenure as James Bond