Author Ian Fleming was born in Green Street, London, in 1908, but he created some of his best work on the island of Jamaica. The mind behind the James Bond series of novels, the backbone of the storied film franchise, wrote 12 of the books on the Caribbean island at his GoldenEye resort. The very first 007 film, Dr. No, was based on Fleming’s sixth novel and was filmed on location in Jamaica in 1962. So it was only right that when it came time to film the 25th movie in the franchise (the last was 2015’s Spectre) a return to Jamaica was warranted.
To announce #Bond25, director Cari Joji Fukunaga, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and stars of the film convened at GoldenEye to unveil the news to the world. Captain Marvel star Lashana Lynch, a British national with Jamaican parentage, joins the cast along with Bohemian Rhapsody’s Rami Malek. They are joining Bond veterans Daniel Craig and Naomi Harris, whose mother is also from Jamaica. With support from the local Ministry of Culture, the production has already employed approximately 500 Jamaicans as cast and crew.
“We’re sitting right now in Ian Fleming’s home and the novels were written in the [next] room over,” Fukunaga tells BET.com. “So, in a spiritual sense it feels like coming home, coming to the root of this character and now this series of stories. To be shooting here and working with the community and employing people feels great. This is an event that will be remembered for a long time.”
Super spy 007 has been played by seven different actors, including Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Daniel Craig has been Bond since 2006, starring in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre and the yet unnamed 25th movie being released in 2020. As an avatar for machismo with sharp style, wit and weapons to match, James Bond has earned a sizable following across the globe that spans generations. The casting of the next Bond is a constant debate on social media and the mark of a very passionate fan base.
“I remember seeing my first Bond movie in the cinema and it feeling like an event,” says Craig, who will retire his license to kill after this film. “It was something the family took you too and they had this special quality that other movies didn’t have. The fans are incredibly passionate, and how lucky we are that they are. All of the debate about who should be the next one and who was the best one, it’s all part of this amazing thing.”
So, when did the personal James Bond journey begin for the cast and director? For Craig and Lashana Lynch it was Live and Let Die (the former in theaters, the latter on DVD), which was set in Jamaica. Fukunaga sites A View to a Kill was his first Bond film and Rami Malek names Dr. No as his intro to 007. Naomi Harris doesn’t recall her very first time seeing James Bond on screen but knows which had the most impact.
“They were always on as a kid during Christmas in particular,” says Harris. “There were always reruns running and the family would sit down and watch them. But the one that resonated with me as an adult the most was Casino Royale. That was the first time Daniel was introduced and I felt like he reinvented that role and made it really relevant and modern and I loved that Bond fell in love.”
As a bona fide “Ladies Man” James Bond’s relationship with women has been… complicated. However, while he did start out as a reflection of more chauvinistic times, the character has been allowed to evolve on screen.
“The relationships he had before were just because he was sexy. I think it’s easier to fall in love with him as a man now,” says Ana De Armas, another new face for #BOND25. “He’s way more emotional, vulnerable and real. As a woman you really fall in love more with that than how hot he can be.”
“He loves now,” adds Lea Seydoux, who returns as Madeleine Swann. “He’s a lover, and in the female audience we like to see Bond having feelings and being vulnerable and fragile.”
“I think we have more empathy with him,” says Harris in agreement. “He was always an amazing character; the danger, the excitement, incredible locations around the world. But then to have empathy for him I think it takes it to a whole other level.”
As compelling a character as James Bond has been, like most action heroes, he is only as good as his adversary, and 007 has had some colorful personalities to contend with. Rami Malek will have some big shoes to fill as Bond’s nemesis.
“When I was a kid I was terrified of Jaws,” Malek says when asked who his favorite Bond villain is. “The thing about being the villain, it’s a very difficult balance to strike where you want to be absolutely terrifying, but there is an element of charm to them [that] you can’t help but fall for as well. They can never be more charming than James himself, but there is that aspect that I always find really enjoyable. Some of my favorite actors in the last few years have played the villain. Jaws was a really formidable adversary, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
The only thing Rami is looking forward to as much as his role is the music in the film. The theme song is a benchmark of the James Bond series, and iconic voices have been enlisted over the years to capture the sound of Bond for each film.
“Shirley Bassey singing ‘Goldfinger’ was an iconic moment for me,” he says. “The music in those films are something that I, along with everyone else, looks forward to. It’s rare when you get Nancy Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Adele, Paul McCartney and so many other greats, Duran Duran, opening up these films. It’s arguably the best opening sequence in all of film history. So, to get to be a part of it is such a thrill.”
While Malek, who played Freddy Mercury in the Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody, would love to see Queen get a shot at recording the theme song, his cast mates have some strong recommendations as well.
“I would pick Laura Mvula,” Naomi Harris says, tapping her fellow Brit, citing her song “Phenomenal Woman” as an example of her chops. “She looks like a Bond woman herself. Her strength. Her passion. Her voice is so emotional. It has a rousing Bond feel to it.”
Ana has a pick that few would argue with. “I like Rihanna. No need to elaborate on that.”
Whoever has the honor of closing out this chapter, it will be epic, but Daniel Craig isn’t too concerned with grand farewells as yet. You can hang his jersey in the rafters but he isn’t contemplating a farewell tour.
“I don’t think that’s where our focus is at the moment. It’s making the best movie we can. It doesn’t feel like closing a chapter. Talk to us in six months.”
And we look forward to doing just that, Daniel.