The process of shooting mega budget studio blockbusters is not an easy one, especially if unexpected circumstances end up derailing or delaying production. James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson admitted they were screwed when cameras began rolling on Quantum of Solace without a completed script, but that didn’t stop the exact same thing from happening again with No Time to Die.
When Daniel Craig suffered an injury that forced him out of action, director Cary Joji Fukunaga was forced to alter the schedule and focus on scenes that didn’t involve the leading man. As the filmmaker revealed in a new interview with Esquire Middle East, the problem was that those scenes hadn’t actually been written yet, forcing him to make things up as he went along in the hopes it would all fit together in post-production.
“With Bond, we were still writing when we’d wrapped. I was even writing in post! The only set which was really ready to go was M’s office in MI6. I knew more or less in the outline that I made what I wanted to have happen in that section, but none of the body of the script had been written yet. Luckily, I was sitting there with some of the greatest actors in the world. I was writing dialogue that was intentional enough, but vague enough, that I could apply it to a number of different things happening in the third act.
It was almost like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel writing these pages: ‘If this happened here, and you have to go here, then this page will work for that’. When we finally put the film together, it all made sense, somehow all fit together. But I’ll tell you a secret, that I think is okay now that we’re so close to release, there are pieces that Ralph Fiennes says in the trailer that neither Ralph nor I knew exactly what he was saying it for.”
That’s certainly an interesting way to tackle a project with a budget said to be hovering around the $200 million mark, but looking at the enthusiastic reviews to have greeted No Time to Die so far, Fukunaga’s unique approach ended up paying dividends.
There would have surely been an air of trepidation on his part when he was writing, shooting and editing scenes without the faintest idea of whether or not they’d make sense within the context of the narrative, although No Time to Die being officially certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes would indicate that it all worked out in the end.