Although James Bond 25 has stumbled a bit out of the gate, fans are interested to see what Fleabag and Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has done with the script. The writer, who stole scenes in Solo: A Star Wars Story as Lando Calrissian’s droid companion L3-37, was brought in just before production started to polish the script and add a little bit of humor. But if you’re thinking the James Bond 25 rewrites will be changing 007 so that he’s suddenly not a womanizing secret agent, think again.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is only the second woman in the history of the James Bond franchise to be credited on a script. The only other one is Johanna Hardwood, who wrote on Dr. No in 1962 and From Russia With Love in 1963. That would explain why the franchise has always been so flippant with female characters, often time only using them as sex objects either used to seduce James Bond or used by James Bond to help him get the information he needs. But funnily enough, in this current social climate, Phoebe Waller-Bridge doesn’t think the character of James Bond need to treat women better. Instead, she says it’s the franchise that needs to give women better roles.
Speaking with Deadline, Waller-Bridge first wanted to clarify that she wasn’t brought in to overhaul the script that was originally written by longtime franchise scribes Robert Wade and Neal Purvis and rewritten by Scott Z. Burns. She wouldn’t even say that she’s writing the script as a whole:
“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.”
So Waller-Bridge is mostly punching up the script to enhance Daniel Craig’s take on James Bond, especially with regards to his dry humor. However, The Daily Mail has reported a rumor that the writer’s work on the film expands beyond polishing dialogue and adding comedy. Reportedly, she was brought in to help streamline a complicated plot. Apparently, the plot in question has to deal with genetic engineering, which can be a rather dense topic, especially for a franchise based around car chases, fights and other large scale action setpieces.
Waller-Bridge maintains that she’s merely adding definition to certain aspects of the screenplay, especially when it comes to the female characters played by Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, and Ana de Armas. However, just because she’s helping to give women a more meaningful role in the James Bond franchise doesn’t mean 007 himself is suddenly going to change his womanizing ways. Waller-Bridge explained:
“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. 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.
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.”
That’s a smart approach to James Bond. There seems to be this misunderstanding among some viewers that a character with flaws and problematic behavior somehow condones those actions. But when done well, they can be representations of real people in society that help shine a light on issues. Waller-Bridge doesn’t seem aimed at making a statement by turning James Bond into a politically correct, feminist secret agent, but she will try to give women their due diligence in a franchise that has often mistreated them. And that’s a good start. Now we just have to wait for Daniel Craig to recover from his injury so production on the movie can continue.
The still-untitled James Bond 25 is slated to hit theaters on April 8, 2020.
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