Danny Boyle was all set to direct Daniel Craig in his final James Bond movie before exiting the project due to creative differences with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. The Oscar winner would later tell Metro that he’s “not cut out [for franchises],” adding, “I work in partnership with writers and I am not prepared to break it up.” Boyle brought in John Hodge to pen his Bond movie, which the director recently revealed to Esquire UK was set in present day Russia and explored Bond’s origins. Boyle said he was apprehensive from the start about signing on to Bond.
“I remember thinking, ‘Should I really get involved in franchises?’ Because they don’t really want something different,” Boyle told Esquire UK. “They want you to freshen it up a bit, but not really challenge it, and we wanted to do something different with it. Weirdly — it would have been very topical now — it was all set in Russia, which is of course where Bond came from, out of the Cold War. It was set in present-day Russia and went back to his origins, and they just lost, what’s the word…they just lost confidence in it. It was a shame really.”
Reports surfaced at the time of Boyle’s exit that he sparred with producers over the decision to kill James Bond. Anyone who saw what ended up being Craig’s final 007 movie, the Cary Fukunaga-directed “No Time to Die,” knows that plot point made it into the movie and was something Craig championed. But Bond’s death wasn’t the only crossover “No Time to Die” had with Boyle’s scrapped 007 movie.
“The idea that they used in a different way was the one of [James Bond’s] child, which [Hodge] introduced [and which] was wonderful,” Boyle said.
Would Boyle try and crack another Bond movie if the opportunity arose? “I don’t think so,” he said before offering up his own picks for who should replace Craig as the next James Bond: Robert Pattinson or “I May Destroy You” breakout Paapa Essiedu.
Boyle’s Russia reveal is the first specific plot point that has been confirmed from his axed James Bond movie. Bond production designer Mark Tildesley told Total Film in 2020 that Boyle and Hodge came up with an “extraordinary” script for their movie.
“Unfortunately Danny’s crazy, madcap ideas didn’t quite tie up with what [producers] Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [De Luca] had planned,” Tildesley said. “It was definitely a good thing to do. Maybe another time though. I’m revving Barbara up to have another go with Danny. [He had] some extraordinary ideas, they just needed a little pulling together.”