As the 25th instalment of the James Bond franchise is set to hit screens in April, its producers have declared the debonair M16 agent will never be played by a woman.
In an interview with Variety, Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael Wilson revealed it was still undecided as to who will take over Daniel Craig’s lead character after his five-film run ends with the $250 million No Time to Die, due out in April.
It could be played by a person of any colour, but not a woman.
“He can be of any colour, but he is male,” Ms Broccoli said.
“I believe we should be creating new characters for women – strong female characters.
“I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
There was speculation British actress Lashana Lynch, of Captain Marvel fame, who was cast in the film, was going to take the lead role.
The trailer in December quashed that rumour:
The publicity in the lead-up to the latest 007 instalment comes as American teen pop sensation Billie Eilish, 18, was chosen to write and record the theme song.
Eilish, who wrote the song with her brother Finneas O’Connell, 22, will be the youngest artist ever to take on the task, following in the footsteps of musicians like Adele, Madonna, and Paul McCartney.
In September, former Bond Pierce Brosnan backed the idea of having a woman take over.
“I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last 40 years,” he said.
“Get out of the way, guys, and put a woman up there.
“I think it would be exhilarating, it would be exciting,” he told Hollywood Reporter.
Lynch plays a junior 00 who joins Craig’s Bond after he is brought out of retirement for one more mission.
Still, according to the trailer, the film does address Bond’s famously cavalier approach to working relationships.
“The world’s moved on, Commander Bond,” Lynch’s character, Nomi, says.
“So, stay in your lane.”
Eilish and Finneas’ ‘dream come true’
In a statement, Eilish said she was still in shock after being asked to score the theme song, following in the footsteps of Adele in 2012 for Skyfall and Sam Smith’s song for Spectre in 2016, which both won Oscars.
“It feels crazy to be a part of this in every way. To be able to score the theme song to a film that is part of such a legendary series is a huge honour. James Bond is the coolest film franchise ever to exist.
“Writing the theme song for a Bond film is something we’ve been dreaming about doing our entire lives,” Finneas added.
Co-writer says Bond has to ‘grow’ in relevance
Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge told Deadline the Bond franchise is indeed ‘relevant’ despite the traditional roles women have taken in the film, namely as Bond’s bedmates, and was brought in as co-writer and was determined to “evolve” the character.
“The #MeToo movement has had a huge impact – rightfully, thankfully – on society, and these films should reflect that, as everything we do should,” she said.
“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.”