Phoebe Waller-Bridge is only the second woman to be credited as a writer in James Bond movie history. In April 2019, the English actress-producer was hired to revise the No Time to Die screenplay, which had previously been worked on by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and several other filmmakers. Before Waller-Bridge's involvement, over 50 years had passed since Johanna Harwood co-wrote Dr. No and From Russia with Love, and also provided uncredited work in Goldfinger.
Waller-Bridge is best known for creating, writing, and starring in the TV series Crashing and Fleabag. She also served as the head writer for Killing Eve season 1 and voiced L3-37 in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Waller-Bridge's knack for offbeat comedy has made her one of the industry's most original voices, allowing her to pursue larger-scale opportunities, such as with No Time to Die and her upcoming TV adaptation of the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
According to a 2019 report (via BBC News), Daniel Craig recruited Waller-Bridge for No Time to Die in order to break some franchise rules. She was tasked with tweaking dialogue for some of the characters and storylines, which will undoubtedly benefit a franchise that's known for its misogynistic depictions of women. No Time to Die features returning female characters such as Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), along with newcomers Nomi (Lashana Lynch) and Paloma (Ana de Armas), so Waller-Bridge's revisions should balance out the gender dynamics in key scenes, or at least make the dialogue more progressive and fresh. However, she's made it clear that producers didn't request a complete culture shift:
"They were already doing that themselves... They're having that conversation with themselves the whole time. It was much more practical. Just, 'You're a writer, we need some help with these scenes. And you come up with some dialogue for these characters.'"
Despite Waller-Bridge's obvious talent, she's been the center of conversations about alleged diversity hiring. Production for No Time to Die aligned with the rise of the #MeToo movement, and franchise fans have rallied for a woman to star as 007 after Craig, which prompted producers to state in January 2020 that James Bond will "never" be played by a woman. Two months prior, Craig confronted a reporter who implied that Waller-Bridge was only hired for the sake of brand management - a way to ensure that the franchise was more inclusionary:
“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is ridiculous. She’s a great writer. Why shouldn’t we get Phoebe onto Bond? That’s the answer to that."
Based on Waller-Bridge's collective statements about No Time to Die, her screenplay revisions won't necessarily alter James Bond as a character but will indeed affect the film's treatment of women. In May 2019 (via Deadline), Waller-Bridge stated that Bond himself doesn't have to change as a protagonist, and also addressed the notion that the character's history of misogynistic behavior makes him irrelevant in modern pop culture. According to the No Time to Die co-writer, her contributions will help the franchise move in the right direction:
“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.”
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