Phoebe Waller-Bridge: new Bond film must ‘treat women properly’ – even if he doesn’t | Film

News of the recruitment of Phoebe Waller-Bridge to polish the script of the 25th James Bond film was met with relief from fans fretful about the film’s hitherto bumpy pre-production.

Waller-Bridge – whose highly acclaimed second season of Fleabag has just begun its run in the US – was brought on board in April to enliven a screenplay that had already been through multiple drafts, apparently at the direct request of star Daniel Craig.

Speaking to Deadline, Waller-Bridge downplayed her centrality to the script, but confirmed she was treating the gender politics of the character seriously. “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,” she said. “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.”

The second woman in the history of the franchise to gain a script credit, following Johanna Harwood, who co-wrote 1962’s Dr No and 1963’s From Russia With Love, Waller-Bridge continued by saying that she wanted to ensure the female characters in the new film “felt like real people”.

“I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that Lashana [Lynch], Léa [Seydoux] and Ana [de Armas] 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.”

As yet untitled, the 25th Bond film will be directed by Cary Fukunaga, following the departure of Danny Boyle due to “creative differences” last year. Boyle recently confirmed rumours that these differences centred on the script he and long-term collaborator John Hodge had written.

Production was put back to allow time for the completion of a new script by Bond veterans Neil Purvis and Robert Wade; this was then overhauled by Bourne Ultimatum writer Scott Z Burns. Filming finally began in late April, but was put on hold again a fortnight later, following a serious ankle injury sustained by Daniel Craig.

Waller-Bridge said she had long been drawn to Craig’s interpretation of the character. “When I saw his 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.”

Bond 25 features Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek as the lead villain, alongside returning MI6 cast Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear.

According to the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, the new script’s subject matter is genetic engineering, and Waller-Bridge was brought on board in part because she could comprehend it. “There aren’t many people in the world bright enough to bring some humour to the topic of genetics and the Human Genome Project,” said Bamigboye’s source.

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