(NEXSTAR) – The director of the latest film in the James Bond franchise is well aware that the character’s behavior with women has been problematic at times, to say the least.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “No Time to Die” director Cary Fukunaga discussed the challenges he’s faced as the first American to helm a Bond film, as well as the producers’ and writers’ efforts to bring 007 — and the franchise’s attitude toward women — into a post-MeToo age.
Fukunaga, who previously directed “Beasts of No Nation” and the first season of HBO’s “True Detective,” also didn’t hold back when pointing out that Bond, in some of the earlier films, was more of a sex offender than a sex symbol.
“Is it ‘Thunderball’ or ‘Goldfinger’ where, like, basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman?” Fukunaga said in the interview. “She’s like ‘No, no, no,’ and he’s like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ That wouldn’t fly today.”
Fukunaga could easily be referring to either film. In 1964’s “Goldfinger,” for instance, James Bond forcibly kisses Pussy Galore after throwing her on the ground, and despite her repeated attempts to fend off his advances. In “Thunderball,” released the following year, Bond again kisses a woman against her will (a nurse) and then threatens to tell her boss about an incident at her clinic unless she has sex with him.
In addition to sidestepping any Bond tropes that “wouldn’t fly today,” Fukunaga said he and producer Barbara Broccoli made conscious decisions to give the film’s female characters stronger roles, such as that of Nomi, a new agent played by Lashana Lynch.
“You can’t change Bond overnight into a different person. But you can definitely change the world around him and the way he has to function in that world,” Fukunaga told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a story about a white man as a spy in this world, but you have to be willing to lean in and do the work to make the female characters more than just contrivances.”
The 44-year-old filmmaker’s comments come after current Bond actor Daniel Craig, in an interview with Radio Times, said he doesn’t believe a woman should ever portray James Bond, though not because a woman wouldn’t be able to handle the role.
“There should simply be better parts for women and actors of color,” he told the outlet. “Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”