Credit: Jonathan Olley
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Skyfall took James Bond to new heights, grossing $1.1 billion worldwide to become the most successful 007 installment in history. The 2012 blockbuster killed off Bond’s boss, M (Judi Dench), and found Her Majesty’s most deadly secret servant (Daniel Craig) struggling to stay relevant in a post-spy world. But returning director Sam Mendes can only see that film in terms of unfinished business. “Bond has been rebooted at the end of the movie,” Mendes says. “This is only the beginning of the story.”

Spectre provides a kind of culmination to the three previous films while developing a backstory that’s been largely unexplored until now. “The Bond creation myth never happened,” Mendes says. “I felt there was an opportunity there: What made him? And who were the people who affected him along the way? You’re sort of telling the story backwards of how Bond became Bond.”

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Enter Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser, mastermind of the titular shadowy criminal syndicate. Describing himself to Bond as “the author of all your pain,” Oberhauser wields a mysterious connection to the superspy’s past and imperils 007’s love interest (Lea Seydoux) as a matter of course. “A lot of the film is a celebration of what it is to be Bond,” Craig says. “But it’s not retro. Hopefully it’s not just classic Bond but a classic thriller.”

Licence to thrill: approved.

To continue reading the cover story on EW’s Fall Movie Preview, and to see more exclusive photos, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here.

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2015 movie
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  • Sam Mendes