No Time to Die director Cary Fukunaga breaks down a crucial early scene
In the pre-title sequence of No Time to Die (out Oct. 8), Daniel Craig's James Bond pays his respects to an old friend in a stunning European locale. "We wanted to tie up a lot of the strands of the stories from Daniel's run as Bond," says the film's director and co-writer Cary Fukunaga. Here, he reveals more details about creating this crucial moment.
The cemetery scene was shot early fall 2019 in the Italian town of Matera, where Wonder Woman's Themyscira scenes were also filmed. "Mark Tildesley, our production designer, pitched it as a great location to start off the film," says Fukunaga. "The monochrome nature of Matera already makes it feel like a large necropolis. There's a lot of metaphors there in terms of what Bond was leaving behind for the next chapter. So that's kind of how we got there. We also combined two different cities in the sequence. The bridge that we say connects Matera to the necropolis is actually in a neighboring town around 30, 40 minutes away called Gravina in Puglia. We made it seem like it's all part of the same journey, but it's actually not part of the same town.
"We had been [shooting] on a stage for much of the summer and there's a kind of protective bubble," says the director. "Going back out in the real world was a reminder about how much of a superstar Daniel is and how people move around him. The town showed up en masse to try to get any glimpse of him," says Fukunaga.
"He was a consummate professional and kind to all those people" says the director of his star "and worked his ass off to do the demanding stunts that he had to do in the short time that we were shooting in Matera with the first unit." Craig himself drove some "donuts" for the cameras in his character's Aston Martin. "I remember in the morning, before we would even get up to set, I [could] hear him practicing those donuts from the other side of town, because those engines are so loud," says Fukunaga. "In fact we called that 'Donut Square,' so yeah he definitely did it himself."
Spoiler alert! In the scene, 007 is saying a final farewell to his lover, Eva Green's Vesper Lynd, who died in 2006's Casino Royale, after betraying Bond. "Because their romance was so centered in Italy, we felt we could do something that somehow ended there as well," says Fukunaga. "To move forward with Madeleine Swann [Léa Seydoux], Bond has to let go of his past and holding on to that grudge with Vesper Lynd was part of that. Forgiveness is a big part of this opening sequence."
The ancient-looking graveyard was actually newly constructed for No Time to Die. "I was looking for something that gave us the most depth, and frames within frames to feature Bond, and found that spot across the valley from Matera," says the director. "We basically designed the streets [in the cemetery] at angles to give us that view of Matera. So the cemetery was designed around the camera positions."
Watch the trailer for No Time to Die above.
A version of this story appears in the October issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now and available to order here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
Read more from EW's 25 Days of Bond, a celebration of all things 007 ahead of the release of No Time to Die.