Filmmaker Mat Whitecross scored his first feature directorial credit co-directing the acclaimed 2006 docudrama The Road To Guantanamo with the great British auteur, Michael Winterbottom. Since then, Mat has worked on both documentaries (The Kings, The Shock Doctrine) and in dramatic features (Ashes, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll). He’s also become something of a go-to for projects with wall-to-wall music. Whitecross directed the highly regarded Oasis documentary Supersonic, and has had a long-running relationship with Coldplay (directing several Coldplay music videos as well as their feature length documentary Adventure of a Lifetime). While Whitecross was looking to take a break from music-based projects and return to drama, a fateful offer he couldn’t refuse came to him in the form of an opportunity to direct a documentary on the music of James Bond. Having just celebrated 60 years of James Bond (the first 007 film premiered October 5, 1962) and with the recent departure of Daniel Craig from the role, the time was ripe for an assessment of the impact the Bond films have had on popular music.
In making The Sound of 007, Whitecross has delivered a brisk and brilliant summation of the significance of Bond music within the films and to our culture at large. In our conversation, Whitecross details the challenges of doing justice to six decades and twenty-five films worth of song and score while also leaving room for criticism and reevaluation.
Awards Daily: In a lot of ways this seems like a tailor-made project for you, between doing documentaries based around music (Oasis, Coldplay), Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (about the infamous British rockstar Ian Drury), and if I remember right, you worked on 24 Hour Party People too. You’ve always been connected to popular music. How did this project find you?
Mat Whitecross: I think you’re right, on paper it is kind of tailor-made for me. I was kind of hesitant around that time to do any more music projects because I’ve done a few, and I wanted to get back into drama. Then John Battsek, the producer, we’d been looking to do some project together, when he said do you fancy going in to meet Barbara (Broccoli) and Michael (Wilson), the Bond producers, I’m like yeah of course who wouldn’t want to go meet them and see what they’re planning. At that point Cary Fukunaga had just come on board and they were about to start shooting No Time to Die. They’d been through all this stuff: one director had left and now they were bringing in a new director, so they were pretty busy. They knew that they had the 60th anniversary coming up, and they knew – this was pre-Covid, around Christmas pre-Covid – that they were going to have a finished Bond film. The film would have come out, under normal circumstances, probably two years before. They knew they wanted to do something, but they didn’t quite know how they wanted to commemorate this anniversary. They knew it was a big one. They said we think we want to do a documentary, but we don’t quite know what it is.
We threw out some ideas, they threw out some ideas and the primary one seemed to be they wanted to somehow honor Daniel Craig’s ten years as Bond. They knew he was coming to the end of the run. They didn’t quite know how final that full stop was going to be, but we knew that something was going to happen. They talked about maybe doing something about his films as a whole. They did actually end up making that documentary with Daniel’s friends. It’s called Being James Bond, and they released it right before No Time to Die. So, that was the conversation and then we never heard back. I was finishing on The Kings, the boxing doc. Then we were just starting on this paralympics documentary so I kind of forgot about it and assumed we just didn’t get the gig and that’s ok, it happens. Suddenly we get this call about a year later, when they had just finished the No Time to Die shoot, saying “Ok, what’s happening with this film?” Suddenly all hands on deck! [Laughs] We were just in the process of finishing up the paralympics film and went Ok great let’s see what this is. Then, and I’m glad they went this way, they came back saying “We like the music of Bond idea.” I think it had been Barbara’s idea originally anyway. “If you’re into it let’s go see if we can raise the money and let’s do it.” So, it all happened very quickly. As usual, there’s always ten other projects circling and I kind of said to myself privately I don’t want to do any more music films for a long while and I probably want to do a drama next, but there’s just some offers that are too good to refuse.
Awards Daily: You point out two things that make this a particularly interesting time to do something like this. One is the sixtieth anniversary and the other is Daniel Craig’s departure from the role and this sort of in-between space that we’re in right now. It creates a defining line. It also creates extraordinary complications in covering the width and breadth of the Bond films. There’s twenty five films. There’s twenty five theme songs. There’s twenty five versions of the instrumental theme. How did you prioritize? [Laughs]
Mat Whitecross: It was very difficult and the brief early on was that this is going to be a stand alone feature, and we’re going to do a kind of premiere and then it’s going to be released on a streamer. So, we knew that the length was non-negotiable. Ninety minutes to somehow squeeze sixty years’ history, as rich as it is, into that time span, which is not easy. The initial bit is easy enough because you know you don’t need to limit yourself up front. Let’s just contact everyone who’s still living. They didn’t give us any kind of parameters about what could and couldn’t be in the film. They were really open and generous – generous with their contacts as well. So we just rang everyone on the planet who might have had anything to do with Bond in terms of its music and worked our way back. Inevitably we had a very long three and a half hour/four hour version of this which was still pretty embryonic and had holes in it and so on. We covered pretty much every single song, not every film probably, but we got into sections that covered everyone from Eric Serra to Madonna.
Then you just see how you can best flesh this out and illustrate it. There’s some people who were available, some people who were not available. Covid didn’t help. We had interviews booked with Paul McCartney and with Adele and then they just didn’t work out. That’s just the nature of any kind of filmmaking during the time of Covid. Aside from that, we just kind of plowed on. The thing I was struggling with is how do you organize all this rich history, like you said. Clearly you can’t do a beginning, middle, and end version of it in ninety minutes. You’d need a ten part series to do it methodically in that way. Also maybe it’s not so interesting just starting at the beginning and finishing at the end. I thought we could be a bit more clever than that.
I think most people agree that John Barry is the guy that created the sound. He was the genius behind the music of Bond. Maybe we should do a John Barry biography in essence and use that as some kind of spine to the film as a way of having a through line for the film.At the same time, while John Barry is obviously important, there is more to Bond than just John Barry so maybe we can scale that down a bit. Then I had a thought that we should try to find someone to write us a Bond song. It was after seeing No Time to Die – it really in a lot of ways feels like a compendium of all the best bits of Bond. Hans Zimmer was very conscious and very open about the way John’s music informs what they did with the film. The same thing with Billie Eilish. Billie Eilish’s song is very much her, but it also harkens back to the beginnings of Bond – John Barry and Shirley Bassey. Since we had access to everyone from that film, maybe we use No Time to Die as a way of going back to the beginning and hopping around. They use the Bond theme in very inventive ways, they reference John Barry, they go back to the Louis Armstrong/John Barry theme. That enabled us to hop around and meant we could be more agile than just start at the beginning and finish at the end.
Awards Daily: In a way, there are short films within the film. There is a tribute to John Barry within your film. There is also a significant tribute to Shirley Bassey in the film. She’s not the biggest pop star of the Bond films, but she’s the one who sang the most songs—three of them, one which she can’t stand. [Laughs] That was great that you included that too. You did find ways to further personalize the relationship to Bond. Bond as a character can be very aloof. Through these people and over this stretch of time, with Bassey, Barry, and in a more modern sense with Billie Eilish, they were the thickest part of the structure.
Mat Whitecross: Absolutely. I think the same as you. I felt like when we met Billie and (Eilish’s songwriting partner) Finneas O’Connell their enthusiasm for it…it is unique in movie history to have the music be something that is so rich to talk about as it is with Bond. This all happened very organically, but it starts it off in the ‘60s and is still going to the present day. There was a fashion for a few years of having an opening title theme for everything, even for kitchen sink dramas. Only Bond survived for sixty years, retaining that tradition, which is super interesting to go back and explore. Inevitably it holds a mirror to the time that it was made but also it has to be Bond, and has to be true to that artist, and it has to be true to the film itself. Often it will echo ideas and themes within the film. I love that side of things. When we met Finneas, one of the lines he said that’s in the film, he said “What I love about Bond is it’s set in the present day, the music has to reflect that.” That’s not true of any other long running series, even Indiana Jones which hasn’t been around as long as Bond, doesn’t evolve. They stay the same – gloriously so, they’ve got the new Indiana Jones coming out soon and it’s not going to have a trip hop theme. [Laughs] I doubt very much Stormzy is going to do a cover of the Indiana Jones theme. It makes it twice as interesting from a filmmakers perspective because you really get a chance to talk about it.
Awards Daily: The challenge for an artist is to try to put their stamp on it. You’re right, the song continues to get modernized. Whatever the theme song is, there’s a certain modern aspect, but also there’s this desire to harken back to the original elements of the theme as well. I thought it was kind of fun seeing Duran Duran talk, because I always thought they just made a Duran Duran song for Bond. And then there was Jack White saying “People hate my song, people love my song, but Prince liked my song so I feel Ok about it.” It does put out that challenge though. It is an event of its own to create the new Bond song.
Mat Whitecross: Sure, and it’s funny how it still is now. There’s periods, like in the 80’s, in the films where a lot of people still love those songs but they have their detractors. You could say they got a little soft, it became a bit easy-listening. But then it reinvigorates itself. It kind of evolves through the times. You see what Jack White did to it. You see what Duran Duran did to it. It’s still an event to this day. The idea that you get someone as interesting as Billie Eilish or Adele coming in and relaunching it and rediscovering it and their excitement for it. It’s kind of bonkers when you think about it sixty years on: the idea that you could easily have seen if this had been handled less carefully by the Bond producers, it would have become a theme like a nostalgic thing or a bit lame. What other series can you think of where the music still has that power? It’s obviously true of the songs, but it’s definitely true of the theme as well. When you go back and rewatch all of these films…that was part of the joy of the research in the beginning. I would go back and watch the films and listen to the films properly. I stuck them on as audio files just to listen to the action. I put them on my headphones just to see how the actions were made into images when you’re not looking at them. It’s amazing what the music is doing. Like you said, Bond is a man of few words. He’s someone who conceals for a living. So the music has to do all the inner working and has to create all the atmosphere. You see the iconic introduction to Sean Connery’s James Bond, what’s he doing? It’s the back of his head, it’s on his hands, it could be anyone on the planet. But as the Bond theme comes in, suddenly it’s mysterious, exciting, sexy, dramatic. Fifty percent or more of what you’re seeing is the music. If the music had been less successful, I doubt very much that we would still be talking about Bond sixty years on.
Awards Daily: I was surprised by how much the film talks about the songs that haven’t aged as well – All Time High in particular. I will be completely honest, one of my favorite Bond songs is from that middle of the road stretch: For Your Eyes Only kills me every time. I don’t know if it was a Sheena Easton crush I was nursing back in the day or what it was. [Laughs] This could have been a documentary where you went into hagiography: “Hey, look how great all this music is!”, without the nuance that hey there’s some dips in quality here. Like with Shirley Bassey talking about the Moonraker theme where she doesn’t even sing that song when she plays live. It’s a Bond song and she doesn’t even sing it! [Laughs] I thought it was great that you made room for that.
Mat Whitecross: When you go into these projects, you never really know what the parameters are until you start getting into it. One of the conversations early on with Barbara and Michael, they were like look this is your film you tell the story you want to tell, there’s nothing that is off limits. And I said can we talk about Casino Royale, I’d love to interview Burt Bacharach. Yeah of course, go for it. Actually we did set up an interview with Burt and then again Covid got in the way. He was worried about a foreign film crew turning up in his house so it didn’t work out, sadly. They were very generous in that sense. Similarly when you talk about the bits that don’t work out and were tricky, they were fine with all that. There was more of it in the longer cut, but it was cut for length reasons rather than any political reasons. There was a whole section on A-Ha. If you thought Duran Duran and John Barry were a clash, the A-ha thing was another level. [Laughs] I love The Living Daylights. It was the first Bond film I saw in the cinema. The issue for me was something’s got to give.
People were offering suggestions of what might go, given the running time. Haven’t you just done that with Duran Duran? Haven’t you just done John Barry falling out with a young pop group and now you do the same thing straight away with A-Ha it just feels like too much. That’s why that went. It’s interesting though, friends of mine their favorite Bond songs are some of the ones from that softer period. That’s what I love about Bond. A song could be their favorite for all kinds of reasons. It could be that it was the first one they ever heard on the radio or the one they fell in love to or walked down the aisle to, or anything. I was speaking to a reporter last week and he was saying that We Have All the Time in the World was the song that he used to play with his grandmother as she was dying. It has this whole other tragic association to him. That’s the power of music. Films are one thing, but when you couple it with music, it becomes something extraordinary.
Awards Daily: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has this reputation of the failed Bond. It should have been a boost to Lazenby’s career, but it probably actually hurt him more than anything because it wasn’t seen as successful. Your film re-contextualizes that movie and the emotional arc that it went for. It did try to take a left turn and go in a more emotional direction, down to the song. Louis Armstrong’s song (All The Time In The World) may be the most un-Bond song but also one of the most wonderful Bond songs at the same time.
Mat Whitecross: Absolutely. It was not a film that I grew up with. My era, I grew up with Roger Moore films which used to get played on holidays and around winter. Those are the ones that I love. I remember my dad being very sniffy about “No, no, no, Sean Connery is the real Bond.” As a kid, you love Roger Moore because he’s fun and he’s clearly having a ball on screen. Then later on, you maybe watch something more grounded and gritty, but Lazenby is just one I didn’t really know. I knew the song through my dad, but I didn’t know the film. I think it wasn’t until I was older, maybe at University in London, when someone stuck it on one night. I was like who’s this guy? I didn’t know anything about it and that’s when I made the connection with the music. We used to have a very big section on that film specifically. John Barry says people often used to tell him that it’s the best Bond score. He said the reason he thought it was is because he was really struggling because the whole series, the whole franchise was on the edge because they had lost Bond. They had lost Sean Connery. He said this shows the importance of music to Bond. How do you tell the audience it’s still the same character when you’ve lost your lead? You do it through the music. So he threw everything he could think of, every trick in the book, did everything he could to the Bond theme and that’s why a lot of people think that’s the best Bond score. We had a whole section on that. It’s Jack White’s favorite score and all this kind of stuff, but again, something had to give.
Awards Daily: Still it’s very effective in reintroducing that film to the audience who would watch this film. It is a dismissed Bond film. It is a more emotionally layered film. I’ll be honest, I like Bond films but I’m more casual. I like the Connery stuff, but it got very gadgety at some point. I’m like you, I thought the Roger Moore stuff was fun when I was a kid. However, when the character was reintroduced with Daniel Craig, I remember watching Casino and thinking this feels more like a Bourne film, at least at the intro. They Bond it up later, but there is an emotional resonance that I think if there is any relation to a previous Bond film, it’s really the Lazenby film.
Mat Whitecross: Yes. For sure. I think that film is being reassessed by Bond fans as well. It was dismissed as the failure that almost sank the franchise, but I think it’s seen by a lot of people as their favorite now. The book and the film have more emotional depth than most Bond films until the Daniel Craig era. I think a large part of it has to do with the music. Obviously it’s a tragic love story, but it’s also that Louis Armstrong theme. I was glad they allowed us to give significant time to that in the film. To me that’s the power of music, that it resonates in a way that your memories of film don’t on their own. For example, that piece of music can exist outside of the film so obviously – it has a tragic association to the story line, but also it has tragic associations for anyone who knows that it’s one of the last things that Louis Armstrong ever did.
He passed away shortly after recording it. It also has tragic associations now with the new Bond film and then it will have whatever personal connection you bring to it. I love that side of music. It has all kinds of resonance that you might not necessarily have even envisaged originally. That’s why John Barry was saying when he wrote that song and the lyrics inspired by the line in the Fleming novel “We have all the time in the world”, he knew he wanted to get someone who didn’t have all the time in the world to give it that ironic resonance. He knew Louis Armstrong was not in great shape. It has a whole depth to it. Whether or not you know it consciously, Bond fans will know it. Even if you come to it casually, you’ll hear it. You’ll sense it.
Awards Daily: Whenever you watch something like this, you think to yourself, “Tell me something I don’t know.” There were two parts to me that were revelations. One was hearing U2’s demo of Goldeneye, which I think is very cool and raw and all that but no one else seemed to like. [Laughs]
Mat Whitecross: I think it’s great. I think Bono was having some sort of throat problems at the time. I remember famously he had some kind of issues with his voice at one point so maybe that was then. It’s funny isn’t it? Again I’m glad they allowed us to use it. People would go the extra mile for Barbara. When you hear that, it’s great. It’s like another bit of Bond trivia that maybe not everyone knows. I’m sure fans obviously know that Bono and The Edge wrote it, but other people outside probably don’t. I just love the idea of him hanging out with Tina Turner.
Awards Daily: The second revelation is Radiohead almost doing the theme for Spectre. Maybe I should have known about this, but the idea that Radiohead almost had a Bond song, and then you get to hear it, and you realize how perfect it would have been. But by then, Sam Smith had signed on to do the song, and it’s really good, but you would want to have both in a perfect world.
Mat Whitecross: I love it. I was just talking to a friend now about the Spectre song. It’s funny because there’s this alternate universe where Johnny Cash sang the Thunderball theme and Frank Sinatra sang Moonraker and Amy Winehouse was supposed to do Quantum of Solace and Radiohead might have done Spectre. I love that we got to dip into that with our film and make that fantasy a reality just for a moment. I’m like you, Radiohead is probably one of my all time favorite bands. I’ve seen them a million times. I grew up in Oxford, so I saw them even when they were doing small clubs. I love their music. I’m completely obsessive, a bit like Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig. I remember hearing that at the time because someone had released it on Youtube. I’m like you, I love the Sam Smith one. It feels again like it’s gone back to John Barry and what he did.
There was something about Radiohead doing it. Also because I didn’t realize that Radiohead would do that. It doesn’t get any bigger and mainstream than Bond, so you wouldn’t imagine it’s the kind of thing they would want to do. Clearly they did because they wrote some songs for it. I love that side of things. I love that with the documentary we really got a chance to really play about. I wasn’t sure people would allow us to in a sense of, is it really respectful to what the creators actually did for us to start toying with things. For example, I remember when Skyfall came out, a certain small conservative branch of the Bond fan base was kicking off – come on, just play the theme the way John Barry and David Arnold used to do it. They’re sitting there and they’re being coy. They’ll play like one chord and then back off and they don’t play it for the rest of the film. Similarly with Spectre, there were people who when they heard the idea that Radiohead might do it, they were ahh I want to hear that. With Spectre, let’s allow people to enjoy it the way it could have been in another alternate galaxy. That was a lot of fun to do.
Awards Daily: Talking about some of the pop music and the strange bedfellows that have been created by the music in the series, whether it’s Alicia Keys and Jack White, or John Barry trying to work with pop musicians when that’s not really his jam. What I was really caught by when watching Hans Zimmer directing the orchestra, is looking over and seeing Johnny Marr playing the guitar riff. I didn’t know about that. I imagine those things are really exciting to be able to show: the guitarist of The Smiths working on the James Bond theme with Hans Zimmer, right?
Mat Whitecross: It’s so cool. God bless Johnny Marr. He’s a very patient man. We basically now have ended up cutting him out of two films. He’s amazing. We filmed with him for the Oasis documentary (Supersonic). He was a mentor of sorts to Noel Gallagher and he has one of the best Noel Gallagher stories ever. A big chunk of our film at one point was a great set piece, one of the first things that I cut together, was the story of how Johnny Marr handed one of his favorite guitars as a kind of passing the sword/Excalibur thing to Noel Gallagher when he was starting out. That was the same guitar that when there was a stage invasion and someone took a swipe at Noel Gallagher on stage in Newcastle at the beginning of their fame, Noel Gallagher slashed his assailant across his head. It was very funny and about the heritage of The Smiths going into Oasis. In the end we had a seven hour cut so many things had to give so that went. It was interesting to me that Radiohead and Johnny Marr, who obviously I associate with a sense of being Indie and not wanting to be part of the mainstream, but they’re obviously huge Bond fans as well.
The idea that both of them would be excited to collaborate with Barbara and Michael on a Bond film just speaks to how important that heritage of film and music is. So, it’s amazing. Marr worked with Hans Zimmer on various projects. He worked on those classic iconic chords and guitar riffs you hear on Inception for example. That’s Johnny Marr on the track Time, which has been used by me and many other people I’m sure over lots of projects. Funnily enough, back to the Bond connection, I did a TV drama with Dominic Cooper about the early life of Ian Fleming and his time as a spy during the second World War. We used Hans Zimmer’s music as our score all the way through that, including the Johnny Marr riffs on Time from Inception, so it all kind of comes around.
Awards Daily: I was surprised by how emotionally resonant the film is. There’s two parts to it, one is that the music is so iconic and Craig’s Bond had a stronger emotional arc, but also that unless you were born before 1962, Bond has been a part of your life in one way or another for the entirety of it. The sort of nostalgia catches up to you to some degree but also, the enthusiasm that people had for the music of the project really came through. It seemed like to me you were really focusing on this emotional resonance. The focus on Billie Eilish’s vocalizations towards the end of No TIme to Die which set the stage for the tragedy that comes, was that part of your thought process? How do we make this not just an entertaining James Bond jukebox show, which would have been fine of course, but something that resonates more deeply?
Mat Whitecross: Yeah, I think so. You’re always trying I think, on every project I’ve ever worked on, there’s the kind of standard phoning it in version of it that you easily see and so your mind seems to push against it and go how can we make it an interesting film in its own right rather than just a recounting of the story? I think particularly on this project, we knew that it was so rich, the subject matter is so dense, it has been around for so long like you said, that you can’t do a straight A to Zed version of it because there just isn’t enough screen time. We had to think outside the box a little bit, and we found different ways that we wanted to do that. Along the process, of course there’s a lot of other people involved in Bond, so then we needed to square it with all of them.
Awards Daily: It all comes down to the choices of what you include in a documentary, right? Everything is somewhat subjective, even documentaries. The documentarian has to make decisions about what goes in the film and people can have different feelings about that. I think when you chose to show Hans Zimmer showing appreciation for the musicians in the orchestra and he seems so genuine. He was so full of joy about doing the work. I thought that was part of the resonance I felt.
Mat Whitecross: That’s the thing isn’t it? Obviously we all kind of know it, but when you see the impact that Bond has not only on the audiences but on the people who create the music themselves. Billie Eilish is one of the biggest stars in the world right now. Hans Zimmer is the biggest composer in the world right now. And yet, they were very generous with their time. Not because of who we were, but because they’re so excited to be talking about Bond and to be involved in this. It’s funny I assume people of our age, because this was a huge part of our lives growing up because there weren’t big films like this, Bond was kind of the only show in town whereas now it’s competing against Star Wars and Marvel and huge productions. You see with Billie Eilish, the idea of her getting the gig, it’s a cross generational thing.
Awards Daily: The enthusiasm you see like Shirley Manson having about the project. I love that you chose that. I think that is one of the most underrated Bond songs, because it didn’t scale the pop charts. It’s fabulous, the lyrical quality of it and everything. You can see that the people you were talking to very much wanted to be here and talk about their work on these films. I thought that using so much of Billie Eilish and so much of Shirley Bassey, like bookends, how the generations change but there’s always Bond.
Mat Whitecross: Certainly, and it’s funny because I don’t think Barbara and Michael…I know that they don’t sit down with the new artists and say here are the rules. This is how you do a Bond song. They don’t send them to Bond school for a week to learn about John Barry. I think it’s just ingrained in all our minds now in just the way that we’ve all grown up with this music and these films. If Billie Eilish comes in along with Finneas, they know what a Bond song kind of should sound like. It’s infused by them, but it’s also harkening back to Shirley Bassey. I think you could imagine Shirley Bassey singing No Time to Die. It wouldn’t be a massive stretch, which is lovely. The idea that you can have past and present connected that way.
Awards Daily: The last thing I wanted to touch on was, we had mentioned it was a ninety minute documentary so you were set at ninety minutes and you had to figure out how to fit in sixty years worth of history. I thought the choices were brilliant, the not doing it all in sequence was terrific, but I also felt like the thing really moved. It was like ninety minutes and I didn’t even have a chance to look at my watch. It just stormed right through. There’s a graceless way to do that where you’re not getting across the information, you’re just running as fast as you can. I remember thinking as documentaries go for sure this has an energy to it that is fairly atypical and I really felt that while watching it. While you were thinking about pacing of the film, were you looking for this sort of energy or was it just the necessity of trying to fit so much in?
Mat Whitecross: That’s a really good point, it was a bit of both. It was intentional at the beginning. When I was pitching it back to Barbara and MIchael, I said I think it shouldn’t just be a stocking filler type of thing. It should feel as exciting and as visually dynamic as the films themselves. Why should a documentary be dull because it’s recounting? It should feel exciting like the films are exciting to me. So, we definitely wanted to make it visual with the graphics and give it pace, but then also once you have a three and a half hour cut and you don’t want to lose anything but you realize that it’s got to come down, you want to squeeze in more and more. The poor editors, my thing is always that I want to try and preserve at least the essence of whatever the longer cut is and they’re going, “Listen, you’re just squeezing all this information in, it’s too much. People need to breathe.” So that’s partly me giving them bad advice, probably trying to squeeze too much in. [Laughs] For every scene that’s in there, there’s another scene that isn’t. We’ve had people ask “Why didn’t you put this song in, why not put that song in?” Generally it was more to do with the fact that we did have it in, it’s just got taken out. Just off the top of my head, For Your Eyes Only had a whole sequence about how it was the first MTV pop video, and then it went into the lives of (Film Title Designers) Maurice Binder and Danny Kleinman, and they showed us how they created the opening, and we had all this behind the scenes footage talking about how you could argue that Bond created the music video before music videos. But it was a very self contained section that you could remove and no one would miss it if they didn’t know it existed. That was the trick.
Awards Daily: My last question is kind of a fun one. Who do you want to be Bond? I want Idris, but I think that ship has sailed. [Laughs]
Mat Whitecross: Yeah. Idris Elba has been mentioned in connection with Bond for a long time. I think the issue when they’re casting now is finding someone who can do five or six films. So you kind of need to get someone in their twenties I would guess or early thirties at the oldest. They used to knock out one a year at the beginning. Now there’s a four, sometimes five year gap in between each one. I went to see the new Sam Mendes film Empire of Light this week and Micheal Ward really stood out to me.I’ve seen him in Top Boy too, he’s fantastic. I think people are ready for a black Bond. I think it would be interesting and mix things up. The only Easter egg that Michael and Barbara have let slip in public is that whatever they do next is going to be a step change, it’s going to be a shift. So I think he could be an interesting choice, he’s definitely got the chops. He’s maybe on the young side. He’s twenty five or something, but he’s brilliant. He would be who I might vote for, but there’s plenty of good people. There’s a lot of great actors out there. Tom Hiddleston, Henry Cavill, I’ve worked with Luke Evans. He often reminds me that I gave him his first job. He was generous enough to come on board for a small part in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. He would be amazing. Also I think people might be ready for a gay Bond. That would be interesting. Riz Ahmed could beef up a bit. I’ve worked with him. Me and Michael gave him his first job as well (on The Road To Guantanamo). There’s some really amazing people out there. It would be nice if they could mix it up and it sounds like that’s what they want to do next.