Lashana Lynch, Daniel Craig and Jeffrey Wright dish on ‘No Time to Die’: ‘Incredibly fulfilling’

The trio say the final chapter in Craig's James Bond journey is not one to be missed

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No Time to Die may feature the action-packed, thrilling fun we’ve come to know and love in James Bond films, but the movie is also making history.

The 2021 flick, which follows Bond as he returns from retirement to fight a “mysterious villain armed with dangerous technology,” stars Lashana Lynch as the first-ever Black woman 007 agent in the franchise’s nearly 60-year history. In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Lynch said being cast in the role was unexpected.

“When I got the call to tape — I don’t know, it just didn’t really land,” the 33-year-old said about playing Nomi, an operative of the highly discreet Black Ops unit within the British Secret Intelligence Service. “I wasn’t told it was a Bond movie, I wasn’t told anything about the role. I just jumped in, kind of ready to have a nice audition and have fun and meet new people.”

Lashana Lynch and Daniel Craig attend the World Premiere of “NO TIME TO DIE” at the Royal Albert Hall on September 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures)

She continued, “I didn’t want to get too invested before, but now, I’m herewow. The scale, how much they’re providing me with in order to do my best work, the cast, the crewit takes so much to make movies like this that I just feel very, very excited to have this as a part of my career and my journey.”

The role of Nomi presented a number of challenges complicated stunts, jet-setting travel, hours upon hours on set but one of the most difficult parts was the abuse Lynch faced after her casting. When the news was announced in 2019, the British actress was bombarded with racist and sexist commentary online from Bond trolls and “purists” who didn’t want to see a Black woman as 007.

Lynch shared that she is now “grateful” for the experience that she transformed into “a really good moment for me, to be able to go through an experience that is outside of me.”

“I learned at the time that whilst I’m stepping into my power, which is what I saw at that time, actually, I was feeling very empowered just in self. The conversations that were happening around me, I had to realize that they are not part of me,” she explained. “They are quite literally on social media, on the internet. That’s not my everyday life. I had to separate myself from it and just be grateful that those conversations were happening because it exposed a lot of the archaic thinking in the world.”

Lashana Lynch attends the World Premiere of “NO TIME TO DIE” at the Royal Albert Hall on September 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures)

“But it also exposed how much work we have to do and how many communities around the world are working tirelessly to ensure that conversations like thatthe negative side anywayaren’t continuing to happen,” she shared. “When you’re being a vessel for a character, you’re giving yourself to something. You have to just relinquish control and say, ‘I just have to be the person that is going to get the fire started,’ and that’s what happened.”

Lynch isn’t the only cast member making history in No Time to Die. Jeffrey Wright has also marked his place in the James Bond history books as the only actor to star as Felix Leiter in three Bond films. The Golden Globe winner, 55, told theGrio that reaching this milestone was “pretty gratifying.”

“It’s good to be in three,” Wright said with a laugh. “Being in two was cool, being in three was even better. You know, for me, I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to kind of round out the cycle with Daniel [Craig]. You know, to be there at the start and then be here for the last film is pretty gratifying. It’s a nice way to bring it home.”

Wright explained that the release of the film, after more than a year of delays, a deadly pandemic, and an influx of movies premiering on streaming networks, is a sign of hope for moviegoers on what the future, our “new normal,” could look like —especially if people get vaccinated.

Jeffrey Wright and guest at the World Premiere of “NO TIME TO DIE” at the Royal Albert Hall on September 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures)

“It’s been a tricky time for everyone. I think that films like this and characters like this are meaningful to people because they — you know, there’s a lot of mistrust right now,” he explained. “In some ways you can place more trust in—James Bond is a character that you can trust that exists outside of the cinema. So I think there’s a thirst, a hunger among people for stories like this. Also to be together taking [in] these stories.”

Wright continued, “So, ideally, the time is right now for everybody to come, get out and get into the theaters and commune together, and try to get back to something that resembles normalcy. Thankfully, we’ve had a group of incredibly dedicated, brilliant scientists who have provided a solution to this pandemic for us, if we’re only willing to accept it. Accept the reality and the power of this medicine. Then, you know, get your vaccine, protect yourself, protect those around you and get back in the theater. Check out some Bond, why not?”

As for as James Bond himself, Daniel Craig said that finishing his final appearance as the secret agent was “incredibly fulfilling.”

“They’re an extraordinary experience, Bond movies,” the 53-year-old actor shared. “I mean, most movies are extraordinary, but Bond movies particularly. We get the chance to work with just incredible people. We had lots of ideas. We had lots of ambitions for the film and I think we’ve fulfilled nearly all of them. So I’m just very proud of it.”

No Time to Die premieres in theaters on Friday, Oct. 8. Fans can watch theGrio‘s full interviews with the cast above.

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