Cary Fukunaga is the second filmmaker of Asian descent and the first Asian American to direct a James Bond movie with “No Time to Die,” and he hopes his involvement in the franchise inspires young people to break into filmmaking.
Lee Tamahori, a filmmaker of Maori ancestry, directed “Die Another Day” in 2002. But in an interview with NextShark, Fukunaga said he does not think of himself as special for his racial identity.
“In my family, if my Japanese grandparents would hear me say, ‘I’m special,’ for any reason, it just wouldn’t fly,” Fukunaga said. “I just think about it in terms of what I’m bringing in and hoping that if people see it that way, then maybe it shows young people who are looking to get into filmmaking that you don’t have to be from Hollywood or know someone from Hollywood to do it. You can be like me, some kid from the Bay Area that pursued a dream, and that would motivate more diversity. We’re [Asians] moving into the studio network systems, which is also inevitably the gatekeeper for making movies and stories.”
Fukunaga said his upbringing and what he has learned from his parents, grandparents and cousins all influenced how he tells stories and how he approaches the subject material. Some of those Asian influences made it into “No Time to Die,” the 25th installment in the James Bond series.
“Some of it was based on the Fleming and Bond legacy. ‘You Only Live Twice’ was a big influence on some of these things,” Fukunaga said. “I think it’s the first time we really have a villain’s lair again, but try to make that organic and try to figure out a backstory that made sense for it.”
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What many fans are now trying to make sense of is who will take on the role of Bond now that actor Daniel Craig has hung up his tux after “No Time to Die,” his swan song to the franchise. There has been a lot of speculation amongst the Bond fandom and beyond about the possibility of the next Bond being played by a woman or a Black actor. Whether the next Bond could even be Asian or portrayed as gay, Fukunaga believes that whoever follows in Craig’s footsteps has a very high bar to meet.
“It’d be a very tough challenge. I’m sure it’d be an honor of a challenge for whoever wants to do it,” he added. “I, thankfully, will not have to make that call. Because I think no matter who you pick, there’s going to be a lot of people who are upset.”
As for what is next for Fukunaga and whether he would helm another Bond film, he is not quite sure.
“I don’t want to say no, but I’m also not pursuing that right now,” he said. “I spent almost 20 months in this film and disappeared from the world, my friends and family. Then COVID hit and disappeared again for a year and a half. I feel like I’m just emerging from a cocoon.”
While Fukunaga is not thinking about directing another Bond film anytime soon, the filmmaker mentioned working on a project in London — a World War II series about American bomber pilots stationed in the U.K.
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