What formed was No Time to Die, the 25th official Bond adventure, and the longest to date with a whopping 163-minute running time. The film serves as a direct sequel to Spectre, further exploring the relationship between Bond and Madeleine while also bringing back the SPECTRE organization. However, the film also serves as a a sequel and definitive conclusion to Craig’s entire run, including by picking at the wound of Vesper once more, which Bond seemed to have somewhat resolved in Quantum of Solace (2008). It’s why No Time to Die opens with Craig’s Bond finally visiting Vesper’s grave, at Madeleine’s insistence.
In this way, No Time to Die cements what Craig tells us was his aspiration to make one long-form story across several films, with the death of Vesper being, in a sense, the inciting incident.
“I kind of was interested in that from the beginning,” Craig explains. “We’d often have these meetings on nearly all of them where we’d go, ‘Let’s make it standalone, let’s just stick it somewhere where it doesn’t join in.’ And we couldn’t avoid it. We just couldn’t. I don’t know whether other people see it, but I couldn’t ever really get away from this traumatic thing that had happened to him on Casino.”
Craig continues that the death of Vesper in that film “never felt like it was running out of steam” as perhaps the most hugely consequential incident of Bond’s life, even when a new romantic lead was introduced in Spectre with the emergence of Madeleine Swann.
“We reintroduced it in Spectre by having Mr. White [who engineered Vesper’s betrayal and death] come in,” the actor says. “And then having Mr. White’s daughter be the woman that he fell in love with just felt so correct in some way—to find an assassin’s daughter, someone as fucked up and as complicated as he was.” Nevertheless, Craig insists that the creative team “definitely tried” to make some of the films stand on their own: “There are scripts that that we played around with, but we could never… it always ended up creeping in.”
As for whether the franchise should go forward in the same way—telling one story across several films—as a new 007 enters the picture, Craig doesn’t think that has to be the template from now on.