No Time To Die: James Bond producers reveal search to replace Daniel Craig as 007 has not begun

For the fifth and final time, Daniel Craig is back as 007 and he reunited with the cast on the red carpet, ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar reports

As Daniel Craig bids farewell to his career-defining role as 007 at the No Time To Die premiere in London, the producers of the James Bond franchise have revealed that the search to replace him is not yet underway.

Ever since Craig announced his fifth outing as Bond would be his final one, speculation has been rife over who could replace him, with names such as Venom star Tom Hardy, Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page and Luther's Idris Elba all hotly-tipped at one point or another to replace the 53-year-old.

But as producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson braved the rain at the Royal Albert Hall for the world premiere of the long-awaited film, the pair confirmed the hunt for the next 007 had not yet begun.

Rather than be drawn on who could replace Craig, Broccoli said the premiere was a night to celebrate Craig’s time as the secret agent.

Daniel Craig said 'it's up to the film gods' to decide whether the new film can bring people back into the cinema

“No hunting. Daniel Craig – I want him to be Bond for as long as possible," she said.

“It’s very difficult, he’s been tremendous. I think tonight is about celebrating his achievements, giving him his time. And also celebrating all the real-life heroes we’re acknowledging here tonight, the people that have got us through the pandemic.”

Wilson said the filmmakers had been desperately waiting to unveil No Time To Die for fans. He said: “We’re ready to show the film to the public. We’ve been waiting more than 18 months and here it is.”

The Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth performed 007's theme music on the red carpet stairs outside the Royal Albert Hall in London at the world premiere of 'No Time to Die'

While a number of high-profile male actors have been rumoured to potentially be the next Bond, there has also been much discussion of the next agent being a woman.

However, No Time To Die writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge said she would not be in favour of a female Bond.

“I think Bond is James Bond. We just need to cook up someone to rival him."

Waller-Bridge was brought in to help with the 007 script following the massive success of her comedy drama Fleabag.

Film producer Barbara Broccoli said viewers can expect something really massive in the film

Explaining her role in No Time To Die, she said: “They asked me to come on board to add to the pot they were already working on.

“There was already a script, they had some things they wanted to go in a different direction with, they wanted the character work to be even deeper and look into more nuance in the characters."

Craig has played Bond since his first outing as the secret agent in 2006's Casino Royale, when he took over from Piers Brosnan.

The actor said the premiere was an occasion to celebrate as he bids farewell to his career-defining role as James Bond.

Actor Daniel Craig on what the film has meant for him

“It’s been a bittersweet couple of years, so one has to keep things in perspective.

"The decision to leave is still there, I’m just glad that we’ve got a chance to celebrate tonight and have a premiere. That seemed like such a far away thing for a while.”

On his advice for his successor, Craig said: “Just make it your own, be brilliant. Take it somewhere wonderful.”

Craig also told of his delight at the film finally making it to cinemas following multiple pandemic-enforced delays, saying: “Bond movies are to be seen in the cinema and this one especially. It’s spectacular.”

'We've been so careful about keeping it under wraps'

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga told PA he felt a combination of joy and relief over the film’s release.

“With any kind of great momentous occasion there are many emotions taking place,” he said.

“All of us are very excited to finally be sharing the film with audiences. But obviously there is a lot of sadness about it being Daniel’s last film.

“I think also about all the hard work that went into it, we can breathe a sigh of relief.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are greeted by Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson Credit: Broccoli/PA

French actress Lea Seydoux, who is reprising the role of Madeleine Swann, said she had mixed emotions over Craig’s departure.

“I’m really, really happy the film is finally coming out, even if it’s raining,” she quipped.

“And tonight will be very emotional because it is Daniel’s last film. I’m a bit sad and happy at the same time.”

Seydoux also starred alongside Craig in 2015’s Spectre and described her time with the Bond franchise as an “amazing journey”.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga Credit: Ian West/PA

“I’m really, really happy and I feel very lucky,” she said, adding “it’s time now to celebrate”.

The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a rare joint appearance at the premiere.

They were welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Kenneth Olisa, and introduced to producers Wilson and Broccoli.

Rapper Stormzy, tennis star Emma Raducanu and Dame Judi Dench, who played M in the franchise, were also in attendance.

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No Time To Die sees Bond enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica when his old friend and CIA agent Felix Leiter, played by Jeffrey Wright, turns up asking for help.

A number of Bond premieres have taken place at the Royal Albert Hall, including Spectre, where the Cambridges and the Duke of Sussex were in attendance.

The new film was initially due to be released in April 2020 but has suffered multiple delays because of the pandemic.

A number of healthcare workers and members of the armed forces joined the royals in the auditorium to watch the movie as a thank you for their work during the Covid pandemic.

The film will be released in UK cinemas on September 30.