James Bond is a relic. It's an angle that the movies have experimented with numerous times, particularly in Daniel Craig's era as the character. In 2020's No Time To Die, as Bond returns from a quiet life in Jamaica, he meets a new MI6 colleague who's younger and at least as driven as he is – fellow 00 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch). You've probably seen her mocking Bond's wonky knee in the trailer.
We asked Lynch about Nomi's relationship with Bond. "I will say that it's an evolving one," she says. We spoke to Lynch six months ago, shortly before No Time To Die was delayed. Its current release date is set for November 12 in the UK and November 20 in the US. "You see them at the beginning being two very different people having to work together in a way that they've not worked together before, but as they evolve, their boisterousness and the way their approach their jobs and the way they are with each other becomes just really friendly and respectable. He learns a lot from her, and she definitely learns a lot of experience from him."
No Time To Die is the first Bond movie from director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation), and his creative vision is part of what energized Lynch's interest in the role. "I was excited by the conversations that I'd had with Barbara Broccoli and Cary when auditioning," she says. "They seemed like they just very literally wanted to create a badass ninja. Why would you pass that up?
"This is me entering a quintessentially English, British franchise but bringing something hopefully quite unique and very authentic to the franchise. I knew if they took me on, that I could bring something special that they hopefully hadn't seen before, so let's see."
The Bond series has a spotty history when it comes to the portrayal of women in that universe – you don't have to go back further than 2012's Skyfall to find issues on that front. We ask Lynch how her character compared to the way women have previously been presented in the series.
"I think with women's current agency, [it's] the way in which they view themselves and the way in which they portray themselves as being – with the women that I've been in contact with – completely authentic and completely knowing that they're enough. You see that oozing through the characters in this, both the female characters that have [already] existed within the franchise, and the brand new ones like myself. You just have this whole sense of empowerment that is really important to feel when you're going to work, but also important to show younger generations coming up."
We ask Lynch about what it was like to work with Fukunaga – his past work on True Detective makes him an enticing choice for this last movie featuring Craig's version of the character, and to be the one who introduces Nomi to the series. "Cary had such a unique but very driven way in which he approached the script, he approached directing and he approaches speaking with his actors. I can tell that he was bringing a real classic edge to our current Bond movie, and it feels like his indie background is bringing a real old cinema touch that I think is a real nod to the early Bond movies."
The stunt work was a big part of the movie's appeal to Lynch. "I've always wanted to do action, I've always wanted to portray someone powerful physically, and completely competent. Like I said, I asked the stunt team at the beginning of training if they could turn me into a ninja, they said 'yes', and that's what I am for life now! I feel I have certified ninja status, as well as 00 status."
Nomi's creation was a collaborative process for Lynch and the film's producers and writers. "I knew who Nomi would be, because I had direct conversations with Barbara Broccoli and Cary about who they wanted her to be, but also who I wanted her to be," she says. "And alongside that I spoke with our writers and Phoebe Waller-Bridge who has done wonderfully in collaborating with us. And what I saw was a woman who had agency, who was powerful, who was committed, and who believed that she was the best person at MI6 [laughs].
"She's a Black woman, she's forward-thinking. She's unique, and she has many unique selling points that carry her forward in her career. So when I saw her on the page, it was very beautifully written, and I didn't feel like I had to add anything too crazy. It was there for the taking, and I just did the best I could to fulfill what they'd already created."
The phones of No Time To Die
We're chatting to Lynch because she's the face of Nokia's campaign as No Time To Die's official Bond handset partner. In the film, you'll see a variety of Nokia handsets: the classic Nokia 3310, the Nokia 7.2 and the new Nokia 8.3 5G. We ask HMD Global's Juho Sarvikas if the phone in the film features any gadgets. "The phone is the gadget. If you look at the versatile imaging solutions that we have in our line-up, or you look at our unique promise on Android of pure, secure and up-to-date, it delivers on everything a secret agent needs."
Hopefully Bond will bring a gun, too. Just in case.
HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, is the is the official handset partner of No Time To Die. The Nokia 8.3 5G can be pre-ordered here today.