New 007 film No Time To Die is already locked, loaded and ready to go for its November release.
Pernicious rumours circulating that its opening date was shifted from April because it was unfinished are wide of the mark.
Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson announced on March 4 that after careful consideration they had decided to reschedule the 25th Bond film’s launch to November 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And after speaking to several Bond-world insiders, I am confident that’s the real reason.
Actors in No Time to Die have all signed iron-clad non-disclosure agreements ahead of the film's delayed release in November
‘As with all films of this size there are things that you come across that might require a bit of re-shooting — but not here,’ one source told me.
‘It was finished. Perhaps there might have been a little spot of ADR [the industry term for rerecording dialogue] but if it does need it, then that can be achieved quickly, as soon as the restrictions are lifted.’
Meanwhile, No Time To Die has, literally, been locked away.
No one outside of a trusted few, such as Broccoli, Wilson, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, plus creative department heads and musicians who worked on the score, will see the picture before its gala.
Indeed, every single person who worked on the film has signed an iron-clad non-disclosure agreement.
The big question no one can answer right now is whether, come November, audiences will be comfortable going into crowded cinemas and theatres.
Also, will stars who reside overseas be happy to travel to promote the film?
It’s likely stringent health and safety checks will be in place at most airports, with passengers required to have their temperature taken before check-in and planes being deep-cleaned after each flight.
In addition to Daniel Craig, No Time To Die also stars Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Lashana Lynch, Rami Malek and Christoph Waltz.
Twelve days ago Luke Sheppard had three shows on the go.
Pop musical & Juliet was packing them in at the Shaftesbury in the West End; and the director was in various stages of production on a revival of Rent, and What’s New Pussycat? — a new show inspired by the Henry Fielding novel Tom Jones, featuring the hits of the Welsh singing superstar of the same name.
Luke Sheppard, pictured accepting the Best Video Design award on behalf of Andrzej Goulding earlier this month
From his home, Sheppard, pictured, maintains the same 10am to 6pm work schedule he followed until the curtains came down thanks to coronavirus.
He has video meetings with an array of designers and keeps in close contact with the & Juliet company, including its star Miriam-Teak Lee.
‘It’s important to keep discipline and structure,’ he said. ‘It’s a business as usual kind of approach to it all — even though it’s a very unusual position to be in.’
Westworld Thandie gives feisty robot Maeve a real voice
Thandie Newton has had much more of a say in what happens to Maeve, the powerful android she plays in scorching TV drama Westworld, in season three, which kicked off last week.
Westworld has been a huge boost to Newton who, before the pandemic, had been commuting between the home she shares in North West London with her partner, director Ol Parker, and their three children, and Los Angeles, where she films Westworld
Maeve returned in Sunday night’s second episode — and her presence electrified the show after a season opener that left even diehard fans scratching their heads.
Newton, 47, told me that Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, who created the fantasy thriller for HBO, encouraged her to input her ideas.
‘They’re really progressive and aware,’ she said, adding: ‘They’re hugely open to me questioning more, and collabo - rating more, which is not always the case in the industry. Actors are vassals; we’re a commodity. It’s a new feeling, as an actor, that my voice counts; it actually matters.’
Westworld has been a huge boost to Newton who, before the pandemic, had been commuting between the home she shares in North West London with her partner, director Ol Parker, and their three children, and Los Angeles, where she films as the beautiful, fearsomely intelligent robot Maeve Millay.
When we last spoke, she observed of her Westworld success: ‘ What’s interesting is that no one expects a woman of colour, in her 40s, to have a little bit of a surge in her career. It’s so weird that it happened like this.’
In 1991, Newton appeared with Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts in Australian teen film Flirting. Three decades later, the three friends have gained firepower through the small screen: Newton with Westworld, Kidman with Big Little Lies (and forthcoming The Undoing) and Watts with The Loudest Voice (about the birth of Fox News).
Watts, by the way, is also keeping busy acting — and producing — films. One such project is Penguin Bloom, which she produced and appears in with Andrew Lincoln, who gave up his throne as sovereign of The Walking Dead.
Newton told me they sometimes ‘see each other on the red carpet’.
She added: ‘ We lead such different lives, in different places. Nic’s in Nashville, Naomi’s in New York and I’m in London. It’s lovely, though, to see from afar these girls who have claimed their space in a difficult industry.’
A riotous life through a lens
Alan Davidson was a photographer. An extraordinary one. A legendary one.
He took the photographs that graced these pages through the Eighties and Nineties.
Alan and I argued constantly (over nothing important) but, really, we loved working together — though neither of us would admit it
His gifted daughter Joanne continues that legacy.
Alan and I argued constantly