The name’s Boyle ... Danny Boyle to direct next James Bond film

Daniel Craig will play the shaken-not-stirred imperial thug for perhaps the last time

The world has long been waiting for Eon Productions, the people behind the James Bond films, to stage a grand unveiling of the director for 007's 25th episode.

These things usually happen in front of hurtling speedboats and roaring helicopters. Instead, the news seems to have emerged in an aside at an event to celebrate something else entirely.

It's Danny Boyle. Most of us thought it would be Danny Boyle. The Mancunian director, best known for Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, let the information slip at a gala screening of his new TV series Trust.

"We are working on a script right now," he said when asked about Bond. "And it all depends on that really. I am working on a Richard Curtis script at the moment. We hope to start shooting that in six or seven weeks. Then Bond would be right at the end of the year. But we are working on them both right now."


The entertainment world has been caught on the hop. But Boyle doesn't seem to be winding anyone up. At the Trust event, he went on to confirm that he was working on the project with his frequent collaborator John Hodge.

“We’ve got an idea, John Hodge, the screenwriter, and I have got this idea, and John is writing it at the moment,” he said. “And it all depends on how it turns out. It would be foolish of me to give any of it away.”

Hodge wrote Trainspotting, The Beach and the recent T2 Trainspotting for Boyle.

They will need to get their skates on. The film is due for release in the autumn of 2019. That counts as a tight schedule for a project as complex as a James Bond film.

It has been confirmed that Daniel Craig will, perhaps for the last time, return as the imperial thug, but the producers have yet to settle on a distributor. The deal with Sony, who made fortunes distributing the last few films, expired with Spectre, the 24th episode, and negotiations have been long under way to find a replacement or to renew the old partnership.

Other directors had been mentioned in connection with 007. Denis Villeneuve, director of the recent Blade Runner 2049, and Chris Nolan, Oscar nominated for Dunkirk, have made vaguely positive noises when quizzed.

For a month or two, Yann Demange, who made the excellent Northern Irish thriller '71, seemed to be securely in the sights. But all have other projects on the bubble.

The immensely versatile Boyle always seemed like a more likely choice. He has never disguised his affection for the franchise and, in Trainspotting, he directed one of the great meditations on the Scottishness of Sean Connery’s Bond.

"Ursula Andress, the quintessential Bond girl. That's what everyone says," Sick Boy says. "The embodiment of his superiority over us. Beautiful, exotic, highly sexual and totally unavailable to anyone apart from him. Shite!

“Let’s face it. If she can shag one punter from Edinburgh, she’d shag the whole lot of us.”

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist