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Lashana Lynch opens up about 'really mean, dark' reactions to her 'No Time to Die' casting

Lashana Lynch is opening up about some of the negative reactions to her casting in No Time to Die. (Photo: REUTERS/Kyle Grillot)
Lashana Lynch is opening up about some of the negative reactions to her casting in No Time to Die. (Photo: REUTERS/Kyle Grillot)

Lashana Lynch says her casting as an MI6 in the next James Bond film, No Time to Die, stirred up strong reactions, some of them "really mean [and] dark."

Speaking to the Guardian, the actress opened up about her role as Nomi, who is rumored to take over the 007 handle in the film, which is finally slated to open Oct. 8 in the U.S. after more than year and a half of pandemic-related delays. Though Lynch seems to dismiss any rumblings that she'll replace Daniel Craig as he hangs up his license to kill — “Nooo! You don’t want me!” she tells the newspaper, laughing as she "feigns ditziness" and jokes, “I’d just be like, 'Erm, right, so where do you start again?’” — the speculation surrounding her role and the possibility of a female, and Black, Bond fired up some naysayers.

"The response was generally positive, but there were some very personal messages to me, like Insta DMs and Twitter,” the British actress shared. “And just conversations that my friends had heard or overheard on the [London subway] that were really mean, dark and reminiscent of an age I wasn’t even born in, where women and Black people weren’t allowed to move in certain spaces. So it also reminded me about the work that I still have to do to try to change the world in a little way that I know how.”

The 33-year-old likened it to the racist abuse experienced by England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following their team's Euros loss to Italy.

"Well, I wasn’t surprised at the response from the football, which is really sad for me to have to say," the Captain Marvel star said. "If you are a Black person in entertainment or a Black person in sport, and you ‘fail,' you are reminded that you cannot do both. You cannot be Black and entertain and fail. You have to be Black and entertain and win it for the country and win it for the world and win it for history.”

She herself feels a responsibility "to young people, young girls and my community" to get it right as she joins the Bond franchise.

"To have a female agent who is a Black woman, and who is young and new and fresh and very modern in her approach to her work, I think hasn’t exactly been seen before in Bond movies," Lynch shared. "And I didn’t want to mess it up.”

According to the actress, Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame, who was brought in to give the script some freshness, has helped her create a character who is a "quite complicated, free, open-minded vocal human being who brings a really nice twist to MI6.”

"I said, I want her to be a real woman, but I don’t want her work to make her masculine," Lynch said. "She’s not slick. She has it together, she’s highly competent and very highly skilled, but she’s a real human being and sometimes she’s awkward. And that’s what is so clever about Phoebe’s writing. Once we’d had a conversation about her possibly being awkward, there were some moments that I read that were just like, ‘Oh no, is she really going to say that in the scene? I’m so here for it!’”

She added, “I thought there might be a scene where she’s coming out of the toilet and you see her throw her tampon in the bin. We don’t need to make a meal out of it! But we’re in the ladies’ room, you’re going to see someone pick their nose or pull out their wedgie. Bottom line: this woman is going to be relatable.”

As for who might actually take over the Bond mantle — with names like Idris Elba and Regé-Jean Page said to be in the running — Lynch suggests that the options are endless.

“We are in a place in time where the industry is not just giving audiences what it thinks the audience wants,” she said. “They’re actually giving the audience what they want to give the audience. With Bond, it could be a man or woman. They could be white, Black, Asian, mixed race. They could be young or old. At the end of the day, even if a 2-year-old was playing Bond, everyone would flock to the cinema to see what this 2-year-old’s gonna do, no?”