The director of No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, Cary Fukunaga has said that Sean Connery's version of the character was "basically" a rapist.
Fukunaga appeared to refer to a scene in 1965's Thunderball in which Connery's Bond forcibly kisses a nurse (played by Molly Peters) who has spurned his advances, reports the Guardian citing the Hollywood Reporter.
In a later scene, Bond suggests he will keep quiet about information that could cost her her job if she sleeps with him. "I suppose my silence could have a price," he says.
Peter's character backs away, saying: "You don't mean … oh, no," before Bond replies "Oh, yes", pushes her into a sauna and takes off her clothes.
"Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where basically Sean Connery's character rapes a woman?" said Fukunaga.
"She's like 'No, no, no,' and he's like, 'Yes, yes, yes.' That wouldn't fly today."
One key scene in Goldfinger features Connery's Bond apparently forcing himself on Honor Blackman's Pussy Galore in a haybarn. In a 1959 letter concerning the novel from which the film was adapted, Ian Fleming explains that this "laying on of hands" from "the right man" was all which was required to "cure" the lesbian character of "her psycho-pathological malady".
No Time to Die is being touted as the Bond film with the most power parity between the male and female characters.
Lashana Lynch – who plays one of two Black female main characters – supposedly inherits the 007 designation from Bond, who has retired to Jamaica at the start of the film.
Many expect Phoebe Waller-Bridge's involvement in the scriptwriting process will advance the feminist credentials of a franchise whose appeal was forged in a previous era.
The film's executive producer Barbara Broccoli, who has been producing Bond films since 1995, said: "I think people are coming around – with some kicking and screaming – to accepting that stuff is no longer acceptable. Thank goodness. Bond is a character who was written in 1952 and the first film [Dr No] came out in 1962."
Broccoli and Daniel Craig – who plays Bond for the final time in No Time to Die – have both repeatedly suggested the central role should remain male, with Craig telling the Radio Times: "Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?"
"Bond is male. He is a male character. He was written as a male and I think he'll probably stay as a male. And that's fine. We don't have to turn male characters into women. Let's just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters," Broccoli said.