No Time To Die: Jeffrey Wright Talks Returning To Play Felix Leiter After Missing Two Movies

Jeffrey Wright is having a moment! Not only did the actor just star as The Watcher in Disney+ and Marvel's animated series, What If...?, but he also plays the fan-favorite Bernard on Westworld. The actor also has a history with the James Bond films, first appearing as Felix Leiter in Casino Royale in 2006 before returning in Quantum of Solace in 2009. However, Wright did not appear in the last two Daniel Craig-led Bond movies, Skyfall and Spectre. This week, Craig returns for his fifth and final Bond film, and Wright is also along for the ride. The actor recently spoke with Uproxx about returning to the character for the first time in over ten years.

"Every time it was time for another of the Bonds to go into production, I was texting [producer] Barbara Broccoli going, 'Hey, where's Felix in all of this?' She would reach out and say, 'Felix is in this one.' And then three weeks later, 'Well, he's not in this one.' So they kind of keep me on my toes with these things. But, yeah, I was certainly excited to hear that he would be back. And it felt, just for Felix, if this is going to be Daniel's last, for Felix to make another visit onto the scene and kind of round out these chapters in the franchise's history. So I'm very grateful that, at the end of the day, that's how it played out. And I was able to kind of complete the circle of my relationship."

During the chat, Wright also talked about previous actors who have played Felix.

"For me, Leiter is Jack Lord," Wright explained. "I absolutely love Jack Lord in that first film. And that was I believe the first, it was Dr. No, if I'm not mistaken. Right?" When asked about Leiter wanting top-billing with Sean Connery, Wright replied, "And I mean, with just the kind of weird feline sunglasses, and his demeanor and the whole rapport with Connery, it was great. I mean, he had this coolness about him. I think that certainly informed my thinking about this role when I took it on. He had this coolness about him that rivaled Miles Davis, who was like the coolest cat in the universe at that time. But, from what I've heard, he was a complicated dude when the camera was off, so that makes a kind of sense to me."

Wright continued, "Everybody has their days. In our profession, we have bad days on and off-screen. But yeah, I've heard he was complicated, so that sounds within the realm of possibilities. But, I certainly love what he did on screen with the character. I was really excited to take on the role when it was offered me. In fact, when my agent called me and said, 'Hey, Barbara Broccoli got in touch. They're going to revamp the Bond series, and they're interested in you playing this CIA character or something. They're going to send you the script.' And I'm like, 'Okay, cool.' And they get the script, and I'm like, 'CIA agent? No. Dude, this is Felix Leiter, bro! This is not just any spook. This is Felix Leiter!'" 

"Well, what I did was work with Daniel," Wright added when asked about making Felix "cool" again. "I created my character within the context of what he was doing with Bond. Obviously, Bond exists outside of Leiter. So it was very much a kind of, there are like sympathetic strings that go into creating a character like this. So whatever the person does, he's going to have to do it, or she's going to have to do it, with the other actor that is working opposite. So that's the thing. I don't know. I don't know. What I'm more concerned about, really, is getting this movie out, getting people into theaters after they have not been in theaters for the last year and a half, two years."

No Time to Die will be released in theaters on October 8th.