A global virus epidemic may have spoiled Bond’s premiere plans in April and then November of 2020 but it can’t stop the world’s ultimate spy from hitting the big screen in Monaco on September 29.
Call it a case of remarkable foreshadowing. Or simply one filmmaker’s destiny, gently stirred and served straight up with a twist, like Bond’s celebrated martini.
When the long-awaited 25th installment of the James Bond movie franchise, No Time to Die, holds its premiere and glittery VIP event in the Principality (postponed from November 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak), the celebration will also pay tribute to the film’s American director, Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Fueled by an enduring connection to Monaco, the 43-year-old writer and director’s soaring career—which includes the Emmy-winning HBO series, True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and his heartrending child soldier drama, Beasts of No Nation—all goes back to Princess Grace’s deep love for the performing arts.
And talk about foreshadowing coincidences. Perhaps one of the most legendary examples is when, in Hitchcock’s 1955 classic To Catch A Thief, leading American film star Grace Kelly, at the wheel of a convertible, gazes out at Monaco from the heights of the Grande Corniche. “Have you ever seen any place in the world more beautiful?” the actress asks her co-star Cary Grant, never guessing that a year later, she would wed Prince Rainier III and become forever attached to that two-square-kilometer stretch of land.
Cut to 1982, when, after Princess Grace’s tragic death from a car accident, Prince Rainier extended his wife’s non-profit Princess Grace Foundation, designed to fund promising American artists working in dance, theater and film, to the U.S. Among the founding members of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA were close friends, actors Cary Grant and James Bond star, Roger Moore.
Today the foundation is going stronger than ever. “By providing grants and fellowships to emerging artists, we’re carrying on Princess Grace’s legacy,” said Brisa Trinchero, the new CEO of New-York-based Princess Grace Foundation-USA, a high-profile entertainment and sports entrepreneur and two-time Broadway Tony-winning producer who is now at the helm of the non-profit foundation’s activities.
These days, Cary Joji Fukunaga is their pride and joy.
Prince Albert and Princess Grace Foundation-USA award winner Cary Joji Fukunaga at a 2015 Gala held at the palace. Photo by Jerry Lacay.
“In 2005, we gave out a graduate film scholarship —called the Cary Grant Film Award—to Cary Joji Fukunaga, who was 26 and just out of NYU Film School,” Trinchero recounted. Ten years later, we honored Fukunaga again with a second special grant, right after he won an Emmy for True Detective.
“Funnily enough, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA has only held one gala in Monaco—and it was in 2015, to celebrate our prize-winner, Cary Joji Fukunaga,” commented Trichero. “It was also the last gala that Sir Roger Moore attended, so they actually got to meet each other.”
Add to that another Bond connection: nine years ago, Cary Joji Fukunaga teamed up with Dame Judi Dench, who played Mrs. Fairfax in his second feature film, Jane Eyre, a highly praised adaptation of the Bronte drama. Dench has portrayed the eternally acerbic M, Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service in seven Bond films over 17 years, although she's not in the upcoming release.
Now, almost by fluke, things have come full circle. Fukunaga, who took over the direction of No Time to Die after Danny Boyle left the project due to creative differences, also co-wrote the script with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Scott Z. Burns.
“One of the things that Princess Grace was famous for during her lifetime was bringing that Hollywood glamour to Monaco, which is why we are so excited to work with Prince Albert and host the premiere of a film made by one of our award winners,” said Trinchero.
The VIP event September 29 will also honor Sir Roger Moore, who lived in Monaco until his death in 2017, and whose name will be attached to a newly created prize for the foundation’s future applicants.
Cary Joji Fukunaga in action on set. Photo by Jerry Lacay
“It’s a great honor for our family,” commented Monaco resident Christian Moore, who is part of the Bond event’s production team. “My father would certainly be humbled. Monaco was his home and he loved this place.”
Aside from the jaw-dropping thrills of Bond’s latest—and perhaps his last appearance—in the $250 million-budget No Time to Die, what should movie-goers expect at the Monaco screening? Though neither Cary Joji Fukunaga nor the film stars, Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas, will take part in the red carpet razzamatazz, Bond will be stylishly fêted in one of his iconic favorite nightspots—the Monte Carlo Casino.
The Princely event, in honor of Princess Grace Foundation-USA, had promised in 2020 to be an immersive “Ultra-VIP” Bond Experience with tickets expected to range from $4007-$10,000 per person, including a champagne reception, a post-premiere party, an elegant 007-themed masquerade Secret Agent Soirée at the Metropole Hotel, where guests would be in the company of a top-secret international rock star.
Brisa Trinchero, CEO Princess Grace Foundation-USA. Photo by Princess Grace Fundation-USA.
“At the Grimaldi Forum, we’ll have a behind-the-scene exhibition of photos, trinkets and Bond cars, thanks to the Bond Club of France who have been an amazing help,” said Christian Moore, who has dozens of stories of his own. “I was a 21-year-old production assistant when they shot a big battle scene on a French battle cruiser for GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan in 1995, here in the Port Hercules.”
For obvious reasons, last year’s premiere and exhibition in Monaco never happened. Fast forward 10 months and VIP tickets at €2,500 a person include a seat for Wednesday night’s No Time To Die screening at the Opera Garnier with an after party held at the Casino. A red-carpet photo op and limited-edition VIP gift bag are also part of the package.
As for what ultimately happens to 007 in No Time to Die, the outcome has been kept tightly under wrap. “I haven’t seen the film yet,” said Moore, flashing a Bond-like dazzling smile, “but if I did tell you, I’d have to kill you.”
Article first published in Forbes Monaco March 2020.