In an interview with GQ, the prolific film score composer tells the story of his “that’s it” moment when he first heard and eventually hand-selected Eilish and her brother Finneas‘ song to be the front-runner for the 25th installment of the legendary spy film series.
“It’s a Bond film, there’s going to be a song and there was like a box full of songs lying around that people were listening to and trying to make decisions on them. They wanted me to be part of the decision-making process. There was this small, leanly produced, very personal song by Billie. I just went, ‘That’s it,'” he recalled in the interview. “And everybody said, ‘Well, but it’s not quite right. It’s not good.’ [I said,] ‘No, no, no, here’s the mistake you’re making: she and Finneas haven’t seen the movie yet. They don’t know what they’re writing about. Get them on a plane, get them over here.’ So on a dark, gray, typical English night, they arrived in the middle of Soho, jet-lagged beyond anything, and we showed them the movie, and the next day the three of us got to work on it.”
He continued, “For me, it was undeniable that that was the right way to go. It felt hugely personal; it felt really well-crafted.”
Zimmer then recruited the best of the best to help produce the theme, including Matt Dunkley working on the majority of the string arrangements, Johnny Marr playing the guitar and Steve Lipson stepping in as the engineer. Although he had never met the hitmaking brother-sister duo until that dark, gray, typical English night, the German composer and producer noticed their composition brought something to the table that their Bond theme predecessors Shirley Bassey and Adele did in years past.
“I’d never met them, but I felt [that] there’s Shirley Bassey, there’s Adele — everybody who’s ever worked on [Bond] has come at it with a strong style of their own, with conviction and a great commitment. And this song had it,” he told GQ. “It maintained an intimacy, which I thought was beautiful.”
Marr backed Eilish for the track’s debut television performance at the 2020 BRIT Awards back in February. In an interview with NME, the former Smiths bandmember spoke about the “fantastic” addition of Eilish’s “No Time to Die” song to the 007 catalog.
“We were already working on the film and then I heard Billie had done the song. And that was already a good idea to me,” he said at the time. “It was even before Billie had won all the Grammys and stuff. I did a couple of shows with her last year, so I was well-aware of what she did and knew her music. And then when I heard the song, I thought, ‘This is fantastic.’ It was very brave, you know, it’s something very minimalist.”
No Time to Die‘s release in theaters worldwide has been postponed to April 2, 2021, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.