Ed Sheeran Had Already Started Writing a James Bond Theme Before Billie Eilish Got the Gig

Ed Sheeran was very, very close to achieving an all-time career goal for any artist when he was tapped to write a James Bond theme song in 2019. In fact, he had already begun crafting his take on the venerable genre for Daniel Craig’s Bond swan song, No Time To Die, when he was swapped out for eventual Oscar/Grammy/Golden Globe-winner Billie Eilish.


“I was within a f—ing gnat’s pube of doing one [a Bond theme song], and they changed directors, and then they just changed scripts and that was it.. we’d done all the meetings, I started writing it,” Sheeran said colorfully on this week’s episode of That Peter Crouch Podcast. The singer said that as an English performer penning a Bond theme is always a career bucket list item. “I’m not gonna pretend it didn’t hurt not doing it. But if they came back I’d be like, ‘yeah, yeah, of course, yeah!'”

In 2019, Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp said he and the singer had met with series producer Barbara Broccoli in Dublin in 2017 to discuss a potential Bond theme, saying the film’s team “were interested” in Ed taking a shot at being the latest English/Scottish/Welsh act to give it a go; Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, Lulu, Duran Duran, Adele and Sam Smith have all previously recorded Bond themes.

The opportunity at the time appeared tied to director Danny Boyle helming of the 25th Bond movie — Boyle had worked with Sheeran on Richard Curtis’ 2019 Beatles fantasia Yesterday — but after Boyle quit over creative differences and was replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga, Eilish was tapped for the gig.

Listen to the podcast (Bond talk starts 31:29).

Gil Kaufman