Who Will Actually Be the Next James Bond? An In-Depth Analysis

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So, here we are at last. No Time To Die has been released, and Daniel Craig's been banged out of MI6. The question turns to who will be the next James Bond now he's swapped his Walther PPK for his P45.

And really: who knows. You might as well get the Ouija board out to ask the spirit of Cubby Broccoli what he reckons. To kill some time before we find out for sure, though, we've got some guesses of differing degrees of wildness.

We might be stuck in this holding pattern for a little while too. During the No Time To Die press rounds in November 2021 Barbara Broccoli—Cubby's daughter, and the woman who holds the future of the James Bond franchise in her palms—told the Today programme on Radio 4 that the Bond top brass weren't "even thinking about" casting yet, and wouldn't until some point this year.

That, as it turned out, was a teeny little bit of a fib. MGM boss Pamela Abdy said in November that the race was "wide open," and that early chats about who the next Bond would have taken place. "We've had very early preliminary conversations with Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [Wilson], but we wanted Daniel to have his last hurrah," she told Variety.

We got a little insight into those 'preliminary conversations in late July, when Broccoli opened up to Deadline about her plans for a radical reimagining of the franchise. "It's a reinvention of Bond," Broccoli told the outlet. "We're working out where to go with him, we're talking that through."

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Interesting. Interesting. So there must be a few names in the running, dependant on which route they decide to go down with the next 007?

"Nobody's in the running"

Oh.

"We're reinventing who he is and that takes time," she continued. "There isn't a script and we can't come up with one until we decide how we're going to approach the next film. I'd say that filming is at least two years away."

Oof. The much yearned-for moment when the new Bond is whisked along the Thames in a speedboat feels about as remote as it did just after No Time To Die. In fairness, Broccoli had previously stated in May that "it's going to take some time".

"It's a big decision," Broccoli told Variety, while hanging out at the Broadway production of Macbeth she produced and in which Craig is starring. "It's not just casting a role. It's about a whole rethink about where we're going. I'm just here celebrating one of the greatest actors on the planet, Daniel Craig."

But what makes a Bond? Broccoli says he's now a more mutable figure than he used to be. "It will have to be reimagined, in the way each actor has reimagined the role," she said. "That's what is so exciting and fun about this franchise; the character evolves. Eventually, when we have to think about it, we'll find the right person."

So yes: that means James Bond can be non-white. Bond "should be British," Broccoli said in 2021, and added that "British can be any [ethnicity or race]".

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But he can't—for now, at least—be a woman. "We should create roles for women, not just turn a man into a woman," Broccoli said, a sentiment Craig echoed in a couple of No Time To Die promo interviews.

Along with these pointers, there are a few Bond casting orthodoxies to guide us. Traditionally, it's been a role which elevates actors to the A-list rather than being an A-list vehicle. Look at where past Bonds were in their careers when they got the gig. Sean Connery was an undistinguished jobbing actor best known for fighting leprechauns in Disney's begorrah-and-blimey Irish tale Darby O'Gill and the Little People. George Lazenby was a car salesman turned chocolate advert mascot who bumped into Broccoli at the barbers. Pierce Brosnan had a perm.

You'll need a history of hefty, critically respected film parts these days too. Then there's the general sense of Bond-ishness: Connery "moved like a panther," as Cubby's wife Dana Broccoli put it, and that sense of muscular virility has been an essential part of each Bond actor on screen.

Perhaps most importantly, you also need to be in tune with the era in which the new Bond exists.

Quite what the next incarnation of Bond will embody depends who plays him. These are the frontrunners. And no, Idris Elba isn't among them. Sorry fella.

Next James Bond


Lashana Lynch

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Let's start, in time-honoured spy film fashion, with a red herring: Lashana Lynch is the next 007. As you'll have seen in No Time to Die, she goads Bond that he probably thought they'd retire his number, as if MI6 is Birmingham City and he's a swole Jude Bellingham. So, job done. We can all go home.

Ah, but, wait a minute—she's not the next James Bond. By the end of No Time To Die she's not even 007 anymore, handing Bond his shirt back at the last. In fact, as Barbara Broccoli has made very clear, James Bond will never be a woman. What's happened here is a bit of confusion between a job title, and a character.

On the plus side, it does open up the possibility of a Nomi spin-off, perhaps penned by No Time to Die scriptwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which would jibe with Broccoli's preference to create new female characters rather than recast old males ones.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

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As she will be for at least the next decade, former Eve Moneypenny Naomie Harries got doorstepped for her opinion on who should take up the mantle as Bond while promoting something that has absolutely nowt to do with Bond.

"We were walking the red carpet yesterday and apparently Chiwetel's name is on the list of people to be the next Bond," Harris told Good Morning Britain's Richard Madeley and Ranvir Singh in June 2022. "I didn't know this but I'm down for that!"

Ejiofor's Bond would, you feel, make for a more cerebral spy than Craig's man mountain. He's certainly got the kind of acting chops which Bond now demands—recall 12 Years a Slave, and a string of Shakespeare and Chekhov productions at the National, Donmar and Royal Court theatres—and could recentre the character with more of the froideur and stillness which Fleming first gave him.

Not that he can't smack bad lads around. He's done that often enough, but none of his actioners have really clicked like his more thinky, quiet films have. For all that the last few years have seen Ejiofor going bigger and smashier in his choices (The Old GuardThe Old Guard 2Infinite) he's retained more than enough of an intellectual vibe to push Bond in a different direction.

Unfortunately, time is rather against the 44-year-old, and with his toes still very much in the MCU and a potentially bigger role to come once Phase Four properly kicks off he might decide he could do without carrying a gigantic franchise on his back. Another one to file under 'definitely could do it, but why would you when you could just do a Marvel cameo every other year for the next decade and make some nice character pieces in between'. Harris might well end up disappointed.

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Nicholas Hoult

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Lovely Dev Patel isn't the only first gen Skins alumnus who might be in the running to play Bond next. The even darker horse from this particular stable is Nicholas Hoult, the nose-tapping ITK choice to drop next time the conversation comes up and the Idris Elba discourse is threatening to come to an unseemly boil.

Think about it. He's 32. He can do the action stuff, as we saw when he was spraying chrome paint onto his teeth on Mad Max: Fury Road. He's been in a couple of arty favourites in The Favourite and True History of the Kelly Gang. He's a very different physical specimen to Daniel Craig, stringy and slightly elfin rather than butch and chunky, and that could be a bit of a draw to the Bond suits who'll likely be keen to draw a line between the post-Bourne Bond years and whatever the new one turns into. The post-Marvel Bond years? The post-Avatar 2 Bond years? The post-F9 Bond years? Who knows.

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And, perhaps as importantly, he seems like an actor in search of a real calling card role. There are no calling cards more gigantic than Bond, and you'd think that the wet thud with which Dark Phoenix ended the X-Men saga is just about far enough in the rear view mirror for Hoult to consider saddling up in a massive franchise again too. He'd make his own kind of history if he were to get the gig too—Hoult would be the first former child actor to play Bond.

The case against? There's not even been the slightest bit of buzz about him, though that might just be because nobody's put him in a tux for a photoshoot just yet. But give it 18 months or so, and he might just be in the picture.

Hoult?

Yes.

No.

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Miles Teller

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Despite being American, and not British, as is traditionally required for the role, Teller's name has recently been thrown into the hat. However, he may lose a little cool kudos as the campaign was started by… his own grandmother. Leona Flowers - which, sidebar, kind of sounds like an amazing Bond girl name - tweeted her preference for the new 007 and said: "He has everything they're looking for— talent, looks, strength, worldwide appeal & oh, so cool. He can be that guy!!". She also added: "The folks in London loved him when he was just there with the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick. He even charmed William & Kate."

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She's got a point. From his breakthrough role as a tortured drumming protege in 2013's Whiplash, through to sci-fi action flicks like the Divergent series and Fantastic Four, and most recently, as Rooster in the box-office smash, Top Gun: Maverick, Teller has become known for his captivating screen presence and deep-level character studies for the roles he portrays.

We know what his family thinks about his Bond bid. But what does Teller think about it all? He vaguely told Entertainment Tonight about hypothetically taking on the role: "Yeah. I mean, yeah perfect, I think we're actors, you know, so maybe you can mix it up a little bit."

But, there is still the pesky question of nationality. Still, Flowers has worked out a way around it. "He's an actor, my dear." she told a fan on Twitter. "He can do it…Lots of Europeans have played Americans. He studied acting which includes accents. He'd be great." The one-woman campaign for his Oscar starts here!

Teller?

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No.

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Paapa Essiedu

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In our recent interview with iconic British director Danny Boyle, we talked about his doomed James Bond project. He signed up to oversee Bond 25 in February 2018 with his long-time screenwriting partner John Hodge, but it didn't take long for the wheels to come off. They left the project in August of the same year over creative differences—reportedly over Boyle's insistence that they kill off Bond, which we know now to be a heap of nonsense. In our interview, Boyle insists that he wanted to do something a little different with the franchise, which he planned to set in modern-day Russia with flashbacks to Bond's past, but that the producers weren't willing to give him the freedom he needed. "They just lost confidence in it," he told us. "It was a shame really."

But Boyle still thinks the series has a bright future (even if he doesn't see himself being involved in it), and he suggested two actors who could take over Daniel Craig in the role. One is Robert Pattinson—someone who has been suggested many times before—and the other is Paapa Essiedu, the award-winning actor from Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You and Alex Garland's Men. Boyle had seen him perform in the play A Number at the Old Vic a few days previously, and put him forward as a potential candidate.

Cool, handsome and, perhaps most importantly, young, Essiedu certainly ticks a lot of boxes. It's thought that Broccoli and co. will want to focus on Bond's earlier years in the upcoming reboot, and Essiedu's acting chops (he has won acclaim for his performances on TV and as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company) will prove attractive to a team who pride themselves on not picking the most obvious option.

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Essiedu?

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No.

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Theo James

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Another sneaking climber in the betting, James is pegged somewhere around Henry Golding and lovely Dev Patel. If you've not come across him before, he's popped up in ITV's period drama Sanditon and the Dark Crystal reboot, and is heading up Steven Moffat's adaptation of The Time Traveller's Wife this summer. He's exactly the right age, and he's fairly undeniably a dish, and he's got the stage experience that Barbara Broccoli seems to prize too. His ascension to Bond would certainly be that big step up, and he's a totally different physical specimen to Craig. An outsider, for sure, but perhaps one to keep an eye on.

James?

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Aidan Turner

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As of March 2022, the former Ross Poldark had edged back toward the top of the betting again after a couple of years drifting toward the back of the pack. What's interesting about this second wind is that it doesn't seem to be based on anything in particular. There's been no fresh interview with him where he laid out his yearning for the role, no role announced that's basically a Bond audition by stealth.

It feels more like a few people having a flutter and a bookmaker doing the usual thing of rustling up some headlines than a proper sea change. But Turner remains a solid outside bet for the next Bond nonetheless.

Turner hasn't been exactly prolific since Poldark sheathed his scythe and popped its shirt back on—his last film was Love is Blind in 2019, and there was last year's starring role in a historical drama about Leonardo Da Vinci—but he'll play Saint Andrew in Terrence Malick's upcoming The Way of the Wind, which will tell the story of Jesus' life through a few parables.

At 38, he's around the right age and he's absolutely able to look a million quid in some tailoring. That Jesus biopic could well end up being the heavyweight role that nudges him closer to the doors of MI6 too—Mark Rylance is playing Satan, after all.

There's precedent for an Irish Bond in Pierce Brosnan, and of the mooted Irishmen in the running—Cillian Murphy and Michael Fassbender being the others—Turner's the one with the best shot.

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Turner?

Yes.

No.

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Clive Standen

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We tried to find a picture of Standen seated on his own so we could do a "Clive Standen? No, Clive Sittindown!" joke but there weren't any so here we are.

Let's get this out of the way early doors: yes, it is extremely difficult to imagine the role of a military-grade hard nut, suaver than suave clotheshorse and world leading shagger being played by a man named Clive. Maybe that's what did for Clive Owen in the end.

But clearly, many people are able to see past whatever the opposite of nominative determinism is. Standen, if you're unfamiliar, is a 40-year-old from County Down who's been quietly doing his thing for the last decade in shows like—let me check my notes here—Council of Dads and the History channel's Vikings. As of September 2021 he was at 4/1 with Oddschecker, second favourite behind Tom Hardy.

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He has the dish appeal, and he used to be bang into competitive fencing so would be exactly the guy to have around if Gustav Graves starts getting uppity again. He's just about the right age if Eon get their skates on too.

The case against? While he might be a dish he's a particularly forty-something flavour of dish who might not represent enough of a break with the Craig era. He's got stage experience—and Barbara Broccoli is a big stage patron—but he's not done anything for about 15 years or so, and there's nothing like a cinematic calling card in his filmography to date. You can try and tell us that starring as a young version of Liam Neeson in NBC's Taken TV series is a calling card. We are not going to listen. Clive Standen feels like a bit of an outsider at this point, regardless of his odds.

Standen?

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No.

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Tom Hopper

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Some of you have already made the 'Tom Hopper? More like Tom Who-per!!' joke and it reflects more on you than it does on Tom Hopper. He quietly moved into place as the bookies' favourite as of last winter, replacing Bridgerton's hunk du jour, Regé-Jean Page.

Hopper's highest profile role so far is as Luther Hargreeves in Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, though he also popped up in Game of Thrones as Dickon (stop it) Tarly for a few episodes. He's heard about the Bond speculation though.

"Yeah, I've heard that and that's… that's all I've heard," he told We Got This Covered while on the promo rounds for the new Resident Evil film. "I mean, any British actor will be lying if they say that James Bond wasn't up there as a dream role. So, you know, it's very nice to be in that conversation, you know, among betting websites."

Is he a genuine contender? Hard to say. At 36 he's the right kind of age, clean cut, ripped to a frankly terrifying degree—but he's yet to have the breakout critical hit that a 21st century Bond probably needs. Just right now, we're going to err on the side of thinking he's right to invoke the bookies and will probably float back down the pecking order when the next Brit hunk gets his day of headlines as the odds change again.

Hopper?

Yes.

No.

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Dev Patel

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Every profile of Dev Patel has to mention that we all remember him starting out as the lanky, awkward Anwar in Skins, so here that is. He has, obviously, become a lot more than that. Through Armando Iannucci's fresh, breezy reworking of The Personal History of David Copperfield and the grungy medieval epic The Green Knight—as well as Lion and Hotel Mumbai—he's positioned himself as one of Britain's most interesting and pliable leading men. At 31 he's the same age as Connery was when he was cast, he's dashing enough, and he's got a couple of action films under his belt as well as indie dramas.

He's directing and starring in the action thriller Monkey Man that's out next year, which would make him the first actor to have directed a film before playing Bond, but it does point to a more general leaning away from the kind of giant machine Bond represents. He's said as much in the past too: "I don't know what I would like to play," he admitted in a 2016 roundtable, "but I know what I'm afraid of playing: those big studio movies."

Then again, he was saying that about M Night Shyamalan's famously bobbins The Last Airbender, which would scar anyone.

Patel?

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No.

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Luke Evans

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If the Welshman were to follow fellow countryman Timothy Dalton into the DB5, he'd be in the running for the title of Most Outrageously Tonked Up James Bond Ever. He's solid and he can sell a quip with the best of them, but there are a few roadblocks in the way. He's pushing 43, so would really need to be getting cracking ASAP if he was going to fit in more than a couple of films, and he's a little light on heavyweight character pieces—in fact, if we're being brutally honest, he's a bit light on good films in general over the last six or seven years. And, most of all, there must be some kind of Hollywood by-law barring anyone from the Fast and Furious saga appearing in Bond. Sound as he is, we're leaning towards a no for Evans.

Evans?

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No.

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Regé-Jean Page

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At the beginning of April 2021 it was announced that British actor Regé-Jean Page would not be returning to Bridgerton, and social media did not react well to the news. In his role as the Duke of Hastings, Page inspired lustful Instagram pages and countless fawning articles, helping the period drama to become Netflix's most successful series ever. It's now being reported that he left over "creative differences" with showrunner Shonda Rhimes (which she has denied), but at the time, everybody's mind turned to one thing: Bond.

Odds were cut and the idea quickly gathered momentum, to the point that Page had to comment on the speculation that he's on the shortlist. In an interview with The Mirror, he said: "Ah, the B word. I think if you are British and do anything of note, that other people take notice of, then people will start talking about that.

"That's fairly normal and I'm flattered to be in the category of Brits that people have noticed. The concept of having plans in this moment in history is mildly hilarious. I've given up making them."

A measured, non-committal response that will only fuel rumours. Unlike some actors on this list who eagerly throw their hat into the ring at any opportunity, Regé-Jean Page understands that a true 007 candidate can't appear to be too desperate for the role. At 31, he's young enough to star in a Yung Bond reboot, as the franchise pivots away from Craig's grizzled, creaky-knee'd veteran (surely Broccoli and co's plan?). He's also, in case you hadn't noticed, stupidly handsome.

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Having said that: does he really have the requisite experience to take on such an iconic character? Bridgerton was his first major TV role, and he hasn't fronted a big budget film yet (although he was in Mortal Engines, and will lead in the 2023 Dungeons & Dragons reboot (?!!)) A brave and risky choice for Bond that could, much like Tom Holland, introduce the character to a whole new generation.

Page?

Yes.

No.

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Tom Holland

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Twitter fandoms, often referred to as 'stans' (after the Eminem song), are a truly terrifying modern phenomenon. Nowadays, celebrities have whole armies at their disposal, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to land their favourite star a coveted role. These actors and singers may not even understand the power they possess—that they could conquer entire countries with a single tweet if they wanted to—but the stans do. In fact, these A-list loyalists know that they have the numbers, the time and the dedication to achieve whatever they want. Just ask Donald Trump.

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Which brings us to Tom Holland, a man with one of the largest and most vocal fanbases on social media. The 25-year-old actor's name hasn't been mentioned in the Bond debate very much, if at all, but we predict that will change very soon. Think about it: He's handsome, he's British, and he has leading man experience. What's more, he's about to take on the role of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted film adaptation, playing a grizzled, wise-cracking hero who knows his way around a gun. The prospect of introducing Bond to a younger, Marvel-obsessed audience will be a tempting one, and the stans will put their full weight behind a casting campaign.

The Spider-Man: No Way Home star has also placed himself in the conversation on a couple of occasions. "I mean, ultimately, as a young British lad who loves cinema, I'd love to be James Bond," the 25-year-old told Variety in February 2021. "So, you know, I'm just putting that out there. I look pretty good in a suit. I'd be like a really short James Bond." And as we've mentioned previously, it's probably time to get a Short King in the role (Daniel Craig, at 5"10, is the shortest to take on the role so far.)

He also revealed in January of this year that, back when he was filming his 2019 Spider-Man sequel, he pitched the idea of a young Bond reboot to studio execs. In the end, it didn't work out. "I had a meeting, after or during Spider-Man 2 [Far From Home], with Sony to pitch this idea of a young Bond film that I'd come up with," Holland told Total Film. "It was the origin story of James Bond. It didn't really make sense. It didn't work. It was the dream of a young kid, and I don't think the Bond estate were particularly interested."

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Holland?

Yes.

No.

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Cillian Murphy

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Now Peaky Blinders is all over and done with, Cillian Murphy will be free to take on another time-consuming leading man role—and ideally one with less demanding grooming demands. The baker boy hat will weigh him down no longer.

Somewhat inevitably, Bond rumours have begun to swirl around the Irish actor again. He's long been in the conversation and has addressed rumours in the past with the same non-committal good humour that most in-demand actors do. He's proven that he can play a gun-toting hard man with the requisite pathos, and his critically-acclaimed work over the past two decades on indie and blockbuster films alike undoubtedly bolsters his cause. It goes without saying that he looks the part in a suit. What's not to like?

Well, he wouldn't represent the kind of radical departure that some fans and critics are crying out for, and at 45 he may not fit the bill anyway (based on past filming schedules, he'd be at least 47 by the time filming started). Daniel Craig was six years younger when he took on the job in 2006, and we have a hunch that Barbara Broccoli will ultimately want to bring a younger Bond to screens, if only to differentiate the next instalment from the ones that directly came before it.

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Then there's the timing of it. Murphy's the lead in Christopher Nolan's next one, Oppenheimer, a biopic about the father of the atomic bomb, so he'll be busy with that for a while too.

All that said: just as the sixth season of Peaky Blinders dropped, Cills jumped up Coral's rankings as his odds tumbled from 25/1 to 5/1. The standard health warnings on bookies' press releases applies.

Murphy?

Yes.

No.

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Tom Hardy

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In early 2020 it was announced, by overexcited newspapers and one very unreliable blog, that Tom Hardy had OFFICIALLY been named the next James Bond. IT'S OFFICIAL. It's done. Locked in. Sorted. Twitter was absolutely certain of it.

Except he hasn't. As we now know, it was just a tweet. There was a flurry of betting on the back of that tweet, though, and Hardy's odds in the race to be the next Bond immediately shortened from 8/1 to 4/5 to displace recent favourites Sam Heughan and James Norton from the front of the running. Even now the dust has settled, he remains the favourite.

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Coral's David Stevens told Metro: "The betting on who will play James Bond is always popular with our punters, with James Norton and Sam Heughan the two most recent favourites, but Tom Hardy has always been close to the head of the betting, and indeed was as short as 6/4 favourite last year, so if he has indeed landed the coveted role, the bookies will have been left shaken if not stirred."

That crowbarred reference doesn't make any sense David. It's easy to see why the Hardy angle persists though. If you've got Pierce Brosnan's backing—the former Bond said he fancied Hardy to "put a bit of wiggle into" Bond last year—you're halfway there, and Hardy has the brooding look, the magnetism and the maverick streak in spades. That said, Hardy might be a bit too obvious at this stage.

As the kind of A-lister who makes other A-listers look like boring nerds, he doesn't need the role to elevate him any further, so Bond might be an odd fit for Hardy. He might also be a bit wary of chucking himself into another big franchise so soon after Venom too, and Bond isn't the kind of role you can just wander off from to do other things. It is, as Craig once observed, "a big machine". He's still the obvious choice, but Bond producers have seldom gone for the obvious 007.

Hardy?

Yes.

No.

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Robert Pattinson

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Robert Pattinson's career has unfurled in three distinct stages: the tween heartthrob who broke a million hearts as a vampire with a tedious amount of self-control; the indie movie oddball who, at the behest of auteurs like Claire Denis and Robert Eggers, just kept masturbating on-screen; and now the star of blockbusters like Tenet and The Batman, in which he deftly brings that left-field sensibility to pure popcorn cinema.

Phase three Pattinson would make for a very interesting 007 indeed. We're not saying that the foppish spy he played in Tenet is definitely a James Bond audition tape. But we will point out he pulls off a double-breasted suit even better than Roger Moore.

Adding more intrigue, Christopher Nolan—who directed Tenet—is already being linked with Bond 26. The man who defined the sad superhero movie with The Dark Knight could take Bond in an even more tortured direction, which would suit Pattinson perfectly, and Nolan's got form when it comes to working with actors on multiple projects. Presuming he doesn't convince the studio to give the gig to Michael Caine, there's probably a reason that bookies have slashed odds on the ex-Twilight star being drafted by MI6.

We'll have to see how he finds playing Batman. If it proves successful, then sequels could end up taking over his schedule to the same extent that Bond would.

Pattinson?

Yes.

No.

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James Norton

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The spate of BBC thrillers in the last few years has raised a certain echelon of British leading man toward the top of the Bond reckoning. Norton's turn in McMafia shoved him to the head of the pack for a couple of months, and he's certainly got the 'wearing of a suit' and 'waving of a gun' aspects of the role down. Then again, he's a bit light on film experience and might have been right to dismiss Bond rumours as "very flattering, very humbling speculation". He seems to be the Clive Owen de nos jours.

But then again, is he? A small part in Greta Gerwig's Oscar-bothering Little Women and a much bigger part in the marquee BBC drama The Trial Of Christine Keeler suggest he still had the wind behind him as far as those in 'the biz' are concerned, though that wind may have blown itself out over the last two years.

"It's crazy. It's not real. It's speculative," Norton told the Sunday Times. "There is no truth behind it. Unless journalists know something more than I do."

They might well do. But how does it feel to be even considered in that world? What about beyond that? James? Jimmy?

"It's bizarre and quite flattering to be even considered in that world, but beyond that? Pure speculation."

Come come Mr Norton, you derive just as much pleasure from killing time with pure speculation as we do.

"It's really hard, as whatever I say can become a story," he went on. Very astute. Come on, stop stalling. Give us an answer. "I don't know how to answer."

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Aha! The mask slips. He wants it. Norton is a go. Suspend the betting right this instant. #AnnounceNorton. James Norton Welcome To James Bond | Insane Skills | Goals | Assists HD.

Norton?

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Sam Heughan

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A relatively recent entrant into the Bond race, you'll most likely recognise Heughan from Outlander and possibly from a role in Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon's comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me as a very Bond-y secret agent. At 41 he's just about the right age, if perhaps half a decade too late for producers to build another 15-year tenure around.

Perhaps as importantly, he's got the Connery factor. Heughan's from Balmaclellan in the Dumfries and Galloway, and he reckons it's time to cast Bond north of Hadrian's Wall again. "I think any actor who says they wouldn't would be lying, and I think it's time we have a Scottish Bond again," he told STV News in May last year when asked about playing 007. Then, in January of 2021, he told Good Morning Britain: "It's not a no."

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Friends: that's a yes.

We talked to him in March 2021, off the back of his film (and 007 audition?) SAS: Red Notice, and it was Heughan who brought up the Bond rumours.

"I think any actor would never say they're not interested. Of course, you'd be interested. I mean, it is all rumours, and sometimes you think, should I, should we even talk about it? Because you don't want to jinx it," he said.

"I'm sure the people, whoever runs [Bond]—you know, Barbara Broccoli and Eon and all that—they must be sick of it; people sort of throwing their hat into the ring. But yeah, he's a great character, and would be certainly be a fascinating character study and place to kick off. But I think in SAS we have our own authentic note based on real life scenarios, we have our authentic character, so I'd love to explore this one more."

He went on to delve into the kind of psychology it takes to be a MI5 agent/bloke who runs around shooting baddies. "Somebody asked me earlier, 'Is James Bond a psychopath?' There are a lot of high functioning, 'good' psychopaths, as we call them, in the military, but also lawyers, doctors, surgeons—people that have to be in these high stress situations that need to be logical, and not allow their emotions to take them over. It might be a learned behaviour, or it might be something they've been born with, but in a stressful situation they can turn down their empathy, they can turn up their logical thinking, or whatever it is. If they need to be charming, like maybe James Bond, you know, he could be more charming. It's very much about them being able to just manipulate their emotions and turn them on and turn them off."

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Heughan?

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Jack Lowden

Photo by ROBERTO RICCIUTI / GETTY IMAGES.

Another new runner, and another one from Scotland, the Borders-raised Lowden is only 31 and in the prime slot for a grooming into the next 007. The problem is, he doesn't really want it. Actually, that's not quite the truth. He just never wants Craig to stop being Bond.

"I'm a massive Daniel Craig fan and I don't think he should ever stop doing it," Lowden has said to GP. "Bond dealing with age is a brilliant idea and I think we should go the whole way until Daniel's 85."

Fair enough—Lowden was 15 when Craig was cast, and he probably feels like a small part of his childhood will snap off and wither away with Craig on his way. Has anyone checked on him since No Time To Die came out? Hope you're alright, buddy.

Lowden, though, might be a dark horse successor. He's got form in both heavyweight dramas (Denial'71, Small Axe) and big action-y British films (Dunkirk) and think-y period pieces (Mary Queen of ScotsWar & Peace). He's even been a beefed up bad lad with a heart of gold (Fighting With My Family).

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He knows his way around a suit too. His Bond could well head take his tailoring in a very different direction to Craig's musclebound power-suits. We've been banging the drum for Lowden's suits for a while now, actually. The boy's got it all in his locker. Dismiss him at your peril.

Lowden?

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Richard Madden

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If suddenly staring very hard at something out of frame like a spaniel who's just caught scent of some fox poo two fields away is a key performance indicator for a Bond hopeful, then Bodyguard gave Madden ample opportunity to flaunt his suitability and pick up a Golden Globe while he was at it. The tough but conflicted but fragile but dutiful thing is solid Bond training, and Madden's silence on the subject feels more like a 'something is about to happen' kind of silence than a 'nothing is about to happen' void.

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Then again though, there's a lack of big screen heft beyond the underwhelming and possibly cursed CIA drama Bastille Day, which ended up being pulled from French cinemas after it opened following the terrorist attacks on Nice's Bastille Day celebrations. As Craig's Bond has done the Bond-goes-Bourne thing so long that Bourne-style gritty clobbering has become the norm for most action films, and certainly most spy films, Madden's blank terseness might represent a step back to 2005 rather than a step forward.

Madden?

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Riz Ahmed

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Everyone likes Riz. He's a brilliant actor, obviously, as you know from NightcrawlerFour Lions and The Night Of, and on top of that he's very much One Of The Good Guys. Had Ahmed been in the running in 2005, he might have been considered just a bit too interesting and outspoken for the part, but whether it's on Twitter or via his music with Swet Shop Boys or as Riz MC, he's always been an intelligent and considered voice in conversations about representation in TV and film and as such would be exactly the right guy to play the first Bond of colour. If anyone could show that Bond can move with the times and, if necessary, sit down the kind of baby-men who'd freak out at the idea of a Muslim Bond with a combo of grace and righteous force, he can.

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Ahmed?

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Daniel Kaluuya

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For some reason, nobody's really talking about Kaluuya as an outside shout for Bond at the minute, but all the ingredients are there. Between SicarioBlack Panther, Widows and Get Out, he's got both critical clout and action chops, as well as being exactly the kind of famous-but-not-mega-mega-famous actor who generally gets the gig. When the idea of being Bond was put to him by the Hollywood Reporter he dodged it admirably: "What are the odds on that? I need to know the odds first, 'cause I need a new kitchen." For the record, Daniel, your odds are sliding between 6-1 and 20-1, but we'd price him a lot shorter than that.

Kaluuya?

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Michael Fassbender

Photo by JOHN PHILLIPS.
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Michael Fassbender is a bona fide movie star, with a long list of award-winning performances to his name, but the Irish-German actor's most recent films have paled in comparison to his previous work. Both X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The Snowman were torn apart by critics (the latter is considered by some to be one of the worst movies ever), and while his upcoming collaboration with Taika Waititi is probably a good bet, the 44-year-old actor deserves to star in a blockbuster project that demands more of his talents. Are you… thinking what we're thinking?

It's long been suggested that Fassbender would be the perfect Bond. He basically proved it in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds with his performance as British army officer Lieutenant Archibald "Archie" Hicox, a crisp, cool-headed, impeccably Brylcreemed secret agent in the Timothy Dalton mould. But then, there are glimpses of a potential 007 in many of his other roles; as an actor he is intense and understatedly charismatic. He is also famously handsome. He's practically made for the tuxedo.

There's only one problem with that: he doesn't want it. Or at least he didn't, back in 2016, when he pushed back against the idea of taking over the role from Daniel Craig. He talked about how Barbara Broccoli and co should possibly go in a different direction, perhaps a younger Bond in training. Considering that Craig retired from the role at the age of 53, it seems likely that the team behind Bond will follow his advice. All that being said, maybe Fassbender has changed his mind over the past five years? At 44 he's not yet too old for the role, and perhaps Broccoli isn't too keen on ripping up a playbook that has worked pretty well over the past few films? Despite Fassbender's denials, he's still way up there in the odds.

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Fassbender?

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Henry Cavill

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Cavill's name has been bouncing around Bond for more than a decade: he was Casino Royale director Martin Campbell's pick to succeed Pierce Brosnan, but he lost out to Daniel Craig as he was considered too young at 23. He's old enough now, but that witless contribution to the discussion about how #MeToo has changed dating a few years ago might bar him.

On top of that, prospective Bonds are meant to have a winking, chase-me-chase-me coyness when anyone asks them about being Bond. Cavill hasn't got that memo. "I would love the opportunity and if they were to ask, I would say yes," he said breathlessly in 2018, sounding more like a slightly anxious Duke of Edinburgh candidate who really needs this Oxfam stock assistant gig than a devil-may-care superspy.

He addressed rumors again with the Sunday Times in January 2021, saying: "Time will tell. You don't know which direction they want to take Bond in and so I like to say that everything's always on the table.

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"It depends. We could be talking about Daniel's Bond, or whoever the next Bond is… They will probably be in their thirties or forties, or early forties.

"Maybe they'll even go younger like they were considering with me when it was down to me and Daniel."

Cavill?

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John Boyega

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Boyega did a Google Assistant ad which toyed with the idea of him playing Bond—he's in a tux, does the classic pre-credits Bond crouch-and-gun-point pose, and likes what he sees so much he calls his agent—and managed to come across as both a laugh and a real contender to take Bond and make him funny, dashing and buoyant. He did admit in March last year that he was still a bit too young for it, but there's usually a short hiatus after each Bond launches his DB5, Thelma & Louise-style, off the cliff. Boyega could easily be in his mid-thirties before the decision is made, putting him squarely in the frame.

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Boyega?

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From: Esquire UK

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