Speculation is mounting as to who will take over the coveted role of James Bond 007 once Daniel Craig uses his licence to kill just once more when No Time to Die is released next month.
The two-minute, action-packed trailer is enough already to make us despair he’s leaving the spy-thriller franchise after securing the top job as fictional M16 agent Bond in 2006.
UK-born Craig, 53, will have played Bond five times in big-budget Bond instalments that have thrilled audiences worldwide and raked in billions.
So who will be crowned the next Bond?
According to GQ magazine, the British take ownership of James Bond, and believe he is “more or less a publicly owned piece of the national culture”, so the succession plan is important.
If it’s anything to go by in terms of selection criteria, in a lengthy expose on Daniel Craig’s evolution from small parts in movies and theatre productions to mega star, GQ noted “it was very quickly determined that Craig was the wrong guy. No one had heard of him”.
And even though Bond producer Barbara Broccoli had been tracking him for six years, he too was initially in denial when he was offered such an esteemed role, saying “‘I can’t do a Sean Connery impression. I can’t be Pierce [Brosnan]'”.
But, at the age of 36, he very quickly came to redefine Bond with his steely blue eyes and emotional depth, cast alongside Eva Green as Vesper in the brilliant Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and then Spectre in 2015.
“Bond is fraught with legends already. More men have walked on the Moon than have played the part, and Craig has been Bond for the longest of all –14 years,” GQ wrote.
Now it’s time to pass the keys to the Aston Martin, to …
Esquire magazine reckons that due to the pandemic, and the subsequent delayed release date of No Time To Die, the casting process for the next Bond has been delayed.
It didn’t stop Esquire from curating its favourites – or “guesses” – asking “Who’s going to take over from Daniel Craig as James Bond when he swaps his Walther PPK for a P45 [jobless form]?”
Broccoli told Total Film last year they’ll wait until the film has been released before scouting around for a new type, not a copycat Craig.
“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.”
She said the next Bond could be non-white, non-British but cannot, for now, be a woman.
With news the film will hit cinemas on September 30, now is the time to narrow the field and begin the audition process.
And it goes like this.
GQ says: “A ritual of the franchise is that all potential Bonds are asked to play the same scene, a moment in From Russia With Love , in which the spy returns to his hotel room to find Tatiana, a Russian agent, waiting for him naked in bed”.
Betting agency Sportsbet has a running list of 132 contenders on its books, with their current odds. Among the top runners and dark horses? Michael Fassbender ($13), Tom Hiddleston ($8.50), Sam Worthington ($151) and Prince Harry ($251).
Here’s who’s at the top of our wishlist.
Hardy was brilliant in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
Reporters in Cannes after the film’s launch asked him whether he had any qualms about taking over the Mad Max character from Mel Gibson (who’d played him three times) as the role was synonymous with him.
He did think about it, but Hardy made the role his own, saying it was time for him to “switch in”.
Hardy, 43, made his debut in Black Hawk Down and worked his way through a catalogue of starring roles including Capone, Inception and Dunkirk.
He’s handsome, loves a good gunfight and as Esquire puts it, “has the brooding look, the magnetism and the maverick streak in spades”. But are his recent Venom roles too much association?
Sportsbet: $3.25 (favourite)
Outlander‘s Sam Heughan, 41, has one characteristic that sets him apart – he’s Scottish, Connery-esque almost.
He likes and makes whisky, and has that edgy appeal of worldliness, humour and allure.
He told STV News in May last year he would love to be offered the job: “I think any actor who says they wouldn’t would be lying, and I think it’s time we have a Scottish Bond again.”
In January this year, he told Good Morning Britain: “It’s not a no.”
It was announced at the end of March that the British actor, 31, would not be returning to Netflix’s most successful series, Bridgerton, in March, leaving Bond fans to speculate he was already flat out in the audition process for Bond.
He told The Mirror in April he was “flattered” when asked about being linked to the role: “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.”
Sportsbet odds: $4
Who didn’t love him as the brooding, love-struck, bloodsucking killer vampire in the hugely successful Twilight series?
The films are far enough behind us to now enjoy his independent roles and more recently the star of blockbusters like Tenet and The Batman.
Esquire says “we’re not saying that the foppish spy he plays 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”.
Too young? Many would still identify him in his Spider-Man roles and at 25, he might need a few more years developing his catalogue.
Esquire contemplates it would be tempting to introduce a younger Bond to a “Marvel-obsessed” audience.
He’s handsome, he’s British and has one of the most vocal fanbases on social media.
Hardy, according to Esquire, is “still the obvious choice, but Bond producers have seldom gone for the obvious 007”.