James Bond is one of the most beloved characters not just in British cinema history, but also in the history of cinema full stop. It is an institution in Hollywood, and remains as the longest continually running film series of all time.
Over the years, it has been the defining moments of many an actor to take up the reins as 007. And I can imagine that even the most professional of actors fanboy’d a bit when they had the chance to say the classic lines, such as “Bond…James Bond” and “shaken, not stirred.”
It’s often been said that a movie is only as good as its villain, but in the case of James Bond, the series has maintained its success over the years by elevating at times relative unknown actors into the class of Hollywood superstars.
Daniel Craig has been in the hotseat, so to speak, for the last decade and change, and coupled with the efforts of directors Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) and Sam Mendes (Syfall and Spectre), the British actor has managed to breathe new life into the film series, as more dark, gritty and raw themes were introduced into an increasingly wacky/camp formula that began with Rodger Moore.
And with directorial heavyweight Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk fame, set to direct Bond 25, a surprising name has been thrown into the hat as to who could take over from Daniel Craig after the next addition to the Bond canon, as the great and good of British acting line up to audition for one of the most coveted roles in cinema.
And following confirmation that Daniel Craig would be playing 007 one last time, the race is on to decide upon his successor, so let’s take a look at some of the actors who are in with a shout, before we reveal a very surprising name that has been linked with the role.
Viewers will recognise this famous face from his time spent as Tommy Lee Royce in the BBC drama Happy Valley.
Also starring in Granchester, he played the role of Sidney Chambers.
He’s a newcomer on the scene when it comes to the arena of Hollywood cinema, but his star is on the rise thanks to his turn in BBC’s 2016 epic adaption of War and Peace and his role in the recent film Flatliners.
Fans will be getting the first look of James Norton in a tux, as he takes on the role of disaffected Russian mafia member Alex Godman.
Speaking about his new role in December, James admitted: “I did warn James [Watkins] and Hoss [Amini] that if they wrote the first scene of me getting out of a black cab in a tux that would maybe stir some of it [speculation about a future as James Bond].”
However, he has told people “not to bet on him” as he doubts he would get the role and continued to deny rumours he was in line.
Betting odds: 5/2
Former Oscar nominee Tom Hardy is one of the biggest names in Hollywood at the moment, with starring roles in Dark Knight Rises, Inception, The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road on his CV, among many other things. He seems to have the perfect combination of tough-guy persona, classic good looks, screen presence, acting ability and a good old fashioned posh English accent that make him the safe choice to play the next James Bond.
I’ve always thought of him as, in some ways, the modern day equivalent of the late great Oliver Reed (minus the binge drinking), and given that one of the great missteps of 20th century cinema was not casting Reed as 007 after Sean Connery left the role (he was in the building, so to speak, but negotiations fell apart), some might argue that Tom Hardy is a similarly perfect fit for the role, if one goes down the traditional route.
Betting odds: 3/1
Jack most recently made his mark on the big screen with a role in the 2016 remake of Ben Hur.
And among his other credentials, he has also appeared in films such as The Longest Ride, American Hustle and the infamous reason that teen books are now made into film series, The Twilight Saga.
He’s low down on the list, but he remains a contender nonetheless.
Betting Odds: 7/1
Most middle aged women will know him as the impossibly handsome heartthrob Ross Poldark in the BBC drama, but he also made his mark in Hollywood when he starred in The Hobbit trilogy as one of the 67 dwarves.
Back in August of last year, he appeared to be taking the lead on the Bond betting odds, but he refused to comment on any possible future as the man with a license to kill at the MCM Expo last May.
He’s had a busy summer just gone slipping back into the role of Captain Ross, but there may be some truth to the rumours yet, given his oddly free schedule for 2018 thus far.
Betting odds: 7/1
Idris Elba is one of the truth hard-men of Hollywood cinema, as one of the few headlining actors who can also boast a winning professional record as kick boxer (okay, it’s only 1-0, but that’s still a winning record, which he achieved by first round knockout).
But there is far more to his game than just looking tough – as he is one of the best British actors to emerge in a good few years, and has transcended from small screen hits like Luther to become one of the biggest draws in the world of cinema with hits like The Jungle Book, Mandela, Beast of No Nation and Thor and its sequel Thor: Ragnarok.
While it’s frankly ridiculous to the point of laughable that in 2018 some people are still resistant to the idea of a black James Bond, Steven Spielberg through his considerable weight behind the idea, as he said that he would love to see Idris to make history as the first “Bond of colour.”
The Luther star however, has taken himself out of the running, by saying he is too old to play the part, which I’d say is a bit unfair on himself, given that Rodger Moore was also 45 when he played Bond in Live and Let Die. Daniel Craig, also, is 49 and will play Bond one more time.
Joanna Lumley told Radio Times that she didn’t think he fitted the description of the character from the original novels.
She said: “Idris Elba is stunning.
“But I don’t think he is right for Bond, who is quite clearly described in the book.”
This might make sense if his description in the book was an absolute deal breaker on the motivation, arc and conclusions of both the character and the narrative, but it’s not really, is it? It doesn’t really matter in my opinion, so long as the intentions of the books are respected.
Bond Producer Barbara Broccoli also seems to think differently however on that front, and is spear-heading a new campaign to increase diversity in the British film industry – which fans have taken as a sign that the Bond character will move beyond its white, male history in future instalments.
Nonetheless, Idris Elba, at this stage, still remains an outside candidate.
Betting odds: 8/1
If one were to take a more traditional route on finding the next James Bond, then like Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddelston would be a pretty safe pair of hands to take the character and the film series forward.
Hiddelston shot to fame when he starred in the Thor film series alongside the hunk from down under Chris Hemsworth as Loki.
And following on an incredible performance in BBC’s The Night Manager, many have queried whether he could be selected to be cast as the newest face of James Bond.
When asked about the rumours on a panel in Philadelphia, he said: “I don’t think that announcement is coming, but I am very gratified to hear the enthusiasm. Your guess is as good as mine, to be honest.”
Betting odds: 8/1
German-born Irish actor Michael Fassbender has established himself as one of the most versatile actors alive today, as he effortlessly glides between big budget blockbuster movies and phenomenal acting performances in more restrained dramas.
His feature film debut came in 2007 when he starred in 300, and since then he has dazzled audiences with his turns in films such as Inglorious Basterds, Steve Jobs (for which he was nominated at the Oscars in the Best Actor category), 12 Years A Slave (also nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and The X Men films.
While many think the Irishman would make a cracking Bond, Fassbender seemed to dismiss the idea of him playing the role.
Speaking to GQ about the prospect, he said: “As an acting role, I think Daniel has done such a cracking job in this age group.
“I think the franchise needs something new.”
Betting odds: 10/1
Henry Cavill made a name for himself on the big stage when he donned the iconic red cape to play Superman in the DC Comics Man of Steel series. More recently, he has thrown his name into the hat and said that he would “love” to be the next James Bond.
The British actor certainly has the presence to play James Bond, as he makes light work of carrying one of the most iconic characters in the history of popular culture on his shoulders with his work as Superman, and it seems as though he’d more than welcome the idea of swapping one legendary outfit for another.
He certainly proved that he can play the suave, smooth operating spy role, when he took on the role of Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s out of the blue nostalgia piece The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Still, he remains not much more than an outside candidate.
Betting odds: 20/1
He burst onto the scene at the age of just 11 when he starred as Billy Elliot in the drama of the same name, for which he won a BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Since then he has popped up in Jumper, The Adventures of Tintin and Fantastic Four.
The actor began being touted as a “surprise contender” in the James Bond race back in May 2016.
Betting Odds: 20/1
Yes, you read that correctly. Harry Styles is being considered for the iconic role of James Bond when Daniel Craig has his last hurrah in the character’s shoes in Bond 25, after which he will leave the role after playing 007 for over a decade.
And while it may seem ludicrous to hand the character over to Harry Styles, there is a case to be made. While to many of you, he may just be the singer from One Direction and the pin up for teenage girls across the universe, his turn in Dunkirk was pleasantly surprising.
Also, one must take into account that his inclusion in the movie was not some gimmick to attract demographics that a World War II epic may not usually get, rather, he was given the part completely on merit, given reportedly that during his audition Christopher Nolan didn’t even know who he was.
And with that in mind, and given that Christopher Nolan is reportedly set to take over from Sam Mendes as Bond director for the foreseeable future (a match made in heaven, if you ask me) then the Dunkirk director (who simply HAS to be given the Best Director Oscar he should have won for The Dark Knight and for Inception, if the academy actually wants to celebrate what it claims to celebrate) then he could stick to his penchant for collaboration and bring Harry Styles along with him to play James Bond.
Nolan’s friend and Sceptre film editor Lee Smith says Harry, 23, could be in with a chance.
He told The Daily Star: “Harry could do it. If they wanted a younger Bond then why not? He has got it.”
Bond 25 will be Daniel Craig’s last instalment as the character, and after he leaves the role, by the time Bond 26 is in production Harry Styles would be 28, which would make him the youngest actor ever to play James Bond – a deal breaker for those who are more accustomed to seeing James Bond played by an older, more mature hero.
But Lee is confident “talented” and “charismatic” Harry, who received rave reviews for his quite honestly great performance in Dunkirk (relatively brief though it was), could go all the way.
He said: “Harry is really good and he can go all the way. He is an exceptional talent and a complete natural on camera.
“You would have thought you were dealing with a guy with many years of experience. You would never know that was his first film. I didn’t know who Harry was.
“Of course my daughter explained to me that you don’t get any more famous than Harry Styles. But he was really good and a genuinely charismatic fellow.
“If he wants to act, I cannot imagine he would not have a great future.”
Meanwhile Harry may have other plans seeing as after filming Dunkirk he hinted that may be his first and last film.
He mused: “I’m thinking, ‘What am I doing?’”
“I feel very lucky to be a part of Dunkirk. I’d do this one again but it may be one and done – I’d do this one again. I really enjoyed this. I’ve peaked too soon! There’s nowhere to go.”
So who knows, maybe we’ll get the youngest Bond in the history of the franchise, all I know is that they need to capitalise on the new life that Daniel Craig has given the franchise.
And if he wants to leave 007 behind so that he can undertake more roles like the one he played in Logan Lucky (one of the best performances of the year, if you ask me) then let no one stand in his way.