In Depth

Who will be the next James Bond?

007 producer says she sees Daniel Craig’s successor as male

Audiences will get to see Daniel Craig’s final performance as James Bond after the long-awaited No Time To Die hit the silver screen this week.

With the reviews published and Craig’s tuxedo relegated to the back of the wardrobe, the question of who will take up the iconic role remains as disputed as ever. And “a new flurry of bets has pushed the frontrunners in the odds down”, reported the Daily Express

Craig’s fifth Bond film sees him hand in his MI6 badge with his fellow agent Nomi, played by Lashana Lynch, inheriting the 007 title. But “despite misleading headlines”, the British actor “will not be playing the character of James Bond”, Harper’s Bazaar reported. The red-herring is just a “bit of confusion between a job title and a character”, said Esquire. Even so, the bookmakers’ are putting Lynch as a forerunner in the contest.

Since the film’s original April 2020 release date, the list of contenders has seen somewhat of a shake-up. Find out in whose corner the odds are now stacked:

James Norton: 10/3

Two years ago James Norton was, according to Esquire magazine, the “dark-horse candidate for the job”. Best known for his roles in TV dramas McMafia and Grantchester, the 35-year-old had attempted to dismiss rumours that he could be the next Bond, The Sun reported, telling his fans “not to bet on him” to be picked for the role. 

But last night his odds were “slashed drastically”, the Express said.

Rege-Jean Page: 2/1

Bridgerton’s leading man “is keeping tight-lipped” about his prospects of playing Bond, but he dropped a “huge hint” when appearing on The Graham Norton Show in February, The Sun said. The actor “awkardly” swerved the question, and said the Netflix period drama was “the only ‘B’ word I am allowed to say”. 

Rege-Jean Page won’t be returning to the second series of the hit show, stirring up further speculation about what other project may be tying up his schedule. The 31-year-old may in fact be “the perfect fit”, said GQ, with a “plausible 20-year period as Bond” ahead. Page would bring “gravitas and cynicism” to the role, and he would also “be the first black Bond”, said the magazine.

“That would be great”, it added, if only to “give Idris Elba some peace and space to talk about literally anything else in interviews”. 

Jack Lowden: 6/1

One of the other younger candidates is 31-year-old Jack Lowden, who came to prominence in the 2016 BBC mini-series War and Peace. He went on to star in Christopher Nolan’s 2017 epic Dunkirk and 2018’s Mary Queen of Scots

The Daily Express described the Scottish star as an “accomplished stage actor” too, but the Gentleman’s Journal sees Lowden as “a long shot”. The actor “hasn’t yet built up the type of previous role experience the producers clearly look for”. He may also see “some unwarranted criticism” as the first ginger Bond, the magazine continued.

Tom Hiddleston: 9/2

Tom Hiddleston came into favour after issuing a “come and get me” plea following his Bond-esque portrayal of a spy with a taste for violence in The Night Manager. In a Times interview Hiddleston even talked up his physical prowess in relation to the role saying: “I’m very aware of the physicality of the [Bond] job. I would not take it lightly.” 

Speaking to Empire magazine on the subject earlier this year, Hiddleston said “what can I say that you don’t already know?”. And anything he has said on the matter in the past has only “generated more questions”. 

Lashana Lynch: 6/1

She’s officially the new 007, but would Lashana Lynch ever be the next Bond? “Nooo! You don’t want me,” she told The Guardian. And the new cast member has not given much away in terms of who could be in the running.

The industry, Lynch told the paper, is no longer giving the audience “what it thinks the audience wants”. Instead, it’s “giving the audience what they want to give the audience”. As such, the winning candidate “could be a man or a woman. They could be white, black, Asian, mixed race. They could be young or old.” 

But Bond boss Barbara Broccoli has told PA news agency that while she hopes “there will be many, many films made with women, for women, by women, about women,” she doesn’t think “we have to take a male character and have a woman portrayal”. Ultimately, she said: “I see [Bond] as male.”

Sam Heughan: 9/2

Possible contender Sam Heughan, who was once the favourite to replace Craig, has seen his odds drift.

Heughan, who is best known for playing Jamie Fraser in the time-travelling drama series Outlander, addressed rumours he could be taking over as the new Bond during a 2019 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “I can reveal, right now, that I…” he said. “Am not James Bond, no.”

The rumour-mill was stirred again this year, however, when Heughan retweeted a Twitter poll on the most likely actor to next play Bond with a winking emoji. The “cheeky tweet” roused speculation among fans “that he may be following in Sean Connery’s footsteps”, said the Daily Record

Richard Madden: 6/1

Broccoli has taken the Game of Thrones and The Bodyguard star Richard Madden seriously as a candidate, according to the Mail on Sunday. One source told the newspaper late in 2018: “It’s seriously looking like he [Madden] is going to get the job. Not only is he on top of Barbara’s list, but she is preparing to offer the role.”

A producer from The Bodyguard “let slip” to the paper months later that Madden was not yet confirmed for series two of the BBC show, saying: “It depends what happens with James Bond.” But Digital Spy now thinks it’s a “safe bet” Madden will again be taking up the role of protagonist David Budd, putting the brakes on Bond speculation.

Michael Fassbender: 5/1

The Telegraph said that “early on in negotiations” the German-Irish actor was “frequently listed” to take over from Craig, but his odds have lengthened somewhat recently.

And back in 2016, when Michael Fassbender was asked in an interview with GQ magazine if he would be up for the part, he said: “To be honest, no.” The franchise, he said, “needs something new”. 

Idris Elba: 7/1

Steven Spielberg threw his weight behind Luther star Elba to be the next James Bond, but it seems the actor himself is not so keen on the idea. 

He has repeatedly said the studio has not been in touch, describing rumours to the contrary as the “wildest in the world”. Now 49, Elba has suggested his age might hold him back. “I think I’m too old for that - running around in cars and ladies and martinis,” he told Good Morning America in 2018.

His attention, it seems, may be more focused on a familiar character’s footing. Speaking on Capital XTRA in April, Elba said he’s “very excited” for the Luther film, which “is definitely coming.”

Aidan Turner: 11/1

Another Irish actor, Turner, who has previously been at the top of the list, is best known for his role as Ross Poldark. His predecessor in the role, Robin Ellis, who starred in the 1970s BBC version, backed him as the next Bond. 

“I think he’d be an excellent Bond. Aidan is a good actor, and the first 007, Sean Connery, was a very good actor. Aidan is quite capable of doing that part. Good luck to him if he gets it. I’ll be very pleased for him,” said Ellis.

Tom Hardy: 5/2

Hardy is a mainstay of the list, first boosted by the “big splash” he made in Mad Max: Road Fury, said Vanity Fair. Though his Mad Max character was a “grunting road warrior” he can do suave when called upon, said the magazine, with roles in This Means War and Inception proving his range. 

In 2020, The Sun reported on claims from a Star Trek blog that Hardy had been offered the role, but “will have to keep his secret a while longer” due to the pandemic pushing back No Time To Die’s release date. However, the report was never substantiated.

Cillian Murphy: 7/1

Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy was once among the most high-profile names on the list, having appeared in Hollywood films dating back to the early 2000s, but appears to have a low opinion of his chances of taking the role.

“There’s two things I’ll say about that,” he has previously told The Guardian. “Firstly, there’s a whole other industry which is completely separate from the film side of things, and that’s the bookies. The second thing I’d say is that I think it should be a woman, which rules me out.”

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