Earlier this month, the film industry was rocked by the news that the already delayed James Bond film No Time to Die had been pushed back again, and will now be released in April 2021.
Before this crushing announcement, Bond was back in the cinematic news cycle as publicity for the 25th film in the series took hold.
With No Time to Die set to be Daniel Craig’s Bond swansong, attention had turned to who will succeed him in the role. The conversation is nothing new – often debated in pubs across the land, rarely a month goes by without new speculation, with left-field candidates like Danny Dyer or David Beckham invariably appearing at the bottom of betting odds.
However, there appeared to be significant movement in September when the Evening Standard reported that Tom Hardy ‘has reportedly been cast as the next James Bond to replace Daniel Craig.’ The news became less convincing when it was revealed that the Standard’s source was Star Trek blog The Vulcan Reporter, which did not credit its ‘scoop’ with any sources of their own. Make of that what you will.
Despite a number of outlets seemingly accepting the claim as truth, confirming the next Bond actor before Craig’s final outing has been released would be a very strange move from EON Productions, the company behind the Bond films. No Time to Die, which will already face an uphill struggle to make as much money as the studio would like, would become old news before it is even released.
Regardless, with Bond back in the news and as speculation never really goes away, I thought that I’d analyse Hardy’s credentials for the role and have a look at some other potential candidates to follow Daniel Craig as cinema’s favourite spy.
People have spoken about the prospect of Hardy playing Bond since his slick turn as Eames (“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling”) in 2010’s Inception. In the intervening decade, the actor has become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, starring in a series of blockbusters, including The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road and Venom.
However, there is a chance that this celebrity status could work against his Bond chances. Hardy feels far too much of an A-list star for the role. It’s an odd notion, but his casting would be a big departure for a series which has never cast big names as its lead, instead preferring to turn British character actors into leading men.
Before Bond, Daniel Craig had mostly appeared as a supporting actor. The first leading role of his career came in Matthew Vaughn’s 2004 British gangster film Layer Cake, which was said to have convinced Bond producer Barbara Broccoli of his credentials. Likewise, Pierce Brosnan was not a bona fide movie star before he took the part. Best known for a starring role in US TV’s Remington Steele, Brosnan’s stardom came thanks to Bond.
However, the nature of blockbuster cinema has changed while Craig has been Bond – the Marvel Cinematic Universe did not exist when his debut Casino Royale was released in 2006. Since then, franchises have dominated, with practically every big-name actor appearing in one of them. Craig’s acclaimed stint has also managed to take the Bond series up a gear financially (2012’s Skyfall became its first billion-dollar film), allowing it to keep up with the other big players. Therefore, the Bond producers may see the hiring of a star such as Hardy as their best tool to maintain this status and compete with the Avengers.
So, if Hardy is not kept too busy by Venom sequels, he could prove to be the right man for the role. Craig’s Bond has proven that the character is at his most interesting when not so clean cut and Hardy is at his best when portraying figures with rough edges. Inception proves that he can do the dapper, sophisticated gent, but he will be able to work with the darker qualities of Bond as well. Hardy certainly could convince as the agent who uses martinis to wash away memories of murder.
A Hardy Bond would almost confirm that the hard-edge of the Craig era would not wane, to be replaced by a return to the jokey and light tone of the past, which would be a relief. Additionally, it certainly would be welcome if Hardy could convince his long-time collaborator Christopher Nolan to join him in the Bond world.
Norton has been around the bookies’ favourites for a while now and would be almost the ideal candidates if the producers want to turn yet another British actor into a major star.
An impressive television CV includes roles in Grantchester, War & Peace and McMafia, while film roles have begun to come his way. Norton certainly has the acting chops, but with the cinematic landscape altered, the producers may now worry that a UK TV star might not have the pull required to sell Bond to international audiences.
However, Norton might not even be interested in the role, having said in an interview with The Independent last month that ‘it would be a hard thing to swallow’ if playing Bond got in the way of appearing in smaller projects.
Stevens has come quite a way from his Downton Abbey days.
A fierce performance in the under-seen 2014 thriller The Guest and his role in X-Men television series Legion suggest that he has the attributes to make a great 007. Capable of playing smart and sophisticated as well as embracing the more sinister and dangerous side of characters, Stevens has proven himself as both an adept character actor and leading man.
The 37-year-old is a charismatic screen presence – he’s debonair, versatile and looks the part. It’s not hard to picture Stevens dressed in a tuxedo behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. Although he would not be a particularly bold selection, possibly not offering many new qualities to the character, Stevens would be a safe pair of hands once Craig bows out.
Styles’ odds to become the next 007 went from 100/1 to 25/1 earlier this month when it was reported that there had been a number of meetings regarding his casting.
The former One Direction member impressed in his cinematic debut in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and has been cast in Olivia Wilde’s next film Don’t Worry, Darling opposite Florence Pugh.
At 26, it could be argued that he is too young to become Bond, but it would allow EON to do something completely different with the character and even focus on his days before becoming 007.
However, if the worry is that Hardy is too big a star to take up the mantle, Styles certainly would be. It might take a lot for audiences to accept one of the world’s biggest musicians as the character. Yet, if his fledgling acting career progresses, he could well be the man to portray a younger Bond.
Kaluuya’s odds to succeed Craig became very short after his Oscar nomination for Get Out, but the talk about him becoming Bond has died down since.
It really shouldn’t have. Following his fantastic work in Get Out, Kaluuya illustrated impressive range with an intensely villainous performance in Steve McQueen’s Widows, which was dripping in magnetic screen presence and alluring treachery – qualities that would bring so much to Bond.
Handsome, captivating and charismatic, Kaluuya’s brooding intensity and charm would be perfect for the character. At 31, the London-born actor is the perfect age to take up the role and have a long run, making Bond his own and updating the character for the 2020s.
Yet, with his role as activist Fred Hampton to come in next year’s civil rights drama Judas and the Black Messiah and an Oscar nomination already to his name, whether Kaluuya would want the all-encompassing role to distract from an already impressive but developing dramatic career remains to be seen.
There was plenty of talk about Fassbender becoming the next James Bond after his portrayal of the young Magneto in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Following his brief performance as Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglourious Basterds, which felt like he was playing a Second World War version of Bond, Fassbender appeared to be the ideal successor for Daniel Craig.
That was however, almost 10 years ago. Now, 43, he could begin a two or three film spell as Bond and he does appear tailor-made for the role. A distinguished, yet physical and commanding figure, Fassbender possesses the ideal combination of sophistication and machismo for the role.
However, after his X-Men tenure petered out, whether he would jump into another franchise appears unlikely – a notion compounded with his 2016 suggestion that he would not accept the role.
The BBC series Bodyguard essentially provided former Game of Thrones star Madden with a Bond audition, in which he impressed, even if the series did squander its potential and reach a rather ridiculous climax.
Madden proved his leading man credentials in Bodyguard, winning a Golden Globe for his terrific performance as a Police Sergeant haunted by PTSD from his Army days. It displayed everything that the producers would want from Bond.
His past work suggests that Madden would be a solid selection. His star is rising, but it would be taken up a number of levels by playing 007. The pieces all appear to be there and, though an obvious choice, there’s every chance that the Renfrewshire man will become the second Scot to play the spy.
Idris Elba would have made a great James Bond. Suave, refined, good looking, and a proven leading man – he has it all.
Across his defining role as Luther (which displayed the perfect complex, anti-hero qualities for Bond), supporting turn in Molly’s Game and action blockbuster pedigree from appearances in Marvel, Fast & Furious and Star Trek films, Elba’s career has proven he would be an excellent choice for 007.
He has long been linked with the role, but, in all honesty, his chance has probably gone. Aged 48, Elba could be over 50 by the time that production on the next Bond film would begin, depriving him of the chance to have a long run as the character.
Now a Hollywood star at a similar level to Hardy, Elba could well also be too big for the role. If only there had been fewer delays in the production of the Daniel Craig films.
Words by Dan Haygarth