Who’s the next James Bond going to be?
Will they be a rising or established star? Will they represent the UK’s brilliant diversity or stick with tradition? Will they represent a fresh-faced Bond for a full career reboot, or embrace Daniel Craig’s hard-won experience?
Let’s look at the actors keeping the 007 rumour mill in overdrive.
Is your favourite face to become the new Bond not featured?
Brotherhood (2016) – Ashanti
Captain Marvel (2019) – Maria Rambeau
We’ll know what kind of 007 Lashana Lynch will be as soon as No Time to Die is released.
That’s right – as the trailers so far have shown, with Daniel Craig’s Bond reluctantly returning to service after having quit MI6 at the end of Spectre, he finds Lashana Lynch’s Nomi has already inherited his 007 agent number in his absence.
Case closed? Hunt for the next 007 over?
Not so fast. While Lynch certainly begins No Time to Die as 007, she’s clearly not called James (or even Jane) Bond. Plus, we have this quote in Variety from the Bond franchise’s guardian, Barbara Broccoli:
“He can be of any color, but he is male. I believe we should be creating new characters for women — strong female characters. I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
Fair point. Seeing her put Craig’s Bond in his place, we want to see a lot more of her in the field. A Nomi Bond spinoff series perhaps?
It doesn’t look like Lynch will remain as 007, much as we think she’d crush it.
Marvel Cinematic Universe (2011-) – Loki
The Night Manager (2016) – Jonathan Pine
In three words – a brilliant one.
If you’ve seen Tom Hiddleston’s spectacular audition reel for the role of James Bond (otherwise known as the 2016 TV series, The Night Manager), you’ll know just how well he can play a focused, effective field agent.
Charming and unflappable, Hiddleston is also very capable of switching to cold-eyed menace when the role requires it.
And that gift – employed admirably in his ongoing role as the MCU’s god of mischief, Loki – would serve him very well as 007, James Bond.
We think Tom Hiddleston would make a fantastic James Bond.
But is he already too big of a star to tie his fortunes to this iconic role?
Four Lions (2010) – Omar
Rogue One (2016) – Bodhi Rook
Venom (2018) – Carlton Drake/Riot
As far as super-talented young actors with global recognition (important for a new Bond) and bags of superspy charm go, Riz Ahmed would be in most people’s shortlist.
Based on his performances in films as varied as Four Lions, Nightcrawler, Rogue One and Venom, there’s no question Ahmed could bring depth, complexity (and flashes of humour) to Fleming’s iconic character.
And to that list, add his recent acclaim-gathering performances in Mogul Mowgli and Sound Of Metal.
But mostly, we'd love what casting the franchise’s first British Asian Bond would communicate to audiences about quintessential Englishness in the 2020s.
Ahmed would be a great Bond.
But, just like Tom Hiddleston, there’s a chance that Ahmed may just be too big a name now to divert so much of his recognition into the role.
Dunkirk (2017) – Collins
Mary Queen of Scots (2018) – Henry Darnley
Assuming the first Bond film of the post-Craig era hit cinemas in 2023 and Jack Lowden inherited the iconic tux and DB5, he’d make his 007 debut at 32 – the same age fellow Scot Sean Connery was when he starred in his first James Bond film, Dr. No.
Coincidences aside, Lowden has already made his presence felt on the big screen with magnetic performances in Dunkirk and Mary Queen of Scots.
Casting him as Bond would suggest the franchise was looking for a full series reboot with a young, untested 007 – full of charm and confidence, and yet to endure the physical and mental challenges of a life in the field.
Nominated in last year's Bafta Rising Star shortlist, capturing the 007 role would cap a stratospheric rise for the talented Scot.
Lowden would bring a youthful charm to Bond.
But is he globally recognisable enough to carry the franchise just yet?
Poldark (2015-2019) – Ross Poldark
The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014) – Kili
Do you remember the stir Daniel Craig caused when he emerged from the ocean in Casino Royale, with only a powder-blue pair of La Perla trunks to keep Her Majesty’s state secrets under wraps?
Well, if Aidan Turner’s shirtless and scythe-swinging Ross Poldark is anything to go by, we could well have another global, double-oh swoon moment on our hands.
To be fair to Turner, there’s a lot more to his shortlisting as a potential new 007 than a buff bod.
Watch his performance as Philip Lombard in the 2015 Agatha Christie series And Then There Were None and you can see the actor’s brooding demeanour channelled into a character with more than a little Bond bravado to him (tuxedo swagger included).
Turner’s Bond would likely temper the superspy’s charm with the written character’s capacity for menace.
At 38, Turner is the same age Craig was when he took on Bond. Experienced but not too experienced to make the most of the role.
Mortal Engines (2018) – Captain Khora
Bridgerton (2020-) – Simon Basset
Regé-Jean Page is on fire right now thanks to his break-out role as Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings in Netflix’s debutantes-and-dalliances Regency drama, Bridgerton.
He 100% brings the presence, confidence and charisma to fill 007’s tactical dress shoes – and, if picked, would be the first black Bond, beating Idris Elba to the Lotus Esprit’s keys.
But is he entering the race for the role too soon in his promising career to be in real contention? Only time will tell.
Page would be an exciting pick for the franchise but we can’t help feeling his 007 sweet spot may be a few years off yet.
Billy Elliot (2000) – Billy
6 Days (2017) – Rusty Firmin
Rocketman (2019) – Bernie Taupin
Since he went global with his very first film (2000’s Billy Elliot) Jamie Bell has gone about maturing into a versatile and compelling actor. Watch his performance as SAS Lance Corporal Rusty Firmin in 2017’s underrated action thriller 6 Days and you can see the kind of Bond he might be given the chance.
Wiry, street-smart and much more likely to order a pint than a vodka martini, we reckon his Bond would be a genuinely fresh departure for the franchise.
Bell would be a bold pick and we love that, but we can’t help feeling he’s more of a character actor ally of Bond (or Nomi) than the man himself.
DC Extended Universe (2013-) – Kal El/Clark Kent/Superman
Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018) – August Walker
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) – Solo
Henry Cavill’s best (incidental) audition for James Bond is his role as moustachioed CIA bad lad, August Walker in Mission Impossible: Fallout.
Watch that film’s brutal bathroom fight and you can absolutely see how DCEU’s Superman could swap tights for a tux and kill it as a James Bond who brings both Brosnan smoothness and Craig intensity and scrappiness.
If more proof were needed that Cavill could cut it as 007, he also previously combined spycraft with suaveness to impressive effect in Guy Ritchie’s 2015 The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
An imposing Brit actor with worldwide recognition, action chops and hidden-submarine-base-ful of charm?
If anything, Cavill may be too obvious a choice.
Outlander (2014-) – Jamie Fraser
The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) – Sebastian
Bloodshot (2020) – Jimmy Dalton
If you’re an Outlander fan you won’t need reminding who Sam Heughan is or why he’d make an ideal matinee-idol James Bond for the 2020s and beyond.
For anyone else, watch his performance (as a Brit spy called Sebastian) in 2018’s action comedy, The Spy Who Dumped Me.
Add this liquid charm to Heughan’s intensity as bionic villain Jimmy Dalton in 2020’s Bloodshot and it’s not hard at all to picture him sauntering into a casino ready to flirt or fight at a moment’s notice.
Heughan may have less global recognition than some of his fellow 007 frontrunners, but we have a good feeling about his chances.
Game of Thrones (2011-2016) – Robb Stark
Bodyguard (2018) – David
1917 (2019) – Lieutenant Joseph Blake
As 2018’s Bodyguard – effectively a six-episode application to work for Universal Exports – confirmed in spades, Richard Madden would make a phenomenal 007.
Tough but capable of vulnerability, true Bondian charisma and physicality.
What’s more, thanks to his casting as Ikaris in Marvel Studios’ Eternals, Madden’s big-screen profile is about to go through the roof.
Is Madden the no-brainer Bond pick?
Madden has to be a leading contender but, assuming Eternals is just the beginning of a decade-long MCU commitment, would he want to devote his time to two major franchises at once?
Beasts of No Nation (2015) – Commandant
Luther (2010-) – DCI John Luther
Marvel Cinematic Universe (2011-) – Heimdall
Charming, supremely confident, a rare acting talent, and a permanent fixture in the Badass Hall of Fame, Idris Elba would make an amazing James Bond.
In fact, the only factor that could potentially undermine his frontrunner status is his age. At 48, Elba’s already three years older than Roger Moore was when he got the Bond gig.
That’s not too old to play 007 now of course, but assuming Eon Productions is thinking of a traditionally long-term trajectory for the next James Bond, Elba may have missed his best chance of getting an Aston Martin loyalty card.
We’d love to see Idris Elba as James Bond but – if historical precedent is anything to go by – he may be too old to begin a lengthy run as 007.
Inception (2010) – Eames
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Max Rockatansky
Dunkirk (2017) – Farrier
Just like James Bond on a mission, Tom Hardy is a bit of a chameleon – as convincing as Inception’s charismatic but laid back Eames as he is Dunkirk’s unflappably focused Spitfire pilot, Farrier, and Legend’s infamously psychotic Kray Twins.
As such he has Craig’s pitbull physicality, Brosnan’s charisma and Connery’s cool efficiency.
In other words he’d make an awesome Bond.
That being said, he’s currently 43, making him one of the older frontrunners vying for the keys to 007’s sparsely decorated Chelsea flat.
His starting age as Bond might count against him, but there’s no doubt that Tom Hardy getting the 007 codename would be welcome news to a lot of fans.
Happy Valley (2014-2016) – Tommy Lee Royce
McMafia (2018) – Alex Goodman
Little Women (2019) – John Brooke
If you want to understand why James Norton is heavily favoured to be the next James Bond take a look at his performance as Alex Goodman in TV series McMafia.
Quintessentially British, effortlessly suave but increasingly capable of calculated violence, it’s easy to see how Norton could play a fledgling Bond, conflicted but growing into his role as a double ‘oh’ agent, brilliantly.
The real question about Norton’s frontrunner status is whether Eon Productions wants to break new ground with a bold unexpected choice, or aims for evolution in other areas of the franchise – spin-offs, new threats, fresh supporting regulars.
If it’s the latter, Norton may be hard to beat.
James Norton is perhaps the most predictable choice for the next Bond but that’s understandable. He not only looks like a classic 007 in waiting, but he’s also an outstanding actor.