Now that Bond 25 has a new director and release date (following a series of unfortunate production hiccups), it finally looks as though Daniel Craig will be saying his goodbyes to 007 within the next couple of years. The question of who will replace him and play the new James Bond, then, looms large in the background. Bond is a cinematic icon that requires a lot of commitment and tenacity from the person willing to potentially play him (or, indeed, her), so the hunt for the right actor is no easy casting call. There's plenty of theories, fan picks, and rumours out there as to Craig's follow-up, and we've compiled the most convincing suspects here. These are the actors we think could play James Bond once the next movie finally comes and goes from theatres.
Two months ago, no one was talking about Richard Madden as James Bond. In fact, few were talking about the actor at all, talented as he is. Following his bloody departure as Rob Stark in Game of Thrones, Madden's starred in a few films and TV shows here and there, but it wasn't until this year's Bodyguard - the taught crime thriller that's been breaking viewership records on the BBC - when people began to see him as a future 007. His performance as David Budd, a stoic, Scottish action hero for the modern age, certainly fits the bill for Bond, and Madden's much deserved spotlight could well throw him officially into the running once Craig departs the franchise. But will there be a Bodyguard season 2, and could that affect the actor's availability for MI6? Best to watch this space.
Henry Cavill is an obvious choice. He auditioned for the role at the same time as Daniel Craig and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell has stated that he approved of his Bond, despite Cavill being just 22 at the time. And have you seen him in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.? If that's not a Bond look, I don't know what is. Cavill wants the role too, recently telling Yahoo Movies that "Bond would be a really fun role. It’s British, it’s cool. [...] So yes, I would love the opportunity and if they were to ask, I would say yes." With the recent reports that Cavill is supposedly leaving the DCEU as Superman, you might think his scheduled just freed up to be the new James Bond, but don't forget, he's still got The Witcher Netflix series to keep him occupied.
The longer this discussion goes on, the more people want Idris Elba to play Bond it seems. No doubt, it’s time for a non-white Bond to step into the spotlight, and the Luther star certainly has the characteristics needed to play 007 - good looks, an impressive physique, and charm to spare. After Prometheus and the Thor franchise, he's got a credible Hollywood career to support his casting too, and his name even came up in the infamous Sony leaks as someone who could possibly take over the role. Former 007 Pierce Brosnan has championed him, and even Elba himself has been tacitly pining for the role on social media. Does he know something we don't?
Damien Lewis is the current frontrunner, if you believe the tabloids. Put him in a tux and he instantly looks like a classic Connery-style Bond. An actor of dazzling intensity, his role as Brody in Homeland proved that he can play the espionage game with the best of them. He would, however, be a very different sort of Bond to Craig, lither and arguably more elegant. Maybe it's time for that change, but would that appeal to fans of Craig's more rugged, bulldozer approach?
We'll be honest, we can't see this one happening, but wouldn't it be wonderful? The Mad Men star is a master of subtly portraying the disquiet beneath the surface of his matinee idol good looks. He already looks like a super-spy, and it's very easy to imagine him sitting behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. But would audiences take to an American Bond? Perhaps if the series embraced the long-standing fan theory (seemingly debunked by Skyfall) that James Bond is just as much a codename as 007.
The Gillian-Anderson-for-Bond team has been gaining momentum in recent months and why not? There’s nothing to say that 007 can’t be a woman. Sure, the character is traditionally misogynistic and testosterone-driven, but these aren’t things that can't be adapted or changed for a more modern Bond. Plus, Gillian Anderson would make a great Bond. She’s already had plenty of practice wearing a suit and kicking-ass as Agent Scully in The X-Files and anyone who’s watched her stare down fellow agent Mulder knows she can keep her cool. Still not convinced? Watch this fan-made trailer.
File under: it'll never happen, but wouldn't that have been nice? Anyone who has seen X-Men: First Class can't have failed to have notice that Fassbender played the young Magneto as, essentially, a Nazi-hunting Sean Connery Bond. He's sharp, slick, deadly and devastatingly handsome, so why won't it be him? Well, for a start, his career is stratospheric right now. He's the star of two big franchises in the form of the current X-Men movies and whatever the Prometheus/Alien: Covenant franchise is now. He definitely doesn’t need Bond to make him a star; then again, it's a tough role to turn down.
Before The Hobbit trilogy, Armitage was best known for Spooks and the BBC's muddled Robin Hood, where he played Guy of Gisborne. Appearances on The Vicar of Dibley further cemented his status as a telly hunk, but perhaps that was all. But then Dwarf King Thorin Oakenshield came along and gave his career a big old boost (ironic, given the character's diminutive stature). Bond would be another serious step up in his career, but he's more than capable of making the leap, as he proved in Hannibal as Francis Dolarhyde - another versatile performance. An outside choice, perhaps, but I think he'd be a good one.
Remember when Tom Hardy was just the villain from the really bad Star Trek: The Next Generation flick, Nemesis? Well, those days are long gone. Now one of the most acclaimed and bankable young actors in the world, his impressive performance as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Legend, not to mention is more understated yet superb turn in Mad Max: Fury Road, has proven what an incredible talent he is. And Brosnan thinks it would be a good idea too (he clearly can't make his mind up!), telling The Mail on Sunday’s Event Magazine: “I think Tom Hardy could be a good Bond. I’d be happy to see him do it.” As with Fassbender, however, it might be an odd move at this point. Bond tends to define careers, and Hardy is doing a good job at carving out his own eccentric niche as it is. Still, he looks good in a suit.
Now this is a weird one, but rumour has it that Fantastic Four’s Jamie Bell has been talking to producers about playing Bond so into the pot he goes. I can’t say I’m convinced to be honest, especially after that mediocre performance in the absolutely horrific Fantastic Four reboot, but Bell did start out with an award-winning performance in Billy Elliot as a kid, so we know he’s got acting chops. He might actually just be what the producers are looking for as someone who isn’t hugely well-known yet. Can I see him as 007 though? Not really.
Welcome to the it’s-looking-very-likely entree in the form of Tom Hiddleston. Unlike Jamie Bell, we know for sure he’s been talking to Bond producers, and as a British actor of the right age who looks good in a suit, he’s in a pretty decent position to take over a Bond. Yes, it’s actually that easy. He’s a big enough name to draw in the crowds thanks to the MCU, and his more recent performances in High-Rise and Crimson Peak prove he’s got the depth to do something more than play Thor’s evil little brother for eternity (don’t forget he also played a hotelier turned spy in the superb The Night Manager). More importantly, he’s at the point in his career where making a sidestep into Bond territory would be good for him. What’s that Tom? You already have an Aston Martin on standby?