ell I suppose at least he’s Scottish. The Outlander star Sam Heughan, who has easily spent as much time with his clothes off in five seasons of the saucy series as James Bond has over the course of 58 years and 27 films, has caused a flurry of excitement across the internet by saying that yes, if he were asked to play the superannuated superspy, of course he would agree. HOLD THE FRONT PAGE.
To his credit, he did also share his theory on the subject that “any reasonably well-known British actor who’s worn a suit instantly has their name thrown into the ring by fans” which is a very sensible way to look at it.
Still, let’s not pretend that even though we’re sick of waiting for No Time To Die to finally come to life, we’re not agog to find out who will eventually succeed poor old Daniel Craig, who must be feeling very tired by now.
Let’s take a look at some of the other contenders…
Tom Hardy, with that thrilling combination of posh boy and bit of rough that made him probably the most popular storyteller CBEEBIES Bedtime Stories has ever trotted out, is kind of perfect for Bond. You can plausibly imagine otherwise sensible women going weak at the knees for him; equally, he seems a likely candidate to cheerfully throttle a double-crossing agent with his bare hands while eating a full English. Recently it was reported he’d got the job, leading to a slashing of betting odds. Franchise producer Barbara Broccoli, though, told Total Film that no decision had been made. Darn it.
The McMafia star James Norton was touted as an early favourite to replace Craig, and previous roles as a murderous psychopath (Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley) and a disillusioned aristocratic soldier (Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, War & Peace) would seem to make him a good fit for the somewhat dead-eyed spy (he told Gentleman’s Journal: “Bond’s such an icon and means so much to so many, so there’s an inevitable amount of speculation. But that’s as much as it is — speculation. Very flattering, very humbling speculation.”) But is it a problem that the vast majority of fans know him as a boozy, jazz-loving, romantically unlucky vicar (Sidney Chambers on Grantchester)? We fear so.
Sure he played a Scottish Afghanistan war veteran prepared to shag an unsuitable woman in Bodyguard, and briefly reigned as King in the North as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, but for my money it was Richard Madden’s role as Elton John’s long-term manager and former lover John Reid that showed his potential to play an utterly ruthless bastard. We think he’d make a better villain. And his response to the rumours was suitably deadpan: “It’s very flattering to be involved in that conversation at all. But it’s all talk and next week I’m sure it’ll be someone different.”
To his credit, Tom Hiddleston has had very little truck with the rumours swirling around his bum, last seen merrily bouncing in the Night Manager, being Bond’s . “No-one has talked to me about it,” he told Graham Norton in 2016, and now that he’s tied up with the new Loki TV series, it seems unlikely that he’d be free. Anyway he’s far more fun as the heroically deadpan, sarcastic God of mischief than the frankly less than quip-tastic modern angsty Bond.
The news that Captain Marvel star Lashana Lynch had been conscripted as the “new 007” prompted a flurry of click-baiting headlines last summer. The reality is a bit more nuanced: the 32-year-old Londoner will play the agent who has been assigned Bond’s operative number following his departure from MI6 in the long-delayed No Time To Die. We’ll now have to wait until April (sigh) for Lynch to make her debut, but we can’t wait to see her face off against Craig with some barbed one-liners scripted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In fact, perhaps Waller-Bridge should write Lynch an action franchise of her own.
Hardy’s Dunkirk co-star Jack Lowden has also been touted as a potential replacement, but it seems the Scottish star doesn’t fancy his own chances as blonde Bond 2.0 – because he’s such an admirer of Craig. “I’m a massive Daniel Craig fan and I don’t think he should ever stop doing it,” he said earlier this year. “Bond dealing with age is a brilliant idea and I think we should go the whole way until Daniel’s 85.” Imagine the insurance premium.
Idris Elba has been an odds-on favourite to take over from Craig since the latter grumpily announced that he was ready to hang up his tux back in 2015, and there’s no doubt he’d be brilliant (Stormzy thinks so too – the rapper dropped a reference to Elba’s Bond chances in his 2019 single Vossi Bop). However, the 48-year-old has persistently brushed off rumours by claiming that he’s “too old” to take on the role. Idris, your nation needs you – and after the horror show that was Cats, it’s the least we deserve.
We think this is an indecently good idea – after all Helen Mirren’s campy turn as former wetwork agent Victoria Winslow in Red was by far one of the best things about the movie, and she’s certainly got the British Establishment vibe nailed, having played the Queen in, er, The Queen – but Babs Broccoli would probably keel over at the thought. Having said that, Mirren did tell Harper’s Bazaar that she harboured a secret ambition to play a Bond villain, which might even be better.