No Time To Recast… Yet

With Daniel Craig completing his shooting on No Time To Die, the twenty-fifth 007 adventure and Craig’s fifth in the role, his time as James Bond is drawing to an end.

Eon has released a generic first teaser poster that doesn’t give anything away.

As we await the first trailer we can look forward to the inevitable global circus that always surrounds the release of a new 007 movie.  However, with Daniel Craig seeming determined to keep to his word that this is his last time playing the character, a bigger circus is coming.

The feverish speculation as to who else will take on the longest-running, most recognisable role in world cinema?

Here we take a look at the runners and riders to replace Daniel Craig.

Dan Stevens

36 years old at the time of publishing, Dan Stevens star has been steadily on the rise for a few years.  He first came to widespread attention, and achieved foundation heart-throb status, in Downton Abbey.  A recent starring turn under prosthetics and CGI as the titular creature in Beauty And The Beast was well received and set ladies’ hearts fluttering all over again.

He appears in the FX series Legion, and in Netflix’s Apostle.  However, it was his role Adam Wingard’s 2014 thriller The Guest that has probably propelled him well into consideration.  In the movie that beat Stranger Things to the nostalgia punch by quite some distance, Stevens plays a stone-cold killer with incredibly alluring, dangerous charm.

In the plus column for him, his profile would seem just right for a new Bond.  An established actor but not quite in full-on Hollywood superstar status.  Also, he would no doubt be reasonably proved, particularly against the $35m inc. points and Executive Producer credit Craig is now powerful enough to demand.  At 36 he could be the right age too, a 14 year and 5 or 6 movie stint would be possible.

It’s hard to think of too many cons.

Alex O’Loughlin

Not a lot of people know this, but O’Loughlin was Bond.  For a very short period of time, he was locked in and confirmed for the role.

Hawaii Five-O and the role of Detective Steve McGarrett were still four years in the Australian actor’s future.  The Bond producers had just finally won their long-running legal battles and procured the rights to the first ever 007 novel, Casino Royale.  With this they decided to go in a new direction with the character and Pierce Brosnan was not renewed following Die Another Day.

The search for a new 007 eventually came down to three actors.  Henry Cavill was eventually dismissed as too young, Daniel Craig was favourite and was offered the role.  He turned it down.

Producers turned to the third man in their final three – O’Loughlin.  The Shield actor, then just turning 30, was cast.  Then Craig changed his mind and the rest is history.

Things going for him?  007 Producers have form for returning to earlier decisions.  Roger Moore was an original pick for the role before Connery.  Dalton nearly replaced Connery but declined because he felt too young.  Brosnan was cast as Moore’s replacement until Remington Steele’s last-minute renewal on TV.  All those guys went on to eventually play the role.

Against?  He’s 43 now, so likely to be 46 or 47 before his first 007 movie is released.  This could prevent a long run in the role. Also, does a ten-year stint on a network TV show mean his profile is already too high?

Idris Elba

Since the dawn of political correctness, there has been talk of a lady as James Bond.  Jane Bond?  I saw those pornos in the 80s and 90s!  Names from Catherine Zeta-Jones to Gillian Anderson were mentioned.  For Bond, obviously, not the porno!

Since the identity peddlers really got hold of the agenda, and color-blind casting has been rolled out across many broadcast networks causing hilarious virtue signalling fails such as famous Greek warriors being played by Caribbean actors, the calls for a black Bond have also been growing.  If they were going to do it, Elba would be a good choice.

His stint as Luther on UK TV proved his acting chops in just the right way.  He is now a bonafide movie star with stints in the Marvel Universe and a lead villain credit in the Fast And Furious franchise.

Obviously, the character is a product of Britain and British history, a nation where even today black people make up just 3% of the population.  Literary canon details Bond as having a Scottish father and a Swiss mother.  This was confirmed in Skyfall.  So any black Bond, Elba or otherwise, can’t help but feel a little tokenistic, and ultimately as pointless as a white Shaft or an Asian Apollo Creed.

He definitely has the charm and the presence to pull it off should producers decide to go down this route.  But will they?  The biggest cons are the risk.

Cast a black Bond, take the inevitable negative commentary, and it fails?  Then an awkward change, of course, will be required at the studio.  This will be in the full media glare.

Also, his star has already risen.  In the notoriously fickle world of movies would he want to take the risk?

Also against him is the casting of Lashanna Lynch as the agent who has taken over the 007 number, now Bond has retired, in No Time To Die.  It feels like Producers are killing two birds with one stone – there is a black, female 007 (but not Bond!), now shut up while we return to our regularly scheduled programming!

Finally, at 47, it could be 50 or 51 before his first film as Bond debuts.

Henry Cavill

As mentioned above, Cavill was into the final three for the role when Casino Royale was being set-up.  Originally let go because, at 23, he was considered too young to be a 00-agent.  Now, 13 years later, has his time finally come?  He’s got the looks and the charm.  However, strangely it may be what he has chosen to do with his time since his original disappointment that counts against him.

Namely, his profile.  He is a fully-fledged screen star.  What seemed, at times, like a 007 screen test in Guy Ritchie’s The Man From Uncle was only the beginning.  Since then he has portrayed the CIA’s blunt instrument in Mission Impossible: Fallout and one of the biggest roles of all, Superman.

Does this mean he is already too big for Bond, where Producers like the character to grow into the role and never overshadow the role itself?

Certainly, he wouldn’t come cheap when compared to a lot of actors on this list.  With a multi-picture deal, a pre-requisite is it already too late for one of the hot favourites?

The age is right.  He has something of a young Connery about him in stature and presence.  Let’s hope his agent doesn’t go too large if Eon gives them a call.

Tall, dark, successful, matinee-idol good looks and a hit with the ladies.  God, what a bastard!  I hate him already!! (j/k)

Richard Madden

Two years ago this name wasn’t even on this list.  Best known for his role as Rob Stark in Game Of Thrones, a role that anyone not familiar with the books would have expected to be the hero right up until… well… you know!

After that gig ended his biggest role was Prince Charming in the Disney live-action Cinderella.  Then, last year, everything changed.

A BBC thriller called The Bodyguard catapulted Richard Madden right to the front of the queue of potential James Bond candidates.  Well received on both sides of the Atlantic, the tense thriller required Madden to show a full range from deeply damaged to a man of action, by way of explicit love scenes with his co-star Keeley Hawes.

It was the most-watched UK TV drama of all-time and he won the Golden Globe for his role as David Budd, bodyguard to the UK Home Secretary, across the pond.

If they want him, the Bond makers are going to have to get in quick.  His recent success has gained him numerous rising star notices and his work diary is filling up fast, including Marvel’s The Eternals on his dance card.  He is the right age, has the right profile now and is affordable for a multi-picture deal with the inherent risks of a new Bond attached.  However, that’s likely to change very quickly in the next 12 months.

He has expressed an interest in the role and is the bookmaker’s current favourite, however with Bond that rarely counts for anything.

Aidan Turner

Sexy dwarf.  Two words you never expect to see together unless you are hanging around on a very dark corner of the internet.  And yet that is what Peter Jackson brought us over the course of his three, overlong Hobbit movies.

When you are padding like that you need to insert all sorts of meaningless fluff, and one of those sub-plots was a Dwarf  / Elf romance.  Turner convinced in all his scenes as Killi, or was it Filli?  Fuck it, I don’t care.  Enough Hobbit.

What is for certain is that Aidan Turner is another favourite for the role of Bond for a reason.  He smouldered as a vampire in Being Human and caused a million Sunday evening hot-flushes in front of the television as Poldark.

In the role of cynical mercenary Philip Lombard in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, he had another of those seemingly obvious 007 try-outs that are quite prevalent on this list.

The right age at 36, a TV heartthrob, a proven track record without a profile that would overshadow the role of Bond itself.  He seems to tick all the boxes.  Don’t be surprised to find this Irish actor in the running well into the final stages.

Tom Hiddleston

Oh, Tom.  Tom.  Where did it all go wrong regarding 007?  You were practically a done deal.  Nailed on.  Barbara loved you.  You only needed to sign on the line and then you could have slid effortlessly from one mega-franchise to another.

After a truly excellent espionage-based turn as the lead in The Night Manager on the BBC adding to his scene-stealing performances as Loki in Marvel, it seemed like gravy.  Two primetime Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe were in the bag.

Then Taylor Swift happened.  Scenes of a sickeningly loved-up couple cavorting in the surf in matching t-shirts were reportedly too much for Barbara Brocolli who decided he had forever damaged his macho credentials to play one of the cinema’s ultimate male fantasy figures.  He fell way down the list.

Since then his impressive body of work on stage and screen has grown, and an action hero turn in Kong: Skull Island may have helped rebuild his man cred.  Maybe it’s not too late for him?

He is the right age and has the look.  He bulked up for Kong.  Trouble is that his profile is already sky-high and he has a Marvel TV show coming on Disney+.  We know how the gang at Eon won’t let 007 share the limelight.

Harry Styles

OK, we get it.  Stop laughing at the back.  He’s a rank outsider we admit.  However, he is getting mentions in some lists so we will give him fair consideration.

When he was cast in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk everybody rolled their eyes.  What was this shiny-faced boy-band interloper doing in our serious movie?  But the boy did good.

Sitting on all the money, literally all of it, from his time in One Direction he can choose what he wants to do and it seems acting is a chosen path.  Also, if it’s a pre-qualifier, like Hiddleston he has also been snared in Taylor Swift’s web.  What is it about her and English guys?

Let’s be honest.  He needs a few more movie roles before he can be considered anything approaching a contender.  However if they ever wanted to fill theatres showing 007 with teenage girls, and quite a few moms and aunties, this would be one way to do it!

Michael Fassbender

As mentioned already, when a new Bond is cast then a multi-picture deal is usually the order of the day.  Two or three movies with an option reserved to extend.  It means they can change course, buy out any flops or in the event of great success they can ride that train.  It also means they get a locked-in Bond at a reasonable price.

This is why age is such an important factor on this list.  At 42 already it may be too late for Fassbender.  However, Fassbender has been frequently linked with the role in the past even though he denies any interest.  With roles varying from the Alien franchise through Steve Jobs to X-Men, it’s unlikely he needs the role.  The big pay-days and life long security that comes with nailing your 007 outings must be alluring though.

Given that movie stars no longer open movies, franchises do, all-stars who want to get paid the big bucks need to jump on one of the big buses if it swings past.  It’s why everyone from Cruise to Stallone keeps going back to their sure-fire brands after a string of flops.

Marvel, Bond, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Fast And Furious.  Be in it, or be advertising whiskey on Japanese TV.

Would Fassbender see which way the wind is blowing if he gets the call?  Or is he too late for the call?

James Norton

Another UK TV star who has had a superb year, with a tailor-made show (for a Bond tryout) hitting big at just the right time.  In McMafia his mild-mannered stock trader went on a Breaking Bad like journey into his own dark heart with the Russian mafia in tow.  By the time the series finished, his Bond credentials were being talked up.

As an ex-con in Happy Valley to a mystery-solving vicar in Grantchester, he’s getting the work in.  Big movie roles may be thin on the ground at the moment but he has a wide body of more serious work on both stage and screen.  At 34 he’s the right age, with the right profile.

McMafia season 2 is expected next year.  After that, will an invitation to M’s office follow?

Tom Hardy

An actors actor.  A superb turn as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Legend followed his most discussed role of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.  He moves back and forth from the big screen to TV pretty effortlessly and will appear in a superhero movie on the big screen then switch back to something like Peaky Blinders on UK TV.

Just as happy beating the snot out of somebody in Warrior as he is flying a Spitfire over Dunkirk.

However, as with many on this list already discussed, the issues are age and profile.  He’s 42 already and he’s sitting on an $800m superhero potential franchise in Venom.

He’s expressed an interest.  He’s also a favourite of Christopher Nolan who is a big James Bond fan.  If Nolan decided to launch a new 007 post-Craig then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hardy in the running.

Nicholas Hoult

Another outside bet who has very rapidly become an inside bet.  A few years ago he was the weird looking kid from Hugh Grant rom-com About A Boy.  A role in the Clash Of The Titans remake, a residency in the X-Men universe, Mad Max Fury Road and a long-standing relationship with non-other than Hollywood hot property Jennifer Lawrence banished any thoughts of that first role.

Good notices received for Tolkien were followed by the news he was in the final two for one of Hollywood’s other premiere roles – Batman.

Eventually beaten to that by Robert Pattinson, has this freed him up for a run at Bond?  When you look at his pictures you can see it.

Breaking through in big movies, well regarded and apparently easy to work with, at 29 years old the Berkshire boy has big success ahead of him.  Is Bond in his future?

Given the propensity of the Producers to surprise with 007 castings then we wouldn’t be completely surprised if he were to beat some of the more established favourites above.

Cillian Murphy

A name that has been mentioned many times.  Batman alumni, Christopher Nolan favourite and Peaky Blinders star Murphy has some intensity going on.  Maybe too much?  His piercing blue eyes that don’t seem to blink can be off-putting. Also sometimes he can appear strangely androgynous.  This may speak to how well he immerses himself in a role.

From his breakout role in 28 Days Later he has built an impressive resume including appearances in Dunkirk and a Golden Globe nomination for Breakfast On Pluto.

His profile is just right.  Recognisable, talented but not a global megastar who just plays himself in every movie.  However, both his look and his age (42) could count against him.

Luke Evans

Looks, age, profile all fit.  Just turned 40 and Welsh like Timothy Dalton before him, Luke Evans has already played Dracula and got one foot in the Fast And Furious franchise.  This is after being the killer of the dragon Smaug as Bard The Bowman in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

With a decent range, action credentials and an impressive stage resume including Miss Saigon and Avenue Q, he recently played the lead villain Gaston in Disney’s live-action Beauty And The Beast at a high point in that movie, demonstrating triple threat song and danceability with great comic timing.

It shouldn’t make any difference in the 21st century, but will cinema-goers care if their 007 is played by an openly gay actor?  It is, after all, called acting!

Jamie Bell

An actor seemingly always on the verge of breaking through, Jamie Bell was the original Billy Elliot who went on to star in movies like King Kong, Jumper, and Snowpiercer.

Now based in New York, the Billingham boy is about to take on another espionage role.  He has just been cast as James Ritter in Paramount’s No Remorse.  The adaption of the Tom Clancy best seller is due out late next year.

Given that Hollywood doesn’t seem to know how to make a long-running success of anything Clancy related anymore, with Jack Ryan finding a natural home on the small screen with Amazon Prime, it’s likely he may be available when the tuxedo becomes vacant.

Was his SAS operative role in 6 Days a warm-up?  Time will tell.


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