Just a few days after news emerged that Robert Downey Jr. had left Cowboys & Aliens (for Sherlock Holmes 2) comes the news that James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, may take his place in the lead role. The scoop comes from our friends over at Collider who have the exclusive from their (unnamed) sources.

Collider points out an obvious point that Craig is “in negotiations” which means that he has NOT been cast in the lead role quite yet. These kinds of things – until the folks involved start signing on the dotted line – can fall through, so it’s very possible Craig will not end up starring in the Jon Favreau directed project.

However, if this Craig news is true it would be very cool as it would give us a chance to see the actor in a high-profile non-Bond role. He’s done movies like The Invasion (ouch), Defiance (good but disappointing) and Flashbacks of a Fool (meh) since he took on the iconic secret agent role – but Cowboys & Aliens would likely be a bigger project than all of those. Also, it would match up Craig with Jon Favreau for the first time which is a very intriguing director-actor pairing.

Now one of the main reasons that Craig might not end up starring in the project would be the major franchise he’s tied to, James Bond. Bond 23 was said to have been put on hold indefinitely until MGM gets auctioned off, but THR recently reported that it’s been fast-tracked and could begin shooting as early as this June for a release in 2011. Cowboys & Aliens could be shooting in July, so if its shooting schedule conflicts with Bond 23 I think it’d be the latter that would win out.

Just as a reminder, Cowboys & Aliens is based on the graphic novel of the same name which is about cowboys in the 1800s who have to battle against aliens who have come to earth to enslave mankind. If cast, Craig would play Zeke Jackson, the gunslinger who leads the battle against the aliens. The screenplay is written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers), as well as Damon Lindelof (Lost).

We’ll have to wait for confirmation either way on Craig’s involvement with Cowboys & Aliens to know for sure. But for now it’s a real possibility.

What do you think of the idea of Craig replacing RDJ in this project? Is he a good choice to lead the fight of cowboys against aliens?

Source: Collider