Though it was originally reported that Daniel Craig would be on board for the forthcoming Bond 25, the actor’s future with the franchise has recently become a very cloudy picture. Craig, who has played Ian Fleming’s famed spy for four films, spent most of his Spectre press tour dropping strong hints that he was ready to turn the page and move on. The series producers think that Craig will return for at lease one more movie, but so far nothing official has been confirmed.

The state of the Bond franchise as a whole is very much up in the air, since there’s currently a bidding war going around Hollywood for its distribution rights. Depending on which studio comes out on top, Craig may be finished with 007 even if he were game for a fifth go-around. But it would appear that the star may have already stepped down, if quotes from Craig’s friend Mark Strong are to be believed.

Strong spoke with Short List to promote his new comedy The Brothers Grimsby, where he became an unlikely source for developments of James Bond on film. Bemoaning the fact that he never played a villain opposite Craig’s iteration, Strong suggested that EON will be on the hunt for a new leading man:

“Do you know what, I’d have loved to have played the villain in a Bond movie while Daniel was doing it because he’s a pal and that would have been great. But I think he’s come to the end of his Bond time and so it’s probably never going to happen, but that would have always been great.”

James Bond Spectre Preview Is Daniel Craig Done With James Bond?

Many fans will certainly share Strong’s sentiment in that seeing him go head-to-head with Craig would have been a treat. The latest run of James Bond movies featured some of the series’ more compelling adversaries, such as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and Silva in Skyfall. Strong is a very talented thespian who is well-known for his antagonistic roles, meaning “Bond villain” is a part that could fit him like a glove. When one factors in Craig and Strong’s real life friendship, it’s easy to envision a scenario where the two play off each other extremely well, creating a rich dynamic. It’s a tantalizing “what if” for moviegoers to consider.

While Strong is by no means saying Craig is 100 percent finished with James Bond, his wording definitely implies it. He’s speaking in an almost reflective tone, reminiscing about a great opportunity that slipped by. It’s possible that Strong has had conversations with Craig about this topic and has more information than most. If he were campaigning for a part in Bond 25, it’d be a different story, but phrases like “while Daniel was doing it” indicates that Craig reprising 007 once more is no longer in the cards. And honestly, it seems like this has been the case for a long time.

Craig’s portrayal of Bond was well-received and he quickly established himself as a fan-favorite, but it arguably would be for the best if the actor moved on now. Spectre ended in a manner that seemed to close the book on this particular era of the franchise, calling into question if there’s anywhere else for Craig’s iteration to go. In addition, Spectre scored a lukewarm reaction from audiences and critics, so EON might be better served going back to the drawing board and rebuilding the property from the ground up. With the 25th installment in the series on the horizon, and potentially a new studio releasing, now would be a better time than ever to use a major event and introduce the new Bond to the world.

NEXT: Bond 25 Has ‘Relevant’ Storyline

Spectre is now available on Blu-ray. We’ll keep you updated on the development of Bond 25.

Source: Short List

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