James Bond is an iconic character and movie franchise. Over the years, several notable actors have played the Secret Agent on screen, with varying degrees of popularity and success. Daniel Craig has been the embodiment of 007 for the last four installments of the franchise, and has proven himself to be a popular Bond with both audiences and Sony, who have enjoyed great success with Craig at the helm. Though Spectre, the most recent Bond offering, did not perform as well at the box office or with critics as 2012's Skyfall, it still made a very respectable $879 million at the worldwide box office, so it stands to reason that Sony would want to keep Craig in Bond's tux just a little bit longer.
However, it seems as if Craig himself isn't so keen; just prior to the release of Spectre, Craig went on record saying he'd rather slash his wrists than play the Secret Agent again any time soon. It was also rumored that the actor turned down a reported £68 million (nearly $100 million) to return to the franchise. With that in mind, the rumor-mill has churned out a multitude of names as potential Bond successors, including the ever-popular choice of Idris Elba, even though the actor insists he's too old for the part.
Other popular 007 actor picks include Aidan Turner - currently playing the lead in BBC One drama, Poldark - and Tom Hiddleston, whose name seems to be rumored for just about anything, these days. For Sony, though, it seems as if the studio is only interested in Craig returning to play Mr. Bond right now. In fact, it's rumored by Radar that the studio has offered the actor a massive $150 million to reprise his role for two more 007 adventures.
It's important to stress that the rumor is just that: a rumor. However, it would make sense that Sony would try and keep Craig onboard, since it's said that the studio wants to make two Bond movies "virtually back-to-back," and they want to start soon. If another actor were to be brought in, that could stall proceedings while contracts were negotiated, and so on; though that's not also to say that Craig won't also drive some hard negotiations of his own behind the scenes. According to Radar's source, Craig has "played a genius hand," by stating that he didn't wish to return:
“Everyone knows how much executives adore him, and the idea of losing him at such a crucial time in the franchise isn’t an option as far as all the studio honchos are concerned.”
Though Craig did state his intentions, he also added that he reserved the right to change his mind. If the rumor is to be believed then, maybe such a huge sum of money could sway Craig to knock two more Bond movies out before passing the baton on to someone else. All well and good- for Craig- but it does beg the question: is any actor worthy of that kind of paycheck to play a part in a franchise where the lead actor changes anyway?
No doubt about it, Craig is a great Bond, but that's not to say others wouldn't be just as popular or commercially viable, given half the chance. Would that money be better spent on the films themselves - on special effects or scriptwriters, for example? If Craig does stay, owing to the massive sum of money, will he give a genuine, impassioned performance as we saw in Casino Royale and Skyfall, or will his on screen presence fall short? In essence, will he give a half-assed performance because he's only there for the money?
Time will tell in all respects, of course. Ultimately though, the decision rests with Barbara Broccoli, who is said to be focusing on the next two James Bond movies and hoping to rehire Craig - so this rumor could well prove to be true.
James Bond 25 currently has neither an official title nor release date. We'll let you know when that changes.