Since the release of the latest movie in the James Bond franchise, Spectre, in 2015, there has been increasing speculation that Daniel Craig would step away from the iconic role and another actor would come in to play the titular spy in the next (currently-untitled) Bond film, aka Bond 25. Various names have been mooted as Craig's successor, most notably Idris Elba (Luther, Thor), Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, Thor) and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot).
The rumors have been furthered by quotes from Craig himself heavily suggesting that he wouldn't be interested in making another Bond movie. The actor is still technically contracted for one more jaunt as the suave secret agent, but has the option to step away early if he so chooses. Hence, there's a possibility that Craig will step away from the role of 007 before filling his five-film quota.
The producers' stance on the matter has now been confirmed thanks to an interview with Callum McDougall, executive producer on the last four Bond ventures, on BBC Radio Four's Today show (via Deadline). In addition to stating that Daniel Craig is "absolutely the first choice" to star in Bond 25, McDougall also offering the following:
“I wish I knew [whether Craig plans to return]. We love Daniel. We would love Daniel to return as Bond. Without any question he is absolutely Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli’s first choice. I know they’re hoping for him to come back.”
The fact that the heads of the Bond franchise, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, want Craig to continue as Bond comes as no shock, with the duo having previously called the actor their "secret weapon". Indeed, the actor has had a highly successful run in the famous tuxedo and played a significant part in reviving the Bond film series - which was floundering after the final Pierce Brosnan-fronted Bond movie, Die Another Day, was met with critical disdain. Whilst Quantum of Solace was a bit of a misfire, Craig's other Bond output has been remarkably strong, with Skyfall in particular performing impressively at the box office.
If Spectre was to be Daniel Craig's Bond swansong however, it's unlikely fans would be too upset. The movie portrayed an older, jaded James Bond and brought together elements of the previous three movies - with mixed results - to form what would be an apt and neat conclusion to Craig's time as Bond. It's hard to imagine a plot for Bond 25 that would serve as a better farewell to the actor and his incarnation of the character - and many moviegoers are ready for some newer, perhaps younger, blood in the role.
On the other hand, Craig obviously has a fantastic connection to the part and there are rumors that if the actor does return for another go-around, he'd be joined by Christoph Waltz's Blofeld, a villain who was (arguably) woefully underused in Spectre. Perhaps the prospect of another face-off between the two arch-rivals - as well as the return of the ever-impressive Waltz - will be enough to lure Craig back into the Aston Martin once last time.
Bond 25 is currently without a release date.