Daniel Craig will step away from the James Bond franchise after next year's Bond 25, so who are the best candidates to replace him? There have been rumors for years as to who the next James Bond will be, with Craig reported to have been ready to step away previously before signing on for the 25th Bond movie.
Almost every British actor of note between the ages of 25-50 has been linked with the role, although it's worth noting that the majority of rumors about who'll be the next James Bond come from the British tabloid newspapers, which means some do need to be taken with a shaker full of salt. Nonetheless, between the usual scuttlebutt and the betting odds to be the next Bond, there are a few clear frontrunners and regular names that continually crop up.
For some of these, the boat has likely passed. Idris Elba is perennially linked with being James Bond, but at 46-years-old he's only five years younger than Craig, which makes him an unlikely choice to carry the franchise forward for 3-5 movies over the next 10-15 years. Damian Lewis, 48, falls into that category too. So, looking at all the notable candidates, these are the best contenders to be the next James Bond.
Ever since Bodyguard blew up last year, becoming a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Richard Madden has been a strong contender to be the next James Bond. Those rumors really started ramping up towards the end of last year, with talk that Madden was set to be offered the role of Bond, while Matthew Vaughn has said he'd be up for directing a Bond movie if the Game of Thrones' star was its lead.
Looking back at Madden's filmography, it's not hard to see why he'd make such a great choice. He was excellent as Robb Stark on Game of Thrones, and yet wasn't on the show so long that it'd be difficult to imagine him as anyone else. It was in Bodyguard that Madden truly wowed though. As Police Sargeant David Budd, an army vet with PTSD, he showcased an incredible dramatic range and ability to play a haunted serviceman that would lend itself well to a new James Bond. He's the bookies' favorite, the right age (33) to make the role his own for over a decade, and is seemingly a perfect fit for 007.
After a lead part in BBC's Being Human, Aidan Turner got his major movie breakthrough with a role as one of the dwarves in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, but does that mean he has a license to Kíli? Turner has been firmly in the mix to be the next James Bond for the past three years or so, having been the favorite in the betting odds at various stages, and still right up there now.
The biggest reason for that isn't The Hobbit, but BBC/PBS drama Poldark. Playing the lead role of Ross Poldark, Turner already displays many of the same qualities required to play the next Bond. He's handsome, charismatic, and charming, but also not afraid to shake things up when necessary. The Hobbit allowed him to engage in some swashbuckling action, Being Human proved he can brood with the best of them, and in Poldark season 5 he's set to become a spy, which sounds like an audition to be James Bond. At 34, he's definitely the right age, and although he isn't the biggest name he'd likely be able to handle leading a major franchise.
Had things worked out differently, then Henry Cavill might already be playing James Bond (and have never been cast as the DCEU's Superman). Cavill was in the frame to become the new Bond when casting was underway for Casino Royale, but the producers felt the actor - who was then just 22-years-old - was too young for the part (for context, the youngest ever Bond was George Lazenby at 29). Now 36, Cavill is the right age for the part, which is reflected in him being among the regular names mentioned, but he also has the experience and talent to go with it.
Even though things haven't worked out well for his take on the Man of Steel, that shouldn't detract from the qualities Cavill would bring to the role of James Bond. Take his ability to play the sexually-charged Charles Brandon in The Tudors, a spy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (which sees him essentially playing an American Bond), and, most of all, his incredible, internet-breaking physical performance in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, plus just about any image of him in a tux, and you've got the recipe for a great James Bond.
Jack Lowden is the least-known name of this bunch of James Bond candidates, and at 29-years-old is the youngest among them too, but neither should get in the way of the Scot's potential to take on the role. Lowden, who rose to prominence through appearances in BBC's War & Peace adaptation and then Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, has been linked with Bond for the past year or so, and recently made a surge in the betting odds.
His turn as an RAF pilot in Dunkirk was a hint of what Lowden is capable of, but it's in Netflix's Scottish Highlands thriller Calibre that he really excels. The film puts Lowden through one hell of an ordeal, and he nails the harrowing experience. He's proved himself capable of playing soldiers and British gents alike, but almost always with a veneer of vulnerability to him that would make for a very compelling James Bond to build across a series of movies.
Although Tom Hardy is the oldest actor featured here - he is somehow 41-years-old - he still deserves to be right in the frame to be the next James Bond, because his performances over the last decade or so generally befit that of a much younger man, meaning he'd have no trouble playing Bond into his early 50s. But more than that is the fact that Hardy is one of the finest talents of his generation, which is why he's always linked not just to James Bond, but any major franchise role up for grabs.
The best thing about Tom Hardy is that he could be just about any type of Bond. He can be straight-up charming and suave, an animalistic brute, a complete weirdo, or anything in between. Ideally, he'd bring a mix, being the cool and charismatic James Bond on the surface, but with the ability and danger to snap at any point. If he can make Venom work, he's capable of just about anything. Action, romance, comedy, thriller - he can do it all, which Bond should, they just need to get a move on in making it happen.
While the actors outlined so far represent some of the commonly mentioned frontrunners and favorites for the role, there are plenty of other actors who should be in the running to be the next James Bond, but their names aren't mentioned quite so often or as popular with the bookmakers.
Daniel Kaluuya has shown a great mix of comedy, action, and sheer intensity that would make for a great James Bond, while Nic Hoult would be a good fit for playing a charming take on the character, but with the ability to go all out when the time comes. Dan Stevens is another in that mold, as seen in The Guest and Legion. Or, if the James Bond producers did want a female 007 to lead the franchise in the future, then Emily Blunt has everything you could ask for and more to take on the part. They're all outsiders as things stand, but would all do a great job of being the next James Bond.
- James Bond 25 (2020) release date: Apr 08, 2020