With Daniel Craig making it blindingly clear that he's done with James Bond after No Time to Die, everyone's new favorite pastime is guessing who will next inherit the super-spy's license to kill. And since the franchise's producer, Barbara Broccoli, has said that the search won't begin until 2022, the general public has plenty of time to speculate. Don't expect Craig to join in the guessing game, though. "It's really nothing to do with me," the actor curtly tells The New York Times in a new interview. "Whoever does it, good luck to them."
Craig's co-stars, on the other hand, are more forthcoming with their hopes for the franchise's future. Speaking with the British magazine, Attitude, Ben Whishaw — who reprises his role as Bond's gadget-inventing tech genius, Q, in No Time to Die — endorses the idea of casting an openly gay actor as 007. "God, can you imagine? I mean, it would be quite an extraordinary thing," remarks the star of the beloved Paddington franchise, who came out in 2014. "Of course I would like to see that."
"I really believe that we should be working towards a world where anyone can play anything," Whishaw continues. "It would be really thrilling if it didn’t matter about someone’s sexuality to take on a role like this. I think that would be real progress."
Nudged by Attitude to hand-pick which actors he specifically has in mind for the next cycle of Bond movies, Whishaw namechecks two candidates: Beauty and the Beast star Luke Evans, and Bridgerton's Jonathan Bailey, both of whom have publicly come out. (Funnily enough, Bailey's Bridgerton co-star, Regé-Jean Page is also frequently mentioned as a possible Bond.) "They’re both wonderful and they’re both wonderful actors... who it seems would be really capable of doing it and would be ideal casting. I wonder if either of them would want to — because it’s not just the demands of the role, but it’s like the demands of being Bond in the world and what it symbolizes and how it would change your life."
For the record, Whishaw makes it clear that he's not ready for that kind of life-changing experience. "I am not Bond material, and I’m happily not so, like, I’m happy as Q," he says. "I think that that’s cool. I think it’s important that there are a range of masculine or male identities; that we don’t all have to be the Bond-type, you know?" Interestingly, No Time to Die offers confirmation of Q's own sexual orientation. Midway through the movie, Bond and his replacement at MI6, Nomi (Lashana Lynch, the first Black woman to play a "00" agent) visit Q at his home where he's preparing for a dinner date with a significant other that he notably refers to as "he."
It's also worth noting that the Bond franchise has flirted with incorporating homoeroticism into the action in the past. In 2012's Skyfall, Bond is held captive by former ally-turned-adversary Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) and the two have a sexually-charged exchange that suggests they've wooed men as well as women. Broccoli recently revealed in the Apple TV+ documentary, Being James Bond, that she kept that scene in the picture over the studio's objections. Her resistance was rewarded with a major reaction at the movie's premiere. "That line, just the whole place rocked it," Broccoli says. "I remember looking at the studio executive [and] going, 'See, told you.'"
Stories like that underline Whishaw's larger point that the 007 franchise has to constantly change its attitudes towards sexuality and other social revolutions, even if it's small increments. "The reason probably it’s survived this [long] is that it’s always changed with the time[s]," he tells Attitude. "All of the films... reflect the period they were made in... and I think that’s definitely true of this one. And I feel proud of that. I’m excited going forward what will happen next; how it will evolve given what’s happened in the world in the two years since we made this one. I think it’s very exciting and it’s the only way that it will survive."
No Time to Die premieres Oct. 8 in theaters