Who will be the next James Bond? All the 007 contenders from Regé-Jean Page to Tom Hardy

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Lashana Lynch and Daniel Craig in No Time to Die  ( )
Lashana Lynch and Daniel Craig in No Time to Die ( )

It’s like a cosy jumper, always waiting, so reliable. Yes, it’s the pointless speculation about who is going to be the next James Bond that reemerges every time a) any young, tallish actor makes an impression in a role that requires the wearing of a suit and b) every time No Time To Die is nearly released. FINALLY Daniel Craig’s looooooooooooooong-awaited Bond swansong has landed, but even though we’re genuinely excited about it, we can’t pretend we’re not agog to find out who will eventually succeed poor old Craig, who must be feeling very tired by now.

Let’s take a look at some of the other contenders…

Tom Hardy

Could Hardy be the man for the job?  (Getty Images)
Could Hardy be the man for the job? (Getty Images)

Hardy, with that thrilling combination of posh boy and bit of rough that made him probably the most popular storyteller CBEEBIES Bedtime Stories has ever trotted out, is kind of perfect for Bond. You can plausibly imagine otherwise sensible women going weak at the knees for him; equally, you can picture him cheerfully throttling a double-crossing agent with his bare hands while eating a full English. He seems one of the more likely candidates, but producer Barbara Broccoli is keeping a tight lip as ever.

Regé-Jean Page

‘It’s Grace. Your Grace.’ (Getty Images)
‘It’s Grace. Your Grace.’ (Getty Images)

Still some bookies’ front-runner to play the deadpan superspy, the Bridgerton star’s recent outing as the sullen, smouldering Duke of Hastings does rather suggest that he might at least have that side of it down - opportunistic shagging and excellent ability to raise a single eyebrow included. But what else might attract the producers of this superfranchise? His early role in the soon-to-return Waterloo Road, as a cocky, poorly-prepared young teacher, won’t have piqued Broccoli’s interest and a future appearance in the new Dungeons & Dragons film may have too much of a whiff of the wizard about it. In any case he’s rumoured to be starring in and exec-producing a reimagining of The Saint, which might rule him out altogether.

James Norton

Norton is best known for his turn as a jazz-loving vicar in Grantchester (Dave Benett)
Norton is best known for his turn as a jazz-loving vicar in Grantchester (Dave Benett)

The McMafia star was touted as an early favourite to replace Craig, and previous roles as a murderous psychopath (Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley) and a disillusioned aristocratic soldier (Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, War & Peace) would seem to make him a good fit for the somewhat dead-eyed spy (he told Gentleman’s Journal: “Bond’s such an icon and means so much to so many, so there’s an inevitable amount of speculation. But that’s as much as it is — speculation. Very flattering, very humbling speculation.”) But is it a problem that a large number of fans know him as a boozy, jazz-loving, romantically unlucky vicar (Sidney Chambers on Grantchester)? We fear so.

Sam Heughan

He knows the power of a good suit (Getty Images)
He knows the power of a good suit (Getty Images)

Well I suppose at least he’s Scottish. The Outlander star Sam Heughan, who easily spent as much time with his clothes off in five seasons of the rapidly darkening series as James Bond has over the course of 58 years and 27 films, caused a flurry of excitement across the internet last year by saying that yes, if he were asked to play the superannuated superspy, of course he would agree. HOLD THE FRONT PAGE. To his credit, he did also share his theory on the subject that “any reasonably well-known British actor who’s worn a suit instantly has their name thrown into the ring by fans” which is a very sensible way to look at it.

Richard Madden

Madden has described the Bond rumours as “flattering” (Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty)
Madden has described the Bond rumours as “flattering” (Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty)

Sure he played a Scottish Afghanistan war veteran prepared to shag an unsuitable woman in Bodyguard, and briefly reigned as King in the North as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, but for my money it was Richard Madden’s role as Elton John’s long-term manager and former lover John Reid that showed his potential to play an utterly ruthless bastard. We think he’d make a better villain. And his response to the rumours was suitably deadpan: “It’s very flattering to be involved in that conversation at all. But it’s all talk and next week I’m sure it’ll be someone different.”

Tom Hiddleston

The Night Manager prompted a slew of Hiddleston-as-Bond rumours (Getty Images)
The Night Manager prompted a slew of Hiddleston-as-Bond rumours (Getty Images)

To his credit, Tom Hiddleston has had very little truck with the rumours swirling around his bum, seen merrily bouncing in the Night Manager, being Bond’s . “No-one has talked to me about it,” he told Graham Norton in 2016, and now that he’s tied up with Disney+’s hit TV series Loki, which recently announced its second season, it seems unlikely that he’d be free to helm a second major franchise. Anyway he’s far more fun as the heroically deadpan, sarcastic God of mischief than the frankly less than quip-tastic modern angsty Bond, even if Loki has finally fallen in love.

Lashana Lynch

Lynch’s character has taken over from Bond as 007 (Getty Images for Disney)
Lynch’s character has taken over from Bond as 007 (Getty Images for Disney)

The news that Captain Marvel star Lashana Lynch had been conscripted as the “new 007” prompted a flurry of click-baiting headlines when it was announced oh-so-long ago. The reality is a bit more nuanced: the 32-year-old Londoner plays the agent who has been assigned Bond’s operative number following his departure from MI6 in the long-delayed No Time To Die. Lynch finally made her debut this week, and we thoroughly enjoyed watching her face off against Craig with some barbed one-liners scripted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In fact, perhaps Waller-Bridge should write Lynch an action franchise of her own.

Jack Lowden

Lowden is a fan od Craig as 007 (Dave Benett)
Lowden is a fan od Craig as 007 (Dave Benett)

Hardy’s Dunkirk co-star Jack Lowden has also been touted as a potential replacement, but it seems the Scottish star doesn’t fancy his own chances as blonde Bond 2.0 - because he’s such an admirer of Craig. “I’m a massive Daniel Craig fan and I don’t think he should ever stop doing it,” he said last year. “Bond dealing with age is a brilliant idea and I think we should go the whole way until Daniel’s 85.” Imagine the insurance premiums though...

Idris Elba

Elba has claimed he’s too old to become 007 (PA Images)
Elba has claimed he’s too old to become 007 (PA Images)

Idris Elba has been an odds-on favourite to take over from Craig since the latter grumpily announced that he was ready to hang up his tux back in 2015, and there’s no doubt he’d be brilliant (Stormzy thinks so too - the rapper dropped a reference to Elba’s Bond chances in his 2019 single Vossi Bop). However, the 48-year-old has persistently brushed off rumours by claiming that he’s “too old” to take on the role. Idris, your nation needs you - and after the horror show that was Cats (remember that? We do, and we’re still curled up in a ball), it’s the least we deserve.

Helen Mirren

Perhaps Mirren would make a better Bond villain (Getty Images)
Perhaps Mirren would make a better Bond villain (Getty Images)

We think this is an indecently good idea - after all Helen Mirren’s campy turn as former wetwork agent Victoria Winslow in Red was by far one of the best things about the movie, and she’s certainly got the British Establishment vibe nailed, having played the Queen in, er, The Queen - but Babs Broccoli would probably keel over at the thought. Having said that, Mirren did tell Harper’s Bazaar that she harboured a secret ambition to play a Bond villain, which might even be better.

Harry Styles

Think about it, it kind of works (PA)
Think about it, it kind of works (PA)

Just think about it for a sec. You can see it can’t you? There’s something about the supremely confident, easygoing Styles that makes us think that he just might be the one. He’s got two films coming in 2022 - Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, alongside Florence Pugh and Chris Pine, and My Policeman, based on the novel by Bethan Roberts, in which he plays a gay policeman in a love triangle with his wife (Emma Corrin) and another man (David Dawson). Is anyone more comfortable in their masculinity than Bond? Well, yes: Styles, whose insouciant lack of interest in gender signifiers means we think he could be the coolest superspy yet, and opens up the possibility of Bond Boys, for a change.

No Time to Die is released on September 30. No really, it is.

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