Who will actually be the next James Bond?

Daniel Craig's Walther PPK has been retired for a few years now – so, who's lined up for the vacant 007 position? We explore the options...

In 2018, James Norton became a Gentleman’s Journal cover star. And, during his soul-seeking, self-reflecting interview in our magazine, the English actor said something surprising: “I would love to play a Bond villain.” It was a bizarre, ambitious aspiration for Norton, even then – but even more so today, given that he has now spent more than half a decade as a next-Bond favourite.

According to Sam Heughan, another name consistently tipped for the role, such speculation holds little water. “I think the odds are a bit of a fallacy,” he told Gentleman’s Journal, in 2022. “I mean, I’m obviously such a huge fan of the Bond movies... it would be an incredible job, wouldn’t it?”

Sean Connery

With Daniel Craig officially off the roster, producers at EON Productions are currently searching for the right person to slip into the famed tux. So, inevitably, that brings us to the big question: who will follow in the footsteps of Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig and become the next official actor to play Bond? To bring you some answers, we’ve trawled through the CVs of previous 007s, assessed the current frontrunners and have discerned who EON Productions may have in mind to step into the iconic gun barrel shot.

How old are Bonds when they take up the role?

Age – and getting the right balance in the age – is clearly a consideration in the casting process. Bonds tend not to be too young (Henry Cavill lost out to Craig, in 2005, because he was in his early twenties, so was, allegedly, deemed too young) – but neither can they be too old and not complete what many see as a commitment that will likely last for more than a decade.

Pierce Brosnan
Roger Moore

Connery was 32 when Dr. No was released; Lazenby was 29 in his stint; Moore was 45 during his first filming; Dalton was 41 in his debut appearance; Brosnan was 42 in Goldeneye; and Craig was 38 when starring in Casino Royale. That’s an average age of 37.8 years, meaning that Craig was pretty much bang-on when he took over. It also establishes a loose pattern that would put the next Bond as slightly younger than Craig’s 38, somewhere in the mid-thirties.

What do Bonds look like?

Daniel Craig

If history is to dictate this, the answer is clear: a white, male actor. Like other roles that frequently change hands – Batman (George Clooney, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale), Dracula (Gary Oldman, Luke Evans, Nicolas Cage) and even more literary-based Bond-like spy characters, such as Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, John Krasinski) – the winning actor, here, will likely be cast with an eye on avoiding controversy, and EON Productions is typically conservative in its appointments.

The source material – Ian Fleming’s novels – describes Bond as, ‘about six feet tall, slim and fit-looking. The eyes in the lean, slightly tanned face were a very clear grey-blue and as they observed the men they were cold and watchful.’

Craig was the most notable departure from the conventional looks, and, though he’s considered the best of the lot, the biting ‘James Blonde’ headlines are likely still echoing in the heads of producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

However, drives for diversity in other huge franchises — in 2017, for example, Jodie Whittaker was announced as the first woman to play Doctor Who – may influence those at the top.

In October, 2023, Broccoli said: “Daniel [Craig] gave us the ability to mine the emotional life of the character… and also the world was ready for it. I think these movies reflect the time they are in, and there’s a big, big road ahead reinventing it for the next chapter and we haven’t even begun with that.”

Here, we analyse what this could look like in terms of direction. This indication of change also opens up the debate as to whether Bond must be played by a caucasian man, which leads us to…

Who will be the next James Bond?

Let’s start by discounting a few of the names that have been in conversation over the years. Cillian Murphy is edging towards 50, making him 'too old' by comparison with past actors – unfortunately, Idris Elba is already over the mid-century mark, and time is not on Michael Fassbender’s and Luke Evans’s side, either. Moreover, the sun may have already set on Tom Hardy’s chances, as gruff and as good in a fist-fight he appears. So, who’s left?

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Image: Getty

Date of birth: 13 June, 1990

Rough or smooth: Somewhere in the middle, but, as the years tick by, he’s leaning more towards the former

Probably the leader of the pack. Brown hair, perilously handsome, and he’s suave enough, bulky enough and young enough to deliver just what we want from a 21st-century Bond. Moreover, his trimly tailored, sharp-shooting assassin in Bullet Train proved that he can even deploy an artful wisecrack or two.

Richard Madden

Image: Getty

Date of birth: 18 June, 1986

Rough or smooth: Again, a little of both

Could we have another Scot step into the shoes of Bond? Madden’s a good shout for the role, in Platonic-ideal terms, anyway: good-looking, 5’10” and classic dark hair on his head. Additionally, he’s proved himself as an action star in BBC’s big-budget Bodyguard and has enough years left in the tank to treat us to a good half-dozen films if he wanted. After all, having found his fame on television, he isn’t scared of commitment to a role, and – rather importantly – he seems to be widely liked.

Damson Idris

Image: Getty

Date of birth: 2 September, 1991

Rough or smooth: Smooth (and very, very mysterious)

In February, 2023, the Snowfall actor was told on the red carpet that he’d be an ideal follow-up to Craig. He replied: “It is an iconic character, I will say that. I don’t know… do I look like I could play James Bond? You never know anything could happen… you heard it first Hip Hollywood [the publication he was talking to]: Bond is about to be Black.” With his TV series having concluded, Idris now has a clear run at the role. Moreover, he has renown, but not overwhelmingly so – so, together with his superlative acting chops, the rising star might be in a sound position if he were to be the face of the next-generation Bond for a decade plus.

James Norton

Image: Charlie Gray

Date of birth: 18 July, 1985

Rough or smooth: Fairly smooth

At the 38 mark. Played a globe-trotting role in BBC’s McMafia. Well-liked. Very, very British. He even shares Bond’s first name. So, yes, James Norton was almost made for this – and his often short odds show that bookmakers have noticed. He’d be a very safe bet, and clearly has the nous for it – watch his chilling turn in Happy Valley if you’ve any doubts.

Henry Cavill

Image: Getty

Date of birth: 5 May, 1983

Rough or smooth: So smooth he could be over-polished marble

Has it all been leading to this? Cavill has played world-class spies aplenty, and has the right future-facing sensibilities to not be caught up in any toxic Lazenby-style antics off screen. Yet, his titular role in Argylle (from Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn) might mean he'll feature in the franchise’s future instalments, therefore causing a serious conflict of interest.

Lashana Lynch

Date of birth: 27 November, 1987

Rough or smooth: The suaveness of her talk (“Need a ride?”) mixed with her strong presence in tactical gear makes her the ideal hybrid of both

There is a school of thought that argues that Bond heads will scrap ‘James Bond’ the character, and, instead, focus on 007, the role/position. As Nomi in No Time to Die, Lynch took on the vacated number, and, if Broccoli really wants to upend the script, moving for a Black woman to helm the action would be a statement maker – one we’d approve of.

Paul Mescal

Paul Mescal

Image: Getty

Date of birth: 2 February, 1996

Rough or smooth: Have you not seen him as the sensitive Connell in Normal People? Definitely smooth (perhaps a little soft, too, but that’s no bad thing). Then again, his bout in the upcoming Gladiator 2 may show a ruthless side...

Paul Mescal is the guiding light for young actors at the moment, his range spanning from the stage to the television, arthouse films to blockbusters (Gladiator 2). The star of Normal People has the bulk to throw a few hard punches, and he could also give Bond a softer, more vulnerable edge – but his young age (28 at the time of writing) may be the main concern for producers.

Jack O’Connell

Image: Getty

Date of birth: 1 August, 1990

Rough or smooth: Rough and a bit ragged – he’s the type of guy who could hold up well in a pub brawl

Like Daniel Craig when he made his double-0 debut, Jack O’Connell has that raw, unpolished, slightly unhinged slant about him, a cold-looking killer who’s seemingly ready to implode or draw blood at any moment. It would certainly tick the rugged box, and, in 2016, he said he’d “100 per cent” play the part. We can’t find too many faults with the argument, bar – as with Mescal – the age factor.

Want more 007? This is a definitive guide to James Bond's shoes…

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