It took an arduous 18 months longer than expected but No Time To Die has finally landed in cinemas, marking the end of Daniel Craig’s time in the role of James Bond.
The actor debuted as the iconic spy in 2006’s Casino Royale and went on to propel the character’s popularity to new heights, presenting a grittier interpretation than had previously been put to screen.
It’s likely that the next James Bond will stick to a similar tone rather than regress back to the cheesier antics of the early entries, with countless viable candidates for who could take on the role.
It appears we won’t find out which lucky star has bagged the coveted gig until 2022 at the earliest, with producer Barbara Broccoli telling BBC Radio 4 that the decision is not on her mind right now.
“We’re not thinking about it at all,” she said. “We want Daniel to have his time of celebration. Next year we’ll start thinking about the future. He’s been such a great Bond. Those are big shoes to fill. I can’t even [think if it’s] possible.”
Craig himself has ruled out the possibility of a Sean Connery-style return as Bond later in his career, while he also weighed in on talk of a woman taking over the Bond franchise in its next generation.
“There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour,” he told Radio Times. “Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
Notably, Broccoli has repeatedly stated that Bond will remain male, so it seems unlikely we’ll see a woman cast in the role while she remains in charge – but never say never (again).
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Bond rumours.
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Tom Hardy has built a reputation for being one of the most versatile and popular actors in the UK, while he also seems more than capable of giving Bond the same edge he developed during Craig’s tenure.
The Dunkirk and Inception actor seems interested in the role too, staying coy on the matter when quizzed by journalists so as not to talk himself out of the running.
“There’s a saying amongst us in the fraternity of acting… that if you talk about it [Bond rumours] you’re automatically out of the race,” he told The Daily Beast. “So I can’t possibly comment on that one!”
More recently, Bond’s current Moneypenny actor and Hardy’s Venom 2 co-star Naomie Harris has voiced her support for him taking over the role, but acknowledged it is more likely to go to an up-and-comer.
“He would make a great Bond, but interestingly they always choose someone who we don’t expect and someone who’s more up and coming,” she told Lorraine Kelly on her ITV daytime show.
“So, I feel like Tom might be too established. I think like all the names that are being bandied around actually I think it’s going to be someone so unexpected and their name isn’t even in the mix.”
She added: “I’m sure they’re already working on it. The hilarious thing is people think I know. Like, I don’t know anything. But I do think that Tom would be amazing and if I was choosing, I would choose Tom.”
Speaking of up-and-comers, Regé-Jean Page became a global superstar overnight with the launch of Bridgerton on Netflix last Christmas and has been one of the buzziest names in Hollywood ever since.
He’s booked a number of high-profile jobs over the past year including a new Dungeons & Dragons adaptation, as well as Netflix thriller The Gray Man co-starring Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling.
Bookies feel he could be in the running to add Bond 26 to that growing list of projects, with Ladbrokes offering 3/1 odds on the actor taking over on the day of No Time To Die’s release.
His performance on Bridgerton proves he would have no trouble oozing the charm and charisma that any Bond actor must have, while his decision not to return for the show’s second season indicates a focus on film work moving forward.
Over the summer, Page signed on to play The Saint in a new movie from Paramount Pictures, a role which Roger Moore famously played before starting his Bond run in the early ’70s.
However, it’s possible that this could actually take Page out of the running, as producer Barbara Broccoli may not want to bring the two franchises any closer together.
Idris Elba has long been rumoured to replace Daniel Craig, with rampant speculation dating back to the actor’s first planned exit with 2016’s Spectre.
While at one point, the Luther star invited the talk with a cryptic social media post – captioned “My name’s Elba, Idris Elba” – he has since attempted to put some distance between himself and the non-stop rumours.
In an interview with the Daily Mail’s Event magazine, he explained that he is reluctant to take on a character that would inevitably “define” his career, preferring to take on more varied roles he can disappear into.
“Bond is one of the biggest franchises in the world, and for that reason, whoever ends up playing it, lives it,” he said. “You’re THAT character, and known as that character for many, many years. I’m creating characters now that can still live alongside Idris. Not ones that take over me and solely define me.”
Elba has also discussed that his excitement about taking on the iconic role was tainted by the backlash he received from certain people who seem to think that Bond can’t be Black.
Speaking to Esquire, he said: “You just get disheartened when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the colour of my skin.
“And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the colour of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.”
Some Bond fans have pointed out that 49-year-old Elba may be too old to step in as James Bond, with Broccoli more likely to opt for a younger star who can carry the franchise for a decade or longer.
Ever since Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden broke TV records — and the nation’s hearts — in the Golden Globe-winning Bodyguard, he’s been rumoured to be in the running as the next James Bond.
In 2018, the actor even responded to rumours he was up for the prestigious gig, adding that he didn’t want to “curse anything” by going into too much detail about the rumours.
“I’m more than flattered to be mentioned, for people to consider putting me in that role. I’m very flattered and thankful. It’s a really brilliant thing to be in,” he told GQ magazine. “I don’t want to curse anything by saying anything. I think that’s the curse of that. If you talk about anything, you’ll curse it.”
However, his Bodyguard co-star Keeley Hawes, who played Home Secretary Julia Montague in the drama, was more than happy to chat about the idea at 2019’s Radio Times Covers Party.
“I said to Richard while we were shooting, ‘This is like James Bond!’” she revealed. “I would love to see Richard playing James Bond; I would love that. I think he would be phenomenal.”
Notably, Madden rumours have gone relatively quiet recently, as the actor’s attention has shifted to joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe with next month’s hotly anticipated Eternals.
If his vastly powerful superhero appears across numerous Marvel Studios productions – as other characters famously have – Madden may not have time to squeeze Bond into his packed schedule.
Outlander star Sam Heughan has repeatedly voiced his interest in bringing Bond back to Scotland for the first time since Sean Connery’s stint as the suave spy.
Asked whether he’d considered the role, Heughan previously told STV News: “I think any actor who says they wouldn’t would be lying, and I think it’s time we have a Scottish Bond again.”
In June 2020, the actor revealed during an appearance on ITV’s This Morning that he had been one of many actors to audition for Bond before Daniel Craig was cast, describing it as a “dream role”.
“I auditioned for it back when they were doing Bond 21 when Daniel Craig was cast in Casino Royale and I think a lot of actors were seen in the UK,” he said. “Of course it would be a dream role and a Scottish Bond, who doesn’t want to see another Scottish Bond!”
RadioTimes.com readers certainly got behind the idea, as Heughan stormed to victory in our poll on who should become the next James Bond, beating tough competition from Hardy, Elba and several other names on this list.
Superman and The Witcher actor Henry Cavill is one of the other names regularly touted as a good fit for James Bond, making headlines in November 2019 when he revealed the bizarre reason he was ruled out the first time.
Indeed, Cavill also competed with Craig for the role as MGM looked to cast their Casino Royale remake, but ultimately was passed over for – in his own words – being overweight.
He told Men’s Health: “I probably could have prepared better. I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, ‘Looking a little chubby there, Henry.’ I didn’t know how to train or diet. And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.”
Now that the position is vacant once again, Cavill has said that he would “love” to play Bond (via GQ) and recently expanded that by saying he’d be open to playing a villain in the spy franchise.
If Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [G. Wilson, producers] are interested in me in any capacity to be a part of their movies, then I will gladly have that discussion,” he told The Movie Dweeb.
Cavill proved he could play menacing very well in 2018’s smash-hit Mission: Impossible – Fallout, so don’t underestimate the impact he could have as a new Bond adversary.
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Welsh actor Luke Evans, who recently appeared on our screens in ITV’s The Pembrokeshire Murders, has been considered a strong candidate by some to take over for Daniel Craig as 007.
Earlier this year, he discussed the rumours with The Mirror, where he appeared to be completely in favour of the idea, but added he had no information on whether he was actually being considered.
“I think I’ve cut my teeth very well in movies I’ve done and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. It’s a phenomenal job, a phenomenal franchise, an incredible role,” he began.
“I have to say though, it’s a daunting task for any actor to play the role after Daniel Craig. No one knows what’s happening. It’s a very secretive process and it’s a wonderful role.
Evans added: “I would jump at the chance, as would many actors in my position, so we shall see.”
While the Nine Perfect Strangers star rarely talks about his private life, it is worth noting that his would be a landmark casting as the first LGBTQ+ actor to play James Bond.
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There’s a possibility that the Bond franchise could be handed from one Daniel to another, with Get Out star Kaluuya a popular choice among fans at the moment.
His star has never shone brighter, having recently picked up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, which he earned with his performance in acclaimed biographical drama Judas and the Black Messiah.
With this industry recognition already under his belt, Kaluuya would certainly bring some prestige to the role of James Bond, while at just 32 years old he could conceivably hold onto the role for quite some time.
Aidan Turner was at one point considered a top candidate to become the next 007, particularly after production came to a close on his popular BBC One period drama Poldark.
Speaking to i Newspaper in 2018, he commented on the rumours: “There’s someone else playing the role – I always feel weird talking about it. It’s come up a lot in recent times. When it’s free, I’ll have a look at it. But it’s not free now.”
Now that the role is free, the Leonardo star is yet to confirm whether his hat is still in the ring, but the bookies still think he’s in the running with Ladbrokes offering 16/1 odds (as of September 2021).
In an interesting twist, Rupert Friend was actually asked to screen test for the role of Bond at the age of 22, after Pierce Brosnan left the franchise — but said no.
“I just thought, ‘I’m too young for this. I need to have some life experience. James Bond needs to have lived’,” Friend said in an interview with The Times. “I love Bond films. I don’t want to be the guy who messes it up because he hasn’t got miles on the clock.”
These days, Friend is no stranger to action and espionage, best known for playing CIA hitman Peter Quinn in Homeland while he demonstrated more assassin skills in 2015’s ill-fated video game adaptation Hitman: Agent 47.
With this added life experience, Friend might be ready to give Bond a go this time around were MGM to give him a call.
Famous for his roles in Happy Valley, Grantchester and McMafia, James Norton is already a firm favourite here in the UK, so it’s little surprise his name has been thrown into the James Bond conversation.
Speaking to Metro earlier this year, Norton said that it’s “fun and flattering and ridiculous and great” that he is among the actors fans want to see in the role.
However, he did say that he hopes any potential Bond casting wouldn’t prevent him from doing smaller indie films, which have allowed him to take on a variety of complex characters.
“If [playing Bond] did preclude films like Nowhere Special, then it would be a hard thing for me to swallow,” he admitted, in an interview with The Independent.
Indeed, those low-key projects have clearly been very beneficial to Norton, with co-star Diane Keaton championing him for Bond after sharing scenes with him in 2017 drama Hampstead.
“He’s got everything that you need,” she told Sky News. “First of all he’s extremely attractive, very smart, he’s well educated, and he’s a fantastic actor. And he’s sexy, right? I’m not wrong, I mean, women are gonna love him.”
Just a few years ago it seemed like Tom Hiddleston was a safe bet to take on the role of James Bond, with reports of a meeting between himself and Broccoli following the success of The Night Manager.
Indeed, rumours stated that he could even reunite with director Susanne Bier on a Bond movie, but all this talk faded away over the next nine months or so – before hitting an abrupt end with the announcement of Craig’s surprise return in April 2017.
The New York Post‘s Page Six claimed that Broccoli had changed her mind about Hiddleston after his widely criticised speech at 2017’s Golden Globes, although this was never officially confirmed.
It’s not impossible that Hiddleston could cycle back around to the Bond franchise, particularly with his massive popularity after the smash-hit Loki series on Disney Plus.
But again, the all-encompassing MCU could well leave his schedule too busy for Bond, telling Empire in April 2021 that he had nothing new to add to the conversation, but felt aware that many would read into his comments regardless.
“What can I say that you don’t already know?” he asked. “It’s interesting in itself that I’ve suddenly become very aware of what I’m saying, is it not?
“Because there’s something about what I’m saying that becomes the story. Not for you, but for the world outside. Whatever I say, I’ve found, generated more questions.”
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Snake Eyes star Henry Golding is one of the newest additions to the James Bond competition, with the actor expressing his excitement enthusiasm for the role in an interview with Andy Cohen over the summer.
“I guess they are looking for another candidate,” he said. “So, of course, any right sort of man would want to put their hand up for it. So sure, let’s talk.”
Speaking to Attitude, Golding theorised that his Bond credentials became evident after his suave appearance in romcom Crazy Rich Asians, adding that it’s an “honour” to even be considered for the role.
“It’s one of the greatest film roles ever, you’d be stupid to be like, ‘I don’t want to do that s**t,’”he joked. “It would be the wildest ride. I’m super excited to see Daniel Craig’s last venture… but isn’t it great that we’re having that conversation?
Golding continued: “Isn’t it great that people are like, ‘OK, now’s the time, why the hell can’t we have a black Bond, an Asian Bond, a mixed-race Bond, a non-distinct Bond?”
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.