Who will be the next James Bond? An analysis of the top five contenders
Daniel Craig is expected to step down after his fifth outing as 007
Tom Hardy was singled out this week as the perfect choice to be the next James Bond (the seventh actor to do so) by none other than our very own Pierce Brosnan. And while it’d be hard to find many women in the audience who would disagree, there are so many, ahem attractive potential 007s to choose from. Pat Stacey weighs up our top five contenders...
James Bond 007 needs many attributes: suavity, physicality, ruthlessness, a killer eye for the ladies and a killer way with a Walther PPK. But it seems he could do with something extra: a bit of “wiggle”.
So says Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond in four movies, from 1995’s cracking GoldenEye to 2002’s crackpot daft Die Another Die, where he was to be found surfing his way into North Korea and driving an invisible car. Brosnan believes that once Daniel Craig steps down from the role after his fifth and final outing next year, the man to bring the wiggle to the table is Tom Hardy.
Brosnan threw his backing behind the Taboo, Peaky Blinders and Mad Max: Fury Road star in a magazine interview, saying: “I think Tom Hardy could be a good Bond. I’d be happy to see him do it. You need an actor who can put a bit of wiggle into it — that’s what makes Bond.”
Exactly what “wiggle” is and what part of 007’s anatomy it involves remains unclear. But if Hardy is good enough for Mr Brosnan, he’s good enough for me.
He appears to be good enough for the bookies, too, who have made the favourite to take over from Craig, whose final film, known for now as simply Bond 25, won’t hit cinemas until October, 2019.
A lot could change between now and then, but nobody knows better what it takes to be Bond than a former Bond; whether the producers will take Brosnan’s take is another matter.
Craig brought a new edge, toughness and realism — as well as a new vulnerability and emotionalism — to Bond when he took over in Casino Royale, so there will surely be no returning to the lightweight, quip-laden days of dear old Roger Moore.
Whoever the new man is, he’ll also have the acting chops to portray the modern, complex, emotionally conflicted Bond. With this in mind, we look at how the five favourites, including Hardy, measure up to the requirements of being Bond.
LOOKS: My middle daughter reliably informs me that Hardy is — and I’m not sure if I’m spelling this correctly — “hrrrrrn!” His stint reading bedtime stories for toddlers on CBeebies sent viewing figures through the roof as young mothers everywhere tuned in just to swoon. That’s that settled, then.
SUAVITY: As you’d expect from a one-time model, Hardy knows his way around a sharp suit, and there are plenty of glossy photo shoots to prove it. Looking effortlessly smooth in the trademark tuxedo would be second nature to him. (Trivia corner: the only Bond to date not to be seen in a tux in his debut is Roger Moore in Live and Let Die).
PHYSICALITY: A terrifying real-life psychopath in Bronson; muscular villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises; a mixed martial arts fighter in Warrior; both Kray twins in Legend; Max Rockatansky in the aforementioned Mad Max: Fury Road. The list goes on. Hardy has proved over and over again he’s utterly convincing as a hardman. Like Craig, he’d be a James Bond who actually looks like he could do you serious harm.
ACTING RANGE: Apparently limitless. He’s one of those actors who doesn’t so much play a character as become it, a chameleon who seems to be able to change his voice and entire physical appearance at will. He’d give us a Bond from the inside out.
PREVIOUS SPY MOVIE FORM: He played Ricki Tarr in the film version of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Tarr is one of George Smiley’s “scalphunters”, whose area of expertise is physical derring-do and seducing the ladies. Sound like anyone you know? (Trivia corner: Hardy replaced Michael Fassbender, currently a 12-1 outsider for Bond)
THE VERDICT: A perfect choice.
LOOKS: Handsome in a posh, private-school sort of way and enjoying a strong female following due to his role in ITV’s 1950s-set Grantchester, Norton might be a bit too much of a British matinee idol throwback for the modern Bond, who’s expected to conquer global movie markets.
SUAVITY: Norton’s role in the dreary McMafia was supposed to be his Bond “audition”, largely because he spent a lot of time swanning around glossy locations and wearing a tuxedo. He looked stiff, uncomfortable and bland.
PHYSICALITY: So far we’ve not seen him in any out-and-out action man roles, although he did study the Russian martial art Systema for his role in McMafia, even if he didn’t get much opportunity to show it off. He’s a big lad, though, and should be fine.
ACTING RANGE: He drew rave reviews for his breakout performance as scary, heinous killer Tommy Lee Royce, a character unlike any other he’s played, in Happy Valley, so he can certainly do dark and dangerous as well as clean-cut.
PREVIOUS SPY MOVIE FORM: None.
THE VERDICT: He could bridge the gap between the urbanity and humour of Moore and the grit and bluntness of Craig. But he’d have to loosen up a bit.
LOOKS: Thirty-five, ridiculously handsome and possessed of a dazzling, nuclear-white smile, but maybe a touch too boyish-looking right now. Bond is always better when he’s a little craggy and weathered.
SUAVITY: Hard to gauge at this point. His best-known roles are in Boardwalk Empire (playing disfigured bootlegger Richard Harrow), American Hustle and the lead in the flop remake of biblical epic Ben-Hur.
PHYSICALITY: His action-heavy parts in the aforementioned Ben-Hur, the blood-drenched small-screen Spartacus and the science-fiction movie Outlander (not to be confused with the TV series of the same name) suggest he could be as useful with a gun as with a sword.
ACTING RANGE: No doubts on this score. A member of the legendary Huston acting/directing dynasty (his aunt is Anjelica, his uncle is Danny and his grandfather was John), his roles have been interestingly varied.
PREVIOUS SPY MOVIE FORM: None.
THE VERDICT: Maybe still slightly too young to be a wholly credible Bond — unless the producers are planning another reboot.
LOOKS: C’mon, he’s Idris Elba! What more do you need to know?
SUAVITY: No bother to him. He can be as smooth as silk when he wants to be and has charm to burn. The twinkle in his eye would disarm the iciest femme fatale.
PHYSICALITY: When Elba is on the revenge trail in Luther, his ferocious presence leaves you in no doubt: this guy can take anyone in the room. Everyone in the room, come to that.
ACTING RANGE: His breakout performance as cultured drug lord Stringer Bell in the The Wire was so convincing, it was a shock to learn he was English, not American. Since then, the nominations and awards have been piling up, and he’s proved his versatility in a wide range of roles in films including Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, Beasts of No Nation, Star Trek Beyond and a host of Marvel blockbusters, as well as in TV series like the charming, semi-autobiographical family comedy In the Long Run, where he plays a character based on his own father.
PREVIOUS SPY MOVIE FORM: None — although he did come close to playing another popular literary and film hero, James Patterson’s Alex Cross.
THE VERDICT: Even apart from being the first ever black James Bond, Elba would bring tons of charisma to the role. But there’s usually a three-year gap between Bond films, by which time Elba will be pushing 50.
LOOKS: Not since the most underrated Bond of all, Timothy Dalton, has an actor looked so much like the literary description of the character as the Dublin-born star. Physically, he’s an ideal fit.
SUAVITY: Playing the brooding Ross Poldark on TV doesn’t give Turner a chance to show his suave side, but he certainly looked classy in a tux in the BBC’s Agatha Christie mystery And Then There Were None.
PHYSICALITY: Judging from his by now infamous shirtless scything scene in Poldark, the actor would certainly be up to the running, jumping, punching and shooting side of things. And if Bond were ever called upon to defend himself with an agricultural tool, Turner’s your man.
ACTING RANGE: Turner’s screen roles — comparatively few compared to others on this list — haven’t really stretched him all that much, but his stage experience is extensive. He’s about to star in The Lieutenant of Inishmore in the West End.
PREVIOUS SPY MOVIE FORM: None.
THE VERDICT: Turner looks every inch the part and the fact that the Bond producers tend to go for well-known actors rather than established superstars could work in his favour.