Is Aaron Taylor-Johnson the next James Bond? What we know and don't know

As the press goes crazy over rumours that Aaron Taylor-Johnson will be the next James Bond in Bond 26, we take a closer look at the story.

LOCARNO, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 03: Aaron Taylor-Johnson speaks on stage during the Davide Campari Excellence Award Winner at the Locarno Film Festival 2022 on August 03, 2022 in Locarno, Switzerland. (Photo by Jacopo M. Raule/Getty Images for Campari)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the next James Bond, if you believe the latest tabloid rumours. (Jacopo M. Raule/Getty Images for Campari)

If you checked the news earlier this week you probably saw the headline-grabbing story about Aaron Taylor-Johnson being ‘the next James Bond’.

“LICENCE TO KICK-ASS British hunk formally offered role of James Bond and ‘will sign contract this week’ to take over from Daniel Craig”, UK tabloid The Sun breathlessly thundered on Tuesday 19 March, claiming that the 33-year-old Kick-Ass star was next in line to play 007 in Bond 26.

The story was picked up and repeated ad infinitum by pretty much everyone including the BBC and Sky News. You couldn’t listen to the radio, watch TV, or read anything online without coming across the story.

The problem is, it’s not actually true. Yet.

What is the Aaron Taylor-Johnson James Bond rumour?

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Aaron Taylor-Johnson attends the party organized by the Armani brand to honor
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is on the promotional trail for his new movie The Fall Guy. (Manuel Pinilla Cruces/Europa Press via Getty Images)

The Sun claims that the role of James Bond in Bond is Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s “should he wish to accept it.”

“The formal offer is on the table and they are waiting to hear back. As far as Eon is concerned, Aaron is going to sign his contract in the coming days and they can start preparing for the big announcement.”

The story also said that a script was being prepared, and that production would take place soon at Pinewood Studios.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been linked with the role of James Bond before. In fact, it was The Sun who first linked the actor with Bond back in November 2022, saying that he was the new frontrunner after a ‘top secret screen test’. His name seemingly came out of nowhere after years of familiar names like Idris Elba, Tom Hardy and Richard Madden being linked with the role, however movie industry site The Puck quickly verified the rumours.

Watch: Aaron Taylor-Johnson linked with James Bond role

What’s worth noting about both rumours is that The Sun cites unnamed ‘insiders’ as their sources. There’s nothing concrete to back up the claims, you just have to trust the tabloid is telling 'the truth'.

The second thing worth noting is the timing of the rumours. When they first surfaced in November 2022, Aaron Taylor-Johnson was just beginning to promote his new Spider-Man spin-off Kraven the Hunter before its release was delayed from January 2023 to October 2023. It has since been delayed again to August this year.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson will lead Sony's next Spider-Man spin-off Kraven The Hunter. (Alamy)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson will lead Sony's next Spider-Man spin-off Kraven The Hunter. (Alamy)

The actor is now just starting to promote his new movie The Fall Guy (in cinemas in May), so it’s pretty convenient timing for the marketing campaigns of both of these movies for one its stars to be linked with the biggest vacant role in Hollywood.

Let’s not forget either that Aaron's filmmaker wife – Sam Taylor-Johnson – also has her own movie to promote, with her Amy Winehouse biopic Back To Black also in cinemas in April.

It’s also worth pointing out that in December 2023 tabloid rumours said that Paul Mescal was ‘in talks to play James Bond in next film’, and then in March 2024 Cillian Murphy was ‘joining the running to take over from Daniel Craig as the next James Bond’.

The tabloid behind those rumours that — shock horror — coincided with the release date of Paul Mescal’s new film All of Us Strangers, and Cillian Murphy’s Oscar campaign?

You guessed it: The Sun.

What has Aaron Taylor-Johnson said about playing James Bond?

60 Years of James Bond auction. (Christies)
Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger, the film that cemented Bond as a cultural behemoth. (Eon/Christies)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson has yet to officially respond to the latest rumours. E! News claims that another ‘source with knowledge’ about Bond 26 debunked the rumours as being untrue.

The Tenet star has spoken about the possibility of playing 007 in the past though. He failed to definitively shut down the rumours while talking to Esquire in August 2023, saying: “It’s not really for me to say anything,” he told the mag.

“I’ve spent two years making Kraven. So all that hard work we put into trying to get that to where it is—that’s where I’m at right now.”

“I just focus on the things I can have in my hands right now. What’s in front of me right now.”

More recently he told French fashion magazine Numero: “I find it charming and wonderful that people see me in that role. I take it as a great compliment.”

And in a new Rolling Stone profile he said: “I can only really talk about the things I’m going to show and tell. So, The Fall Guy, Nosferatu, Kraven the Hunter. I’m here to promote those.”

What Eon has said about Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bond 26?

Step-siblings Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have been the brains behind Bond for decades. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images,)
Step-siblings Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have been the brains behind Bond for decades. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images,)

The truth at the core of these rumours that no-one wants to address is that Bond 26 — the follow up to No Time To Die — hasn’t actually been officially announced yet.

There has been no official confirmation from EON (the producers of the Bond series headed up by Barbara Brocolli and Michael G Wilson), MGM (the company that finances and facilitates the Bond films), Amazon (the company that now owns MGM), or Universal Pictures (the studio that will distribute Bond 26) that Bond 26 is even in active development yet.

It will happen though, and probably soon.

In 2022, after MGM was acquired by Amazon, Eon’s Michael G Wilson said: "We’ve got to see what happens with Amazon. But there’ll always be a Bond.”

And not long after, Barbara Broccoli told Variety that Bond 26 would be "a couple of years off", but in late 2023, she also told The Guardian that work hadn’t even begun on Bond 26 yet.

The closest we have to an official response from EON came from a piece on trade paper Deadline that reported on the rumour frenzy. “As a source at EON sagely pointed out to Deadline,” they wrote, “if it spent its days reacting to reports about who is replacing Daniel Craig as 007, it would have time for little else.”

What we know about the next James Bond film

One thing is for certain: Daniel Craig will not be back as James Bond. (Alamy)
One thing is for certain: Daniel Craig will not be back as James Bond. (Alamy)

Bond 26 is inevitable. It will will be released by Universal Pictures, who did a two movie deal with Eon and MGM to release No Time To Die and the next Bond film.

The James Bond film franchise is a key asset for MGM, and new owners Amazon, who will want to capitalise on its $8.45bn investment soon.

“A significant portion of that price was the value placed on the Bond franchise,” Ajay Chowdhury, the co-author of Some Kind Of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films, explains.

“The interest on $8.45 billion accrues rapidly,” Chowdhury adds. “Executives must be eager to take Bond into the next stage. As eager as the worldwide generations of fans of Ian Fleming's James Bond 007.”

We also know the type of actor they are seeking to play James Bond next.

“You think of [Bond] as being from Britain or the Commonwealth, but Britain is a very diverse place,” Wilson said about the next Bond in 2020.

“He can be of any colour, but he is male,” added Broccoli. He’s also going to be in his 30s. The producers looked at younger actors in the past, but Bond needs to have a certain amount of experience under his belt. They also need an actor who can commit to 10-12 years as Bond, so anything over the age of 40 will be pushing it.

What we don’t know about Bond 26

Barbara Boccoli and Michael G Wilson introducing Daniel Craig as the new James Bond in October 2005. (Phil Dent/Redferns)
Barbara Boccoli and Michael G Wilson introducing Daniel Craig as the new James Bond in October 2005. (Phil Dent/Redferns)

Bond 26 does not have a release date yet, or even a release window.

If we had to put money on it, we predict a Bond 26 announcement to happen in October 2024, around Global James Bond Day (5 October, the date the first Bond film was released in 1962). That would allow for filming over winter 2024, and release in winter 2025.

We also don’t know who is writing the script for Bond 26, who will direct it, or what it will be called. All this work is likely going on behind closed doors at Eon right now. Until you hear it from Eon, all rumours must be taken with a liberal pinch of salt. The Aaron Taylor-Johnson ‘news’ is not a leak at this stage.

That doesn’t rule Aaron Taylor-Johnson out of being the next James Bond entirely — he certainly fits the bill, and has an in-built fan base that will hopefully draw in a new generation of fans — but until he’s paraded before the cameras under the shielding wings of Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, all information about Bond 26 is protected by Section 26, Paragraph 5 of the official secrets act.

It’s on a need to know basis. We hope you understand.

Read more: Bond 26

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