Bond films sign up to Warner Bros for 15 more years, so who will be the next James Bond?

·8-min read
Bond films sign up to Warner Bros for 15 more years, so who will be the next James Bond?

Speculation about who is going to be the next James Bond reemerges every time any young, tallish actor makes an impression in a role that requires wearing a suit.

When Daniel Craig’s long-awaited Bond swansong landed, one of the first things we thought about was who will eventually succeed poor old Craig, who was beginning to look a bit weary by the end.

Now, the great rumour mill has begun to turn again, as Warner Bros have reportedly signed a deal that will see the franchise being produced until 2037. This really ups the ante for finding the next super spy.

Just last month Tom Holland was the latest thespian to feel the Bond spotlight shine on him. Surely it’s nothing if not complimentary. The talk seems to have been whipped up because Holland’s Spider-Man contract is coming to an end: the actor had apparently signed to play Spidey three times, which he fulfilled when Spider-Man: No Way Home was released in 2021.

However, it’s all just likely to be chat. Holland is only 26 years old, a good decade younger than Craig before his first outing as the spy in Casino Royale. Plus there are so many more Bond-ey potentials already in the longlist.

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

Luke Evans

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The actor and singer has a lot going for him. First and foremost, he’s not 26. He’s also six foot, has the bookies on his side (his odds went from 25/1 to 7/1 this week), looks great in a suit and has a tonne of experience in action roles (he was Apollo in Clash of the Titans back in 2010 and has since starred in several of the Fast & Furious films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and action king Luc Besson’s Anna). Have we found a perfect candidate, then?

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 of Craig as 007 (Dave Benett)
Lowden is a fan of 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 – 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.