James Bond producer says Bond will be a “thirty-something”, so who will it be?

James Bond producer says Bond will be a “thirty-something”, so who will it be?

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 producer Michael G Wilson has said that the next actor will be “a thirty-something”.

Speaking at an In Conversation event at London’s British Film Institute, Wilson said: “We’ve tried looking at younger people in the past. But trying to visualize it doesn’t work. Remember, Bond’s already a veteran. He’s had some experience.

“He’s a person who has been through the wars, so to speak. He’s probably been in the SAS or something. He isn’t some kid out of high school that you can bring in and start off. That’s why it works for a thirty-something.”

That does narrow down a bit of the field. In August, Tom Holland was the latest thespian to feel the Bond spotlight shine on him. The talk seemed 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, Holland is only 26 years old, a good decade younger than Craig before his first outing as the spy in Casino Royale. Wilson’s comments only confirm what we knew – that he is just a bit too young. At the time, Wilson also said that casting for a new Bond hasn’t yet started.

But with Warner Bros reportedly signing a deal in August that will see the franchise being produced until 2037, and with so many more Bond-ey potentials already on the longlist, we take a look at some of the other contenders…

Still in the running

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (aged 32)

Psychotic: Aaron Taylor-Johnson at the UK premiere of Nocturnal Animals (Dave Benett)
Psychotic: Aaron Taylor-Johnson at the UK premiere of Nocturnal Animals (Dave Benett)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson already has a taste for action, starring in fast-paced films including the Kick-Ass franchise and Marvel’s Avengers. So, it’s no surprise that speculation has been following the actor over becoming the next James Bond

He reportedly met and impressed producers with a secret audition following Daniel Craig’s exit in 2021, and it seems he has doubled down on his chances of snagging the role, filming the famous “gun-barrel teaser footage” and becoming a front-runner in the process.

Puck News’s Matthew Belloni reported that sources said Taylor-Johnson ticks all the boxes, although his upcoming roles in Sony’s Kraven The Hunter and The Fall Guy could scupper his chances.

However, with bookies favouring the actor with 2/1 slashed odds, it seems Taylor-Johnson is the sure favourite of the bunch.

Regé-Jean Page (aged 34)

‘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 look like second nature. 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 (aged 37)

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.

Richard Madden (aged 36)

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 our 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. But we sill think he’d make a better villain.

Plus 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.”

Lashana Lynch (aged 34)

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. When the film was released in September 2021 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 (aged 32)

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

Tom 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.”

Well, Lowden, we’re sorry to say that Craig has officially left the building. Plus, this week Lowden’s odds at the bookies were halved from 28-1 to 14-1, meaning there are quite a few fans out there now backing him to take over from his hero.

Knocked out (but we’re still hopeful)

Luke Evans (aged 43)

 (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 the other 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? Well he’s three years over Wilson’s new marker, which possibly, devastatingly, makes him a bit old.

Tom Hardy (aged 45)

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. And as with Evans, he is getting on (for a Bond).

Sam Heughan (aged 42)

He knows the power of a good suit (Getty Images)
He knows the power of a good suit (Getty Images)

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. He’s also (dare we say it again?) no longer in his 30s, though he does have a baby face.

Tom Hiddleston (aged 41)

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. Plus he’s one year over Wilson’s new cut-off point.

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.

Idris Elba (aged 50)

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 50-year-old has persistently brushed off rumours by claiming that he’s “too old” to take on the role. And now it seems that this has been very much confirmed by the producers. Sigh.

Helen Mirren (aged 77)

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 and Wilson 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 (aged 28)

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? Even if he is just a tiny bit too young. There’s something about the supremely confident, easygoing Styles that makes us think that he just might be the one. He’s starred in two films this year– 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 he could be the coolest superspy yet, and opens up the possibility of Bond Boys, for a change.