Who will be the next James Bond?

The latest rumours put Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the favourite

Tom Hardy, Dev Patel, Regé-Jean Page and Henry Golding could be in the frame to play James Bond. (Credit: Dave Benett/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Mike Marsland/WireImage/Jerritt Clark/Getty)
Tom Hardy, Dev Patel, Regé-Jean Page and Henry Golding could be in the frame to play James Bond. (Dave Benett/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Mike Marsland/WireImage/Jerritt Clark/Getty)

It’s arguably the most sought after role in British cinema — the mantle of Ian Fleming’s high-rolling superspy James Bond. Six actors have already played 007 on the big screen, with Daniel Craig finally exiting after the release of No Time To Die.

There’s an empty seat in the front of a technologically-enhanced Aston Martin, but who’s going to slide into it? The latest rumours suggest the role has been offered to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but the same source said the next 007 would be Paul Mescal too recently, so who knows what to believe?

Speculation as to Craig’s replacement has been rife for years, especially given his florid remarks about just how little he wanted to play Bond again after Spectre in 2015. All we know from Bond producer Barbara Broccoli about the next actor to take the role is: “He can be of any colour, but he is male.”

Read more: What we know about Bond 26

That does, however, leave an array of compelling choices to play James Bond now that the dust has settled on No Time to Die. Reports suggest the producers are looking for someone “in their 30s and over 5ft 10 tall” for the next 007.

Here’s the pick of the bunch, who we think fit the bill.

Regé-Jean Page

Regé-Jean Page at the Los Angeles premiere of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page really looks the part for Bond. (Variety/Getty)

It’s possible you had never heard the name Regé-Jean Page before Bridgerton became everyone’s binge-watch of choice, Page shot right up the bookies’ lists for the James Bond role. He subsequently described Bond rumours as being like something of a “merit badge” for any British actor who does something of renown.

Many actors receive a bump up the potential Bond rankings when they make an acclaimed show or movie, but Page’s rise could be coming at just the right time to earn him that tuxedo.

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill attends the world premiere of Argylle at the Odeon Luxe cinema in Leicester Square
Henry Cavill played a spy in action flick Argylle. (Anadolu/Getty)

Daniel Craig once revealed that, as a kid, he was far more interested in one day being Superman than James Bond. Well, if Henry Cavill is the person who replaces Craig as Bond, he’ll have managed to nab both roles.

The star would certainly be a popular choice given his heroic exploits as the Man of Steel, as well as the lead in Netflix fantasy series The Witcher and as the Bond-esque Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s fun take on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He recently played a 007-inspired spy in Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle.

He auditioned for Bond last time it was rebooted, losing out to Daniel Craig, and told Yahoo in 2018 that if the 007 producers approached him this time, he’d definitely say “yes”.

Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all auditioned for Bond ahead of their time, so we know the producers like to return to previous hopefuls. All bodes well for Cavill.

Richard Madden

Richard Madden at a fan screening of Citadel held in Los Angeles, California
Richard Madden was first linked to Bond after his starring role in Bodyguard. (Variety/Getty)

His demise at the infamous Red Wedding broke the hearts of Game of Thrones fans and his role in Jed Mercurio’s uber-successful Bodyguard made him the talk of telly.

As a result, Madden has hovered near the top of bookies’ lists for the James Bond role for years and there was even a rumour that he was within a whisker of securing the job.

The offer never came, as far as we know, but Madden will continue to be one of the actors who will be connected with Bond whenever he’s pictured on a red carpet wearing a tuxedo.

James Norton

James Norton arrives for the premiere of Bob Marley: One Love in Los Angeles
James Norton rose to fame in Happy Valley and Grantchester. (AFP/Getty)

In 2020, Grantchester and McMafia actor James Norton dismissed speculation that he might play Bond as “bizarre and quite flattering”.

He denied there was any truth to the rumours, but his name certainly appears on bookies’ lists with too much frequency for it to be entirely unfounded.

He’s in his late 30s, so sits in a similar age bracket to Craig when he was handed the role ahead of 2006’s Casino Royale, and has carved out an impressive career on the small screen. Perhaps something more glamorous beckons.

Dev Patel

Dev Patel speaks on stage at the SXSW premiere of Monkey Man in Austin, Texas
Dev Patel speaking at the premiere of his directorial debut, Monkey Man. (Getty/Universal)

From his time on Skins to his Oscar nomination for Lion and leading role in Armando Iannucci’s heart-warming The Personal History of David Copperfield, Dev Patel has proved himself to be one of Britain’s most consistently likeable performers.

He’s capable of comedy, intense drama and even action in Neill Blomkamp’s underrated Chappie and 2019’s harrowing Hotel Mumbai.

Patel has all of the tools for Bond — including looking very good in a suit — and would, of course, make history as the first non-white actor to play the role.

Nicholas Hoult

Nicholas Hoult attends the premiere of Renfield in New York City
X-Men actor Nicholas Hoult is no stranger to big-budget franchises. (AFP/Getty)

A fellow Skins alumnus of Patel’s, Nicholas Hoult has proven himself adept at slotting into major franchise roles, whether as Beast in X-Men or as the war boy Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road. Indeed, he was set to play a villain in Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning before the coronavirus pandemic threw up scheduling challenges.

As with Patel, he’s a tad younger — at 34 — than most of the actors on this shortlist, but he has shown more than enough charisma in his career to date to make a case for his spot on the set of the next Bond adventure.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Aaron Taylor-Johnson attends the Madrid photocall for Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is reportedly the frontrunner to replace Daniel Craig. (Getty)

Another member of the younger contingent of potential Bonds, Aaron Taylor-Johnson comes loaded with major action experience, having played the lead role in superhero pastiche Kick-Ass and the primary human character in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla.

An armful of awards nominations for his work in Nocturnal Animals and a series of recent transformative roles — including an appearance as a time-bending military man in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet — show he has serious range too.

Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy attends a screening of Venom: Let There Be Carnage at Cineworld Leicester Square
Tom Hardy is best known for his roles in Venom and Legend. (Getty)

Much like Idris Elba, it feels as if Tom Hardy has been at the top of many James Bond shortlists for at least a decade. Also in keeping with Elba, Hardy has taken on a series of roles that would seem to prepare him very well for a stint as 007, including the smooth-talking Eames in Inception and a distinctly quieter brand of field agent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Given his recent odyssey of over-cranked characters and strange accents, it’s possible Hardy is the only person on this list for whom Bond would feel like coming back down to Earth. At 46, Hardy has probably missed his chance to take on the role.

Henry Golding

Henry Golding attends the 3rd Annual Academy Museum Gala in Los Angeles, California
Could Crazy Rich Asians actor Henry Golding be the next Bond? (The Hollywood Reporter/Getty)

Henry Golding went from being almost entirely unknown — outside of devout fans of the Beeb’s Travel Show — to being everyone’s top choice for James Bond with exceptional speed. One of the breakout stars of Crazy Rich Asians, Golding oozed the sort of charm and suave charisma that is a key part of suitability for the role of James Bond.

Golding told Yahoo Movies UK in 2019 that Bond is a “dream role” for him and Last Christmas director Paul Feig agreed that he’d be a great choice, as long as he can helm the movie.

Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan attends the Outlander premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in New York City
Sam Heughan previously auditioned for Casino Royale. (Getty/Tribeca Festival)

Best known for his award-scooping role on historical drama series Outlander, Scottish actor Sam Heughan is a relatively new addition to the mix of potential James Bonds.

However, he threw fuel on the fire of speculation back in March 2020 when he revealed that he actually auditioned for the role previously, when producers considered going radically younger for the reboot approach in Casino Royale.

Almost two decades later, he could certainly be back on the shortlist. Roger Moore was also a fan having worked with him on Princess For Christmas in 2011.

Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston attends the 2024 People's Choice Awards at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California
Tom Hiddleston starred in the BBC adaptation of spy novel The Night Manager. (WireImage)

As with many well-spoken British thesps, Tom Hiddleston has been a permanent fixture in the conversation surrounding Daniel Craig’s replacement. The accomplished stage and screen actor has amassed a sizeable fan base for his work as MCU villain/Thor frenemy Loki.

He also has form in the world of espionage, having played the title role in the BBC’s 2016 adaptation of John le Carré novel The Night Manager. He even won a Golden Globe for that performance. If he can find time amid his commitments to the Loki TV series, he’d be an excellent Bond.

John Boyega

John Boyega at the 55th NAACP Image Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California
Star Wars actor John Boyega has publicly spoke about wanting to play 007. (Variety/Getty)

John Boyega has made no secret of his ambitions to play James Bond, saying in 2018 that although he was “a bit young” for the part, he’d love the chance to step into the shoes of 007 and wield the Walther PPK. In 2022 he told Men’s Health, if the producers got in touch, “if they give me that call, I’ll be there.”

He’s certainly no stranger to outlandish action, having portrayed former Stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter Finn in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy.

Boyega is a hugely charismatic figure who seems to take real joy in every role he plays. Given the strange, love-hate relationship Craig has seemed to have with the franchise, it could be a refreshing change to cast someone who will grab it with both arms.

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens poses at the opening night of An Enemy Of The People on Broadway in New York City.
Dan Stevens appeared in Downton Abbey as Matthew Crawley. (FilmMagic)

In 2020, he played a Russian singer/lothario in the Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, but former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens would make a great choice for the role of James Bond.

Alongside his work in the ITV drama and his blockbuster lead turn — albeit beneath a lot of CGI — as the Beast in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, Stevens showed real darkness with his memorable performance in The Guest. His Bond could have a surprising number of sharp edges.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Oliver Jackson-Cohen attends the UK premiere of Jackdaw at the Showcase Cinema de Lux Teesside
Oliver Jackson-Cohen starred opposite Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man. (Getty)

In Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s most famous film role, he’s hardly on screen at all, despite being the title character. The Brit played the abusive husband of Elisabeth Moss’s character in The Invisible Man, who used his scientific expertise to become the titular tormentor. Jackson-Cohen also appeared in the Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor.

His resume is not quite as loaded as some of the other potential actors who could play James Bond, but the work he has done speaks for itself. He’s a great talent on the verge of breaking out into the A-list, which puts him squarely in the ballpark for Bond casting.

Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù

Sope Dirisu attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2022 dinner at The Grosvenor House Hotel
Gangs of London and His House actor Sope Dirisu. (WireImage)

After a series of supporting roles on both the big and small screens, Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù made a big impact in 2020 as Elliot Finch in Gareth Evans’ Sky drama Gangs of London and as a refugee battling spirits within a haunted home in His House.

In the Sky show, he’s a low-level employee of a gangland family who is concealing a secret role as an undercover cop. So Dirisu has experience of playing someone hiding a handful of secrets in a life-or-death environment. You can’t get much more James Bond than that.

Tom Hopper

Tom Hopper attends the UK premiere of Ferrari at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square in London
Tom Hopper played Dickon Tarly in Game of Thrones. (WireImage)

Tom Hopper — not to be confused with Cats director Mr Hooper — is another name who consistently crops up in bookies’ lists of potential James Bond leading men. He played Dickon Tarly — brother of Samwell — in Game of Thrones and also portrayed Billy Bones in Black Sails.

In terms of movies, Hopper has played supporting roles in the Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty and the sci-fi sequel Terminator: Dark Fate. Another suave, charismatic star, Hopper has so far not had a signature leading role on the big screen. Bond could be his chance.

Watch: The five best Bond movies