Marking the final film of his stint as the iconic James Bond, Daniel Craig is due to bow out as the fictional British spy in this year’s No Time to Die, his fifth and final outing as the character. Released in 2006 to critical acclaim, Casino Royale became one of the most successful stylistic reboots in cinema history, leading the franchise through its weird, rambunctious adolescent transition and into something far more adult. Craig’s tenure as Bond has been perhaps the most revolutionary since the dawn of the cinematic character.
The early noughties were a time of great change for Great Britain’s very best fictional spy, James Bond. Inspired by the gritty, action thrillers that had preceded Daniel Craig’s 21st-century version of the character, Bond had gone from a soft, squishy caricature to one capable of genuine physical and psychological torment. Snappy, brutal set-pieces from films such as Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy, as well as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, had forced the character into a new cinematic reality that demanded to take 007 seriously.
In today’s day and age, cinema has seen a fantastical change, with a larger focus on sci-fi epics and superhero adventures, as a result, it’s difficult to know what the future of Bond holds. Whilst standard action thrillers still capture audiences attention, simply look at the Mission Impossible franchise for proof, Bond is starting to feel undeniably stale, under pressure from its weighted history, as well as its outdated values.
With Idris Elba, Tom Hardy and Richard Madden being rumoured as favourites to take up the mantle as the next James Bond, the character may be in need of a larger shake-up, far away from the gruff, tall, handsome stereotype that they have forever embodied. Take a look below at our five unlikely picks to play the spy with the licence to kill.
5 actors that would be great as the next James Bond:
The same type of actor has forever played James Bond, a strapping chap with tall stature and a sharp stare. For the future of the franchise, the character needs to change and take on new challenges and stories.
Despite his baby-face features, Barry Keoghan is 28 years of age, and whilst still quite young for the role, carries the perfect attributes to thrive in an altogether different take on the classic character. Having shown his worth in Calm with Horses, American Animals and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Keoghan is more than capable with the size of the role, though perhaps the biggest question is, is the franchise ready for such a massive change to its identity.
Steadily becoming a favourite of the industry, Daniel Kaluuya would be an inspired choice for the casting team behind James Bond for many reasons.
The Oscar-winning actor is a master of his craft having dominated the screen in Judas and the Black Messiah, Jordan Peele’s pertinent social horror Get Out, as well as the stylish road movie Queen & Slim. Casting Daniel Kaluuya would be an ingenious move, bringing an abundance of new followers to the James Bond franchise thanks to his considerable online following. Importantly, his casting would also make him the very first black actor to take on the role, marking an important milestone in the franchise’s history.
At the ripe age of 31, Jack O’Connell represents a realistic choice for the casting team behind the James Bond franchise, whilst his unique persona would bring a brand new direction to the films.
A British actor of the highest quality, Jack O’Connell made a name for himself in his early career portraying broken, rebellious characters in This Is England, Skins and Eden Lake. As his career has blossomed, this identity has matured into captivating performances in Starred Up, ‘71 and Unbroken, his take on the James Bond character would bring youthful, frenetic energy. Already embodying many of the stereotypical attributes of the Bond character, the casting of Jack O’Connell wouldn’t even be a risky one, it would simply demonstrate a step in the right direction for the franchise.
Making movements largely in television, Paapa Essiedu has established himself as a titan of British acting with dominating performances in Gareth Evans’ Gangs of London and the Emmy award-nominated I May Destroy You.
With such a commanding presence when on screen, Essiedu would make for a captivating James Bond, particularly considering his perfect age (31) and absorbing presence. Having worked across television, film and theatre, Paapa Essiedu is a classic English thespian, making him perfect for the suave sophistication of Ian Fleming’s iconic character. Having appeared in Royal Shakespeare Company’s: Hamlet as well as King Lear, Paapa Essiedu is an established actor with huge cinematic potential who could also make history as the first black actor to play the character. He would be a perfect choice.
Having looked into younger actors in the aforementioned list of names, it’s worth considering that James Bond could revolutionise itself by providing gritty drama rather than balls to the wall action. That change of direction would make Stephen Graham an interesting choice to take up the mantle.
We’ve seen Bond in the prime of his career, now could be the time to show him as a broken shadow of his former self. After portraying the menacing Combo in Shane Meadows’ extraordinary This is England series, Graham has enjoyed a career resurgence of late in BBC’s Line of Duty, Elton John biopic Rocketman and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. For a fascinating, modern, gritty take on this classic character, Stephen Graham could be a revolutionary choice.