Casting Call

5 Actors Who Could Play James Bond Next

Casting Call James Bond Social

In this series, we speculate on what actors would be the perfect choice to play an upcoming character, or what type of character a particular actor is best suited for. Feel free to unilaterally agree with all our picks voice your opinion in the comments!

I have had a blast for the last ten years watching Daniel Craig as Bond. But Spectre is coming soon to a cinema near me, and rumors have it that Craig is contemplating his retirement from the character. That’s fine. He did great, and he’s fast approaching 50 years old. We don’t need another toupee Bond like the one from Roger Moore’s A View to a Kill.

But who should don the tuxedo in his place? James Bond is arguably the most iconic action hero in film. Every Bond movie is a reflection of action cinema in its given era, and Bond has been a hit in theaters for half a century. What makes the character so successful, and so specific to cast?

First and foremost, James Bond is a product of the United Kingdom. He’s been portrayed by actors from Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland, and Australia. That’s all okay. But an American actor or someone from further into eastern Europe? That would probably cause an uproar. Bond is also in peak physical condition. Not just so he can beat the crap out of ten guys at once, but also so he can seduce the pants off of ten ladies at once. Maybe even some dudes. Once we start examining the character’s personality, though, things get a little muddier.

Some previous incarnations have been cold-blooded killers with a government paycheck, using Bond’s good looks and action skills as a means to kill the bad guy and finish the mission. This worked great for Craig and Timothy Dalton, but would have made other actors appear too unengaged or bored with the character. Sean Connery and Roger Moore used their advanced age to take on a more bemused, wry wit for Bond that would ring hollow with younger actors. So it’s really open to interpretation for the performer. Something that almost all of them have is an old-world sophistication; Bond is always at home in a swanky club with millions of dollars being traded on gambling tables and rare endangered sharks being used as decoration.

So, ideally we’re looking for a UK actor with smoldering good looks, a streak of lethal badassery, a sly rapier wit, regal sophistication…sounds easy enough. Let’s throw some names out there.

Idris Elba

1. Idris Elba

I mean, duh. Elba’s name continues to fly whenever Craig’s replacement is discussed. And for good reason. Elba is a suave, good looking man who would be right at home ordering an elaborate martini in Monte Carlo. I’d also bet on him in a fist fight or solving a big world domination plot. We saw in “Luthor” that he can play a brilliant detective who comes unglued at the wrong times, and maybe that could be his spin on the character: an extremely smart operative who gives in to his killer instinct too easily.

The main concerns against Elba should not be that he’s “too street,” as Bond novel writer Anthony Horowitz suggested recently. The only thing that gives me pause is that Elba is currently 43 years old. Now, I’m a firm believer that mid-40s are nowhere near old. But the standard movie contract bundles an actor for at least three movies. Would Elba be up for that many stunts by the time he’s 50? He’s a great actor, but his salary would be a bad investment in the long run. If he were to do one great Bond movie and move on, it may all be worth it. But then we’d be right back here debating on who is next.

Daniel Radcliffe

2. Daniel Radcliffe

Somewhere a studio exec just experienced a rush of blood to his junk. Homeboy Harry Potter has the intensity and fearlessness to take on such a big role. Anyone who saw his Broadway run of Equus can vouch for that. He also has the star power to carry a franchise, and he’s young enough to be a field operative flying across the globe and beating wholesale ass for Her Majesty. And if you think it’s unfair that we would give two gigantic franchises to the same actor, go tell your story to Harrison Ford and Chris Pratt.

But how would Radcliffe approach the role? He’s never shown an abundance of seductive magnetism or high society savoir faire. As a matter of fact, the biggest part of his charm is his approachability. I have every confidence that he could be a secret agent, but a dashing one that could bed the likes of Monica Bellucci or Eva Green? I’m not entirely sure.


3. Damian Lewis

A few months ago, some UK bookie came to the entertainment press saying bets about former “Homeland” and “Band of Brothers” star Lewis becoming 007 had skyrocketed.

Sidebar: there are bookies for this stuff? Who is off in a gambling parlor saying, “Nope, I’ve no interest in FIFA or any local cricket matches. What are the odds on James Bond?”

Anyhow, Lewis is a good actor. His work on “Homeland” is a pretty effective audition for an unhinged and vengeful Bond who may not give a damn about Her Majesty anymore. Sort of a Dark Knight Returns for Bond. That’s a heck of a take. But yet again, I worry about age. Lewis is 44, and the only way his Bond works is if he’s been on the job for many years and is burned out. Not really the best place to begin a new chapter of the series and snap up young new fans.

Hugh Jackman

4. Hugh Jackman

Speaking of actors finishing a long run on a beloved character, look who just recently said in an interview that he’d absolutely love to have this job? Maybe after one last Wolverine stand-alone.

Everything I’ve said about age might go out the window here. This 46 year old can bench 300 pounds and dance like Fred Astaire. His Bond, clearly, would be best as a return to humor for the character. Imagine a James Bond that smiled rakishly as he pulled his Aston Martin into a power slide, quipping to Q about his own age like he just doesn’t care.

Could be fun, but could also end up being another Die Another Day depending on the tone. And can we even get away with any big comedy from Bond these days? Let me remind everyone that 007 used to full-on explode people and then crack a pun about it as if they weren’t vaporized. In a post-(insert recent tragedy here) world, should we maybe stick to serious Bond who kills out of necessity rather than amusement?

Nicholas Hoult

5. Nicholas Hoult

I think we have a winner here! Hoult has proven his ability to use his wiry physicality for both his roles in the X-Men franchise as Hank “Beast” McCoy as well as in Mad Max: Fury Road as the terminally ill and terminally psycho war-boy Nux.

Unlike most of the actors on this list, Hoult can pull off being suave and smoldering at the baccarat table as well as cold-bloodedly choking a man to death to gain information on Blofeld. To top it off, he even has those piercing blue eyes that helped out Craig immensely in the role of Bond, and he’s not even 30 years old.

That would certainly make him the youngest Bond in the history of the series, but I believe that it may be what the series needs in order to top the Craig era. It’s a kind of happy medium between hiring someone with a baby face like Kit Harrington (Jon Snow of “Game of Thrones”) and hiring Pierce Brosnan too many years too late for Goldeneye.

Agree? Disagree? Want to put out a double-0 contract on me? Let us know in the comments!


About the author

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.