24 films. Six actors. A dazzling array of intriguing, beautiful women. Hundreds of immaculate automobiles, spellbinding set pieces, innovative gadgets, and countless vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred).
Bond. James Bond.
Ian Fleming’s seminal spy character, James Bond Agent 007 has been thrilling audiences for over 50 years. Bond and his impeccable English charm, ingenious wit, unparalleled sex appeal, and license to kill collectively comprise the definitive cinema superspy.
James Bond has endured to generations of fans spanning several prominent eras in not only cinema, but popular culture as well. He has survived while others have faltered, thrived while others have waned. From the iconic “Bond girls” to the eponymous “Bond gadgets”, no other secret agent has had a more stellar, lengthier career on the big screen. His very name evokes a plethora of pop culture references. He is masculinity and ingenuity incarnate; no one is cooler than James Bond.
The actor filling 007’s shoes has quite a tough job to do, but perhaps not quite as tough as Bond’s own globe-trotting adventures in danger and espionage. Current Bond portrayer Daniel Craig has presided over a magnificent reinvention and reinvigoration of the franchise; his 2006 debut in Casino Royale breathed a century of new life into Ian Fleming’s creation.
However, after his fourth outing in the role, 2015’s Spectre, the rumor mill in relation to Craig’s possible departure from the role is gaining momentum. While it is uncertain if he will return as Bond for a fifth installment, many actors have been put forth as Craig’s potential successor.
Here are three rules for selecting the next James Bond. Each can theoretically be bended separately, but all disregarding all three would be a cardinal sin.
1. He must be English (or at least Scottish, Irish, or Welsh). Proof of United Kingdom residence is a must. Bond is an agent of Her Majesty’s government, so no other nationality will do.
2. He must be Caucasian. Ian Fleming’s character description should be honored and therefore the next James Bond must be a white man (sorry Idris Elba).
3. He must be under 40 upon starring in his first Bond film. Ideally, the next Bond should be between 30 and 35 years of age. This young age helps ensure that the forthcoming Bond will remain for multiple films as the franchise continues on.
Below is a list of ten (10) actors who could possibly do the job well, though it’s always hard to tell how a potential candidate would bring Bond to life. Even further below is a list of five (5) actors who’ve been suggested for 007 but would, inevitably, be poor choices.
1. Benedict Cumberbatch
The Imitation Game star is turned in a brilliant performance as enigmatic mathematician Alan Turing, marking his graduation from television mandarin to a leading man in film. As Turing, Cumberbatch shines as both a movie star and a character actor. This dynamic has yet to be fully realized by most mainstream audiences, however, and Cumberbatch could sustain new life in the role of Bond and carry on Craig’s legacy.
He also looks flawlessly English and he’s able to convey both spot-on wit and an air of danger as evident in his portrayal of another iconic character (Sherlock Holmes). He even received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II a few years back. Therefore, he is the ideal candidate to fill 007’s shoes.
The only problem is that his one-of-a-kind moniker may seem out of place at the beginning of a dizzying Bond title sequence. Can his name blend in with silhouetted naked women dancing in fire? Or will it just produce a few chuckles and serve as a distraction? Also, Cumberbatch is currently 39 years old, so he needs to begin filming a Bond movie as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, Cumberbatch is the only contender for the role and he could do justice to a shaken vodka martini and an Aston Martin DB5. The Bond aspect most suited to Cumberbatch is how awesome he looks in a white tuxedo; eat your heart out, Sean Connery.
2. Henry Cavill
He’s already played Superman, so why not James Bond too? Cavill has the charm and the UK gleam, but he’s second to Cumberbatch mostly because the Superman actor may not transition as smoothly into Bond’s world, particularly the modern, re-imagined world of the Daniel Craig era.
While Cumberbatch could be a captivating fusion of the original Sean Connery era and the darker Daniel Craig era, Cavill may not adequately bridge the styles. This isn’t necessarily a mandatory qualification, but following in the footsteps of Craig will result in endless comparisons. A synergy of two different characterizations might be the key to success. Still, the Bond franchise’s early days in the ‘60s can never really be bettered.
Cavill’s personality and magnetic appearance would definitely aid him onscreen with a Bond babe in one arm and a Walter PPK in the other. Cavill as 007 could be the beginning of a new era for the franchise in which he sticks around for several films, especially if his new-age looks equal those of Craig. Maybe his tenure in the role would hearken back to Pierce Brosnan’s takeover in the ‘90s, when most of the emphasis was on readying Bond for not just a new decade, but a new century.
3. Richard Armitage
Armitage’s more fiendish appearance is a throwback to Timothy Dalton, an oft-misunderstood Bond. Dalton made two Bond films in the late ‘80s and his take on the superspy was a darker James Bond, a man much bitterer and at times downright defiant. Dalton’s Bond was a much more faithful version of the spy who graced the pages of Fleming’s novels.
It was markedly different from his predecessor, the lighter, saucier Roger Moore. Dalton’s portrayal was initially well-received, but he was given films that couldn’t quite measure up to those of the past and his characterization was judged harshly by his second film.
Armitage could continue Daniel Craig’s marvelous reinvention in his own unique way while also drawing parallels to Dalton’s era. His chief problem is that he is currently age 44, thus breaking one of the suggested rules; however, Armitage’s dramatic flair on stage on the small screen has primed him for a film franchise that he could turn into his own.
Armitage could be an interesting Bond because he doesn’t quite look good while dodging bullets in a casino or a volcano lair, but he could look believable in doing so. Sometimes, looks can be set aside for a bigger emphasis on convincingly playing 007.
4. Matthew Goode
Again, the looks are slightly rougher around the edges, but Matthew Goode could continue Craig’s atmospheric stride in fine style. Plus, being young, he could firmly cement himself in the role. He actually looks more astute than many actors who’ve been suggested and he also retains enough dramatic acting chops to make Bond dynamic and fresh.
Goode’s biggest advantage is that he isn’t very recognizable in the U.S., meaning that audiences will have a much easier time accepting him into the role, much like they were able to embrace Daniel Craig. Matthew Goode, in certain guises, can also resemble a college student rather than England’s most storied hero. He will need to bulk up and toughen up his exterior to win the role and subsequently play 007 effectively.
5. Aidan Turner
Turner is decidedly Irish and he sure looks it, with a striking resemblance to Colin Farrell. His debonair glare and distinctive brogue lend credence to his suitability for the role, yet his appearance often looks and feels like more of a punk rocker. Still, his Irish roots could add some flavor to a run of Bond films; after all, it worked for Pierce Brosnan.
Turner’s rugged guise helps him look right at home behind the wheel of a speeding sports car and it’s likely that his on-screen chemistry with his leading ladies, both ally and enemy, could be a step above his previous counterparts.