As fans prepare to watch Daniel Craig make his final appearance as James Bond in No Time to Die, many will be wondering who could ever replace him.
Speculation has been rife ever since Craig confirmed he would bow out of the spy franchise after his fifth film, which is released on 30 September.
A number of stars have been put forward by film fans or the actors themselves, from Tom Hardy to Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page.
Here are some of the most popular contenders:
The Venom star has been named bookmaker William Hill’s favourite to play the British spy with odds of 5/2.
Hardy received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination in 2015 for his performance in The Revenant. The British actor, 44, has also starred in a several Hollywood blockbusters directed by Christopher Nolan, including Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Dunkirk.
He previously told the Daily Beast of the rumours: “If I mention it, it’s gone. You know, there’s a saying amongst us in the fraternity of acting, that if you talk about it you’re automatically out of the race. So I can’t possibly comment on that one.”
The Bridgerton star shot to fame thanks to his role as the dashing Duke of Hastings in Netflix’s raunchy period drama.
Page is now a free agent, having left the show after one season, and is joint-second favourite at William Hill with odds of 3-1.
When the 31-year-old Bridgerton star was asked by Jimmy Fallon about the Bond rumours, he said: “I think the internet thinks a lot of things, that’s one of the more pleasant ones, so I’m pleased as far as that goes.
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“But there might be an element of cultural translation here. If you’re a Brit and you do something of any kind of renown, that people regard well, then people start saying the ‘B’ word. It’s like a merit badge. You get a ‘B’ word merit badge.”
Norton is the second actor to be placed at 3-1 odds.
He stars in the crime drama McMafia as Alex Godman, the son of a Russian mafia boss living in London.
The actor, 36, was also nominated for a Bafta award for his role in Happy Valley in 2015.
However, the star of War and Peace recently told The Independent that if playing Bond meant sacrificing roles in indie films, “it would be a hard thing for me to swallow”.
The Scottish star, 41, was more enthusiastic at the prospect of taking on the beacon of the classic role, admitting he would “jump” at the chance.
Heughan previously starred as special forces operator Tom Buckingham in SAS: Red Notice, an adaptation of former SAS soldier Andy McNab’s novel of the same name.
He is arguably best known for his role as Jamie Fraser in the historical drama series Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon.
In an interview with the PA news agency earlier this year, he said: “I don’t know if there is a conversation being had apart from in the media, but I think it’s an incredible franchise and a great character, so of course I would jump at it.
“But I feel like Tom Buckingham is equally as interesting and, who knows, maybe this could be the new franchise.”
The Luther star is also amongst the favourites by bookmakers, with William Hill placing him at 8/1.
He previously won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film for his role as DCI John Luther in the BBC psychological crime drama.
Elba, 49, has also starred in the crime drama series The Wire, sci-fi movie Pacific Rim and 2021 supervillain film The Suicide Squad. He has already featured in a global franchise after joining Marvel’s Thor in 2011 as Heimdall, and proceeding to play him in sequels, as well as Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War.
Despite Elba being one of the most popular contenders among fans, he has attempted to quash the rumours, telling Event: “Bond is one of the biggest franchises in the world, and for that reason, whoever ends up playing it, lives it. You’re THAT character, and known as that character for many, many years.
“I’m creating characters now that can still live alongside Idris. Not ones that take over me and solely define me.”
Golding has previously suggested it was his sharp-suited role as Nick Young in Crazy Rich Asians that first sparked the Bond rumours.
The Malaysian-British actor, 34, told Attitude magazine in 2020: “It was definitely from Crazy Rich, maybe (the scene with) the white suit coming out of the park. (And) because I’m Asian and everybody’s fighting for a diverse Bond – sorry, white guys.”
“I don’t know,” he continued. “It’s an honour to even be in the conversation. It’s one of the greatest film roles ever, you’d be stupid to be like, ‘I don’t want to do that.’
“Isn’t it great that people are like, ‘OK, now’s the time, why the hell can’t we have a black Bond, an Asian Bond, a mixed-race Bond, a non-distinct Bond?”
Producer Barbara Broccoli has repeatedly nixed the idea of a female Bond, saying she believes women should be offered interesting and diverse roles of their own, and that she believes Bond will “always be male”.
However, Jones is currently one of the favourites to star as the first female Bond, with William Hill placing her at number seven on its list and offering up odds of 9/1.
She plays DCI Amy Silva in the new BBC drama Vigil, made by the production company behind Line Of Duty and Bodyguard.
The 43-year-old actor is also known for her role as Karen McDonald in Coronation Street, and her critically acclaimed performance as Gemma Foster in the hit BBC One drama series, Doctor Foster.
Often, it seems that simply playing a British spy, detective or any kind of action-based character is enough to convince people that they’re watching a future Bond star. This happened to Scottish actor Richard Madden after fans saw him racing around London in the BBC’s Bodyguard.
“I’m more than flattered to be mentioned, for people to consider putting me in that role,” he told GQ. “I’m very flattered and thankful. It’s a really brilliant thing to be in.”
The Witcher star has actually already auditioned for Bond, when he was in his twenties, but seems very keen to have a second chance. “If Barbara [Bond producer Barbara Broccoli] and Mike [co-producer Michael G Wilson] were interested in that, I would absolutely jump at the opportunity,” he said in an interview last year.
“At this stage, it’s all up in the air. We’ll see what happens. But yes, I would love to play Bond, it would be very, very exciting.”
The Peaky Blinders star is one of the few actors who seem dead against the idea of taking on the 007 mantle. While he has said he is “flattered” by speculation that he could be Bond, he told GQ that he believes a woman should get the part next.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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