The mystery over who might play the next James Bond has evolved into something of a real-life spy thriller. In what might be the most brilliant double-cross in movie promotion history, current Bond face Daniel Craig has said that he’s exhausted from donning the famous tuxedo, which has in turn fueled speculation/fanboy daydreams that everyone from former T-Swift boyfriend Tom Hiddleston to all-around ass-kicker Idris Elba might step into the role.
But Sony, it seems, is trying to put some gold-plated brakes on the rumor mill. The studio has reportedly offered Craig an astonishing $150 million to not only reprise 007 for the fifth movie in Craig’s contract, but also add a sixth movie to the slate, a Sony source told RadarOnline.
Of course, no amount of cash can stop the speculation. “The greatest thing about this entertainment industry is that whether there’s a movie out or not, people can find some entertainment from it,” Henry Cavill remarked about the ongoing Bond rumor mill in his September Men’s Fitness feature.
So just in case Craig decides to pass on the paycheck, we’re taking a not-too-scientific look at who the bookies are favoring—and who Hollywood might have in the wings just in case Craig decides he’s hanging up the bowtie for good.
Cavill may not be the bookies’ favorite at the moment, but Hollywood producers wouldn’t have to think too hard about casting our September 2016 cover guy as the next 007—especially not after he got epically ripped for Justice League. As for his spy bona fides, Cavill already distinguished himself in the art of espionage with 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (he wasn’t drinking a Vesper, but still).
Plus, he’s up for the challenge: “It’d be awesome to play Bond, a classic Bond, really,” the Man of Steel star said in his September cover feature with Men’s Fitness. “I don’t think I’d be the person to outdo Daniel Craig at doing Daniel Craig’s Bond. I would love to do a different version and just have enormous amounts of fun with it.”
Though he burst into Hollywood (and hearts of fangirls) with his turn as the scene-stealing Loki in Marvel’s Thor and Avengers movies, Hiddleston has a remarkable pedigree in both quintessential Englishness (Eton, Cambridge) and leading-man action roles involving firearms expertise (The Night Manager, Kong: Skull Island). And while Hiddleston's Bond odds may be a little longer since his split with Taylor Swift—shake it off, Tom!—he's still got the chops and the cheekbones to pull off a turn as 007.
The London-born son of working-class immigrants from Sierra Leone, Elba could deftly craft a blue-collar Briton’s Bond that is equally smoldering and no-holds-barred action brawler. He has serious acting chops—he’s scooped up awards for his starring roles in BBC One’s Luther and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, not to mention his classic role as Stacker Pentecost in the modern cult classic Pacific Rim—and could easily bring his formidable martial arts ability to the role, since he’s already making a TV show about literally kickboxing his way around the world.
Also of note: Elba was reluctantly drawn into a firestorm over the Bond role after writer Anthony Horowitz, who has been tasked with writing new Bond books, said Elba was “too street” for the role. (Horowitz later apologized, saying he meant no offense.)
Turner isn’t as familiar to American audiences as Cavill or Elba, but he may be soon: The 33-year-old Irish actor (and Glamour’s Sexiest Man of 2016) is one of the bookies’ favorites to suit up for 007, with the kind of smoldering looks and Briton-centric acting experience (a leading role as the gold-hearted seaman Ross Poldark in the BBC’s 2015 adaptation of The Poldark Novels) that make for perfect MI6 training.
And if there’s a hint at just how gloomy his Bond could go, tune in to the BBC’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And then There Were None, in which Turner plays a cynical soldier of fortune with a “complete disregard for humanity.” Beat that, Daniel Craig.
The first female Bond is a possibility, at least if the betting markets have anything to say about it: Ladbrokes has given “any female” 1/14 odds to get behind the wheel of the Aston Martin, which puts the listing squarely in fifth among the current Oddschecker.com rankings. (That’s better than even Cavill, for the record).
And since a female 007 would mark a major step in cinematic history, who better to flip the script than Margot Robbie, the Australian stunner who's showcased remarkable talent for stealing every scene from every movie she’s been in? Just ask Leo DiCaprio (who appeared with Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street) and Will Smith (ditto for Suicide Squad and Focus): It doesn't matter who audiences hope to see when they walk into the movie—when they walk out, they're talking about Margot Robbie.
Huston may not yet have the onscreen presence of other potential Bond actors, but he has the pedigree: The scion of the legendary Hollywood directing dynasty (his grandfather is John Huston) and an actual British dynasty (his maternal grandfather was the 6th Marquess of Colmondeley), Huston is the odds-on favorite to play the next bond, according to bookie aggregator Oddschecker.com.
He’s also had experience holding down both high-concept movies (David O. Russell’s American Hustle) and big-budget leading roles (the 2016 Ben-Hur remake) that demand range and action versatility, plus a smattering of quintessentially English film and TV parts.
As British as tea and red double-decker buses—he attended Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art—the 31-year-old Norton is a veteran of quintessentially British TV series like War & Peace and the crime procedural Grantchester. But it was his role in Happy Valley, as the vile killer Tommy Lee Royce, that seemed to cement his place as a dynamic, multifaceted actor in the popular imagination.
The only knock against Norton is that he’s blonde—but that didn’t stop Daniel Craig, did it?
Hardy is one of the UK’s most enigmatic actors, if only because he can seem so damn difficult to pin down. One minute he’s punching the snot out of Batman (The Dark Knight Rises) or whipsawing his way through the desert (Mad Max), and the next he’s singlehandedly holding down an entire screenplay while doing nothing but talking on the phone and driving (Locke). Or, you know, he's punching the snot out of someone else, as in Warrior. Point is, Hardy could easily carry the Bond torch lit by Daniel Craig—that of a physical, enigmatic 007 who is just as comfortable taking care of bad guys with his Walther PPK as he is with his bare damn hands.
If there's one requirement to play James Bond, it's that an actor needs to convincingly handle a supercar at dangerous speeds, preferably while dispatching bad guys with an array of firearms. So who better for the role than Charlize Theron? The South African actress shot, swore, and drove with the best of ’em in Mad Max: Fury Road (just ask Tom Hardy), and she'll likely be doing much of the same as the villain in Fast 8 (just ask Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). Like Robbie, Theron has a talent for upstaging Will Smith—see The Legend of Bagger Vance and Hancock—but more importantly has remarkable acting range, whether it's in sci-fi thrillers like Prometheus or the dark serial killer drama Monster.
If there were an Olympic competition for perpetual poutiness, Kit Harington—aka Jon Snow—would have easily conquered it out of an already competitive British field. With Game of Thrones nearly wrapped and his face firmly fixed as one of Hollywood’s most bankable up-and-comers (a mere Harington haircut makes for major news), Harington could be a dark-horse casting decision for a Hollywood producer who decides that Jon Snow might know something after all—particularly how to order a certain secret agent’s preferred martini.
Vikander has a talent for making any movie absurdly fascinating, whether the plot is straightforward (Jason Bourne) or high-concept (Ex Machina). Vikander is so eminently watchable, in fact, that she singlehandedly transformed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from a Henry-Cavill-vs-Armie-Hammer glowerfest into a remarkably fun spy romp. (Yes: The best feature of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a woman.) Plus, with her action-adventure credentials burnished even further by the newly announced Tomb Raider reboot arriving in 2018, Hollywood has every reason to cast the Swedish actress as Britain's foremost secret agent.
Fassbender is already Hollywood royalty—the Irish-German actor is equally adept in straight-up blockbusters (X-Men, Prometheus, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed), TV series (Band of Brothers) and critically beloved movies that ended up becoming blockbusters anyway (12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs). If he were any type of Bond, he’d be the critically beloved (and German-speaking!) variety.