James Bond: Who’s Next In Line To Play 007?

So who’s next in line to play 007?

It’s a question that always lingers on the precipice of movie folklore. Only six actors have ever played James Bond in the official Eon Productions series, but many more have been mooted to inherit the moniker of 007: Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, Craig. The License to Kill, it seems, is only available to the elite.

In a week that saw Bond author Anthony Horowitz label Idris Elba “too street” to play James Bond, the speculation of who will play England’s greatest super spy is, once again, heating up. With Daniel Craig about to bow in his fourth appearance as Bond, when Spectre is released on October 26, the premature but predictable search for a possible replacement has begun.

Is it premature, though? According to Craig, it could be his last appearance as Bond. Speaking to Esquire, Craig revealed the following about his future as 007.

“At this moment, no. I have a life and I’ve got to get on with it a bit. But we’ll see. I don’t know. I really don’t know. Honestly. I’m not trying to be coy. At the moment I can’t even conceive it.”

Nothing is confirmed and all is secret, which is normal when a suave super spy is involved, but every time a Bond movie drops, the rumors start to take flight. However, not all is rumor, and there is some truth to several of the names being polled and discussed.

With that in mind, here are five actors who are currently in the running to play Bond. James Bond.

The Favorite – Idris Elba

Let’s start with the man in the news. Even though Bond author Anthony Horowitz believes Elba is “too street” for the role of James Bond, he seems to be the person on everyone’s lips when it comes a suitable replacement. When the Sony hacking scandal went public in 2014, Amy Pascal confirmed in a leaked email that she thinks Idris Elba should be the next Bond. Since then, his name has been linked with the role and is always the first mentioned when Craig’s possible resignation becomes the topic of discussion.

Elba is flattered by the attention but consistently denies being involved. He has confirmed offhandedly that he would take the role if asked, but he also believes that his decision to take the role shouldn’t be defined by race. In an interview for Lorraine, the actor tackled the subject.

“I’ve always detested the phrase ‘black Bond’, I just don’t understand it. We don’t say ‘white Bond’, we just say ‘Bond’ so it suddenly becomes a black man and he’s a ‘black Bond’ so I hate that phrase.”

According to the NME, Elba doesn’t believe he will even be offered the role.

“I say it all the time, but if it was to ever happen and if I was ever to get offered that role, that would be the will of a nation. That would be like, ‘Wow, human beings are really powerful. They really made that happen, because [Bond producer] Barbara Broccoli certainly didn’t’… it would be the will of a nation because everyone has been saying that to me.”

Elba is currently the bookies’ favorite to take the role, leading the remaining names on this list. With a powerhouse performance in Luther, where he plays a tormented, obsessed DCI, one who is swallowed by the darkness of the crimes he comes across, he shows he has all the trademarks of a realistic, tormented Bond, much like Craig’s interpretation. If he was to obtain the role, he could further with Craig’s version of the character with ease.

The Outsider – Christian Bale

Back in 2005, rumours surfaced that Bale was to be the next Bond. Bale would eventually rubbish these rumours in a rare interview, as revealed by Esquire. When asked if he talked to the people responsible for Bond, he confirmed the following.

“No. I’ve never heard of that. Equally untrue about them coming to me for Batman, before Ben Affleck.”

In 2005, Bale was always an outsider on many “Who Is The Next Bond” lists. Bale is a very private person who keeps himself to himself, so not many people knew about the actor with his career still blooming. Head-turning roles in The Machinist (2004) and Harsh Times (2005) would soon change this and only signal the beginning of a meteoric rise for the Welsh actor.

During promotion for Reign of Fire (2002), when asked if he was being approached for Bond or Batman, the actor confirmed the following to Web Wombat.

“No, that’s Bateman, not Batman! Actually both characters would be a dream come true, wouldn’t it? James Bond is every British actor’s Holy Grail in many ways — the most recognised British character on the big screen.”

After starring as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Bale truly made the bat suit and the tuxedo of his alter-egos his own. Sinister turns in American Psycho (2000) and Equilibrium (2002) could have shot him to the top of this list in some people’s eyes. Many doubt Bale would be in the running now, what with Batman already behind him, but if he was cast he could become the first actor to play Wayne and Bond, which in turn brings his version of the character a double franchise following.

The Natural Replacement – Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill is the only person on this list to be a final choice for Bond and even received the support of Casino Royale (2005) director Martin Campbell during the casting call, who had a tough time choosing between Cavill and Craig. Ultimately, the producers chose Craig after opting for an older Bond. With a few more years behind him and a profile that has increased dramatically since his first brush with 007, Cavill would be a perfect choice for the role. The bookies agree — they are taking bets on him being the successor as we speak.

According to Mens Health UK, he isn’t ruling out the role — again — if the timing is right.

“The Bond people are wonderful, and I’d like to work with them. But it all depends on directors, and scripts, and whether they want me to do it. Plus there’s a time factor. Let’s say the DC Universe keeps growing: they haven’t announced any more standalone Superman movies, but they may well do. That takes a full year out. If The Man From U.N.C.L.E. becomes a franchise, there’s that… I’m not too sure when I could fit it in.”

When asked if he was disappointed to lose out in 2005, he had this to say.

“Of course I was disappointed. But Daniel Craig did a fantastic job, and honestly, I was too young for it. I was about 21. I’d have been ‘Teen Bond.’ The right thing happened there. But it was more the right time for Daniel’s version than mine. His was a real reinvention. I dunno, maybe one day I can take it off his hands.”

Since 2005, Cavill’s biggest role has been Superman/Kal-El in Zack Snyder-directed Man of Steel (2013). The film continued the tradition of The Dark Knight trilogy in reinventing DC’s comic universe for a more adult, realistic fan base. The biggest hint that Cavill would be a perfect James Bond comes in the shape of The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015), where Cavill plays thief-turned-CIA agent Napoleon Solo. MI6, KGB, and a host of other acronyms make an appearance in the luxurious spy film, one similar in theme and content to the earlier Bond films.

The Old Favourite – Hugh Jackman

The Guardian recently reported that Australian actor Hugh Jackman, the man best known for bringing Wolverine to life in the X-Men franchise, is “seriously considering” the role of James Bond. Jackman was one of the front-runners for the part before Daniel Craig signed his contract in 2005.

In an interview with Australian TV show The Project, Jackman was asked if he would take on the role.

“I sort of have [been asked]. At the time I was just about to do X-Men 2 and I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t think it’s the right time.’ But it was not an easy one to give up.”

Asked if he would step in should Daniel Craig step down, he said.

“I’d seriously consider it.”

Jackman was hotly tipped for Bond after his profile exploded in the wake of the first X-Men movie back in 2000. With an underrated performance as hacker Stanley Jobson in Swordfish (2001), magician Robert Angier in Prestige (2006) and a Marvel franchise — Jackman has appeared in all six of the X-Men movies to date — resting comfortably on his shoulders, the Academy Award and Emmy nominated actor has both the look and the credentials to step into the tuxedo.

The Future – Tom Hardy

Variety reports that Tom Hardy is possibly in line to play Bond, with him 4/1 to take over from Daniel Craig. He is tied with another Englishman, Henry Cavill, see above. According to reports by Vanity Fair, Hardy is steadily gaining on favorite, Idris Elba, the only official name “mentioned” by Sony.

Hardy, as professional as ever, has refuted any claims that he tops people’s favorite lists for the next Bond. In a red carpet interview for Flicks and the City, he shot down claims that he could be the next Bond.

“I don’t think so. I wouldn’t imagine I was. I think Daniel Craig’s pretty much set for the next couple of films, isn’t he?”

However, Hardy hasn’t ruled out taking a role. Speaking to The Hits Radio this year, he believes every boy wants to play 007.

“I think Daniel Craig is doing an amazing job as James Bond. That conversation (playing James Bond) will never happen until they’re ready to move into new pastures. I think every boy wants to play James Bond to a certain degree!”

Hardy’s stock is rising with his blistering performance in Mad Max: Fury Road this summer. With Legend to debut this month, where Hardy plays both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, and scene-stealing performances as Eames in Inception (2010), Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and an award-winning solo performance in Locke (2013), Hardy is at the right age to start as Bond and star in several movies, something the producers would be looking for in their next Bond actor.

[Images – MGM, BBC, moviepilot.com, HenryCavill.org, Rollingstone.com, Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.]