The Men Who Would Be Bond

2017-09BondDespite famously saying that he would “rather slash my wrists” than sign up for another outing as Bond, rumours abound that a mind-boggling $150 million two-movie deal has changed Daniel Craig's mind. However, despite how effective and popular he has been as 007, we are more than a little miffed because we have some excellent replacements lined up. Check out our line-up of Bond contenders, plus some less likely Bonds that we would just love to see.

Idris Elba

While some of the more fastidious cultural critics debate whether it is possible for a black actor to be an effective Bond, we say yes please! Playing Luther in the eponymous BBC series has been possibly the longest and most expensive screen test yet seen for a contender and means that Elba has already proved that he is more than capable of handling the physical demands of the role. He can do tough, he can do dangerous and, as his many female fans are never shy of pointing out, he can do sexy in his sleep. He has also appeared in a range of Hollywood movies, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Pacific Rim to The Dark Tower, which gives him an instant American appeal.

For more recent fans of the franchise, Idris Elba also offers a safe pair of hands after the Craig years while older filmgoers might be reminded of the glory days of Sean Connery; there will be no mildly effete asides of the type that were so common during the Moore years under Elba's tenure, we feel sure. The current word is that Luther is to return for a fifth series, possibly some time during 2018, after which Elba can ditch the famous overcoat and change into something far more 007-appropriate.

Bond Factor: 9 out of 10.

Damian Lewis

We're more than ready for a black Bond – but how would a ginger one fare? Damian Lewis is our best hope by miles for fans of auburn hair. Although, like his wife Helen McCrory, his background is actually Welsh, old Etonian Lewis certainly has what it takes to inhabit the Bond mantle, having cut his action teeth on the massively successful 2001 HBO series Band of Brothers, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film. This, however, was just a stepping stone for the massive impact he made as Nicholas Brody in series one to three of Homeland, which effectively cemented his American popularity. British audiences were equally impressed with his appearance as Henry VIII in the 2015 BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Most recently he has been impressing audiences with his turn as the morally complex Bobby 'Axe' Axelrod in Billions.

Lewis has recently finished filming Ocean's Eight, the arch villain of a movie that is both an all-female spin-off and sequel to the Ocean's trilogy and we think that it's about time that he took on a movie role worthy of his undoubted talent. Like Idris Elba, Damian Lewis has the experience and the acting chops to make the role of 007 his own.

Bond Factor: 8 out of 10.     

Aidan Turner

Considering that he is widely considered to be one of the hottest actors currently gracing the small screen, it makes sense that his name has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Daniel Craig. Turner doesn't have the same breadth of experience as Elba or Lewis but, if the Broccoli team was wondering how it would attract more female viewers, quite frankly it could do a lot worse than offer him a screen test. After turning heads as Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Desperate Romantics and the vampire John Mitchell in Being Human – both BBC productions – he enjoyed international success in the three Hobbit movies.

However, it is as Ross Poldark that he has really found fame, his half-naked scything scene leading women all over Britain instantly to forget Colin Firth emerging from the water in Pride & Prejudice and plan holidays in Cornwall. He might lack the profile of some of the other contenders but Turner has been a serious ballroom dancer in his time (handy for some of the fancy moves he would have to make as Bond) and was also an apprentice electrician (handy for swapping banter with Q). Can we picture Aidan Turner as 007? Oh yes we can! However, he is presumably contracted up to his perfectly formed eyebrows with Poldark at present, so scheduling could be a problem.

Bond Factor: 8 out of 10.

Tom Hiddleston

Oh Tom, Tom, Tom! Thomas. What were you thinking about? Daniel Craig threw his toys out of the cot and claimed that he would no longer contemplate playing Bond, you were totally fabulous in The Night Manager and suddenly people everywhere were saying, “Thomas William Hiddleston. Now there's a man born to play Bond!” - and then you threw it all away. May we mention two words at this point? Taylor. Swift. Now do you see where you went wrong? We will probably never know whose bright idea this wholly manufactured 'romance' was but, my oh my, it was a career-marring mistake. How long will it take to regain your credibility? I have no idea, but in the meantime you can wave goodbye to Bond for the foreseeable future.

It doesn't matter which you school you went to (Eton, in your case), which college you attended (Pembroke College Cambridge and RADA), you really can't find yourself implicated in a limp, clearly manufactured romance and expect your reputation not to suffer. It's such a pity when we had you pegged as a strong contender, but looking like a wuss desperately trying to retain the attention of a much more media-savvy woman is NOT the way to 007hood. And it was all going so well!

Bond Factor: 3 out of 10.

James Norton

Splendidly creepy as the psychopathic rapist Tommy Lee Royce in the crime drama Happy Valley, James Norton is probably better known as Sidney Chambers. the tormented vicar always trying to do the right thing in Granchester or the heroic but doomed Prince Andrei Bulkonsky in War & Peace, so we know that he can easily summon up Bond's light and shade. Of all the Bond contenders Norton is probably the least well known, so he might be a harder sell for the notoriously hard to please American market. That apart, we can really see Norton doing a brilliant job. He handled the complicated action scenes in War & Peace with great style and his typically English good looks are sure to be a draw with the Bond franchise's female followers.

Having started his acting career as a mere boy at Ampleforth, an independent boarding school in Yorkshire, later reading Theology at Cambridge, graduating with First Class Honours, Norton has cleverly taken on a range of key roles that have meant that he has had the opportunity to show what he can do. Of course, his height and good looks haven't exactly hurt his career either and, in 2016, he was named as Glamour Magazine's Man of the Year. As Bond he could move from 'successful TV career' to 'world domination' and I think that we like that idea very much.

Bond Factor: 8 out of 10.

Tom Hardy

Along with Idris Elba, Hardy is probably the bookies' favourite to play the next Bond. Let's face it, he has hardly put a foot wrong and his mastery of anti-social psychopaths, from British prisoner Charles Bronson, Reggie and Ronnie Kray to Taboo's James Delaney and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises means that he is already master of the trademark Bond hard stare. His American profile is also very healthy, which will no doubt calm the fears of the franchise's producers and he would attract a well established fanbase.

Like Damian Lewis, Hardy's career took off with a part in Band of Brothers and, since then, he has played a blinder and, in fact, a leading role in Peaky Blinders did him no harm at all either. If we were Hardy's agent we would most definitely be vigorously pushing him as Daniel Craig's natural successor and a stint as someone who is, at least nominally, on the side of the angels would do him no harm at all while extending his range. He has already said that he would love to play Bond saying, “I would love to do it. Who wouldn't? If I did get the chance, I would smash it out the park.” We bet he would, too.

Bond Factor: 9 out of 10.

These, then, are the genuine contenders for the role but we feel that Barbara Broccoli and her team would be missing a trick if they ignored these few suggestions from the SOCIETY team.

Bonds We'd Like to See!

David Walliams

Pros: Here is a man who can look very smart in a dinner jacket or tuxedo, has swum the English Channel and the length of the Thames and has received glowing reviews for his serious acting work (most notably in Stephen Poliakoff's Capturing Mary). He could play the suave Englishman portrayed by Roger Moore with both hands tied behind his back.

Cons: He called his autobiography (with some justification) Camp David, which is something of a drawback. Also, could the image of Walliams attired as Emily (“I'm a laydee!”) Howard from Little Britain ever be expunged from our memories? Probably not.

Count Arthur Strong

Pros: The Count is a man who has learned to expect the unexpected – and is something of an expert in training those around him to do the same. Rather than engaging his enemies in mortal combat he could equally effectively wear them down with his baffling alternative logic.

Cons: The idea of a fictional character (Bond) being played by another fictional character (Count Arthur) might be a Postmodern step too far for some. Added to that, the Count's lack of physical and verbal dexterity might prove dangerous for the continued peace and well-being of Britain. Don't forget that he spent about five minutes trying to pronounce Benedict Cumberbatch's name and never quite managed it in the end.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Pros: The ultimate Englishman! His ability to wear a suit would never be in question; even at Oxford he was as famous for his waistcoats as for his enormous brain. Rees-Mogg would be truly brilliant as a suave, intellectual Bond and his time in government would also mean that he would be a gifted fact checker, adding a welcome shot of authenticity to some of the writing team's more outré notions.

Cons: This would be an entirely new type of 007, the like of which we have never seen before. We would certainly have to forego the muscularity of a Connery or a Dalton - and would his famous intellect get in the way? We can imagine that an insistence on being called 'Double Zero Septimus' might not go down well with some. 

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