When it comes to casting the next 007, could the name be Johnson ... Aaron Taylor-Johnson?
It's been more than a year-and-a-half since Daniel Craig drank his final martini as James Bond in "No Time to Die," leaving fans anxious for news about who will step into those big shoes. In recent months, we've learned more about what producers may be looking for, and one actor has emerged as an early frontrunner. Meanwhile, some fan favorites have bowed out of consideration.
Here's all the latest news about the next Bond coming at you faster than you can say "shaken, not stirred."
The actor will likely be in their 30s
Daniel Craig was 38 when he debuted as James Bond, and it sounds like producers will be looking for another thirty-something for his successor.
"We've tried looking at younger people in the past," producer Michael G. Wilson explained, per Deadline. "But trying to visualize it doesn't work. Remember, Bond's already a veteran. He's had some experience. ... That's why it works for a thirty-something."
Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams similarly told Radio Times that although younger actors have been considered to play Bond before, they didn't have "the gravitas" necessary. If Bond should be in his 30s, this would rule out several actors fans have suggested, including Tom Holland (26), Henry Cavill (40), and Tom Hardy (45).
The actor won't be a woman, but could be a person of color
Producers have definitively ruled out the possibility of gender-swapping the role by casting a woman as Bond, so Lashana Lynch's female 007 in "No Time to Die" may be the closest fans get.
"I believe we should be creating new characters for women — strong female characters," Bond producer Barbara Broccoli told Variety. "I'm not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that."
Broccoli did, however, confirm Bond doesn't have to be played by a white actor, telling Variety, "He can be of any color."
The actor 'should be British'
Broccoli also told The Hollywood Reporter the actor who plays Bond "should be British." That might go without saying, but it would rule out some other potential contenders — including Dwayne Johnson, who, believe it or not, has expressed interest in the role. The Rock noted to Esquire his grandfather played a Bond villain in "You Only Live Twice" before adding, "I would like to follow in his footsteps and be the next Bond." Sorry, Dwayne: It looks like you won't have a chance to change the hierarchy of power in the Bond universe.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is rumored to be a frontrunner
In November 2022, The Sun claimed "Bullet Train" star Aaron Taylor-Johnson had become a "surprise frontrunner" for the role after taking part in a "top-secret screen test." Producer Barbara Broccoli reportedly "loved" the 32-year-old actor. He didn't deny the rumors in an interview with Vanity Fair, calling them "flattering." Puck's Matthew Belloni confirmed these rumors "are true," adding that Taylor-Johnson "sat with producer Barbara Broccoli, and the meeting went well."
Idris Elba took himself out of the running
Fans have often suggested "Luther" star Idris Elba for the role, but that ship may have sailed given the actor is 50, making him only five years younger than Craig is now. Producers are also looking for a 10-to-12-year commitment from their star, so he would be in his 60s by his final film. Elba has also taken himself out of the running.
"I'm not going to be that guy," he told The Associated Press. "When I look in the mirror, I don't see James Bond," he also told The Wall Street Journal.
Taron Egerton claimed 'they've already got someone'
Another fan favorite is 33-year-old Taron Egerton, who has experience leading a spy franchise as Eggsy in the "Kingsman" films. But Egerton told The Telegraph he doesn't believe he's "the right choice" for the role. "You have to be consistently statuesque to be that guy," he said. "And that's something that I am still striving for. I've always struggled with my weight."
Egerton also claimed in an interview with Total Film that producers have someone else in mind. "I think they've already got someone, and it's not me," he said. But it was unclear if that was just speculation, as he noted he's "never been a part of the conversations." He may have simply been referring to the Aaron Taylor-Johnson rumors.
Richard Madden and Regé-Jean Page have also had their names floated
Richard Madden has been rumored as a possible Bond contender even before Craig exited the role, and he recently seemed to play into the speculation via an Instagram video of himself drinking martinis with his "Citadel" co-star Stanley Tucci. One fan commented, "New Bond and Q?!" In 2021, betting odds from Ladbrokes had the 36-year-old actor in the top position, knocking off Tom Hardy. Madden told British GQ in 2018 he's "more than flattered" to be in the conversation but added that he doesn't "want to curse anything by saying anything."
Another actor whose name has often been floated is "Bridgerton" star Regé-Jean Page, though he joked on "The Tonight Show" that if you're a British actor "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."
It might be a while before the choice is made
In terms of a possible timeline, don't expect a casting announcement anytime soon. Broccoli told Entertainment Weekly in September 2022 that "we haven't begun the hunt" for the actor, though she added "we'll start thinking about that" in 2023. She also told Variety in 2022, "It's going to be a couple of years off." No director has been announced, though the Daily Mail claimed "Fleabag" creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the "first choice."
Additionally, Broccoli told Deadline in June 2022 that filming on the next Bond movie "is at least two years away," suggesting it could be targeting a 2025 or 2026 release. "It's a reinvention of Bond," she noted. "We're reinventing who he is and that takes time." What that reinvention will look like is still anyone's guess, but Broccoli previously told Variety that Bond as a character is "evolving just as men are evolving."
It might not be a very well-known actor
The list of favorites for the role includes some fairly big stars. But while speaking to the Radio Times, casting director Debbie McWilliams reminded fans that past Bonds include actors who weren't particularly well-known when they were cast, and producers will simply pick "who's best for the part."
So don't be shocked if the part goes to someone you're not too familiar with and who has never been mentioned as a possibility. Indeed, author Charlie Higson, who has written some Bond books, told the Press Association, "As soon as the papers say, 'So and so is being considered as the next James Bond,' you know that they're not going to be the next James Bond."