Okay, so now that we know Daniel Craig is coming back for one last turn as James Bond, who should his final Bond girl be?
With all the fretting about whether Craig was sticking around for one more movie, very little has been said about who could possibly play the female lead in Bond 25. Although Bond walked off with Lea Seydoux at the end of 2015's Spectre, it doesn't seem very likely that she will return. So who's next?
The British tabloids, which have never met a baseless rumor they didn't like, have been whispering the name Cara Delevingne recently, but her recent stints in Suicide Squad and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets have not been convincing enough to suggest that she has the acting chops for the task.
We are long past the days when Bond women were simply good-looking ornaments for 007 to drag around and finally bed at the end of a long and arduous mission. Look at the modern-day Moneypenny, played now in the series by the fabulous Naomie Harris: no longer pining behind her desk in M's outer office for a glance or pinch from James, she's out there in the field right alongside 007.
The primary "Bond girl" should no longer be measured solely by her physical charms (not that there's anything wrong with those either) but should be as well-developed, intelligent, and three-dimensional as any woman -- or man -- who goes head to head with James Bond needs to be.
With that in mind, each of the actresses we've selected below as candidates for the job have talent, brains, wit, and presence to spare. In some cases we've even matched them with a character from the Bond books who we'd like to see show up on the screen someday. Tell us who you like in the comments below ...
This rising Swedish star has blazed a trail to the top of the Hollywood heap in just seven short years. proving herself to be one of the best actresses of her generation in films like Ex Machina, Testament of Youth and The Danish Girl, for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. A number of Oscar winners tend to stay firmly with prestige films after winning the big prize, but Vikander has shown her openness toward genre fare by playing Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. She is also in many ways the quintessential mix of classic and modern Bond girl, with a keen intelligence and empathy to match her looks and vaguely European manner; she might make a great Gala Brand, the undercover agent from the book Moonraker who has never appeared on screen (since the film version of Moonraker had nothing to do with the novel at all).
Like Alicia Vikander, Lupita is a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for her devastating breakout performance in 12 Years a Slave. And while it's not unheard of for Oscar winners to show up as Bond girls (hi Halle!), it's a fairly rare phenomenon as well. Then again, Lupita was basically buried in CG in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and has a meaty role in the upcoming Black Panther, so also like Alicia, that little gold trophy hasn't caused her to turn her nose up at fan-centric fare either. She's a natural and magnetic talent in front of the camera, while her Kenyan-Mexican background would provide a more global flavor than the typical Bond girl.
The amazing Negga is best known to fans of geek culture from her stint on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and her current run as the wildly unpredictable Tulip on Preacher. But she was also nominated for an Oscar last year for Best Actress, thanks to a powerful and moving performance in Loving as one half of a real-life couple who helped overturn state laws prohibiting interracial marriage in 1967. Negga's luminosity, compassion and complexity would easily make her one of the most formidable women to ever team up with 007. Here's a thought: she could play Vivienne Michel, the main character of the novel The Spy Who Loved Me. The book and the movie have nothing to do with each other, but Vivienne has been described as one of the best-realized female characters in the original Ian Fleming novels ... just transplant her to a new story.
While it's not required that every Bond girl sleeps with 007, let's face it, most of them have ended up doing that anyway. The talented Ruby Rose, who has described herself as both genderfluid and gender neutral, could pose an interesting challenge for the perpetual ladies' man that is Bond. Having an openly bisexual character would be groundbreaking for this series to start (LGBTQ people have been sorely underrepresented in the Bond canon), and having one who can create a different kind of sexual chemistry with the hero would be a fun spin on the usual fare as well. As for Rose herself, her dynamic turns in John Wick: Chapter 2 and Orange is the New Black have more than proved her abilities and ease with gritty material.
Jing Tian has worked mostly in her native China, but last year she made memorable, visceral impressions in both the generally awful The Great Wall and the much more entertaining Kong: Skull Island. She's done a lot of action films in her home country and knows her way around the genre, and will undoubtedly increase her visibility worldwide with her role next year in Pacific Rim: Uprising. Probably -- for now -- the least-known of this group.
Chopra was a well-established and acclaimed actress in her native India long before she landed her breakout role on American television in ABC's Quantico. Incredibly, despite her vast experience in Indian cinema, she only made her Hollywood big screen debut this year in the disastrous Baywatch, although a number of critics noted that her relatively minor role as the villain was a standout in the picture. Bond has never been paired with a major female lead of Indian descent, so it may be time to correct that as well, and Chopra would make for a top selection in that job.
Aside from being the first Japanese actress to land an Oscar nomination in 50 years (for 2006's Babel), Kikuchi acquitted herself quite nicely as a fierce pilot of giant warrior robots in 2013's Pacific Rim (she'll return in Pacific Rim: Uprising). But I've listed Kikuchi for another reason as well. There have been rumors that Bond 25 will be called Shatterhand, which longtime fans know is the alias under which Bond's arch-enemy Blofeld hides out in Japan in the original novel You Only Live Twice. The 1967 film based on that book had virtually nothing in common with the novel except for the location and the villain, so is it possible that Bond 25, or Shatterhand, could go back to the source material while also returning Bond to Japan? If so, Kikuchi would be an impressive addition to the cast, perhaps as a much more modernized version of You Only Live Twice's Kissy Suzuki.
This French actress has been working for a decade but made her major international breakout only this year in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in which she shined as Mantis. Most of her other work remains relatively obscure (although she also has a small role in the new indie hit Ingrid Goes West), but with Mantis showing up in Avengers: Infinity War next year, she's likely to land more and larger roles. Klementieff also knows how to box and trained several hours a day for a fight scene with Josh Brolin in the 2013 remake of Oldboy, so she's well-equipped to fight right alongside 007.
Like any number of European-based actors, Elena Anaya has assembled a large body of work in her native Spain while somehow only making occasional forays into Hollywood. Until this year she was probably best known for her searing performance in The Skin I Live In, but that changed this summer when she portrayed Doctor Poison in Wonder Woman. Her villainy and eerie appearance was countered by a striking scene with Chris Pine in which Dr. Maru revealed a hidden and even empathetic layer to what could have been a one-note character. Anaya's versatility and experience would make her an easy fit for the modern Bond films.
With her porcelain features, petite frame and dreamlike air, Emily Browning may not be the first person that comes to mind as a Bond girl. But her unique presence has graced a diverse range of films from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events to Sucker Punch -- where she also showed a flair for action -- and she's currently playing the otherworldly and resurrected Laura Moon on the TV adaptation of American Gods. As we've noted earlier, there are female characters from the books who have yet to make it into the movies, and one of those is Ariadne Alexandrou, a Greek spy who aids Bond in Colonel Sun, the first 007 novel penned by another author (Kingsley Amis) following Ian Fleming's death. Little bits of Colonel Sun have found their way into a couple of the earlier films (like the torture scene in Spectre), so why not a whole character portrayed by Browning?
The Bond series usually avoids hiring huge stars as Bond girls (with an exception or two), but here's an idea: how about pairing Daniel Craig as Bond with Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton, the relentless MI6 agent she played in the recent Atomic Blonde? After all, they both work for the same outfit -- and after seeing the latter film, one could argue that Broughton is even more brutal than 007 himself. Since Atomic Blonde was not a box office hit, and therefore unlikely to generate a sequel of its own, this could be a chance to bring the two universes together and keep Broughton around to bring the hurt on enemies like Blofeld and his minions. Okay, maybe it's far-fetched, but Craig and Theron as Bond and Broughton still sounds like a dream team to us.