Daniel Craig is the best James Bond, even better than Sean Connery.
There, I said it.
While Connery played him as if he always had an ace up his tuxedoed sleeve, Craig plays him as an ice-blooded assassin with a hint of sentiment, whose true love is Queen and Country. And they said a blond Bond would never work.
But Craig has announced he's stepping down after his turn in the next Bond film. That leaves some mighty big (and likely weaponized) shoes to fill.
So who could play Bond after Craig out-Bonded Connery? I have some ideas. They include, in no particular order ...
James Bond needs to be British: It's central to his character. But he doesn't really need to be white. Consider the multitalented David Oyelowo, who, when he isn't acting in films, is producing them. He has played a king (A United Kingdom), a killer with a conscience (Captive) and a soldier (Lincoln). Put that all together, and that spells 007.
In addition, he's already James Bond. That's right. Oyelowo voices him in the audiobooks. And was personally tapped by the family of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series.
Sidenote: If he sounds familiar to you, it's because you've heard him as Agent Callas in Star Wars: Rebels.
Also African-British, Idris Elba has been on MI-5's radar since 2014, when the Sony hacks revealed he was a potential contender to fend off attacks from men with golden guns and steel teeth. The intervening years have only strengthened his position, where he's gone from stand-out castmember to leading man.
As we saw in the Thor movies, Elba brings a commanding presence to the table, strong yet carefully intimidating. He looks and moves like a man who can take down all of Spectre while quaffing a vodka martini. And have enough energy left over to dash off a witty and/or groan-inducing one-liner.
In his starring turn as Loki in multiple Marvel movies, Tom Hiddleston plays a supervillain whose powers include illusions and suaveness. That's good enough for his many fans, who would love to see him on Her Majesty's secret service. But more than that, he's experienced in playing a spy, as he did in The Night Manager, where he earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance in a Miniseries or Television Film in 2017.
As for playing the 00 agent, Hiddleston, neither shaken nor stirred, told fans at Wizard World Philadelphia in 2016: "I am very gratified to hear the enthusiasm." But as to whether or not he’ll actually land the role, he said, "Your guess is as good as mine, to be honest."
It's not a requirement that the actor who plays Bond be British, only that he (or she) can play someone who is. But you wouldn't know that Michael Fassbender isn't English from the many, many roles in which he acts against his Irish type.
Fassbender frequently plays villains (as anyone who has seen in him the X-Men series knows), and although Bond is seen as a hero, Bond's license to kill is so worn out, it needs to be renewed. There's more than a bit of bastard in James Bond, and character Vesper Lynd referred to James as "cold and ruthless." Fassbender can play a bastard who is absolutely watchable.
He even has ideas for the next chapter in the life of Bond. Fassbender said, "To be honest with you, I think they should reboot the James Bond series and go back to his origins as a soldier. I've got a great idea for it actually, so Barbara Broccoli (007 producer), talk to me."
A buddy of mine frequently refers to the character of James Bond as "a white-collar thug." No one fits that description on paper better than Tom Hardy, whose double role in Legend as both the Kray brothers was thuggish in two different ways and whose character in Inception brings the sophistication essential to the role of Bond.
But it was his role as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road where I see his potential for being the next spy who loved me. There, he was a man of few words, "reduced to a single instinct: Survive." Considering the punishment that Bond frequently takes — and considering Hardy's hulking, physical presence — I see Hardy in the role of an interrogate-first-ask-questions-later Bond as much as I see him in the role of the dashing secret agent.
When asked if he wanted to play Bond, Hardy refused to comment. He doesn't want to jinx his chances.
Clive Owen looks dashing in a tux. I know that from his stellar performance in Croupier, a noirish film about a casino that was less than royale. As we saw in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, he can be commanding — a skill that anyone playing Bond requires. But it's the cold way his character Dwight handled Jackie Boy in that Sin City bathroom that shows his ability to, um, get his hands dirty.
Owen is currently 52 years old, which makes him a longshot for the role. If an older person is cast, it should be him. You have but to watch Children of Men to see how capable he is.
Of all the actors here, I know the least about Damien Lewis, whose turn in Homeland has won him praise. In the video provided, you'll see he's earned it. His unflinching confession is powerful. He could have veered toward sentiment, but he chose to play it as straight-forward as possible. It's an acting choice that can lead him all the way to the seat of the Aston Martin.
The character Lewis played in Homeland was a military man devoted to his country who had been tortured, which means playing Bond should come easily for him. He's certainly been considered for the role, but people have questioned his red hair. It's okay. As we learned in Skyfall, as well as in the novel Dr. No, Bond is actually Scottish.
Many of us know Henry Cavill as the DC Universe's Superman, but he was almost given a license to kill back in 2005. Instead, Daniel Craig walked away with the role, leaving the 22-year-old Cavill to console himself with dying in Hellraiser: Hellworld. But that lead to a pair of tights in The Tudors, which ultimately lead to a pair of tights and a cape.
Superman is a great jumping-off point for a character like James Bond, someone who solves epic problems yet is practically invulnerable. Besides, Cavill actively wants the job, as opposed to other actors who are too cautious to say. Will he get the role after another audition? Never say never again.
Yes, James Bond is a man. But as we saw in Skyfall, Naomie Harris' character Eve Moneypenny had as much field training as any agent. It was a shame to sideline her character with secretarial work. Time to rectify this by giving Moneypenny — and Harris — a starring role in the Bond franchise. Plus, the character already has her own series, The Moneypenny Diaries.
As for Harris, we saw in the Pirates of the Caribbean series that she can command a scene as well as Bond can command a bartender to mix his favorite drink. I'd watch a Bond movie starring Harris. I'm watching it in my mind right now.
But the actor most likely to be cast as James Bond ...
… is not on this list. That's because the next Bond film isn't in production, and no release date has been announced, which means it could easily be 2021 before Bond is re-cast (because diamonds are forever, but the title of 007 is temporary). In that time, there will be dozens of actors who will make a name for themselves, enough to catch the eye of the franchise's casting directors.
The only thing I know for certain: When the next Bond movie comes out, and the next one, and the next one, I will watch the living daylights out of it.