Casting The Next James Bond: Who Should Play 007 After Daniel Craig?

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Speaking to No Time To Die director Cary Fukunaga ahead of the release of No Time To Die, I asked him what Daniel Craig has — and what he’s brought to the famed role of James Bond for 15 years now — that’s going to be hardest for the next actor to take on the part to live up to. Fukunaga’s answer was a simple explanation of a complex thing: natural, multifaceted charisma.

“It’s the balance that Daniel brings between brute force — the physical presence that seems like he is capable of violence on the turn of a dime — but also the vulnerability and humanity and the intelligence he brings,” Fukunaga told BroBible’s Post-Credit Podcast.

“To have that potent mixture is not common, and especially as an actor, to be able to bring that requires a certain intangible charisma that if you don’t have it, unfortunately, you’re never gonna have it.”

The same sort of “you’ve got it or you don’t” mythos applies to professional sports, as well: think about analysts describing quarterbacks as having that undefinable yet highly desirable “it” factor. Whoever the next 007 is, they have to have “it”.

With Fukunaga’s wise words in mind, and with the knowledge that the process of casting James Bond begins next year — at least so says longtime producer Barbara Broccoli, although let’s be real, they’ve already made some calls and had some meetings — these are the three leading men I believe are most primed to don the Bond tux following Craig’s departure.

INTERVIEW: ‘No Time To Die’ Director Cary Fukunaga On Sending Off A Legend And If The World Needs James Bond

Casting The Next 007: Who Should Play James Bond After Daniel Craig?

Michael Fassbender

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Ideally, in a perfect world, Michael Fassbender would already be signed on for the role. While I’ve got no evidence to prove it, had Craig walked away from the franchise after Spectre six years ago, I believe that Fassbender — then 38-years-old and in the midst of an A-lister Heater that saw him star in films such as X-Men: First Class, Shame, Prometheus, 12 Years A Slave, Steve Jobs, etc — would’ve been at the top of MGM’s list (along with Idris Elba, who we’ll discuss a bit more later). He had the look, the age, the charisma, the physicality, the acting chops — he had it all and still does.

But in the years since, Fassbender has gone off and become a racecar driver. I kid you not, Fassbender currently races in the European Le Mans Series, driving for Proton Competition. And outside of 2019’s disastrous Dark Phoenix, he hasn’t made a movie since 2017. While he filmed a Taika Waititi soccer movie close to two years ago, that film — Next Goal Wins — has been M.I.A. from Searchlight Pictues’ release calendar, possibly due to the fact that the much-maligned Armie Hammer is in the cast (that’s mere speculation, though). He’s reportedly set to start filming David Fincher’s next Netflix film The Killer this Fall, but again, it’s a case of “believe it when I see it.”

The problem with Fassbender is two-fold: his age and his interest. Currently 44-years-old, they’d have to get the wheels turning on the next Bond franchise almost immediately if they want to keep Fassbender in the role for a decade, which isn’t the wisest of strategies given that audiences are about to have their Bond thirst quenched with No Time To Die. More critically, though, is whether or not Fassbender even *wants* another titanic lead role in a massive blockbuster franchise following the disappointing and likely frustrating end to the X-Men franchise, in addition to his ill-fated Assassin’s Creed project.

If I was the 007 czar, I would’ve gotten in touch with Fassbender yesterday to try to get him in the suit in 2023 to have a film ready to release by 2024. Maybe you could convince him to film a pair back-to-back. The bottom line is, though, perhaps no one in Hollywood is more qualified and better suited (pun intended) for the role of 007 right now than Michael Fassbender.

John Boyega

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Not to trigger the traditionalists and the regressionists, but I’m all for a Black James Bond, just like I’m all in on a Black Superman. Idris Elba would’ve been a *perfect* choice had Craig walked away from the role following 2015’s Spectre. But by the time camera begin rolling on the next 007 film, Elba, now 49, will be into his 50s, which is simply too old to lead an action franchise that’s expected to sustain for a decade or more. No disrespect to Idris (who’s fantastic in The Harder They Fallby the way, which hits Netflix on November 30) or Liam Neeson, who revived his career with those sorts of films. Bond, unfortunately for those of us who’d love to see Elba in the role, is different beast entirely — his vitality is crucial.

Boyega, at 29-years-old (at the time of publication), would not only mark a change in Bond’s race but his age, as he’d tie George Lazenby for being the youngest actor ever cast in the role.

While his Star Wars character Finn may have had an underwhelming arc, Boyega was anything but as he was usually the most magnetic presence in the frame whenever he was on screen. Imagine how much worse the Canto Bight sequence in The Last Jedwould’ve been without him. If charisma is the ultimate goal, Boyega has it in endless quantity.

He’s also proven he’s got the hard acting chops in award-nominated series like Steve McQueen’s Small Axe, which saw him take home the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries.

Richard Madden

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As I explained on the Post-Credit Podcast, if I had to give Richard Madden betting odds — let’s say we were putting a future on the winner of the Super Bowl — the former Game of Thrones star would be a Top 5-7 contender, priced somewhere at +500 or +650. Not quite the favorite but a respectable possibility nonetheless. If Eternals, which hits theaters on November 5, goes well, however, Madden could very likely be vaulted to favorite status at +150ish.

Eternals is, by far, the biggest project he’s ever starred in, let alone led. By the time Game of Thrones achieved its international-phenomenon status, his character Robb Stark was (SPOILER WARNING) dead, and even still, he was part of an ensemble in that series. If he carries Eternals, though, and puts forth an emotionally resonant performance that both anchors and leads the aggressively otherworldly affair, Madden’s chops as a leading man will become undeniable, as will the prospect of him becoming the next Bond.

Currently 35-years-old, Madden just so happens to be the perfect age for the role, too — a role he’s actually already sort of played in Netflix’s Bodyguard. Madden’s character, Sergeant David Budd, is “a heroic, but volatile war veteran,” per Netflix.

“Now working as a Specialist Protection Officer for the Royalty and Specialist Branch (RasP) of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. When he is assigned to protect the ambitious and powerful Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes), Budd finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs.”

Sounds pretty Bond-ian, does it not? Of all the realistic choices out there, Madden is my favorite of the lot. He’s also Scottish, which would provide the cherry on top of being a nice homage to the late Sean Connery, the legendary actor who first popularized the role.

Whoever it is, though, we can only wish them good luck, as following Daniel Craig’s now-iconic portrayal of 007 will be one of the most difficult acts to follow in Hollywood.

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