"James Bond Will Return." As with every 007 flick, No Time To Die ends with that familiar phrase, promising the return of the iconic secret agent in the not too distant future.
But for the first time in a long time, we don't know quite what that James Bond will look like: Daniel Craig has now officially stepped down from the role and it will fall to a new actor to embody Ian Fleming's character in the next film.
Producer Barbara Broccoli has been on record to say that the search for a new Bond won't begin in earnest until 2022 – allowing Craig his time in the sun before the franchise moves on – but that hasn't stopped the rumour mill from churning out a raft of big names.
Of course, it's far too early to know too much about what we can expect from Bond 26, let alone when we can see it in cinemas – but speculation is half of the fun, so read on for everything we know so far about the next film.
Will there be another James Bond movie?
Happily, we can confirm James Bond will return in another movie following the events of No Time To Die.
The film concluded with the simple message: "James Bond will return."
Bond 26 release date speculation
Alas, it is far too early to say for certain when a new Bond film might hit cinemas, but we can be fairly confident that it won't be as long a gap as 007 fans have had to face this time.
No Time To Die was hit by delays even before the pandemic, meaning that the eventual gap between Spectre and the latest film was the longest in Bond history – so here's hoping that it won't be another six years until the next one.
More like this
Commonly, there is around three or four years between Bond movies, and we can expect a similar wait this time around, given that the casting process has not even begun yet. It seems that 2024 would be the earliest we can expect – but we'll keep this page updated as and when more information is available.
Who will be the next James Bond?
The ongoing conversation around who will replace Bond as the next James Bond is likely to further intensify in the coming months, having already been a major talking point for most of the last few years.
The current bookies favourite is Tom Hardy, while others said to be in the running include Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page, James Norton and Henry Cavill. Other names such as Idris Elba continue to be linked, while Outlander's Sam Heughan has also regularly proved a popular suggestion.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com before the release of No Time To Die, broadcaster and critic James King – who hosted the official Bond podcast – explained that it would be a tricky decision for producers.
"It’s not an easy job," he said. "And I spoke to the head of casting, for example, who’s heavily involved in these decisions – this is not an easy thing that they take lightly. So the decision will be very long and complex, I’m sure, which is as it should be.”
Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli themselves have admitted that the Bond franchise is at a “critical juncture” while Daniel Craig was recently asked if he thought the next Bond should potentially be a woman.
“The answer to that is very simple," he told Radio Times. "There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
Eve Moneypenny star Naomie Harris revealed that Tom Hardy would be her top choice for James Bond – although she conceded that he was unlikely, while Q actor Ben Whishaw has spoken about how he would love to see an out gay actor in the role of Bond.
Back in July 2020, a RadioTimes.com poll of more than 80,000 Bond fans from all across the globe saw Sam Heughan emerge as the top contender, with the Scot scoring almost 30 per cent of the total vote.
Heughan has previously admitted that playing Ian Fleming’s super spy would be “a dream role" – could he really be in the running?
The top 10 fan favourites for the next James Bond, as voted for by fans in our poll, were:
- Sam Heughan (30 per cent)
- Tom Hardy (14 per cent)
- Henry Cavill (11 per cent)
- Idris Elba (10 per cent)
- Tom Hiddleston (five per cent)
- Richard Madden (four per cent)
- Michael Fassbender (three per cent)
- Aidan Turner (three per cent)
- Cillian Murphy (three per cent)
- James Norton (three per cent)
Who could be in the Bond 26 cast?
With Craig confirmed to be leaving, the next big question is whether the rest of the supporting cast from his era will stick around or if they will say farewell too. In the past, several actors – notably including Judi Dench as M – have appeared alongside more than one Bond actor, but it remains to be seen if that will be the case this time around.
The likes of Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux and Rory Kinnear have appeared in multiple Craig era films, while Lashana Lynch and Ana De Armas both impressed in their 007 debuts in No Time To Die – so it's likely fans would be happy to see more of them.
But with the Craig era having been the first to have a real sense of continuity, it arguably wouldn't make sense for these characters to stick around – unless a character other than James Bond is taking over as 007 – and as such a complete refresh seems most likely.
For his part, Whishaw recently told RadioTimes.com, "I haven’t had a conversation about it – and that’s really the honest truth." Meanwhile, Lashana Lynch added, "I haven’t had a conversation about it [either] – and actually I’m glad. [My feeling is] just stay present, stick to this [No Time To Die]."
In a separate interview, Whishaw told Yahoo Movies, "I was contracted to do three films. That is obviously up now. And I was wondering if there is a future for me as Q, and I was wondering to myself how I felt about that. And today I woke up and thought 'ooh, maybe I kinda would like to continue'. So we'll see."
We'll keep this page updated as and when we hear any more information about who might be returning to the Bond cast, as well as any announcements about brand new cast members.
Who will direct Bond 26?
The issue of who was set to direct No Time To Die was a complicated one, with Danny Boyle originally attached before leaving the project due to creative differences. In the end Cary Joji Fukunaga took over, and there's a chance that he could follow in the footsteps of multiple past Bond filmmakers by returning for another bite at the cherry.
Speaking of past Bond directors, Martin Campbell has recently been on record to say that he would be open to a return. Campbell helmed the first Bond outings for both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, so it would be understandable for the producers to turn to him to usher in yet another new era.
Speaking to Collider, Campbell was asked if he'd like a return, responding, "Oh yeah, I would certainly consider it. I enjoy doing Bond. And also, the two producers are great to work with.
"You’re pretty much given a free hand to – everybody obviously participates in the script, and Casino I had Paul Haggis, who did a terrific job with the script. He did the final draft.
"But the two producers are great to work with, and they don’t interfere at all if they think you’re on the right track, and everything else they just let you get on with it. They support you all the way. It’s an enjoyable experience."
It is of course too early to tell for sure who might direct the next one – but we'll add any more rumours to this page when we hear of them.