Christopher Nolan has long been the James Bond series’ unicorn. For many fans, it is the dream combination of material and director, with Nolan himself going on record to highlight the influence of 007 on his career.


Now, a new report has surfaced from World of Reel, claiming that Bond producers are “zeroing in” on hiring Nolan to write and direct the next two 007 films, which would be the first without Daniel Craig in the lead role in more than 20 years.

In the past, Nolan has been vocal in his concerns about how much creative control he would have over a Bond film given the tight grip Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson maintain over the franchise, and the director would almost certainly want the final decision over whoever was next going to be ordering a martini (shaken, not stirred).

With the Bond series currently in flux due to the departure of Craig and the ongoing actors and writers strikes, the timing may be right for Nolan to be able to put his own stamp on the series, so below we've highlighted four stars who could be the Oppenheimer director’s 007 and what those potential movies may look like.

Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in Tenet
Robert Pattinson in Tenet Warner Bros

After starring in Nolan’s sci-fi take on the spy thriller, Tenet, the former Twilight star is an obvious candidate to front his Bond film. In many ways, his role in Tenet served as an audition to play Bond and his performance as Batman is evidence that he can front a blockbuster.

Also put forward by Danny Boyle to be the next Bond, Pattinson has easy movie star charisma but is young and youthful looking while also lacking the physicality of a Craig or Connery.

Given what Nolan accomplished with his own Batman trilogy, it’s fair to expect a Bond starring Pattinson would tap into the darker, more psychological aspects of the character while being able to hit all the right action beats like he did in Tenet.

Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy at the Oppenheimer UK premiere at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square in 2023 Samir Hussein/WireImage

An uneasy superstar due to his general distrust of fame and public attention, 2023 has belonged to Cillian Murphy, thanks of course to his lead performance in Oppenheimer – the highpoint of an already long and illustrious career.

A frequent collaborator of Nolan, Murphy wouldn’t be the first Irishman to play Bond but would certainly be the most intense actor to become 007. As Peaky Blinders proved, Murphy is more than adept at playing a leading bruiser with pathos and for lack of a better phrase, just looks the part with his angular cheekbones, ease in a tux and cool detachment.

It has long been a wish of many Bond fans for the series to throw in a period instalment set in the 1950s or '60s and with Murphy’s old-fashioned looks, he would be the perfect actor if Nolan had a desire to visit the world of Cold War espionage through the cipher of Ian Fleming’s superspy.

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Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy at the Dunkirk World Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square in 2017 Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Ever since he burst his way into the public consciousness after his remarkable turn in Bronson, Tom Hardy has been a favourite among Bond fans to pick up a Walther PPK whenever Daniel Craig moseyed off into spy retirement.

Another frequent collaborator of Nolan, Hardy would certainly bring something to Bond that hasn’t been seen before with his intensity, physical prowess and ability to put his own take on well-worn tropes. Hardy is also a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and has been backed by Pierce Brosnan to take over the mantle.

Nolan most prominently used Hardy as the hulking and villainous Bane in The Dark Knight Rises but his character in Inception has a hint of Bond with his debonair charisma and pithy one-liners. His casting would also allow Nolan to embrace a more maverick Bond – someone with edge and darkness – not unlike what Timothy Dalton brought to the role – especially given Hardy has always eschewed playing up his pin-up looks. It’s very easy to imagine Nolan and Hardy combining to make a very violent, tortured Bond.

Jack Lowden

Jack Lowden as River Cartwright in Slow Horses season 2
Jack Lowden as River Cartwright in Slow Horses Apple TV+

A wildcard option is Scottish star Jack Lowden, best known for his performance in Apple’s spy series Slow Horses, which is distinctly more John Le Carre than James Bond, but the 33-year-old is an eclectic talent who more than holds his own against Gary Oldman – no easy feat.

Lowden has worked with Nolan before – as part of the ensemble of Dunkirk – and a couple of other young actors from that film, namely Harry Styles or Barry Keoghan, could easily be sitting in this spot. Lowden’s Slow Horses co-star Kristen Scott Thomas has publicly said the Scot would be “very good” in the role and she’s not at all wrong, while he has also been backed by Sam Neill.

Because of his lesser profile than the likes of Hardy and Murphy, it would be easier for Nolan to mould his idea of Bond around Lowden rather than tailor the character to the actor giving the director more of a blank canvas to work from. Despite having not really embraced dapper roles, Lowden’s red carpet appearances act as proof that he can look the part as well as act the part.

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