For years now, speculation has been rife over who will be the next actor to play James Bond after Daniel Craig's 007 swan song in 2021’s No Time to Die.

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A number of actors have been rumoured for the role including Regé-Jean Page, James Norton and Henry Cavill.

At the beginning of 2023, fans thought they finally had their answer in Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Bullet Train) as reports surfaced that he was the favourite to succeed Craig.

However, Barbara Broccoli, one of the producers behind the James Bond franchise, recently issued a disappointing update, putting an end to the rumours that Taylor-Johnson has already arisen as a frontrunner.

In an interview with LADbible, she shut down the speculation, saying: "No, we haven’t even started casting yet. There isn't even a script."

So, who will fill the empty pair of suave spy shoes left by Craig? Read on for a list of the potential candidates...

Regé-Jean Page

Regé-Jean Page plays Denny Carmichael
Netflix

Regé-Jean Page became a global superstar overnight with the launch of Bridgerton on Netflix and has been one of the buzziest names in Hollywood ever since.

He's booked a number of high-profile jobs in the last couple of years including the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons adaptation, and last summer's Netflix thriller The Gray Man which co-starred Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling.

Bookies have long felt that he could be in the running to add Bond 26 to that growing list of projects, and he continues to feature near the top of most lists.

His performance on Bridgerton proves he would have no trouble oozing the charm and charisma that any Bond actor must have, while his decision not to return for the show's second season indicated a focus on film work moving forward.

Page has already signed on to play The Saint in a new movie from Paramount Pictures, a role which Roger Moore famously played before starting his Bond run in the early '70s.

However, it's possible that this could actually take Page out of the running, as producer Barbara Broccoli may not want to bring the two franchises any closer together.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine in Bullet Train. Sony

Kick-Ass and Tenet star Aaron Taylor-Johnson has recently emerged as the new frontrunner for the role, after a report from Matthew Belloni of Puck News said he had “sat with [Bond] producer Barbara Broccoli, and the meeting went well”.

Belloni added that Taylor-Johnson checks all of the boxes: “Great actor, British, fits the younger direction the Broccolis want to go, accomplished but not particularly famous.”
However, with upcoming films such as Kraven the Hunter and The Fall Guy, there's a chance Taylor-Johnson could find himself in a position where he's too well-known – or too busy – to take on the role.

Previously, the 32-year-old actor was said to have impressed in a secret audition for Broccoli at Pinewood Studios in November 2022.

An apparent source told The Sun: “Bosses at the brand were really impressed with his unique blend of acting intensity and his impressive back catalogue of action films.”

The reports have seen Taylor-Johnson rise to the top of the odds – with several bookmakers offering a price of 7/4 to make him the new favourite.

Idris Elba

Idris Elba in The Take
Studio Canal

Idris Elba has long been rumoured to replace Daniel Craig, with rampant speculation dating back to the actor's first planned exit with 2016's Spectre.

While at one point, the Luther star invited the talk with a cryptic social media post – captioned "My name's Elba, Idris Elba" – he has since attempted to put some distance between himself and the non-stop rumours, despite Barbara Broccoli acknowledging that the actor was "part of the conversation" around the next 007.

In an interview with the Daily Mail's Event magazine, he explained that he is reluctant to take on a character that would inevitably "define" his career, preferring to take on more varied roles he can disappear into.

"Bond is one of the biggest franchises in the world, and for that reason, whoever ends up playing it, lives it," he said. "You’re THAT character, and known as that character for many, many years. I’m creating characters now that can still live alongside Idris. Not ones that take over me and solely define me."

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Elba has also discussed that his excitement about taking on the iconic role was tainted by the backlash he received from certain people who seem to think that Bond can't be Black.

Speaking to Esquire, he said: "You just get disheartened when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the colour of my skin.

"And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the colour of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to."

Elba addressed the speculation again on LeBron James and Maverick Carter's The Shop: Uninterrupted series. "It is not a goal for my career," he said of playing Bond. "I don’t think that, you know, playing Bond will satisfy some of my personal goals."

With the producers saying that the next Bond will be in his 30s, it seems that Elba can probably be ruled out of the running for now – unless there's another late twist, that is.

Jack Lowden

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

There's been some talk that the franchise could move back to its roots by appointing the first Scottish Bond since Sean Connery – and Jack Lowden is an actor who fits the bill.

The star has seen his stock steadily rise in recent years with roles in films such as Dunkirk, Fighting with My Family and Benediction, while his role as River Cartwright in Apple TV+'s spy drama Slow Horses has seen him emerge as a possible candidate for 007.

He currently sits as the sixth favourite with the bookmakers, and when asked about the rumours by RadioTimes.com he responded: "It’s quite bizarre because it feels like Daniel Craig is still Bond so even to… as a fan, even to sort of be contemplating anyone else playing him… I mean, I don't envy them, how they're gonna replace him because I still think he is [Bond]. He was mine. That's who I grew up with.”

His Slow Horses co-star Kristin Scott Thomas certainly thinks Lowden would be up to the task – telling him during the same interview: "It’s a very, very tough job. But you’d be very good at it.”

Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy in Legend
Studiocanal

Tom Hardy has built a reputation for being one of the most versatile and popular actors in the UK, while he also seems more than capable of giving Bond the same edge he developed during Craig's tenure.

The Dunkirk and Inception actor seems interested in the role too, staying coy on the matter when quizzed by journalists so as not to talk himself out of the running.

"There’s a saying amongst us in the fraternity of acting... that if you talk about it [Bond rumours] you’re automatically out of the race," he told The Daily Beast. "So I can’t possibly comment on that one!"

More recently, Moneypenny actor and Hardy's Venom 2 co-star Naomie Harris has voiced her support for him taking over the role, but acknowledged it is more likely to go to an up-and-comer.

"He would make a great Bond, but interestingly they always choose someone who we don’t expect and someone who’s more up and coming," she told Lorraine Kelly on her ITV daytime show.

"So, I feel like Tom might be too established. I think like all the names that are being bandied around actually, I think it’s going to be someone so unexpected and their name isn’t even in the mix."

She added: "I’m sure they’re already working on it. The hilarious thing is people think I know. Like, I don’t know anything. But I do think that Tom would be amazing and if I was choosing, I would choose Tom."

Sope Dirisu

Elliot holding a gun peering around a corner
Sope Dirisu as Elliot in Gangs of London. Sky

Gangs of London star Sope Dirisu is another actor who has seen his name thrown into the mix in recent months – and indeed his odds have been steadily shortening for a while.

According to the star, however, we should take this with a pinch of salt: "I think the shortest I’ve ever been at any one time is 6 to 1, and that’s too close,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in November 2022.

“I think Bond is the kingmaker — rather than [that] someone who is already king gets to be Bond. So yeah, the shorter the odds are, the less likely it’s going to happen.”

Dirisu has expressed interest in the role, though, and has confessed to being a lifelong fan of the franchise, telling NME in October 2022 that, "I’ve got a very deep connection with those films and my father."

He added: "It’s an honour that someone would even consider that I could play such a quintessentially British role, especially as a Black man. There was a lot of racial bulls**t around Idris’s consideration for the role. I like to think times are changing, but I don’t know if that’s true.”

James Norton

James Norton plays Stephen Ward in The Trial of Christine Keeler

Famous for his roles in Happy Valley, Grantchester and McMafia, James Norton is already a firm favourite here in the UK, so it's little surprise his name has been thrown into the James Bond conversation.

Speaking to Metro in 2021, Norton said that it's "fun and flattering and ridiculous and great" that he is among the actors fans want to see in the role.

However, he did say that he hopes any potential Bond casting wouldn't prevent him from doing smaller indie films, which have allowed him to take on a variety of complex characters.

"If [playing Bond] did preclude films like Nowhere Special, then it would be a hard thing for me to swallow,” he admitted in an interview with The Independent.

Indeed, those low-key projects have clearly been very beneficial to Norton, with co-star Diane Keaton championing him for Bond after sharing scenes with him in 2017 drama Hampstead.

"He's got everything that you need," she told Sky News. "First of all he's extremely attractive, very smart, he's well educated, and he's a fantastic actor. And he's sexy, right? I'm not wrong, I mean, women are gonna love him.”

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange. Marvel Studios

One man whose frequently been seen in the bookies' odds is Chiwetel Ejiofor – and the 12 Years a Slave and Doctor Strange star has the backing of his The Man Who Fell to Earth co-star Naomie Harris, who has played Eve Moneypenny in the franchise since 2012.

"We were walking the red carpet yesterday and apparently Chiwetel's name is on the list of people to be the next Bond. I didn't know this but I'm down for that!" she said during an interview with Good Morning Britain in June 2022.

It's not the first time Ejiofor has been linked to a role in a Bond film. Back in 2014, there were strong rumours that he could be in line to play the villain in the franchise's 24th film, although that role ended up going to Christoph Waltz – who played iconic baddie Ernst Stavro Blofeld in both Spectre and No Time to Die.

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens attends Deadline's The Contenders
Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Deadline

Former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens has also been hovering near the top of bookmakers' lists for a while, and so could be another one to keep an eye out for.

The actor turned 40 last year and so technically no longer fits the mould of an actor in his 30s as per Barbara Broccoli's wishes, but he could yet prove a popular choice if this is a route the producers do decide to go down.

His odds were slashed towards the end of 2022, so although Stevens himself hasn't publicly commented on the rumours thus far, it's worth keeping his name in mind.

Richard Madden

(BBC)

Ever since Game of Thrones' Richard Madden broke TV records — and the nation's hearts — in the Golden Globe-winning Bodyguard, he's been rumoured to be in the running as the next James Bond actor.

In 2018, the actor even responded to rumours he was up for the prestigious gig, adding that he didn't want to "curse anything" by going into too much detail about the rumours.

"I’m more than flattered to be mentioned, for people to consider putting me in that role. I’m very flattered and thankful. It’s a really brilliant thing to be in," he told GQ magazine. "I don’t want to curse anything by saying anything. I think that’s the curse of that. If you talk about anything, you’ll curse it."

However, his Bodyguard co-star Keeley Hawes, who played Home Secretary Julia Montague in the drama, was more than happy to chat about the idea at 2019's Radio Times Covers Party.

"I said to Richard while we were shooting, 'This is like James Bond!'" she revealed. "I would love to see Richard playing James Bond; I would love that. I think he would be phenomenal."

Notably, Madden rumours have gone relatively quiet more recently, and the actor's attention shifted to joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Eternals.

Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan – The Spy Who Dumped Me
Lionsgate Entertainment

Outlander star Sam Heughan has repeatedly voiced his interest in bringing Bond back to Scotland for the first time since Sean Connery's stint as the suave spy.

Asked whether he'd considered the role, Heughan previously told STV News: "I think any actor who says they wouldn't would be lying, and I think it's time we have a Scottish Bond again."

In June 2020, the actor revealed during an appearance on ITV's This Morning that he had been one of many actors to audition for Bond before Daniel Craig was cast, describing it as a "dream role".

"I auditioned for it back when they were doing Bond 21 when Daniel Craig was cast in Casino Royale and I think a lot of actors were seen in the UK," he said. "Of course it would be a dream role and a Scottish Bond, who doesn't want to see another Scottish Bond!"

RadioTimes.com readers certainly got behind the idea, as Heughan stormed to victory in our poll on who should become the next James Bond, beating tough competition from Hardy, Elba and several other names on this list.

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo in The Man from UNCLE
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Superman and The Witcher actor Henry Cavill is one of the other names regularly touted as a good fit for James Bond, making headlines in November 2019 when he revealed the bizarre reason he was ruled out the first time.

Cavill competed with Craig for the role as MGM looked to cast Casino Royale, but ultimately was passed over for – in his own words – being overweight.

He told Men's Health: "I probably could have prepared better. I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, 'Looking a little chubby there, Henry.' I didn’t know how to train or diet. And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better."

Now that the position is vacant once again, Cavill has said that he would "love" to play Bond (via GQ) and also told The Hollywood Reporter that it was an honour "to even be part of that conversation".

"I think it would be very exciting to have a conversation with the producers," he said.

Luke Evans

Luke Evans in Anna
Summit Entertainment

Welsh actor Luke Evans has been considered a strong candidate by some to take over for Daniel Craig as 007.

In 2021, he discussed the rumours with The Mirror, where he appeared to be completely in favour of the idea, but added he had no information on whether he was actually being considered.

"I think I've cut my teeth very well in movies I've done and I've enjoyed every second of it. It's a phenomenal job, a phenomenal franchise, an incredible role," he began.

"I have to say though, it's a daunting task for any actor to play the role after Daniel Craig. No one knows what's happening. It's a very secretive process and it's a wonderful role.

Evans added: "I would jump at the chance, as would many actors in my position, so we shall see."

While the Nine Perfect Strangers star rarely talks about his private life, it is worth noting that his would be a landmark casting as the first LGBTQ+ actor to play James Bond.

Daniel Kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya in Widows
20th Century Fox

There's a possibility that the Bond franchise could be handed from one Daniel to another, with Get Out star Kaluuya a popular choice among fans at the moment.

His star has never shone brighter, having picked up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on 2021, which he earned with his performance in the acclaimed biographical drama Judas and the Black Messiah.

With this industry recognition already under his belt, Kaluuya would certainly bring some prestige to the role of James Bond, while at just 33 years old he could conceivably hold onto the role for quite some time.

Aidan Turner

Aidan Turner
BBC

Aidan Turner was at one point considered a top candidate to become the next 007, particularly after production came to a close on his popular BBC One period drama Poldark.

Speaking to i Newspaper in 2018, he commented on the rumours: "There’s someone else playing the role – I always feel weird talking about it. It’s come up a lot in recent times. When it’s free, I’ll have a look at it. But it’s not free now."

Now that the role is free, the Leonardo star is yet to confirm whether his hat is still in the running – but he could be one to keep an eye out for.

Rupert Friend

Rupert Friend as Tom Whitehouse in Anatomy of a Scandal
Ana Cristina/Netflix

In an interesting twist, Rupert Friend was actually asked to screen test for the role of Bond at the age of 22, after Pierce Brosnan left the franchise — but said no.

"I just thought, 'I’m too young for this. I need to have some life experience. James Bond needs to have lived'," Friend said in an interview with The Times. "I love Bond films. I don’t want to be the guy who messes it up because he hasn’t got miles on the clock."

These days, Friend is no stranger to action and espionage, best known for playing CIA hitman Peter Quinn in Homeland while he demonstrated more assassin skills in 2015's ill-fated video game adaptation Hitman: Agent 47.

With this added life experience, Friend might be ready to give Bond a go this time around were MGM to give him a call.

Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager
BBC

Just a few years ago it seemed like Tom Hiddleston was a safe bet to take on the role of James Bond, with reports of a meeting between himself and Broccoli following the success of The Night Manager.

Indeed, rumours stated that he could even reunite with director Susanne Bier on a Bond movie, but all this talk faded away over the next nine months or so – before hitting an abrupt end with the announcement of Craig's surprise return in April 2017.

The New York Post's Page Six claimed that Broccoli had changed her mind about Hiddleston after his widely criticised speech at 2017's Golden Globes, although this was never officially confirmed.

It's not impossible that Hiddleston could cycle back around to the Bond franchise, particularly with his massive popularity after the smash-hit Loki series on Disney Plus.

But again, the all-encompassing MCU could well leave his schedule too busy for Bond, telling Empire in April 2021 that he had nothing new to add to the conversation, but felt aware that many would read into his comments regardless.

"What can I say that you don't already know?" he asked. "It's interesting in itself that I've suddenly become very aware of what I'm saying, is it not?

"Because there's something about what I'm saying that becomes the story. Not for you, but for the world outside. Whatever I say, I've found, generated more questions."

Henry Golding

Henry Golding Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes star Henry Golding is one of the newest additions to the James Bond competition, with the actor expressing his enthusiasm for the role in an interview with Andy Cohen.

"I guess they are looking for another candidate," he said. "So, of course, any right sort of man would want to put their hand up for it. So sure, let's talk."

Speaking to Attitude, Golding theorised that his Bond credentials became evident after his suave appearance in romcom Crazy Rich Asians, adding that it's an "honour" to even be considered for the role.

"It’s one of the greatest film roles ever, you’d be stupid to be like, 'I don’t want to do that s**t,'" he joked. "It would be the wildest ride. I’m super excited to see Daniel Craig’s last venture… but isn’t it great that we’re having that conversation?"

Golding continued: "Isn’t it great that people are like, ‘OK, now’s the time, why the hell can’t we have a black Bond, an Asian Bond, a mixed-race Bond, a non-distinct Bond?"

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