The stars for and against a female James Bond – and the women who want to play 007

Is it time to gender-flip the franchise?

James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Spectre

It’s an age-old debate – could, or should, the part of James Bond ever be played by a woman?

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The lead role in Doctor Who – another part which requires recasting every few years – used to be subject to similar debate, until the series’ current boss Chris Chibnall just went ahead and chose award-winning actress Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor.

The Bond question remains, though, with a variety of famous faces – some connected to the franchise, some not – weighing in and having their say on the prospect of a female Bond.

Here’s who’s on which side of the argument… and a few stars who’ve put their hat into the ring to replace Daniel Craig.

FOR a female James Bond

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye
Keith Hamshere / Getty Images

Pierce Brosnan – who played Bond in four films between 1995 and 2002 – is the latest big name to come out in favour of a female Bond. “I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last 40 years – get out of the way, guys, and put a woman up there,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think it would be exhilarating, it would be exciting.”

Brosnan’s successor and current 007 actor Daniel Craig is also backing change, saying that “everybody should be considered”, including women and actors of colour (via The Mirror).

Interestingly, a number of male actors who’ve been touted to replace Craig have insisted they’d rather a woman took on the mantle next.

“Are we interested in having a Bond character other than being a male?” posed Idris Elba, in an interview with Variety. “[It] could be a woman – could be a black woman, could be a white woman, but I think, that character, everybody would like to see it have… do something different with it, why not?”

Idris Elba in Luther (BBC)
Idris Elba in Luther (BBC)

Michael Fassbender told GQ that “the franchise needs something new”, asking, “How about Jane Bond?”, with Cillian Murphy echoing the sentiment. “I think it should be a woman, which rules me out,” the Peaky Blinders star told The Guardian.

Dominic West, who actually auditioned for Bond in 2005, suggested to The Sunday Times that “a transgender Bond would be cool”.

The idea’s also been backed by a variety of celebrities not directly linked to Bond, including Chris Hemsworth (who wants Charlize Theron to play 007), Kristen Stewart and… erm… Theresa May. “One day there should be a female James Bond,” said the former PM, who’s known for her progressive views. *side eye*

AGAINST a female James Bond

Not everyone is making positive sounds about a female Bond, though, with a number of stars linked to the franchise shooting down the idea.

Ralph Fiennes – who currently plays Bond’s boss M in the movies – told BBC Two’s Newsnight that he thought a black or female star could “inhabit a Bond-like persona, but not necessarily be in the same franchise”, suggesting it’d be better to launch a new franchise than tweak 007.

Léa Seydoux, who played Madeleine Swann in 2015’s Spectre and will return in next year’s No Time To Die, adamantly told Elle that “James Bond has to be a man”, suggesting that since the films now feature “very strong female characters”, there’s no need to gender-flip the lead.

Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann in Spectre
SPECTRE © 2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Casino Royale’s Vesper Lynd actress Eva Green agreed, telling Vanity Fair that “it doesn’t make sense for [Bond] to be a woman”. “Women can play different types of characters, be in action movies and be superheroes, but James Bond should always be a man and not be Jane Bond. There is history with the character that should continue. He should be played by a man.”

Halle Berry, also a former Bond girl having appeared in 2002’s Die Another Day, similarly told Entertainment Tonight, “That series is steeped in history… you know, Ian Fleming’s stories. I don’t think you can change Bond to a woman.’

Florence Pugh, who delved into the world of espionage with the TV series The Little Drummer Girl and will do so again in Marvel’s Black Widow, told Digital Spy, “Someone asked if I wanted to be the first female Bond, and I was saying that I don’t think we necessarily need that whole conversation. Do we need to have a female Bond? Couldn’t we just make something new?”

Rachel Weisz (who is married to Daniel Craig) again told The Telegraph that women should bypass the role of 007 in favour of “their own stories”. “Why not create your own story rather than jumping on to the shoulders and being compared to all those other male predecessors?” she asked.

"Bond 25" Film Launch at GoldenEye, Jamaica
(L-R) Producer Michael G Wilson, Daniel Craig and producer Barbara Broccoli attend the Bond 25 film launch (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

The most notable objection, though, comes from Barbara Broccoli, film producer and overseer of the Bond series. “Bond is male,” Broccoli told The Guardian. “He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male. And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters.”

If Broccoli’s against the idea, then the chances of a female Bond are slim, at least for the foreseeable future – as Pierce Brosnan recently noted. “I don’t think that’s going to happen with the Broccolis,” he said. “I don’t think that is going to happen under their watch.”

Who could play a female James Bond?

If the door does ever open, however, there are plenty of actresses who are interested in becoming the first female Bond.

Cara Delevingne told BBC Radio 1 that she “wouldn’t mind being a Bond girl but I’m going for James,” with Priyanka Chopra telling host James Corden on The Late, Late Show that she’d also “prefer to play Bond” to one of his love interests.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke reportedly told The Daily Star that she “would love to play Jane Bond”, while  Gillian Anderson shared a piece of fan art casting her as the next Bond – bit of a leap from Margaret Thatcher.

Other stars to put their names forward include Doctor Who actress Pearl Mackie, Gotham star Morena Baccarin, Krypton’s Wallis Day and Pretty Little Liars’ Shay Mitchell.

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For now, though, the female Bond debate appears to be something of a moot point. Unless the creative forces behind the franchise change their outlook, it’s not something that’s likely to happen any time soon, even if there are plenty of big names lining up to take their shot.