Hardly a day goes by without a new contender for the next James Bond, or an opinion on what sort of Bond should carry the torch after Daniel Craig’s last squinty sojourn as the 007 agent.
Should James Bond become Jane Bond, or should we move away from the conga line of white men who’ve inhabited the role since the Sixties?
Well, according to Damian Lewis, there’s something we’ve overlooked for more than five decades: there’s never been a ginger Bond. Not that he thinks he’s the one to take up the mantle, mind.
“By the time they finally finish making the next Bond, I’ll be old, decrepit,” he says. “But on the other hand, from a diversity point of view, don’t you think it’s about time we had a ginger Bond?”
Flame hair notwithstanding, Lewis actually has a pretty strong case to join MI6 – his work on the spy thriller Homeland saw him at CIA headquarters in Langley, finding what makes real-life spies tick.
And, in his most recent project with brother Gareth, Damian delves into real-life espionage stories from the past 40 years, combining archive footage, interviews with former agents and Damian’s uncanny ability to rock a polo shirt and a blazer, like a bank holiday Bond.
But, as Damian explores in Damian Lewis: Spy Wars, real spy-craft is far from the romanticised glamour of Bond. And, ultimately, much less forgiving.
“The reasons for turning traitor or being a hero,” says Lewis, “are often quite grubby or banal. Clearly, there has to be a degree of sociopath in you, but the ability to compartmentalise is critical.
“The great thing about Bond is how bad a spy he is, and how brilliant he is in recovering his position. Bond makes endless mistakes. That’s what’s fun about him.”
Read the full interview with Damian Lewis in Radio Times magazine, out now