Bond. James Bond. There are few characters in all of cinema who need as little introduction. Since his creation by Ian Fleming in the 1950s, James Bond has gone on to become one of the most ubiquitous, iconic characters in all of film and literature. There have been many definitive portrayals of the character, ranging from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan and all the way to the current Bond himself, Daniel Craig.
But with Daniel Craig reportedly itching to leave the role behind, and planning to exit his time as 007 after the release of the forthcoming Bond 25, it’s the perfect time to start really thinking about all the potential actors who could soon find themselves up for consideration for the career-defining role. Here, we take a look at ten current actors in Hollywood who have proven themselves to be capable of playing the MI6 agent who prefers his drinks shaken, not stirred.
10 Tom Hardy
On the one hand, it might be hard to see someone like Tom Hardy in the role of James Bond after his roles as Eddie Brock aka Venom in Venom, and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. These heavily genre, villainous role stand in direct opposition with the cool composure and suave nature that a role like 007 would require from any actor.
But Hardy’s work in other films, including Inception, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, This Means War, and Legend have shown that he has what it takes when it comes to portraying a true leading man and action hero. He has seemingly endless charm in these varied roles, and shows himself to be quite gifted in any form of combat scene that the roles require of him.
9 Dan Stevens
Whether you know him best as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, Prince Adam aka The Beast in 2017’s live action Beauty and the Beast, or David Haller in FX’s Legion, it’s clear that Dan Stevens has what it takes to portray truly versatile characters. He can play characters that are truly unhinged at one moment, and completely charming in the next.
He’s capable of being a romantic, but also a true menacing threat. And above all, he looks damned good in a suit, regardless of what time period or setting the new Bond films could be set in. Dashing, intimidating, and romantic – three important traits for any good Bond, and three traits that Dan Stevens boasts in spades.
8 David Oyelowo
The call for a Black actor to play James Bond is one that has become louder and louder in recent years, as the push for diversity has rightfully taken center stage in many discussions in Hollywood. A British actor of Nigerian descent who would make a terrific James Bond is David Oyelowo.
Perhaps best known for his portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 2014 film Selma, Oyelowo has more pertinent experience to the role of Bond that audiences may not be aware of. He had a supporting role in the 2012 thriller Jack Reacher, as well as a major role in the polarizing 2018 film The Cloverfield Paradox. And early in his career, from 2002-2004, he played an MI5 agent in the British spy drama Spooks.
7 Richard Madden
While Game of Thrones‘ Robb Stark may not exactly seem like a perfect choice for a character like James Bond, actor Richard Madden has proven time and again in various roles since leaving Game of Thrones that he has what it takes to fill 007’s incredibly daunting shoes. Movies like Cinderella have shown that he has the romantic, charming, suave personality down to a science, while his work in series such as Medici: Masters of Florence show that he can be cool, calm, and calculating, too.
But it’s perhaps his turn as PS David Budd in the BBC One/Netflix series Bodyguard that shows, above all else, he is a true action hero leading man in the making – and absolutely perfect for representing a new generation’s introduction to James Bond, too.
6 Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage may be best known to American audiences for his work in period dramas such as North & South, and the trilogy of The Hobbit films. He may also be recognized for his work in the cult hit series Hannibal, or his turn as Guy of Gisborne in the British series Robin Hood. But his work in other, lesser known to international audiences series show that, despite being one of the older candidates on this list, Armitage could be the man for the job.
As Lucas North, a member of the MI5, in the British series Spooks, Armitage is basically already a miniature James Bond in training. In recent years, the EPIX drama Berlin Station has allowed Armitage to return to the world of spies and subterfuge, showing that he definitely has what it takes to step into the MI6 game.
5 Aidan Turner
As it turns out, Richard Armitage isn’t the only alum of The Hobbit trilogy who would do a pretty good job as James Bond. Aidan Turner, best known for his role as Ross Poldark in the lush period drama series Poldark, has all the necessary charisma and suave screen presence to command a series of action packed Bond films. Poldark himself mirrors Bond’s personality in many ways, but that role isn’t the only one that has given Turner the experience he would need to take on 007.
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The 2009-2011 British sci fi series Being Human allowed Turner to flex his brooding badass muscles as vampire John Mitchell, and in the 2015 Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None, he played the dastardly, mysterious, deadly Philip Lombard – a character it was impossible to keep your eyes off from the moment he set foot on screen.
4 John Boyega
John Boyega may be the youngest actor on this list, but it isn’t difficult at all to picture a future in which Boyega is helming a Bond series of his own. At only 27 years old, Boyega has already proven himself to have incredible acting talents in drama, comedy, and action, showing that he would be able to handily take on any action packed Bond narrative, while also managing the necessary moments of levity and romantic drama at the same time.
Boyega may be best known for his work as Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, but his roles in Detroit, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and Attack the Block have more than shown the strength of his talent as a lead in any kind of film, no matter what sort of heavy material is thrown his way.
3 Chris Hemsworth
James Bond meets Bondi Beach? It’s not totally out of the question. While Chris Hemsworth wouldn’t be the first Australian actor to take on the role of James Bond, he would be the first to do so since George Lazenby in 1969. But Hemsworth would also arguably be one of the best known names to take on the film, having already established a career-defining role for himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor.
But Hemsworth has what it takes to be the next Bond, since he’ll likely be putting the Norse god of thunder behind him soon. His action star power is undeniable, as is his swoon worthy charm. And he cuts a damn fine figure in a suit, if the teasers for the Men in Black reboot are anything to go by.
2 Matthew Goode
A quiet favorite for the role of James Bond comes in the form of a man who has already given voice to the character – in audiobook form, at least. Matthew Goode has appeared in countless debonair and dashing roles, whether romancing Lady Mary in the final season of Downton Abbey, or serving some serious steely and sultry looks as 1,500 year old vampire Matthew Clairmont in A Discovery of Witches.
Films like Park Chan Wook’s Stoker and The Imitation Game have also shown that he can be dashing and dangerous in equal measure. And as we’ve previously mentioned, the 40-year-old Goode has already brought life to 007 in the audiobook version of the Bond novel Forever and a Day.
1 Idris Elba
Far and away the frontrunner in most discussions of the next actor to take on the 007 title, however, is Idris Elba. Although one of the oldest actors on this list, Elba has long led the list of contenders for the first Black James Bond – and when you look at his impressive body of work, it’s not hard to see why.
Elba first broke onto the Hollywood scene with his stellar work as the powerful drug ringleader Stringer Bell in the HBO series The Wire, showing his perfect brand of quiet lethalness from the very beginning. But it’s inarguably his long time role as DCI John Luther in the British crime series Luther that shows that Elba may be the best candidate of them all when it comes to playing the dark, dangerous, badass, charming James Bond. With John Luther, he basically already has.