After five films playing 007, Daniel Craig is about to hand over the iconic role to a brand new star, with speculation about who it will be already stretching back several years.
Many have noted that as James Bond moves with the times, it would be fitting for producers to cast an actor of colour in the role, which producer Barbara Broccoli has expressed interest in, though she’s also ruled out giving the part to a woman.
As we look ahead to the future of the James Bond franchise, here are 12 stars who’ve all been rumoured at some point to succeed Daniel at the helm of the series...
Who is he? Let’s start with the James Bond rumour that still isn’t going anywhere – Idris’ acting credits include the Thor films, Beasts of No Nation the Fast & Furious series and the BBC detective drama Luther.
Where did the rumour come from? Idris has long been rumoured to be in the running to play 007 (since the speculation began in 2014, there’ve been three new films in the series released), with leaked emails from Sony executives suggesting he was a favourite for the part.
What has he said? “James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey. Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah!’. That’s fascinating to me.”
Who is he? He’s Tom Hardy! You may have seen him in films including Max Max: Fury Road, Dunkirk, Legend, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception or Venom.
Where did the rumour come from? Like Idris, speculation about Tom Hardy goes way back. Things hotted up last year, though, when the film blog The Vulcan Reporter claimed he’d done several auditions for the part and was “basically locked into the role”.
What has he said? “You know, there’s a saying amongst us in the fraternity of acting, and in the fellowship of my peer group, that if you talk about it you’re automatically out of the race. So I can’t possibly comment on that one! If I mention it, it’s gone.”
Who is he? Probably best known for his role as Loki in the Marvel universe, Tom also won a Golden Globe for his performance in the drama The Night Manager.
Where did the rumour come from? Around the time The Night Manager was airing, many viewers pointed out that the British actor might be a good James Bond, and was soon spotted having a meeting with the franchise’s chief Barbara Broccoli.
Unfortunately, this was also around the time of those infamous “I Heart TS” paparazzi shots, with rumours suggesting the ensuing media coverage (and his widely-panned Golden Globes speech) may have cost him the role of the man with the golden gun.
What has he said? “What can I say that you don’t already know? 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 the world outside. Whatever I say, I’ve found, generated more questions.”
Who is he? After rising to fame in Game Of Thrones, the Scottish actor later won a Golden Globe for his leading role in Bodyguard.
Where did the rumour come from? The action-packed Bodyguard led to Richard being tipped to succeed Daniel Craig as Bond, with the Daily Mail reporting at the time that the drama had caught the eye of Barbara Broccoli.
Bodyguard’s producers even teased that a second series of the drama would depend on “what happens with James Bond”.
What has he said? “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.
“I don’t want to curse anything by saying anything. I think that’s the curse of that. If you talk about it, you’ll curse it.”
Who is he? James is perhaps best known for his TV roles, which have included Happy Valley, Grantchester, McMafia and The Trial Of Christine Keeler, though you may have also seen him in action in the recent big-screen adaptation of Little Women.
Where did the rumour come from? While many of the actors named as potential replacements for Daniel Craig are based on anonymous “insiders” and source quotes, the rumours about James seem to stem primarily from bookies’ odds.
What has he said? “It’s crazy. It’s not real. It’s speculative. There is no truth behind it. Unless journalists know something more than I do.
“It’s bizarre and quite flattering to be even considered in that world, but beyond that? Pure speculation.”
Who is he? The British star of films like Crazy, Rich Asians, A Simple Favour and the Guy Ritchie action film The Gentlemen.
Where did the rumour come from? After Daniel Craig’s exit from the James Bond franchise was confirmed, fans began campaigning for Henry to take over the iconic spy role.
What has he said? “[The speculation] definitely [came] from Crazy Rich Asians, maybe the white suit coming out of the park. [And] because I’m Asian and everybody’s fighting for a diverse Bond – sorry, white guys.
“I don’t know. It’s an honour to even be in the conversation. It’s one of the greatest film roles ever, you’d be stupid to be like, ‘I don’t want to do that.’
“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?”
Who is he? Charlie’s biggest acting credits include Green Street, Queer As Folk and Sons Of Anarchy. He was also due to play Christian Gray in the 50 Shades Of Grey franchise, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Where did the rumour come from? Like Henry Golding, Charlie’s name being linked with playing James Bond largely stems from his devoted fanbase.
What has he said? “I would be so flattered and honoured to be considered to play James Bond as an Englishman. But my intuition tells me that I shouldn’t be waiting for that phone call to come. I think there are many people ahead of me on that list.
“It’s very flattering sort of fan dialogue. Nobody’s ever, on a professional level from within the industry, brought that up to me.
“As much as people want to talk about me playing James Bond – please continue. Maybe that’s the genesis of these things. Maybe fan chatter leads to industry people actually talking about it in a more serious way.”
Who is he? Sam is best known for playing one of the lead roles in the historical drama Outlander.
Where did the rumour come from? Sam has actually been on Bond producers’ radars for a while, having previously auditioned to succeed Pierce Brosnan in Casino Royale, which would eventually become Daniel Craig’s first outing in the role.
What has he said? “I don’t know if there is a conversation being had apart from in the media, but I think it’s an incredible franchise and a great character, so of course I would jump at it.”
Who is he? Henry is famous for playing Superman in the superhero’s most recent big-screen offerings, and also has the lead role in the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher.
Where did the rumour come from? After taking on an action role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., many viewers suggested he’d be a fitting replacement for Daniel Craig, with rumours last month suggesting his name had been raised among producers as a hot favourite.
Like Sam Heughan, Henry also auditioned for Casino Royale, back when he was just 21 years old.
What has he said?“I would absolutely jump at the opportunity. At this stage, it’s all up in the air. We’ll see what happens. But yes, I would love to play Bond, it would be very, very exciting.”
Who is he? Regé-Jean became an overnight sensation earlier this year thanks to his role as the main love interest in the Netflix period drama Bridgerton.
Where did the rumour come from? Fans immediately began suggesting Regé-Jean as a potential Bond, and when he announced he wasn’t returning for the second season of Bridgerton, the rumour mill hotted up even further.
What has he said?“Ah, the B word. I think if you are British and do anything of note, that other people take notice of, then people will start talking about that.
“That’s fairly normal and I’m flattered to be in the category of Brits that people have noticed.”
Who is he? The chart-topping singer made a name for himself as a member of One Direction, before making a name for himself as a Grammy-winning solo artist. He also has two films coming out in the near future, having previously made his acting debut in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.
Where did the rumour come from? This might sound like the work of over-excited Directioners, but in 2021, The Sun reported that Bond producers were hoping to take the character in a “new age” direction, and tipped Harry for the role.
What has he said? Harry’s reps said the rumours were “not even remotely true”. Too bad, tbh.
Who is he? After appearing in Sunshine On Leith and Pride, George landed his biggest role to date when he took the lead in the Bafta-winning 1917.
Where did the rumour come from? According to Page Six, Bond producers are considering rebooting the franchise after Daniel Craig’s departure, making the character younger, which is where the idea to have George play a rather different 007 was reportedly born.
What has he said? Interestingly enough, nothing – although we should stress that unlike others on this list, the rumours about George playing Bond are only a few weeks old.