While it is looking increasingly unlikely that Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, or Henry Cavill will be the next James Bond, there is a range of stars who could still play 007 in Bond 26. It is never easy for franchise producers to find the next James Bond actor. Famously, Pierce Brosnan almost became the fourth James Bond in the mid-‘80s before his commitments to TV’s Remington Steele stopped the arrangement By the time Remington Steele was canceled a mere 6 episodes later, Timothy Dalton had accepted the part, and it would be another decade before Brosnan got his shot at playing 007.
Given this messy history, it is understandable that the James Bond franchise’s producers haven’t been in any rush to announce Bond 26’s new star. Since Daniel Craig’s James Bond debut Casino Royale was critically acclaimed, it will be tough for the eighth canonical 007’s first movie to make an equally impactful impression. However, the makers have not remained entirely tight-lipped, with Bond producer Michael G. Wilson stating that the role “works for a thirty-something” in 2022. This could mean that the likes of Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, and Idris Elba (who took himself out of the running) are less likely to be the next 007.
10 Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Bullet Train star Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the current front-runner in the race to play James Bond in Bond 26, with fans even creating art of Taylor-Johnson as Bond. Boasting a long blockbuster history and a solid mix of action and comedy roles to his name, the Kick-Ass franchise star is undeniably well-suited to the part. At 32, he is young but not too young, making Taylor-Johnson a smart choice. However, even though Taylor-Johnson’s comedy chops could help Bond 26, his commitments to Kraven the Hunter could prove a problem in terms of his future availability.
9 James Norton
A lesser-known British star with myriad TV and movie roles under his belt, James Norton is a solid choice for Bond 26’s 007. War and Peace, Grantchester, and Happy Valley all prove that he has range, while Things Heard and Seen and Little Women give him some international profile. However, a lack of name recognition could be an issue for Norton as he contends with bigger stars for the part. That said, sometimes this can work in favor of a Bond actor if the producers don’t want a household name overshadowing the iconic character.
8 Richard Madden
Game of Thrones made Richard Madden a star and, more recently, Eternals cemented this status. As a result, for a while, it looked like Madden would inevitably be the next Bond. However, Madden’s spy drama series Citadel seemed like a big-budget dry run for the part of Bond, which could prove to be a problem. The fact that Citadel only earned middling reviews could make the show a poor advertisement for Madden’s potential in the role.
7 Jack Lowden
A lesser-known contender, Lowden has quietly, consistently built an impressive screen CV including everything from Fighting With My Family to War and Peace. He is also the right age to play Bond at 32, which means he could offer the ten-year commitment that producers are hoping to find. Most importantly, unlike Taylor-Johnson, Madden, Henry Golding, Will Poulter, and even Rege-Jean Page, Lowden is unlikely to be too recognizable for the part. However, as noted above, this could be a bonus or an issue depending on what producers want.
6 Dev Patel
Patel’s long screen history works in his favor, with the actor starring in a range of impressive roles from Slumdog Millionaire to The Green Knight. However, like Taylor-Johnson, Patel’s youthful ubiquity means he has also inevitably weathered a few flops in his time, with roles in the likes of Chappie and The Last Airbender working against him. That said, these failures are few and far between, and Patel does have the right balance of gravitas and roguish charm for the role. The Personal History of David Copperfield saw the star prove his skill as a leading man, proving that 007 wouldn’t be a stretch.
5 Rege-Jean Page
Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page was a bookmaker’s favorite for Bond 26’s 007 when he became the breakout star of the Netflix series. His odds improved further when he left Bridgerton before season 2 to pursue other projects, although this didn’t pan out quite as he might have hoped. Page might still nab the role, but the critical failure of The Gray Man and the financial underperformance of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves likely won’t help his odds going forward.
4 Henry Golding
Henry Golding seems to have the perfect mixture of charisma and star power for the role of Bond but flops like Assassin Club and Snake Eyes hurt his odds. However, his comedy talents mean Golding could be more of a Roger Moore Bond than an anguished Daniel Craig type. This would assuage any fears about box office disaster given how well Golding’s comedy thrillers like The Gentlemen and A Simple Favor performed upon release.
3 Paapa Essiedu
While Essiedu’s movie CV is short, his role in Gangs of London proves he has what it takes to play Bond. Bookmakers seemingly agree with this assessment, judging by his 2/1 odds, but the fact that he has only appeared in a pair of feature films may give producers pause. One thing that can be said for certain is that if Essiedu does get the iconic role, Bond 26 will shoot him to superstardom after a modest start in a critically acclaimed but under-seen TV show.
2 Will Poulter
Will Poulter has youth, critical credibility, and screen experience going for him. However, at an event celebrating 60 years of the franchise, the star said he wants to see a more believable James Bond when interviewed by British GQ. This could go against the franchise’s plans for the character since the gritty reinvention of 007 introduced in Casino Royale is not as timely as it once was. After the success of the Bourne movies, everyone wanted a brooding, darker Bond, but Bond 26 could benefit from some levity and Poulter doesn’t seem interested in 007’s self-parodic potential.
1 Aidan Turner
An outside contender, Aidan Turner is best known for the period drama Poldark. However, his blockbuster history with The Hobbit movies means he is not a stranger to high-profile roles and, while Poldark may not be a globally huge hit, anyone who has seen the series can speak to Turner’s star power. The Irish actor has charisma to burn and a commanding screen presence, meaning there is still a chance that Aidan Turner will be the next James Bond in Bond 26 despite (or perhaps because of) his comparative lack of international fame.
This story originally appeared on Screenrant