Ian Fleming’s famous and infamous, all-in-one, MI-6 spy James Bond has been perhaps the most iconic cinematic hero of all time. Seven actors have filled his rogue-ish shoes over 26 films and 54 years: Sean Connery (7 films); David Niven (1 unofficial); George Lazenby (1); Roger Moore (7); Timothy Dalton (2); Pierce Brosnan (4); Daniel Craig (4). Many suspect that Bond will go black at long last, with the heavy-baritoned Idris Elba favored to be the next one.
The old-fashioned purists still swear by the first of them – the most elegant and stylish of them all – Sean Connery. But Roger Moore, who played Bond uninterrupted for 12 years and 7 films, the longest so far, was hailed as the actor who understood the self-parodying essence and light charm of the man.
For the younger generation, we grew up on two distinct Bonds: Pierce Brosnan, the suited and self-aware debonair misogynist, and, of course, the blonde and blue-eyed Daniel Craig – who has been the darkest, most physical and vulnerable, and true-to-Fleming Bond so far.
As our imaginations run amok every time the ladies’ man appears on screen, we will now take a look at the few contemporary actors who could now perhaps play Bond far better than Bond himself.
There’s still hope for the British actor, who has been extremely suited and Bond-ish in most of his leading roles – from King Arthur to Children Of Men to Closer. He hasn’t done too many noticeable films for the last five years, which begs the question: Why has MGM not snapped him up for the post-Craig era yet? He commands a certain intensity on screen, and can easily double up as a cold-blooded killing machine in a split second.
The (petite) English charmer, who has built up one of the most impressive character careers in recent history, could lend an edgy negative spin to Bond; much like Matt Damon, there is something antagonistic about him on screen, which could take the legendary spy in a new direction.
For some reason, the German-Irish 39-year-old actor always seems to be a natural rakish Bond trying instead to play Fassbender. He was born to be an action hero; it’s another matter he is an actor way beyond the caliber of actors that are usually required to play Bond. Perhaps, this is the mainstream push that he needs. If he ever wants it, that is.
The Welsh theatre legend and Frost/Nixon actor has primarily been a supporting character on screen, and is now famous for his intensely dislikeable and long-running Masters Of Sex (TV) performance. He has an expressive face, and could make for a very interesting commercial presence – perhaps, even compelling the directors to fashion a different language of Bond than the ones we have seen so far.
As Bobby “Axel” Axelrod in the latest primetime show ‘Billions’, the ginger-haired actor has burst upon the mainstream scene with TV Emmy-nominated appearances in Homeland and Wolf Hall. His portrayal of Axelrod though is so intimidating and focused that it’s hard to not imagine him fit into the low-profile-otherwise-unknown-film-star profile of Bond actors over the years.
The Guatemalan American actor, who shot to arthouse fame with the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year and Ex Machina, has been a perpetual Latino/Arab presence in big-budget movies, but became immensely recognizable as heroic pilot Poe Dameron is J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Perhaps the most versatile of the actors on this list, he will be a good choice for the producers to diversify and expand upon Bond’s otherwise-British-wry manner.
A personal favorite, Loki from The Avengers is actually a very competent and ominous presence – as demonstrated by his role in last year’s Crimson Peak. He isn’t the most macho or awe-inducing of Bonds, but imagine being stuck in a mind maze with this very intelligent-looking actor. Bond can be cerebral, too.