Warning: This article contains significant SPOILERS for the newest James Bond movie, No Time to Die.
Game of Thrones star Richard Madden is now the favorite to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond, with the Robb Stark actor replacing Tom Hardy as the frontrunner among bookmakers with odds of +225.00 (9/4 in the UK), according to Express.
Richard Madden has been one of the leading contenders for the role for some time. The latest speculation is a resumption of the heavy rumors featured in the press around the broadcast of the UK television hit Bodyguard. Madden stood out as a Principal Protection Officer (PPO) assigned to guard the British Home Secretary, the equivalent of the Secretary of the Interior.
Rumors that Richard Madden will play James Bond have been around for a while
The series, which is currently available on Netflix was critically acclaimed, and Madden won a Golden Globe for his work. It was also nominated for Outstanding Drama at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards. A second season is on the way.
At the 2019 UK National TV Awards, an unnamed producer told Britain’s Daily Mail that the production team didn’t “know if Richard will do series two… It depends what happens with James Bond; we don’t know yet.” Whether the producer was speaking based on rumor or real knowledge isn’t clear.
Just a month earlier, it had been rumored that Bond producers were ready to approach Madden, with an unnamed source telling the same paper, “It’s seriously looking like he is going to get the job. Not only is he on top of [producer Barbara Broccoli’s] list, but she is preparing to offer the role.” It should, however, be noted that the Daily Mail is infamous for its lack of accuracy and sensationalized headlines.
Speaking to Esquire not long after the rumors hit the press, Bodyguard creator Jed Mercurio said he feared that he may lose his star to other projects. With Bodyguard getting a second season, that fear proved unfounded. He could still play James Bond, though, as any new movie is likely some years away.
"[Madden’s] the genuine article, a real leading man, and I think this role has put him very much in the spotlight for bigger things. So the practicality may be that we have to work round his availability if we are lucky enough to get him back."
The role of Bond is something that’s been on Madden’s mind. Talking with GQ in 2018, the actor 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 anything, you’ll curse it."
Speaking to the Radio Times, Madden’s Bodyguard costar Keeley Hawes, said that would be “phenomenal” as the next Bond. “I said to Richard while we were shooting, ‘This is like James Bond!’ I would love to see Richard playing James Bond; I would love that… I think he would be phenomenal.”
Hawes isn’t the only one backing Madden for the role, with the legendary Sean Bean throwing his weight behind his former Game of Thrones costar. Bean starred as Ned Stark on the HBO show, father of Madden’s Robb Stark. He also appeared in the Bond franchise as villain Alec Trevelyan in 1995’s Goldeneye, starring alongside Pierce Brosnan in the latter’s first outing as Bond.
“He’s got everything that’s required of the role,” Bean told The Sun in 2019. “He’s strong, he’s masculine, and he’s also got a soft underbelly, he’s vulnerable, good looking — Scottish! I can’t see why he wouldn’t get the part.”
"Everybody was great who came through Game Of Thrones. But I always sensed [Richard Madden] was a very fine actor. He had gravity and that thing we talked about at drama school — presence. He had a lot of presence."
Just behind Madden is Tom Hardy, best known for his roles in Venom, The Dark Knight Rises and Inception. Hardy starred alongside Daniel Craig in 2004’s Layer Cake; that movie also featured Ben Whishaw, who plays Q in the Bond franchise. Hardy’s odds stand at +300.00 (3/1).
SPOILERS for No Time to Die below
Bond fans are still feeling the fallout from the closing moments of No Time to Die, where Craig’s Bond is seemingly blown to bits and killed after a missile strike, ensuring that Lyutsifer Safin’s (Rami Malek) plan fails.
Whether the situation confirms the long-held fan theory that “James Bond” is merely a codename for different individuals is unknown, although the franchise may simply be using a plot device from the original Ian Flemming novel, You Only Live Twice. In that book, Bond survived such an explosion with head injuries; the rest of the world believing him to be dead as he lived a life as a Japanese fisherman. No, really, check the harbor; he’s probably fine!
However, Bond’s death has led to an increase in speculation that the next lead will be either a woman, an actor of color or both. However, producer Barbara Broccoli has gone on record to say that James Bond will never be played by a woman, stating that she would rather create new female characters than recast old male ones. The sentiments were echoed by Daniel Craig during the No Time to Die promo tour.
Speaking with Total Film, Broccoli said that, “We should create roles for women, not just turn a man into a woman.” She did add, however, that whatever comes next will once again be a reimagining and evolution for the series:
"It will have to be reimagined, in the way each actor has reimagined the role. That’s what is so exciting and fun about this franchise; the character evolves. Eventually, when we have to think about it, we’ll find the right person."
Who else might play James Bond?
In No Time to Die, an MI6 agent named Nomi (Lashana Lynch) took over Bond’s 00-number, but returned the designation to him by the end of the film. While she may not be Bond or even 007, the possibility exists that a spinoff series could be created starring the character.
Meanwhile, behind Madden and Hardy is Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page, who is in much demand after the Netflix series was a runaway hit. Page’s odds are currently +400.00 (4/1).
In an interview with The Mirror in the UK, Page 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. The concept of having plans in this moment in history is mildly hilarious. I’ve given up making them."
Idris Elba is another name in the frame, even though many have highlighted the fact that, at 43, he is only four years younger than Daniel Craig is now. However, he wouldn’t be the oldest ever actor to debut in the role, as Roger Moore was 46 when Live and Let Die was released in 1973 and Pierce Brosnan was only a year younger than Elba for Goldeneye. Elba, who has odds of +1000.00 (10/1), has previously said quite definitively, “No, I’m not going to be James Bond.”
Pretty much every British actor who has ever starred in a movie has been linked with the role since it became clear that No Time to Die would be Daniel Craig’s last film as James Bond. Other names frequently mentioned include Superman‘s Henry Cavill, Spiderman star Tom Holland, McMafia star James Norton, Fifty Shades actor Jamie Dornan, and Star Wars‘ John Boyega.
Despite the intense speculation amongst fans and the press, it’s unlikely we’ll know who’s donning the famous tuxedo anytime soon. Earlier this year, Barbara Broccoli told the Today program on the BBC’s Radio 4 that producers weren’t “even thinking about” casting yet and wouldn’t begin the process until 2022.
"We want Daniel [Craig] to have his time of celebration. Next year, we’ll start thinking about the future."
No Time To Die is in cinemas now. Marvel’s Eternals, starring Richard Madden, is released in the US and UK on November 5, available two days early in many European countries on November 3.