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Who is Aaron Taylor-Johnson: His best performances that marked him out for James Bond

Could the 32-year-old Brit be the 007th actor to play James Bond on the big screen?

English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson poses as he arrives to attend the UK Gala Screening of the film
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is one of the names tipped to be the next James Bond. (AFP via Getty Images) (NIKLAS HALLE'N via Getty Images)

Could Aaron Taylor-Johnson be the next James Bond?

As far as movie roles go, there are few that are as shrouded in mystery, intrigue and rumour as the decision behind who’ll step into the sleek tux of 007.

In fact, in January 2023 the internet was abuzz with chatter that suggested the Bullet Train star was the latest frontrunner in the ongoing race for 007, pitting him against former Man of Steel Henry Cavill as the bookies’ favourite for inheriting the role from Daniel Craig who hung up his PPK with last year’s climactic No Time To Die.

Read more: 16 actors who could be the next James Bond

Responding to the rumours in August 2023, while promoting his upcoming Spider-Man spin-off Kraven The Hunter, the 33-year-old actor inadvertently poured fuel on the fire when he refused to confirm or deny he would be the next 007.

“It’s not really for me to say anything,” he told Esquire.

“I’ve spent two years making Kraven. So all that hard work we put into trying to get that to where it is—that’s where I’m at right now.”

USA. Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the (C)Columbia Pictures new movie : Kraven the Hunter (2023)  . Plot: Russian immigrant Sergei Kravinoff is on a mission to prove that he is the greatest hunter in the world.  Ref: LMK110-J10022-270623 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Kraven the Hunter. (Alamy/Columbia Pictures) (Landmark Media, LANDMARK MEDIA)

“I just focus on the things I can have in my hands right now. What’s in front of me right now.”

If you’re one of the few who are still unsure as to who this star with the double-barrelled surname is that very well may soon become the world’s greatest secret agent, fear not — we have you covered.

Just like gadget master Q, we’ve appeared from left field with some key tools to help bring you up to speed on Taylor-Johnson and his key performances that have set this 32-year-old out as a suitable candidate for taking Bond into his next action-packed chapter.

Nowhere Boy (2009)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. (Alamy)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. (Alamy) (Cinematic Collection)

Despite starring in a number of movies before this one – you may have spotted Taylor-Johnson in 2006’s The Illusionist and 2008’s Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging – it was 2009’s Nowhere Boy that proved to be the key turning point in his early career, both professionally and personally.

As far as the former is concerned, it saw him step into the musical mind of a teenage John Lennon, chronicling his early relationships, musical endeavours and the key moments that set him on the path to becoming a Beatle.

Read more: Get Back is a treat for fans of The Beatles

As for the latter, the film introduced him to its director, Sam Taylor-Wood (now Taylor-Johnson), to whom he’s been happily married for the past 11 years.

Meanwhile, the rave reviews received for his take on Lennon helped set him up as a one to watch, proving that he had the dedication, depth and acting chops needed to help audiences lose themselves in a role, a quality that’s surely necessary for any 007 contender.

Kick-Ass (2010)

KICK-ASS, Aaron Johnson, 2010. Ph: Daniel Smith/©Lions Gate/courtesy Everett Collection
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kick-Ass. (Lions Gate/Everett Collection) (©Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection, Everett Collection Inc)

Punching, kicking and sweating its way onto cinema screens back in 2008, director Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Marc Millar and John Romita Jr’s bloody comic series Kick-Ass likely served as many people’s first introduction to Taylor-Johnson.

In it, he plays a dweeby teenager who takes it upon himself to become a real-life superhero. After losing his ability to feel pain following injuries suffered during an early outing, the eponymous Kick-Ass decides to go the whole hog and take down a major crime lord with the help of the Dark Knight-esque Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his foul-mouthed, stab-happy daughter Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz).

Watch: Aaron Taylor-Johnson meets with James Bond producers to discuss the role

Read more: Moretz is 'still game' for Kick-Ass 3

Despite sharing the screen with Cage going full 1960s Batman Adam West, and being surrounded by action-packed musical numbers, Taylor-Johnson manages to hold his own while displaying a solid ability to handle action scenes - a skill that’d no doubt be handy on a Bond mission.

Pietro Maximoff (2014-2015)

Avengers : Age of Ultron ; Year : 2015 USA ; Director : Joss Whedon ; Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen ; Photo: Jay Maidment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Jay Maidment/Alamy) (Marvel Studios, Photo 12)

There’s so much going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that you’d be forgiven for temporarily forgetting that Taylor-Johnson was actually part of it. First appearing in 2014’s costumed thriller Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he played Pietro Maximoff, on-screen sister to Wanda AKA the Scarlet Witch and an incarnation of super-speedy X-Man, Quicksilver.

He went on to portray the character again in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and ultimately snuff it during the battle for Sokovia, causing a plot beat that heavily influenced Wanda’s future, particularly in the 2021 series WandaVision.

Speaking of which, it was in this show where Pietro had a renaissance of sorts when Dahmer’s Evan Peters reprised his take on the same character from 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, just to confuse matters even more.

Combined with his Kick Ass action credentials, it’s a wonder comic book movies haven’t used Taylor-Johnson more (actually, he is due to star in Sony's Spider-Man spin-off Kraven The Hunter later this year) but if these Bond rumours turn out to be true, his free spandex time may soon be in short supply.

Tenet (2020)

USA. Aaron Taylor-Johnson  in a scene from the ©Warner Bros. new movie: Tenet (2020). Plot: An action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel, and evolution. Ref:   LMK110-J6757-240820 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a scene from Tenet (2020). (LMKMEDIA/Alamy) (Landmark Media, LANDMARK MEDIA)

There’s plenty we didn’t understand about Christopher Nolan’s time-flipping, mind-bender Tenet but one thing we’re pretty sure of is that it contained an appearance by Taylor-Johnson.

Put into the context of his wider film career so far and coupled with his spots in 2014’s Godzilla and 2016 drama Nocturnal Animals, his portrayal of military man Ives in this film arguably marks a step closer to more mature, adult-orientated roles — especially following early outings that arguably could be considered light teen-fodder.

Read more: Christopher Nolan pushing the boundaries with Tenet

Here, Taylor-Johnson’s on hand to help John David Washington’s protagonist and his Robert Pattinson-shaped handler pull off a time-heist known as a ‘Pincer Movement’ that’s far too brain-meltingly complex to properly explain. While the whole thing’s entertaining to watch, it’s hard not to feel that he was a tad underused — something he surely wouldn’t have to worry about if he becomes MI6’s latest secret agent.

Bullet Train (2022)

Brian Tyree-Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Bullet Train. (Sony Pictures)
Brian Tyree-Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Bullet Train. (Sony Pictures)

With Bullet Train, Taylor-Johnson once again leans into the action starring alongside Brad Pitt in a mile-a-minute punch-a-thon set on a speeding locomotive. Pitt stars as an anxiety-ridden carrier who must fight his way through a number of onboard assassins in order to retrieve a briefcase full of money.

Taylor-Johnson plays one of those assassins and his time in the movie is responsible for delivering one of its most impressive and quippy scraps. It’s a role that brings us nicely up to date on his career thus far, leaving him in a position where he’s clearly adept and the owner of an enviable IMDb resume albeit with a distinct feeling that he hasn’t quite found a role worthy of his full talents just yet.

As a young British male that looks suave in a suit, Bond could change all that for Taylor-Johnson. However, only time will tell if 007 is indeed in his future.