15 actors who could be the next James Bond after 'No Time to Die'

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·11 min read
Tom Hardy, Dev Patel, Henry Cavill and Henry Golding could be in the frame to play James Bond. (Credit: Dave Benett/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Andreas Rentz/Jerritt Clark/Getty)
Tom Hardy, Dev Patel, Henry Cavill and Henry Golding could be in the frame to play James Bond. (Credit: Dave Benett/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Andreas Rentz/Jerritt Clark/Getty)

It’s arguably the most sought after role in British cinema — the mantle of Ian Fleming’s high-rolling superspy James Bond. Six actors have already played 007 on the big screen, with Daniel Craig announcing that this year’s No Time to Die will be his final outing in the iconic tuxedo. There’s an empty seat in the front of a technologically enhanced Aston Martin, but who’s going to slide into it?

Read more: Craig hints at No Time to Die connection to Casino Royale

Speculation as to Craig’s replacement has been rife for years, especially given his florid remarks about just how little he wanted to play Bond again after Spectre in 2015. Idris Elba was the presumptive frontrunner for a long time, but it seems clear he’s not all that keen on taking on the role at this point. All we know from Bond producer about the next actor to take the role is: “He can be of any colour, but he is male.”

That does, however, leave an array of compelling choices to play James Bond when the dust settles on Cary Fukunaga’s No Time to Die.

Here’s the pick of the bunch.

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill attends "The Witcher" World Premiere on December 16, 2019 in London. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Henry Cavill attends "The Witcher" World Premiere on December 16, 2019 in London. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Daniel Craig recently revealed that, as a kid, he was far more interested in one day being Superman than James Bond. Well, if Henry Cavill is the person who replaces Craig as Bond, he’ll have managed to nab both roles. The star would certainly be a popular choice given his heroic exploits as the Man of Steel, as well as the lead in Netflix fantasy series The Witcher and as the Bond-esque Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s fun take on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He auditioned for Bond last time it was rebooted, losing out to Daniel Craig, and told Yahoo in 2018 that if the 007 producers approached him this time, he’d definitely say “yes”.

Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all auditioned for Bond ahead of their time, so we know the producers like to return to previous hopefuls. All bodes well for Cavill.

Richard Madden

Richard Madden attends the US premiere of "Rocketman" on May 29, 2019. (Photo by Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images)
Richard Madden attends the US premiere of "Rocketman" on May 29, 2019. (Photo by Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images)

His demise at the infamous Red Wedding broke the hearts of Game of Thrones fans and his role in Jed Mercurio’s uber-successful Bodyguard made him the talk of telly. As a result, Madden has hovered near the top of bookies’ lists for the James Bond role for years and there was even a rumour that he was within a whisker of securing the job. The offer never came, as far as we know, but Madden will continue to be one of the actors who will be connected with Bond whenever he’s pictured on a red carpet wearing a tuxedo.

James Norton

James Norton at the photocall for the film "Mr. Jones". (Photo by Jens Kalaene/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)
James Norton at the photocall for the film "Mr. Jones". (Photo by Jens Kalaene/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

Earlier this year, Grantchester and McMafia actor James Norton dismissed speculation that he might play Bond as “bizarre and quite flattering”. He denied there was any truth to the rumours, but his name certainly appears on bookies’ lists with too much frequency for it to be entirely unfounded. He’s in his early to mid-thirties, so sits in a similar age bracket to Craig when he was handed the role ahead of 2006’s Casino Royale, and has carved out an impressive career on the small screen. Perhaps something more glamorous beckons.

Dev Patel

Dev Patel attends the European premiere of 'The Personal History of David Copperfield' during the BFI London Film Festival on 2 October, 2019. (Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Dev Patel attends the European premiere of 'The Personal History of David Copperfield' during the BFI London Film Festival on 2 October, 2019. (Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

From his time on Skins to his recent Oscar nomination for Lion and leading role in Armando Iannucci’s heart-warming The Personal History of David Copperfield, Dev Patel has proved himself to be one of Britain’s most consistently likeable performers. He’s capable of comedy, intense drama and even action in Neill Blomkamp’s underrated Chappie and last year’s harrowing Hotel Mumbai.

Read more: Dev Patel praises colourblind casting

Patel has all of the tools for Bond — including looking very good in a suit — and would, of course, make history as the first non-white actor to play the role.

Nicholas Hoult

Nicholas Hoult attends The Fashion Awards 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall on December 02, 2019. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Nicholas Hoult attends The Fashion Awards 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall on December 02, 2019. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

A fellow Skins alumnus of Patel’s, Nicholas Hoult has proven himself adept at slotting into major franchise roles, whether as Beast in X-Men or as the war boy Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road. Indeed, he was set to play a villain in the upcoming Mission: Impossible films before the coronavirus pandemic threw up scheduling challenges.

Read more: Hoult auditioned for Game of Thrones

As with Patel, he’s a tad younger — at 30 — than most of the actors on this shortlist, but he has shown more than enough charisma in his career to date to make a case for his spot on the set of the next Bond adventure.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Aaron Taylor-Johnson visits ‘The IMDb Show’ on Twitch on December 4, 2019. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson visits ‘The IMDb Show’ on Twitch on December 4, 2019. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)

Another member of the younger contingent of potential Bonds, Aaron Taylor-Johnson comes loaded with major action experience, having played the lead role in superhero pastiche Kick-Ass and the primary human character in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla. An armful of awards nominations for his work in Nocturnal Animals and a series of recent transformative roles — including a very secret appearance in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Tenet — show he has serious range too.

Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy attends the premiere of "Taboo" on January 9, 2017. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Tom Hardy attends the premiere of "Taboo" on January 9, 2017. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Much like Idris Elba, it feels as if Tom Hardy has been at the top of many James Bond shortlists for at least a decade. Also in keeping with Elba, Hardy has taken on a series of roles that would seem to prepare him very well for a stint as 007, including the smooth-talking Eames in Inception and a distinctly quieter brand of field agent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Read more: Mixed reviews land for Tom Hardy in crime pic Capone

Given his recent odyssey of over-cranked characters and strange accents, it’s possible Hardy is the only person on this list for whom Bond would feel like coming back down to Earth.

Henry Golding

Henry Golding attends Hennessy’s “Greatness is an Odyssey” content series premiere on December 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy)
Henry Golding attends Hennessy’s “Greatness is an Odyssey” content series premiere on December 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy)

Henry Golding went from being almost entirely unknown — outside of devout fans of the Beeb’s Travel Show — to being everyone’s top choice for James Bond with exceptional speed. One of the breakout stars of Crazy Rich Asians, Golding oozed the sort of charm and suave charisma that is a key part of suitability for the role of James Bond.

Golding told Yahoo Movies UK last year that Bond is a “dream role” for him and Last Christmas director Paul Feig agreed that he’d be a great choice, as long as he can helm the movie. The campaign starts here.

Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan arrives for the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Bloodshot" on March 10, 2020. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Sam Heughan arrives for the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Bloodshot" on March 10, 2020. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Best known for his award-scooping role on historical drama series Outlander, Scottish actor Sam Heughan is a relatively new addition to the mix of potential James Bonds. However, he threw fuel on the fire of speculation back in March when he revealed that he actually auditioned for the role previously, when producers considered going radically younger for the reboot approach in Casino Royale. 15 years later, he could certainly be back on the shortlist.

Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston poses at the opening night of "Betrayal" on Broadway on September 5, 2019. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)
Tom Hiddleston poses at the opening night of "Betrayal" on Broadway on September 5, 2019. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

As with many well-spoken British thesps, Tom Hiddleston has been a permanent fixture in the conversation surrounding Daniel Craig’s replacement. The accomplished stage and screen actor has amassed a sizeable fan base for his work as MCU villain/Thor frenemy Loki. He also has form in the world of espionage, having played the title role in the BBC’s 2016 adaptation of John le Carré novel The Night Manager. He even won a Golden Globe for that performance. If he can find time amid his commitments to the Loki TV series, he’d be an excellent Bond.

John Boyega

John Boyega attends the EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on 02 February, 2020. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
John Boyega attends the EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on 02 February, 2020. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

John Boyega has made no secret of his ambitions to play James Bond, saying in 2018 that although he was “a bit young” for the part, he’d love the chance to step into the shoes of 007 and wield the Walther PPK. He’s certainly no stranger to outlandish action, having portrayed former Stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter Finn in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy.

Read more: Boyega dubbed “hero” after Black Lives Matter speech

Boyega is a hugely charismatic figure who seems to take real joy in every role he plays. Given the strange, love-hate relationship Craig has seemed to have with the franchise, it could be a refreshing change to cast someone who will grab it with both arms.

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens attends the New York special screening of Disney's live-action adaptation 'Beauty and the Beast' on March 13, 2017. (Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Dan Stevens attends the New York special screening of Disney's live-action adaptation 'Beauty and the Beast' on March 13, 2017. (Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

He’s currently playing a Russian singer/lothario in the Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, but former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens would make a great choice for the role of James Bond. Alongside his work in the ITV drama and his blockbuster lead turn — albeit beneath a lot of CGI — as the Beast in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, Stevens showed real darkness with his memorable performance in The Guest. His Bond could have a surprising number of sharp edges.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Oliver Jackson-Cohen arrives for "The Invisible Man" premiere in Hollywood on February 24, 2020. (Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)
Oliver Jackson-Cohen arrives for "The Invisible Man" premiere in Hollywood on February 24, 2020. (Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

In Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s most famous role, he’s hardly on screen at all, despite being the title character. The Brit played the abusive husband of Elisabeth Moss’s character in The Invisible Man, who used his scientific expertise to become the titular tormentor. Jackson-Cohen also appeared in the Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House and will return for sequel series The Haunting of Bly Manor.

Read more: Jackson-Cohen teases Bly Manor series

His resume is not quite as loaded as some of the other potential actors who could play James Bond, but the work he has done speaks for itself. He’s a great talent on the verge of breaking out into the A-list, which puts him squarely in the ballpark for Bond casting.

Sope Dirisu

Sope Dirisu attends the Sky TV 'Up Next' event at Tate Modern on February 12, 2020. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Sky)
Sope Dirisu attends the Sky TV 'Up Next' event at Tate Modern on February 12, 2020. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Sky)

After a series of supporting roles on both the big and small screens, Sope Dirisu made a big impact as Elliot Finch in Gareth Evans’ Sky drama Gangs of London. He’s a low-level employee of a gangland family who is concealing a secret role as an undercover cop. So Dirisu has experience of playing someone hiding a handful of secrets in a life-or-death environment. You can’t get much more James Bond than that.

Tom Hopper

Tom Hopper attends the premiere of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" season 7 on July 12, 2017. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Tom Hopper attends the premiere of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" season 7 on July 12, 2017. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Tom Hopper — not to be confused with Cats director Mr Hooper — is another name who consistently crops up in bookies’ lists of potential James Bond leading men. He played Dickon Tarly — brother of Samwell — in Game of Thrones and also portrayed Billy Bones in Black Sails.

In terms of movies, Hopper has recently played supporting roles in the Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty and last year’s sci-fi sequel Terminator: Dark Fate. Another suave, charismatic star, Hopper has so far not had a signature leading role on the big screen. Bond could be his chance.