Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: With rumors about “Bond 25” starting to trickle out, and Daniel Craig set to hang up his tuxedo for good after production wraps, who should be the next person to play 007?
Photo Credit: Kimberley French
I am firmly in the camp that believes Idris Elba would make an excellent James Bond. Elba is a top-shelf actor who would no doubt portray Bond’s most noted traits – stealth, endurance, courage, calm, self-assurance, devilishly good-looking — with grace and ease. Besides, it’s 2019; aren’t we way overdue for a black Bond?
Henry Golding had a pretty spectacular 2018, with roles in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “A Simple Favor” proving his capabilities as a rising star. He’s got great screen presence and has solid chemistry with his co-stars. While the two aforementioned movies featured him in supporting performances, his ability to fit into the differing roles and genres of those parts—and to transition into feature film acting so seamlessly in the first place, from his previous work as a TV host—works further to his credit. Combine that with his demonstrated abundance of charisma, and he seems like a solid choice for 007.
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Under the stewardship of solid writers like Neal Purvis, Paul Haggis, Robert Wade, John Logan, and Jez Butterworth since “Casino Royale,” the antiquated James Bond character was stripped down to its grizzled basics for a post-9/11 world and given a origin story of purposeful continuation that brought depth to what became very silly episodic escapism before Daniel Craig arrived. With one more film to go, Craig’s run has arguably been the best era of the film franchise. Whoever takes over after the soon-to-be-51-year-old needs to keep the modernization and evolving worldview coming.
To me, that means blending diversity and embracing youth while still tapping into the sex appeal and decadent sheen of the character. Despite the small sample size of only two major film roles, give me Henry Golding from “Crazy Rich Asians” and “A Simple Favor.” He’s young (32), nails the accent, and has all the looks to spare. He can enter with fewer expectations than more well-known actors and age well to own the role for over a decade. More importantly, I think Henry Golding can embody an alluring tone that would center the character towards a smarter and more suave allure than the brute and scowling toughness we’ve enjoyed from Daniel Craig. Golding brings coolness in a new guise. I think he’d be exceptional.
It is almost time for Daniel Craig, undoubtedly in the Top 3 of the most memorable James Bonds, to hand over his Walther PPK to someone else. And if one man should wear the tuxedo after him, it’s definitely Kaluuya, Daniel Kaluuya. Hear me out, on the checklist of qualities that are expected from a modern-day Bond, Daniel Kaluuya ticks all the boxes. James Bond has to be a man of contrast, capable of radiating a natural and mysterious charm whilst being daring, ruthless, but with a touch of emotional sensitivity. Here, Kaluuya certainly has the requisite skill set to slip into the role of 007 with ease, and his recent filmography proves it. We saw him transform into devilish and extremely terrifying Jatemme in McQueen’s ‘‘Widows’’ last year, and he also delivers a raw and riveting performance as Chris in ‘‘Get Out’’. But let’s not toss aside his supporting role in ‘‘Black Panther’’, in which he plays trustworthy and notable companion W’Kabi, loyalty being one of the most crucial character traits of Her Majesty’s best super agent.
That being said, it isn’t hard to picture Daniel Kaluuya jumping out of moving cars, trains, planes, and still looking good while doing it. Kaluuya also has the advantage of not being attached yet to any big franchise as a lead, which represents a golden opportunity for him to be the new, younger, refreshing face of cinema’s favourite super-spy. With his one-of-a-kind charisma, Daniel Kaluuya would be the step forward the Bond series need. He is the James Bond we deserve.
Dev Patel would obviously be an amazing Bond, but he’s a little weedy for me. Still, the fact he’s even a part of the conversation means the era of bland white dudes playing England’s greatest weapon is (hopefully) over, which leaves the path open for the likes of Patel, Henry Goulding, Idris Elba, or even John Boyega to pick up the mantle. Since Boyega is already busy with his own franchise, my personal choice would be the exceptional Daniel Kaluuya, who continues to impress in wildly varied roles from “Get Out” to “Black Panther” to “Widows.” In the former, he showed off his considerable charisma, which is obviously a major requirement for Bond, but in Steve McQueen’s hugely underrated revenge movie Kaluuya taps into a darkness hitherto unseen.
It’s the same darkness with which Daniel Craig impressed audiences when he stepped into Bond’s tailored tuxedo, signalling that 007 was no longer this unbreakable robot — he’s a real man with flaws who could get hurt or make the wrong choice. Kaluuya’s performance in “Widows” showcases an edginess that a modern Bond will require in order to sell himself to a more discerning audience. His Bond would have a backstory, a reason for why he does what he does aside from some misguided rubbish about “honor.” Kaluuya is handsome but not too perfect, and he can clearly wear the hell out of a suit. “Get Out” was his big coming out party, particularly for American audiences, but Bond would solidify him as one of the great British actors of his generation while also giving the series some much-needed emotional heft.
As for casting a woman, instead new, strong characters should be written for actresses rather than just lumbering them with well-established roles for men. We deserve better and so do they. But giving Bond a great female villain to tussle with would be great, so absolutely do that, Hollywood.
Jordan Hoffman (@JHoffman), Freelance for The Guardian, The Times of Israel
I hereby declare that the next James Bond shall be Shazad Latif. He is English and young and very, very handsome. He’s on the new Star Trek so if he can babble about tachyons and Vulcans whatnot he can do anything. Also: very handsome. Unnervingly so. Google him and you’ll see for yourself.
Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker
James Bond should become the “I’m Not There” of franchises; just as Bob Dylan is too capacious an artist for his role to be filled by any one actor, so the 007 legacy, past and future, has expanded beyond the persona of any one actor, and the new Bond rule should be: no repeat performances, a different actor—or actress—should star in every new film in the series.
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Ever since I saw “The Wedding Guest” at TIFF last year, I have known one, incontrovertible truth: Dev Patel should be the next James Bond. Hear me out. He’s a good actor, he’s tall, handsome–everything you could ask for in a Bond. He is also, as proved by “The Wedding Guest”, capable of smoldering greatly at the camera, being extremely shady and debonair at the same time, and is passably convincing in action scenes. If it’s not going to be Idris Elba, and it seems like at this point, Elba actively does not want it, and the 007 producers are determined to be unimaginative and not see women in the role–we have “Killing Eve” now, anyway–then Make Bond Dev Patel. He breaks the mold in a way audiences are clearly craving, and his South Asian roots provide an opportunity for Bond to look at Britain’s colonial past in an interesting way. James Bond is the violent figurehead of a dying empire’s fading power. In the 21st century, when that power and its legacy are being interrogated by different voices and experiences, why not turn Bond into a cracked mirror, representing both the best and worst of Britain’s military past? He could be the first Bond to reflect Britain’s complicated imperial legacy. There is so much character and story potential in a Bond that is both Britain’s future and its past. And it cannot be stated enough that Dev Patel is extremely very good-looking, and would be a super hot 007. It’s the details that matter most, you guys.
There are quite a few worthy candidates for James Bond, but the one person who constantly barges into my thoughts is Robert Pattinson. At first glance, it is easy to doubt what Pattinson could do in an action series especially something as high regard as the James Bond series, but the actor has proven himself time and time again. He has broken free from his “Twilight” stigma and is considered an incredible actor with future roles such as Claire Denis’s “High Life” that will prove just that. Here are some legitimate reasons he should be considered: he has the sex appeal and charisma on and off the screen.
For instance, he played a 28-year-old billionaire with ease in “Cosmopolis”, displaying his cool demeanor and style. Then for people thinking he is too stiff, or can’t move you have “Good Time”, a chaotic film where Pattinson plays a frantic unsuccessful robber who will go to extremes to protect his brother. In “Good Time”, Pattinson did less with words and more with his body movements, and facial expressions. With a team training him he can definitely perform some of the more intense action scenes a Bond series is known for. If Pattinson can be considered to play a young Batman then there is no doubt in my mind he can handle James Bond.
While I’m sure many of my colleagues would stan for Idris Elba (I wouldn’t be mad at that casting either), the Bond role has always been a wonderful way for lesser-known actors to get a nice profile boost. Try Colin Salmon, who played an MI6 lackey in several of the Brosnan films before being up for the role himself around the time of Craig’s casting; his deep, sonorous voice and action chops would serve him nicely. Plus, he already played a parody of a Bond-level action star in “Master of None,” and he could bring that deadly mix of deadpan comedy and utter conviction that the role requires. Salmon is a bit older now than he was during his last run at bat in the early aughts, but I think that could also work in his favor – he could continue to explore the toll that wear and age does to an run-and-gun field agent that Craig teased in “Skyfall” before “Spectre” turned his Bond into a jug-eared Roger Moore. A-listers like Elba don’t need the profile boost, but stalwart journeymen actors like Salmon could really make a name for themselves with a chance like this.