Birth.movies.death broke exclusive news today that Tom Hiddleston is in talks to take over the role of James Bond in the series’ 25th feature. A source close to the actor shared the news with Phil Noble, BMD’s resident Bond expert, who has been following the news and rumors of Daniel Craig’s expected departure from the series.
“Choosing words carefully, our source confirms that while talks have indeed taken place, and that Hiddleston very much wants the job (a fact of which he’s made no secret), no official offer has been made – yet.”
Before we discuss Hiddleston-as-Bond, think about what his casting would mean for the 53 year-old franchise. In Hiddleston’s wake follow a swath of devotees—Avengers fans, theater buffs, foreign drama followers—who may-or-may-not currently be James Bond fans. The diversity can easily be seen in his awards, which include the BAFTA Rising Star Award, Glamour’s Man of the Year, an Evening Standard Theater Award, and a British Independent Film Award, alongside wins at the Scream Awards, MTV Movie Awards, and Teen Choice Awards for his performances as Loki. Viewers on both ends of that spectrum have probably not been first in line to see Daniel Craig’s incarnation of 007.
Not that the franchise is hurting: Skyfall broke $1.1 billion in worldwide box office earnings and was the highest grossing film in Bond history. Earnings are at $879 million and still growing with DVD/Blu-Ray release for Spectre, despite tepid reviews. Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale each broke $590 million; in fact every Bond movie back to 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me has ranked in the top 10 movies at that year’s global box office.
But it’s been awhile since fans were really excited about a new 007 movie release. Sure, when Daniel Craig opened his tenure with Casino Royale’s impressive parkour we all had hope. He brought a physicality to the character that fit the age when Crossfit had just started nudging public consciousness.
But with each performance Craig has fairly shrunk into the tropes of the role, rather than expanding it to fit his acting skills. While he occasionally puts in an impressive scene, the movies are carried by M’s intel, Q’s escape and evasion assistance, and those inevitable seductions? They feel like hookups rather than temptation-as-espionage. That aligns with the actor’s uncharacteristically vehement comment last fall that he was done with 007. When asked if he were ready to do another film he told Time Out London:
“Now? I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists. No, not at the moment. Not at all. That’s fine. I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.”
That could have been exhaustion speaking, but Craig does feel like the franchise is at a natural transition point and needs to re-energize. Craig has played 4 movies, the same number as Pierce Brosnan, and surely doesn’t have the chutzpah to create a better Bond for even one more movie, let alone matching Sean Connery’s 6 films, or Roger Moore’s 7.
Hiddleston, on the other hand, is where Craig probably was 10 years ago when he accepted the role. He’s 35 and has enjoyed success on TV, stage, and screen in both the US and U.K. He’s well-educated, well-liked, experienced, and not yet tied down with family commitments. (Craig has a 23-year-old daughter and married Rachel Weisz in 2011.) He could shoulder a decade or so of an iconic mantle.
During the press tour for Crimson Peak, which was about the same time Craig was waxing apathetic, Hiddleston starting fielding questions about his interest. To the Sunday Times he commented “I simply love the theme tune, the tropes and the mythology. I love the whole thing. If it ever came knocking, it would be an extraordinary opportunity. And I’m very aware of the physicality of the job. I would not take it lightly.”
Of course since then other names have been thrown around for Bond’s eventual succession. Idris Elba has a lot of enthusiastic supporters, Tom Hardy is a possibility (more Inception, less Mad Max), and this week Gillian Anderson was quick to jump on a piece of fan art to express her interest in taking the role over as Jane Bond. Which is silly. It’s 2016, she could still be named James.
— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) May 21, 2016
Eon Productions and Barbara Broccoli, who have long produced the Bond movies, are no doubt deep in discussions over the options. They signed Craig to a 5-film contract, so they’re not done with him yet, and the 4 films he’s starred in have been the highest earning (also most costly), so why should they let Craig go? But if the actor is truly done, if he’s going to phone in a performance, and if they have someone like Hiddleston chomping at the bit, why wouldn’t they jump on that option?
Whether Hiddleston would be the right Bond will be the subject of much discussion this weekend. Most people who saw him in 2015’s dark sci-fi feature High-Rise, or BBC’s recent miniseries The Night Manager give the idea an enthusiastic two-thumbs-up, citing his natural likebility and strong acting range. But as soon as the news broke today Slate’s Jeffrey Bloomer checked in with a strong dissenting opinion, saying that The Night Manager proved that Hiddleston has all Bond’s personal magnetism but falls short in hand-to-hand combat.
Eh, that’s what trainers are for. If the guy can play a velociraptor, he can play the world’s most legendary spy.
In the meantime Hiddleston will be appearing in Kong: Skull Island and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017.