“Bond. James Bond.”
It’s cinema’s most iconic and coveted role. Yes, it’s that time again, with the rumour mill going into overdrive as speculation mounts that Daniel Craig will step down from the role of 007 following the release of SPECTRE later this year.
Although contracted to play James Bond a fifth time, if SPECTRE proves as big a hit as 2012’s Skyfall then, according to The Guardian, Craig may choose to leave the hit spy franchise on a high, paving the way for a new actor.
The question is: who?
To date, the smart money has been on Idris Elba. The Hackney-born star of BBC’s Luther appeared as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, and is a stalwart of Hollywood blockbusters, from Prometheus to Pacific Rim, as well as being an established resident of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite odds of 5/2 from the bookies, Elba himself isn’t holding out much hope, telling a BFI audience earlier this year: “If there was ever any chance of me getting Bond, it’s gone.”
Elba is still the second favourite, ahead of Tom Hardy (4/1), Henry Cavill (5/1) and Michael Fassbender (7/1).
So, who has jostled himself into the prime position of frontrunner for the world’s favourite spy? At 6/4, step forward ‘Homeland’ star, Damian Lewis, OBE.
The 44-year-old was born in St John’s Wood, London and, after a number of smaller film & TV roles, first came to prominence as Major Richard Winters in Steven Spielberg’s Band Of Brothers (2001), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. The parts that followed were quintessentially English, from the remakes of the classic drama series, ‘The Forsythe Saga‘ and ‘Colditz’, to playing Benedick in the 2005 TV production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, to 2015’s ‘Wolf Hall’, in which he appeared as King Henry VIII. On the big screen we’ve seen him in Keane (2004), Stormbreaker (2006), The Sweeney (2012) and, later this year, in the adaption of the John Le Carre novel Our Kind Of Traitor, a spy thriller, alongside Ewan McGregor.
Lewis certainly seems to fit the bill, with a pedigree in playing characters from the British establishment, as well as charming UK audiences with his quick wit as a regular of ‘Have I Got News For You’. What’s more, Lewis is a big star stateside, from both a two year stint as the wronged detective Charlie Crews in the TV series ‘Life’ and as Nicholas Brody in the hugely popular ‘Homeland’, which saw him finally pick up the Golden Globe Award in 2012 for Best Actor in a Television Drama Series.
Still, a few months is a long time in the film world, and let’s not forget that Daniel Craig’s appointment to the role came from left of field, and a controversial one at that, until he proved the detractors wrong.
Who knows – there could be hope for Jason Statham yet!
SPECTRE, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, and directed by Sam Mendes, is in cinemas 6th November, 2015.