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We count off our top picks for who should be sipping martinis and dishing out risque puns in the next James Bond film.

It’s a tough gig, and not everybody wants it, but it’s still one of cinema’s most enduring fantasies and we all have our own ideas about who, and what, the character should be. Here’s our top picks.

Idris Elba

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He’s been the fan-favourite choice for some time now and you can see why. Aside from a commanding presence and a dashing personality, he’s got the physical requirements down, from stunt training to looking great in a tuxedo. Elba has two big things working against him, however, which many people seem to ignore. The first being that Bond often has to be a bit of an upper-class prick, and Elba has yet to show that in his acting range, but perhaps the greatest flaw is his similarity to current Bond, Daniel Craig, in both age and demeanour. Elba has a better track record for humour and emotiveness than the often glib Craig but it’s difficult to see him pulling in the younger, Marvel movie loving, audience that the studio will be aiming to win over.

Michael Fassbender

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Fassbender brings not only a boatload of charm to the table but a multi-lingual portfolio of sterling performances, not least of which in the already profitable X-Men franchise. He has a universal appeal across sexes and ages and he can make being dark and brooding look pretty fun. Having someone with a more Continental feel could prove handy in global marketing and his association with period pieces could open the Bond franchise up to greater design choices. It isn’t written anywhere that Bond movies have to be set in the present day and Fassbender could play James Bond in almost any time period and in any country. He does feel like a bit of a too-obvious choice for James Bond, the square-jawed charmer is something we’ve seen many times before, but his classic appearance could act as a Trojan horse; putting older fans at ease while the script takes us on some much weirder and wilder adventures.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

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Ejiofor is my personal preference for Bond, although, in all honestly, he’s my personal preference for almost any role, male or female. Ejiofor has proven that he looks just as great in a tux as he does in a dress and that kind of versatility is hard to come by. Like Elba, Ejiofor is a Londoner through and through, so he’s great for the British pride angle of casting but unlike Elba, crucially, he can pull off the smarmy posh guy routine with much more finesse. His losing out to Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor at the 2014 Oscars is one of the great cinematic injustices of our era and frankly the man deserves to have his face plastered everywhere, if that’s what he wants. There’s been chatter before of him being earmarked as a potential Bond villain but I’d argue he belongs with the Walther PPK in his hand, not on the other end of it.

Gwendoline Christie

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Another favourite to take the character in a new direction. The franchise has been struggling for quite some time now with how to shake the image of misogyny (some of the earlier Bonds can be pretty darn creepy) and create solid female leads. No matter how hard they try, the female leads in Bond films are universally referred to as “Bond girls” by the press and the implication is that they’re only there to be slept with and then promptly murdered. The Craig era Bonds have tried several times to mess with the formula, but nothing has really satisfied. Christie is not only one of TV’s most beloved butt-kickers, she can pull off a cool, androgynous, style that could put the franchise not just on par with modern sentiments but beyond them and into the territory of groundbreaking. There was a moment in time when Bond films were something close to subversive and Christie could help reclaim that mantle.

Daniel Craig

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As they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Craig has had a bumpy tenure as the super sleuth, sure, but name one actor who hasn’t. He’s very publicly shown his growing distaste for the role and many people have been stunned by his refusal to sign contracts with gargantuan bonuses.

On top of this his last stint, Spectre, offered something that Bond films rarely ever do – a satisfying conclusion to his iteration of the character. However it also puts him in the position to take the character to new and exciting places. Spectre leaves him riding off into the rainswept streets of London with a new lease on life and a new love; and while it’s generally agreed upon that nobody wants to see Bond mope over the loss of another companion we could now get to see James Bond try out something he’s never done before – a committed monogamous relationship.

Fans of the animated series Archer will be aware of just how much it’s done to reinvigorate interest in the spy genre but it’s also shown just how enjoyable it can be to watch childish characters mature into adults, no matter how late they bloom. Seeing Craig’s Bond face the challenge of emotional openness and responsibility, perhaps even children, could bring a great new dynamic to the weary formula. Also it already looks like they locked Christoph Waltz into a lengthy contract and explaining how Blofeld stayed the same and Bond changed faces is probably far more trouble than it’s worth.

Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a copywriter, and lifelong cinephile, who received his bachelors in Film and Comparative Literature from the University of London. You can follow him on Twitter @markwbirrell

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Posted on Oct 5, 2016

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