Fan-Casting: James Bond

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”  — Goldfinger, in Goldfinger

Yes, it is time once again to seriously contemplate who is “worthy” to pick up the mantle of James Bond, Agent 007.

So far, it appears that Daniel Craig (5’10”,b.1968) will do a fifth film — 25th in the franchise, not counting the original Casino Royale (1967), which was a non-series spoof, and 1983’s Never Say Never Again, which was “unofficial” — before saying farewell. It’s just as well, since filming can be brutal. Craig has suffered various injuries during his stint, including a serious knee injury while filming a fight scene for Spectre (2015) that required arthroscopic surgery. Plus, he will be at least 50 years old by the time the next movie gets filmed, and Craig has admitted that it’s tougher to stay fit and that he already requires more action-doubles than he used to. (We all know that we prefer to see the actors performing their own stunts for that extra dose of realism.)

Who might take over? As I wrote a couple years ago, Idris Elba (6’2.75″,b.1972) is being talked up by some people. As much as I like him, I explained why I didn’t think they should go with a black Bond. (Or Asian or Latino, either.) In addition, Elba is already in his mid-40s, which automatically shrinks his “shelf life”, if you will. If he shot his first film as Bond for release in the early-2020s, then we’d soon be back to having a 50ish 007 already. Same goes for one of my other favorites, Richard Armitage (6’2.5″,b.1971) from “Strike Back” and The Hobbit movies. I think he’d be great, but as of this writing, he is already 45. Also, Damian Lewis (6’1″,b.1971), who’s name comes up on occasion. Tom Hardy (5’9″,b.1977), who has been suggested by others, is pushing 40, but I don’t think he (or Lewis) is right for the part.

Not that actors can’t remain fairly fit and handsome and charming well past 50. Connery and Moore certainly did, though I doubt they did their own stunts in the later movies. [Note: Connery was 32 when Dr. No (1962) came out, 41 for Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and 53 when Never Say Never Again (1983) was released. Moore was 45 when Live and Let Die (1973) debuted and 57 when he finished with A View to a Kill (1985).] So, I’m not saying guys like Elba and Armitage couldn’t do a bang-up job. But, these days, it’s hard to find actors — let alone those heading into middle age — who would want to be tied into doing, say, five or more action films over a period of a dozen years or more. Especially if they enjoy performing in other genres.

My preference would be to see a younger James Bond, having recently been recruited from the Royal Naval Reserve and freshly graduated from MI-6’s “00” program. Ian Fleming never revealed Bond’s age, though researchers have come up with two estimates for his birthdate: 11 November 1920 and 11 November 1921. Fleming wrote his first Bond tale in 1953, and I believe it was supposed to be contemporary. That means Bond was already working for British Intelligence when in his early 30s. With that in mind, I’d like the new James Bond to be in his early- to mid-30s. The ever-popular Tom Hiddleston (b.1981) fits this age range, and he’d probably do a fine job, though producer Barbara Broccoli has said he is “a bit too smug and not tough enough to play James Bond.”

In any case, I have a few other candidates that I like even better….

Aidan Turner

Aidan Turner (5’11”,b.1983), another Hobbit alum, is perhaps the current fan-favorite. He has also appeared in “Being Human” (the British version, where I first noticed him), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, “And Then There Were None”, and now stars in the latest incarnation of “Poldark”. He has the looks and the charm. If he buffs up a bit and practices that cold stare, he might be a pretty good choice.

 

 

 

Max Brown

When I first started thinking about fan-casting Bond a few years ago, the first person I thought of was Max Brown (6’2″,b.1981). I had recently seen him playing a medical examiner in “Beauty and the Beast” and thought that he might have the right stuff. He’s a handsome Brit, so that was a good start. You might recognize him from “MI-5” or “Agent Carter”. Or, if you’re a fan of series about British monarchs, you may have seen him in “The Tudors” or “The Royals”. Could he be our new Commander Bond?

 

Philip Winchester

Philip Winchester (6’1″,b.1981) is another great choice and someone I’ve cast before. He’s a bit beefier than the previous two and has already played the action hero — primarily in “Strike Back”. Winchester has also been in Thunderbirds, “Crusoe”, Solomon Kane, “Fringe”, “24: Live Another Day”, and currently stars in “Chicago Justice”. He looks good in a tux, uniform, tee-shirt, or shirtless, and I can easily see him as our steely-eyed, suave Mr. Bond.

 

 

Sam Witwer

As a bonus, I’d like to throw an American into the mix. Sam Witwer (6’1″,b.1977) is pushing 40 (though he doesn’t look it), so he’s also older than preferred. But,… he’s a possibility. He has appeared in many genre shows, but you may best remember Witwer from “Battlestar Galactica”, “Dexter”, “The Mist”, “Smallville”, the American “Being Human”, and “Once Upon a Time”. He has also done voicework for various Star Wars video games, as well as “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels” animated series. I know, it seems like heresy to suggest an American play an iconic British hero, but Brits and Canadian play Americans all the time. As long as he can “act and talk British”, why not?

Done. I’ll probably do another post or two on Bond’s regular supporting characters in a few weeks. Meanwhile, do you have any other casting ideas for the next ‘007’? Let us know below…

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2017.

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Brief Notes on *Casino Royale* and *Rocky VI*

James Bond and Rocky Balboa. It’s a weird combination, I know. But, here’s the thing… I won’t bore you with the details, but various factors caused me to run out of time to produce anything of substance this week. I was scrambling about for something that was at least partially done, and I remembered I still had brief notes from when I watched these two movies several years ago. Each list by itself seemed rather lacking and hardly worth posting, so I (obviously) decided to throw them together. I hope you don’t find them a total waste of time. But, if you do, well… there’s always next week!


Remember, this was the first of the latest Bond “reboot” with Daniel Craig in the title role, so (as usual) there were some concerns about the “new guy”….

“Brief Notes on Casino Royale (2006)”

Casino Royale poster1) Beautiful scenery (Bahamas, Montenegro, Italy).

2) Nice scenes with M.

3) OK gadgets (car & stuff in car), but where was Q?

4) Great chase & fight scenes!

5) Didn’t even care that Bond was blonde!

6) His accent was almost non-existent!

7) Cool movie-theme by Chris Cornell. Could have used more of the Bond theme within the movie. (Or did I miss it?)

8) While a good action flick, it only felt like a Bond film about half the time. Maybe partly because of Craig’s un-Bondlike looks?

9) Glad they showed how physically fit Bond was, else we’d be wondering how he could do/survive all that stuff.

10) Overall, very good. Now that they’ve started from “the beginning”, as it were, it should be interesting to see how they develop the character further….

11) Possible replacements: Gerard Butler, Jeremy Northam, Jason Isaacs, Sean Bean (too old?).

[Regarding #10, I haven’t seen the latest one with Craig (Spectre), yet, but as of Skyfall, I’m not sure I like the dark turns they’ve taken with his story. Otoh, if I remember right, it is somewhat in line with Fleming’s original concept for the character. (Bond/Fleming aficionados, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) I guess I’ll reserve further judgment until after I’ve seen Spectre and whatever Craig’s last one will be.]

[Regarding #11, I would like to see them cast a 30-something Bond again. (Craig was 38 when he started.) This rules out Butler (46), Northam (54), Isaacs (53), and Bean (57). I’ll probably do a Fan-Cast post in the coming months.]


“Brief Notes on Rocky VI, aka Rocky Balboa, (2006)”

Rocky VI poster1) Both physically and mentally, Dixon didn’t seem like much of a champion. Then again, the implication was that he had had an easy ride to the top, so maybe that was intentional.

2) If part of the plot was for Dixon to learn a little humility and/or what “heart” was and/or the “eye of the tiger”, then they could have done it much better. The little exchange between Dixon & Rocky after the fight fell flat.

3) I would have liked to see at least two small, additional scenes:
a) Rocky recruiting Duke,
b) Dixon training with Martin.

4) It was good to see/hear Rocky give a tough-love/pep-talk speech to his son, and I’m glad they drew closer.

5) While I would have preferred Adrian to be in it, I really appreciated the tributes to her (e.g., restaurant name, graveside visits, yearly “tour”, overall sorrow-yet-good-memories).

6) I would have liked to see a little more interaction and character development between Rocky and Steps.

7) Some of the fight sequences just weren’t up-to-par, looking kind of sloppy.

8) I liked Punchy, but would have liked to see a little more life/spirit. (Bark, for Pete’s sake!)

[As you can probably gather from these comments, I liked some stuff in the film but was overall a bit disappointed. I haven’t seen Creed, yet. But, I hear that it was pretty good and an improvement over the last two Rocky films. Here’s hopin’!]

That wasn’t too bad, was it?  😉

A Black James Bond?

Daniel Craig has a new Bond film (Spectre) coming out in November 2015, and he is contracted for one more after that. But, contracts can be broken, and Craig has reportedly been trying to get out of it for some time, anyway. So, Sony higher-ups are apparently considering possible replacements. (Makes sense.) But, the current Co-Chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amy Pascal, already has a favorite: Idris Elba. In a leaked email from January 2014, she expressed her enthusiasm for the idea to Elizabeth Cantillon, former Executive V.P. of Production for Columbia Pictures, which distributes the Bond movies. Elba seems open to it, though no official overtures have been made — or, at least, admitted to.

Idris Elba

Idris Elba

Elba is tall, attractive, and British, so he has those requirements down. He’s stylish, suave, and physically fit. He’s also a talented actor who I’m sure would do the role justice. Of course, Elba is also a Black man, whereas Bond was conceived — and has always been portrayed — as white. This has caused some hubbub among Bond fans and everyone else with an opinion. Even political commentator Rush Limbaugh has given his two-cents on the matter. (He’s against it. And, no, he’s not being racist. When he said, “I know it’s racist to probably even point this out…”, he was implying that the mainstream media would accuse him of being racist — and they have.)

Let me be clear… I have no problem with a Black super-spy or action hero. I would love to see Elba in a similar — but not too similar — leading role. (Btw, I haven’t seen him in “Luther”, yet.) But, Bond is an iconic character who has always been a particular race for decades, and changing it now wouldn’t make much sense, imho. That would be like making Superman or Batman non-white, or making Star Trek’s Capt. Benjamin Sisko other than Black. You can give another person the name/title, but it’s not the same character. It just doesn’t feel right, because (I think) the race has become part of who the character is. Of course, if we’re talking alternate realities / parallel worlds, you can pretty much play with the characters however you want. Another way around it that has been suggested is to have “James Bond” be just an alias, a code name used by a succession of spies (all ‘007’?). I’m open to that idea for Jason Bourne but not for Commander James Bond.

Yes, I realize that other changes have been made between the Bond novels and movies, even between movies. (For example, American agent Felix Leiter has been both Black and white. But, he is a supporting character with only sporadic appearances. Similar thing with the new Miss Moneypenny.) If there is to be any continuity or consistency with the other movies and/or the novels, the Bond that follows Craig’s should also be white. (Unless they do another “reboot”, and who wants that?)

Of course, you know I’ll still watch it, no matter what, right?

Just one man’s opinion….