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.

Advertisements

Fan-Cast: Batman, part 9: Montoya and Allen

Renee_Montoya_(Injustice_The_Regime)

Renee Montoya

This week, I was finally able to resume my fan-casting of the major Gotham City Police Dept. characters — well, two of the top four, anyway. One of these days, I may get around to Sarah Essen, “Hardback” Bock, Josie MacDonald, and “Slam” Bradley. (I’ll probably include Maggie Sawyer with my Superman-related fan-casting, since I still think of her primarily as part of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit.) For now, though, I’ll finish with Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen.

Det. Renee Montoya

Originally created for the Batman: The Animated Series (1992), Renee Montoya’s first appearance was actually a bit earlier in Batman #475 (Mar. 1992). Montoya began as a bright, eager young police officer assigned as Commissioner Gordon’s assistant. I wasn’t long before she was promoted to Detective and partnered with Harvey Bullock. They made a good team. When Bullock was promoted following “No Man’s Land”, Montoya was reassigned to work with Det. Crispus Allen. This was another good partnership, but various events — including being framed for murder and outed as a lesbian by Two-Face — caused Montoya to become more frustrated with her job and life, irascible, and violent. She began drinking heavily to cope. After the events surrounding Allen’s death (see below), Montoya quit the police force in disgust.

448px-Renee_Montoya_0006 - hammeredDuring the “52” storyline, Montoya was contacted by and (reluctantly) joined forces with The Question, looking into some things having to do with Intergang. Amidst their investigations, The Question (i.e., Vic Sage) revealed that he was dying and was recruiting Montoya to replace him as The Question. He passed away a few weeks later, and she honored his wish. But, I don’t foresee getting into any of that in a Batman TV or movie series. I would stick to her years as a police officer/detective.

If a Batman TV/movie series begins with Batman’s debut, Montoya should not be there. In fact, I would prefer to not add her into the mix until roughly Year 8, which is about when I think her comics debut fits into the comics Bat-timeline. But, a slightly sooner appearance would be acceptable. By my calculations, she is maybe 5 or 6 years younger than Bruce Wayne, which makes her about 27 or so when she debuted. She is an attractive Latina of Dominican descent with characteristically dark hair. DC’s wiki lists her at 5’8″, 144lbs. So, I think she would best be played by a Latina (or someone who can easily pass as one) in her mid-20s to early 30s, between 5’6″ & 5’10”, with an athletic build.

As I usually do, I considered more than just the three finalists I settled on below. Rosario Dawson (5’7″,b.1979) might be a good choice, if not for her being a little too old for Montoya during her GCPD career. Same goes for Michelle Rodriguez (5’5″,1978), who is also a tad under our height parameters. Speaking of too short, Alice Braga (5’4″,b.1983), Floriana Lima (5’4″,?), and Ilza Rosario (5’3″,b.1985) all look great and are in the right age range, but they are just too short, and no police officer or detective is going to wear 3-inch heels on duty, unless she’s undercover. (I have seen Dawson, Rodriguez, and Braga suggested by others, too.) Thus, I present to you my Montoya finalists…

Alyssa Diaz

Alyssa Diaz

Alyssa Diaz (5’6″,b.1985) has been in Ben 10: Alien Swarm, “The Nine Lives of Chloe King”, the Red Dawn remake, “Revolution”, “The Vampire Diaries”, “The Last Ship”, and “Grimm”, so she is definitely familiar with the genre. She barely meets our height requirement, is almost 30 (as of this writing), and reminds me of a slightly younger Michelle Rodriguez. She could fill Montoya’s shoes quite well.

 

 

Genesis Rodriguez

Genesis Rodriguez

You may remember that I recommended Genesis Rodriguez (5’7″,b.1987) for another Bat-family role: Helena Bertinelli, aka The Huntress. She has appeared in “Entourage”, Man on a Ledge, The Last Stand, Big Hero 6 (voicing Honey Lemon), and the recent Run All Night. I think she needs a regular role in a crime/adventure series, and Det. Renee Montoya could just be that breakout role.

Mercedes Masohn

Mercedes Masohn

Finally, I recommend Mercedes Masohn (5’9″,b.1982or3). She is of mixed heritage but can pass for a Latina, as she often does on-screen. I remember noticing her on “The Finder”, “Chuck”, and “NCIS: Los Angeles”. She has also been in “666 Park Avenue”, Sniper: Legacy, and will be a regular in the new “Fear the Walking Dead”. She often plays tough “chicks”, and Renee Montoya is definitely that. She’s a tad older than I’d prefer for the part, but I’m sure Masohn would be great!

Det. Crispus Allen

Crispus Allen

Crispus Allen

Crispus Allen’s first appearance was in Detective Comics #742 (March, 2000). Gordon had just returned to duty after grieving his wife’s death during the events of “No Man’s Land”, and he was staffing up the GCPD after losing several personnel in the preceding months. Detective Allen transferred in from Metropolis, and he would prove to be a great asset to the Major Crimes Unit. Partnered with Montoya, Allen was an excellent detective who helped take down a lot of bad guys, from average skels to corrupt cops to “super-villains”. He was always a serious, analytical, “straight arrow” type, if a bit arrogant. As such, it is not surprising that he reluctantly accepted Batman as a “necessary evil” for fighting crime in a place like Gotham City. He was also a happily-married father of two.

In one incident, Allen shot and killed the Black Spider, who was about to murder Montoya. This began a course of events that led to Allen being killed by a corrupt crime scene tech named Jim Corrigan. Allen later became the new host for the Spectre, but those events are beyond anything I want to see in a Batman series.

allen - you're my partnerAs with Montoya, if a Batman TV/movie series began with Batman’s debut, the Allen character should not be included. However, I don’t expect the events of “Knightfall/Knightquest” and “Cataclysm/No Man’s Land” to be adapted, so they could transfer him from Metropolis sooner in the Bat-timeline. I would prefer to see him introduced after Montoya has spent some time (as a Detective) partnered with Harvey Bullock, first. That said, he should be 40ish and, therefore, roughly 10 or so years older than Montoya. DC’s wiki entry for Allen does not give a height or weight, but I would say he’s roughly 6′, give or take, and in (very?) good shape. Appearance-wise, Allen is a Black man, bald with a trim “goatee”, and he wears rimless glasses. He is a sharp dresser — earning him the nickname “Peacock” by Harvey bullock — and is always seen wearing a suit, often a three-piece. He is sometimes seen smoking a cigarette, too. Obviously, any actor to be considered should be Black, early 40s, athletic build, look good with a bald head and “goatee”, and probably be between 5’10” and 6’2″.

Many Bat-fans have suggested Idris Elba (6’2.75″,b.1972) (“Luther”, “The Wire”, Thor) for the role. He’s a little taller than I’d like, but he’s the right age and build, and I agree he would be terrific. Still, I wanted to look into a few others. I’ve been noticing another “The Wire” alum lately, Gbenga Akinnagbe (5’10”,b.1978), particularly in “24: Live Another Day” and “The Following”, where he plays a federal agent in both. But, he is a little young for the part, and I’m not sure he has quite the right look. I also considered “The Blacklist”‘s Hisham Tawfiq (?,b.?). Again, not sure he’s old enough or has quite the right look. So, that leaves the following three:

Richard T. Jones

Richard T. Jones

I think Richard T. Jones (6’2″,b.1972) could play a great Crispus Allen. I mostly remember him from “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and more recently on “Hawaii Five-O”, but he was also a regular on “Brooklyn South” and “Judging Amy”, appeared in “Nikita” and “Revolution”, and he has popped up in movies (e.g., Event Horizon, Godzilla) and series for many years. He fits the appearance and age parameters, and I’m sure he would have no problem portraying the by-the-book Detective Allen.

 

 

Lamonica Garrett

LaMonica Garrett

Slamball champ-turned-actor LaMonica Garrett (6’2″,b.1975) often plays firefighters, military, or law enforcement roles. He has appeared in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, “NCIS”, “The Game”, “Justified”, etc., but he may be best known as Deputy Sheriff Cane on “Sons of Anarchy”. Garrett is barely 40 and is probably the most athletic of our candidates. He doesn’t have as much acting experience as the others, as many of his parts are minor, but I think he could be a convincing Crispus Allen.

 

 

Brian White

Brian White

I’m not positive the first thing I saw Brian White (6’2″,b.1975) in, but what I remember him for are his roles on “Beauty and the Beast” and “Hostages”. He has also appeared in such genre fare as DOA: Dead or Alive, “Ghost Whisperer”, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, “Moonlight”, and “The Shield”. Like Garrett, White is barely 40 and in great shape. He would make a fine Det. Allen, especially since he has played police detectives before, so I can totally see him in the role.

 

 
As usual, I’d love to know what you think of my choices and if you have anyone else in mind that you think fits the bill(s)….

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.

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….