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.


Brief Notes on Nolan/Bale Batman Films

Alright, I’m gonna say it up front: I didn’t think Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was as great as many critics and fans have made it out to be. Part of my issue was because of Gotham itself. Nolan wanted to do a “more realistic” take on the Batman mythos, which apparently included making Gotham look & feel like just about any other big city in the U.S. I am all for a strong foundation in realism, but for me Gotham also needs to have a dose of the dark, gothic quirkiness seen in the comics, the animated series, and even (just barely) in the “Gotham” TV series.

the_dark_knight_trilogy___movie_poster_by_zungam80-d76af9nI’m going to risk retribution from many fans by saying that I also am not a *huge* fan of Heath Ledger’s Joker. (With Jared Leto getting so much attention and applause for his version of the Joker before Suicide Squad even begins filming, I feel a little safer admitting this, now.) I didn’t say I wasn’t a fan of Ledger’s portrayal at all. The emphasis on the anarchist side of the character was interesting on its own merits, and Ledger’s performance was quite good, including the occasional ad lib. He really did make the character his own. But,… it just wasn’t the version of the Joker that I wanted to see/hear and have been waiting for for decades.

The same could be said for Christian Bale’s take on Bruce Wayne / Batman. Bale did a decent job within Nolan’s Bat-universe, I suppose. But, he wasn’t big enough, or confident enough, or formidable enough, or…. Both his hand-to-hand combat and his detective skills were far from impressive, too. (Sorry, dudes.)

As I have done for other movies, I jotted down a few brief notes — mostly re the latter two entries — that I just have to get off my chest. So, here goes…

  • Ra’s Al Ghul doesn’t look or act quite right. Plus, he was not Bruce’s only mentor/trainer.
  • Joker not prankster-ish enough.
  • Villains die too quickly (i.e., they should barely escape or be locked in Arkham or Blackgate).
  • Alfred’s accent and mannerisms are not right.
  • Bruce would not wallow in pity (and allow himself to get out of physical shape/practice) for 8 years, and he would never leave Gotham for good.
  • Is this new “Robin” (John Blake) supposed to be an amalgam of other Robins? Is he really going to inherit the ‘mantle of the bat’ so soon?
  • Bane should have been even bigger and had a different accent. (And what’s with the cheesy voice f/x?)
  • Gotham looks too much like any other city. It has no Gotham-esque character. It s/b somewhere between “normal” and the Gotham from the Tim Burton movies.
  • Christian Bale is a pretty fair BW/Batman, I guess, but the Batman voice has become laughable. He should use electronic alteration to mask it, instead.
  • Freeman is good as Lucius Fox, if a bit old. And since when is the character a technological genius?
  • Anne Hathaway was surprisingly good as Selina Kyle / Catwoman, and I like that they incorporated stuff from the comics. Should’ve had a cat fetish, though.
  • Gary Oldman is very good as Comm. Gordon.
  • The Bat Cave looks pretty good but needs to be “explored”. The vehicles, weapons, and gadgets are great but a bit too military-looking. (Yes, I realize that that is what they were originally designed for.)
  • In the three movies, we’ve seen little to make us think our hero is even an above-average fighter, and certainly not a world-class detective. (Heck, Alfred digs up more info than Bruce.) He is supposed to be the “world’s greatest detective” and master of multiple (dozens of?) martial arts, for cryin’ out loud! If Nolan wanted to make him “more realistic” by making him barely more than “ordinary”, he succeeded.
  • Leg-brace or no, if anyone had “no cartilage in your knee” along with Bruce’s other problems (with no explanation for them, mind you), he wouldn’t be in any shape to be running around and fighting, ESPECIALLY after having his back (presumably) broken. I don’t care if he was wearing a nifty, new leg brace.

Now, there are a lot of silly things, plot holes, and other stuff I didn’t get into. But, if you really want a brutal (but amusing) round-up of “Everything Wrong With The Dark Knight Rises In 3 Minutes Or Less”, check this out: