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Is there a new James Bond?

Aaron Taylor-Johnson has reportedly been offered the role.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Bullet Train.
Sony Pictures

Bond may be back. Three years after Daniel Craig officially stepped down from the job with No Time to Die, reporting from The Sun suggests that Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been offered the gig, and could be the next James Bond actor. Taylor-Johnson has yet to formally accept the role, but if he did, he would be the eighth different actor to take on the character.

Taylor-Johnson has been working in Hollywood for some time now and has starred in everything from Avengers: Age of Ultron to Bullet Train. If he is cast, Taylor-Johnson would be among the more prominent actors to take on the part. After all, he’s already won a Golden Globe. Even so, taking on the role of James Bond can propel you to a new level of stardom, which is precisely what it has done for Daniel Craig.

Taylor-Johnson has been one of the contenders for years

Ever since Craig announced that No Time to Die would be his last movie as Bond, after flirting with quitting following SPECTRE, there was immediate speculation about who might be the best fit to take over the job. Taylor-Johnson was one of the names on that list, but other names included Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy, and Idris Elba.

Elba has been a particular focus of attention in part because casting him as Bond would be groundbreaking. “It’s interesting that the James Bond thing continues to go. I think it’s more about, we just want to have a Black guy play James Bond rather than Idris Elba, the actor, play James Bond,” he told the New York Times in 2017. “That’s the part that I’m like, ‘Ugh, come on.’”

Of course, Elba is also now 51 years old, and so would not be a long-term choice for the role even if he were to take it on. Among fans, Elba was the overwhelming favorite, while Cavill, Hardy, and recent Best Actor winner Cillian Murphy were also in the mix. Like Elba, Murphy is likely too old at this point in his career to take on the role.

James Bond actors have always been a few specific things

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall
MGM

Although fan-casting is undoubtedly a fun exercise, few of the names in circulation to take on the role have been realistic, and the most important reason is that they are all already major stars. The actors who are cast as Bond are not typically big names before taking on the role. Daniel Craig had started to make a name or himself when he was cast, but it was his work as Bond that helped launch him to the next level in his career.

The same was true for Pierce Brosnan, the actor who played Bond before Craig. Brosnan had been on a wildly successful TV show in the U.K., and had starred in a couple of small films. When he took on the role of Bond, though, it launched him into a different sphere of stardom.

Bond obviously wasn’t a proven proposition back when Sean Connery took on the role, and was mainly a TV star before he became the very first James Bond.

Taylor-Johnson, then, is already a bit of an outlier for the role, given the film career he has already had. Even so, he is undoubtedly less famous than the likes of Hardy, Cavill, and Elba, who have all become major names totally divorced from any individual role they might have taken on. If he were to accept the job, it’s actually unclear how his career would play out from there. Connery and Craig emerged as major stars after playing Bond, but actors like Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton found less success outside of the confines of the franchise.

Taylor-Johnson may have a very different take on the character

Timothy Dalton in a suit as James Bond.
MGM

If he accepts the role, it seems likely that Taylor-Johnson will have a totally distinct take on Bond from Craig, his immediate predecessor. Craig’s entire goal through his five films as Bond seemed to be to humanize the character as much as possible. He wanted to turn the well-known lady’s man and raconteur into someone with baggage, and he largely succeeded.

Taylor-Johnson’s version of the character should avoid leaning into the kinds of trauma and darkness that made Craig’s take feel so unique and successful. Instead, it seems like he might have been cast in an attempt to bring back the lighter days of Bond, when the movies were a little bit sillier and lighter on their feet. Taylor-Johnson can give you that kind of light, frothy performance, but it remains to be seen exactly what his take on the character could look like.

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Joe Allen
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Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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