We here at LaineyGossip HQ are firmly “Team Dev Patel For Bond” (by “we” I mean “myself and my cat, Pancake”), but The Sun would like us to believe that one half of Lainey’s obsession, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is currently the latest frontrunner to be the next James Bond after a “top secret” screen test back in September. I say “would like us to believe” because 1) it’s The Sun, so take it with a grain of salt, and 2) the Bond producers have been open about taking their time to cast the next Bond, and I don’t think we’ll get any kind of confirmation on this until next year, at least.
But let’s talk about ATJ as a Bond potential. Two things run in his favor: 1) he’s the right age, as they want a thirty-something Bond. At 32, ATJ could easily play Bond for the next 15 years. And 2) he hasn’t been over-promoted as a potential Bond. During the whole “make Tom Hiddleston the next Bond” era when it looked like Daniel Craig really was done after Spectre, I kept hearing how Barbara Broccoli, in particular, did not like how openly thirsty Hiddleston was about getting the role. It wasn’t anything about his acting, it was just that Broccoli didn’t want someone overexposed in the role. You could not get much more overexposed than Hiddleston circa 2016, between the Hiddleswift fiasco and The Night Manager (which is really excellent, and rather than campaigning Hiddles be the next Bond, let’s just campaign to bring Jonathan Pine back).
Since then, I’ve had a lingering impression the next Bond will be much like Daniel Craig was in 2006: an established actor, recognizable even, but not someone talked about constantly, and especially not someone who plays coy in the press about Bond. ATJ keeps a low profile between gigs, and I can’t find press clips of him talking about the role, so that’s all in his plus column. Also, films like Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Bullet Train show he can certainly wear a suit and handle the physicality.
But he’s SO BORING. Just the most unbuttered English muffin pick possible. I like ATJ, but the idea of him as Bond is just like…we just saw this. We just saw a guy play a Bond who can swing between suave and savage for five films. Please give us something DIFFERENT.
That’s what all the talk about Idris Elba being Bond is about. I mean, yes, Idris would have been a GREAT Bond, had the role been available when he was in the right age range, but it was never actually up for new casting. Idris broke out in the midst of the Craig era, so he, along with his entire generation of actors not named Daniel Craig, missed out. But really, the reason "Idris Elba as Bond” caught on like it did, and never died despite Craig doing a great job the whole time AND Idris aging out of the possibility, is because people are CRAVING something different.
James Bond has been a white dude for 60 years. People are out in these streets, BEGGING for something else. But they’re going to give us…Aaron Taylor-Johnson? More of the same? I’m sure ATJ can deliver on a cool guy who kills people, but beyond changing up the accent and maybe the styling a bit, what else is there? This is why I love the idea of Dev Patel as Bond. Beyond that he is outrageously hot (I am imploring you once again to watch The Wedding Guest), and a great actor, and VERY tall with GREAT shoulders, which I can PERSONALLY verify, Dev Patel would force some creativity around the writing of Bond as a character. You would have to account for the fact that he is a Brit of Southeast Asian extraction. You would have to acknowledge the decline of the Empire, the long-term effect of commonwealth migration on the UK, and how these factors are shaping the MODERN Britain.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston, Richard Madden—it doesn’t matter. Casting another white guy as Bond means continuing to turn a blind eye to how Britain has changed since 007 first walked onto the big screen. But casting someone not white would mean considering those things and asking what a British super spy in the 2020s would look like, sound like, how differently he might conduct himself in the field. It means doing the work of reinventing the character for the contemporary era, not to be “woke”, but just to be INTERESTING. To be FRESH. NEW. Daniel Craig turned in a mostly solid five-movie arc for James Bond that spans the early millennium to the 2020s. Now, it’s time to reimagine Bond for the 2020s and beyond, and I’m sorry, but a bowl of bland porridge just isn’t going to cut it.