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Hollywood is shaken — and stirred — with chatter about the announcement of the next James Bond.
Ever since Daniel Craig was killed off in 2021’s “No Time To Die,” after playing the world’s most famous spy in five movies, there has been a slew of rumors about his replacement.
There’s been Tinseltown buzz that the new Bond is set to be announced this spring, as producer Barbara Broccoli — whose father, the legendary Cubby Broccoli, first brought Bond to the big screen — last year said she was looking for a younger actor who could stay with the franchise for 10-12 years. (Craig was 38 in his first Bond movie and 53 by the time his last one came out.)
“It’s a really long process. Barbara does see everyone personally,” a Bond insider told Page Six of the contenders. “They all have to put on the tuxedo and audition at Pinewood [the Bond UK studios].”
Names touted over the past few years have included Richard Madden, Tom Hardy and internet favorite Idris Elba — although the 50-year-old “Luther” actor has said he’s not taking the role.
The frontrunner is now Brit Aaron Taylor-Johnson, 32, who has already met with Broccoli. He’s believed to have had a screen test last September.
In fact, bookies now list Taylor-Johnson the favorite to scoop the role. One movie insider told Page Six it would be ironic to have the actor as the first Jewish OO7.
Bond creator and author Ian Fleming was “notoriously anti-semitic,” as the insider pointed out, adding: “It would be very clever on Barbara’s part.”
The chilling villain of Fleming’s 1958 novel “Goldfinger” is Auric Goldfinger. Repetitively, Auric is Latin for “gold.”
Fleming named the character — whose obsession with gold, wealth and power echoes anti-Jewish conspiracy tropes — after his real-life London neighbor Erno Goldfinger, a noted Hungarian Jewish architect who moved to London in 1934.
The author reportedly loathed the real Goldfinger, who threatened to sue Fleming after the book “Goldfinger” was published in 1959.
Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are on board to write the next Bond film; the duo have written the past few movies. But “there isn’t a script and we can’t come up with one until we decide how we’re going to approach the next film because, really, it’s a reinvention of Bond,” Broccoli told Deadline last year. “We’re reinventing who he is and that takes time. I’d say that filming is at least two years away.”
In the meantime, here’s who is in the race to be the next 007, complete with stunt-betting odds from William Hill.
Bond odds: 6-4
Handsome and armed with a sense of humor, Taylor-Johnson, 32, is reminiscent of one of the all-time best Bonds, the late, great Scotsman, Sean Connery.
In December, it was reported that Aaron had shot scenes as Bond, filming the memorable “gun barrel teaser footage” so often featured in the 007 franchise.
He’s already won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor with his performance as a smooth-talking murderer in the 2016 thriller “Nocturnal Animal,” and he memorably played Count Vronsky in 2012’s “Anna Karenina” alongside Keira Knightley.
Other roles include the “Kick-Ass” series and playing Pietro Maximoff in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Last year, Taylor-Johnson starred alongside Brad Pitt in “Bullet Train.”
The actor proved he’s in shape for Bond in 2022 when he modeled for a Calvin Klein underwear ad, prompting his actor pal Jamie Dornan to joke: “You really should’ve got yourself in better shape for this. Did you forget about it or something?”
At just 21, Taylor-Johnson wed artist and director Sam Taylor-Johnson — 23 years his senior — in 2012 and they have two daughters, Wylda Rae and Romy Hero. The couple, who combined their surnames, renewed their vows last June.
“I knew instantly with Sam that I’d found my soulmate,” Aaron told The Telegraph of meeting Sam on the set of “Nowhere Boy.” “I knew instantly that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person. I remember it very well, and a year to the day [after] I met her I proposed. I knew I wanted a family with her, I knew I wanted kids, and a month later she was pregnant with our first child.”
He added that their age difference never bothered him because of his background as a child actor.
“I worked in an adult environment from an early age; I had open, direct conversations with directors, producers, actors, where my opinions would be valued and matter,” Taylor-Johnson has said. “I grew up pretty quickly — I left school at 15. I had a totally different upbringing from my kids.”
Next up, Taylor Johnson stars in the hotly-anticipated Spider-Man spinoff “Kraven the Hunter.”
Bond odds: 3-1
The “Gangs of London” star could be set to become the first black James Bond after a sudden rush of bets on him earlier this month.
Essiedu received Emmy and BAFTA nominations for his performance as Kwame in the 2020 HBO series “I May Destroy You,” alongside his good pal Michaela Coel.
The 32-year-old is a talented Shakespearean actor and in 2016, starred in the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of “Hamlet” and “King Lear.”
Born in London, Essiedu was raised by his single mother, who taught fashion and design, after his lawyer father returned to Ghana when Essiedu was a baby. An only child, he has said said he was left heartbroken when his mother died of breast cancer while he was in his first year of drama school.
Now starring in the TV series “The Lazarus Project,” airing on TNT, Essiedu lives with his girlfriend, comedian Rosa Robson, and says that every choice he makes as an actor is political — from what roles he takes to where he performs and who he performs with.
Bond odds: 4-1
While most Americans won’t have heard of Norton, he’s known by in the UK for his astonishing performance as psycho-rapist Tommy Lee Royce in the TV hit “Happy Valley,” which earned him a BAFTA nomination.
The posh actor, who also played a vicar in the popular UK show “Grantchester,” studied at Ampleforth College — sometimes called the “Catholic Eton” — where, Norton has said, he was massively bullied.
He’s currently starring in London’s West End in “A Little Life,” the stage version of Hanya Yanagihara’s best-selling novel, prompting many headlines about him stripping off for the role.
At 37, Norton — whose girlfriend is actress Imogen Poots — may be considered too old to embark on the Bond role, but he has already been covered in gold (à la Goldfinger) for the HBO show “The Nevers.”
Bond odds: 5-2
Known for the past decade as Superman, Cavill suddenly has time on his hands to be Bond.
A shake-up at Warner Bros. saw the “Man of Steel” star dumped from the caped role in December when director and DC Studios co-chair James Gunn announced plans for a new movie focusing on a younger version of the superhero.
Cavill’s “Argylle” director Matthew Vaughn has said that playing 007 is something the actor was “born to do” — and, indeed, he’s come close before.
Cavill, who has a Roger Moore smoothness, came very close to getting the Bond role before Craig was cast in 2006’s “Casino Royale.”
On the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast last October, Cavill revealed: “They told me I was close, yes … They told me it was ultimately down to … me and Daniel.”
But Cavill, now 39, isn’t sore he lost the part to Craig. “I think it was an amazing choice to go with Daniel. I probably wasn’t ready at the time,” he has admitted.
Now, the clock is ticking as Cavill is aging out of the role.
“Whether I’m considered for the role or not, I don’t know, but, it’d be fun to have the conversation, for sure,” he’s said.
Bond odds: 7-1
Famous for his steamy sex scenes in the first season of “Bridgerton,” dapper Brit Page would, like Essiedu, make history as the first black Bond.
“It’s a conversation people are having, and it’s terribly flattering that they’re having it,” the 34-year-old told Vanity Fair in February of 007 casting buzz.
Page became an overnight success in 2020, playing the dashing Duke of Hastings in the first season of “Bridgerton” opposite Phoebe Dynevor. But he stunned fans by not returning for a second season — leaving some thinking he had gotten too big for his britches.
In January, it was revealed that a Page was determined to be the most handsome man in the world based on a scientific concept that measures facial symmetry (his so-called Golden Ratio was 93.65%, compared to 93.53% for Chris Hemsworth and 93.46% for Michael B. Jordan.
The actor’s most recent role was in the movie version of “Dungeons & Dragons.”
So far, Page has played coy about his interest in being Bond.
“It’s not a thing that’s fully occupying my thoughts,” he’s said. “I’ve got enough on my plate at the moment. I worry about the work I have, not other people’s jobs.”
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