The mystery over who might play the next James Bond after Daniel Craig has evolved into something of a real-life spy thriller. Now that Craig is confirmed for the next Bond film, there has been plenty of speculation about who will take over once he finally retires from playing 007. Rumors are flying again, with names like Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, Avengers star Tom Hiddleston, Hobbs & Shaw villain Idris Elba, and Venom star Tom Hardy as the frontrunners.
Many thought that Craig was done after Spectre—his own words did the job on that one when he said he was exhausted from donning the famous tuxedo—but with the date set and the 25th installment of the franchise coming in 2020, Craig is officially back.
But what happens after that installment? With the film being the 25th Bond movie and Craig’s fifth turn as the iconic character (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre), it would be the perfect sendoff. So who takes over 007 afterwards? The question could be answered once No Time to Die comes out in 2020 and hits theaters.
Early rumors had Sony reportedly offering Craig an astonishing $150 million to not only reprise 007 for the fifth movie in Craig’s contract, but also add a sixth movie to the slate, a Sony source told RadarOnline. To put that number in context: Even if Craig signed a deal for half the money and only one movie, he’d make $75 million—more than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the highest-paid actor in the world, made in an entire year. (Cash: the ultimate workout recovery tool!)
Of course, no amount of cash can stop the speculation. “The greatest thing about this entertainment industry is that whether there’s a movie out or not, people can find some entertainment from it,” Cavill remarked about the ongoing Bond rumor mill.
Here’s a not-too-scientific look at who the bookies are favoring—and who Hollywood might have in the wings just in case Craig finally decides he’s hanging up the bowtie for good.
1. Richard Madden
This Game of Thrones star might find his way into another major franchise. Richard Madden, a.k.a. Robb Stark on GoT, is reportedly the frontrunner to play James Bond once Daniel Craig hangs up his Walther PPK, especially after his award-winning performance in Bodyguard. According to The Sun, Madden has caught the eye of Bond producer Barbara Broccoli: “It’s seriously looking like he [Madden] is going to get the job. Not only is he on top of Barbara’s list, but she is preparing to offer the role.”
Odds-wise, Madden is now the favorite, according to Forbes. Over in England, Bond betting is big business, and Madden now has the best odds to get the role. Madden is an 11/10 favorite on SkyBet and 5/4 on Coral, while Tom Hiddleston is at 5/2 and 6/4 on Sky and Coral; Tom Hardy is at 9/2 and 6/1; and Idris Elba is at 6/1 and 5/1, according to Forbes.
Madden recently spoke with Variety about what he wants to do next: “I’d like to explore things that are a bit not Romeo. I’ve spent 10 years playing different versions of Romeo, from Robb Stark to literally playing Romeo twice onstage, once when I was 21, once when I was 30. I’ve played a lot of these good guys that bad things happen to, and Bodyguard was my first real experience of this moral space that isn’t so clean-cut as good guys and bad guys. I want to delve into that.”
2. Tom Hiddleston
Though he burst into Hollywood (and hearts of fangirls) with his turn as the scene-stealing Loki in Marvel’s Thor and Avengers movies, Hiddleston has a remarkable pedigree in both quintessential Englishness (Eton, Cambridge) and leading-man action roles involving firearms expertise (The Night Manager, Kong: Skull Island). And while Hiddleston’s Bond odds may be a little longer since his split with Taylor Swift—shake it off, Tom!—he’s still got the chops and the cheekbones to pull off a turn as 007.
3. Henry Cavill
Cavill may not be the bookies’ favorite at the moment, but Hollywood producers wouldn’t have to think too hard about casting our September 2016 cover guy as the next 007—especially not after he got epically ripped for Justice League. As for his spy bona fides, Cavill already distinguished himself in the art of espionage with 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (he wasn’t drinking a Vesper, but still).
Plus, he’s up for the challenge: “It’d be awesome to play Bond, a classic Bond, really,” the Man of Steel star said in his September cover feature with Men’s Fitness. “I don’t think I’d be the person to outdo Daniel Craig at doing Daniel Craig’s Bond. I would love to do a different version and just have enormous amounts of fun with it.”
4. Idris Elba
by Michael Rodio