Recently I was looking at my Bond 26 Fancast, not because it was bad, because it’s nearly two years old and I always planned on doing an updated version as I thought we all would’ve seen No Time To Die by now.
There have been many delays to NTTD since, first with original director Danny Boyle leaving the project to be replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga. The push backs continue due to the world being on fire throughout 2020 and now 2021.
If everything was fine, we would’ve begun to hear news of casting and director shortlists for Bond 26. In the background now I believe, with this latest push to October 8, EON has begun to phone agents, have meetings and gather a shortlist of self-tapes with the hope of doing in-person auditions around the time of NTTD is released in October.
I know Barbara Broccoli has stated they won’t be doing anything until the release of Craig’s final adventure. While honourable, when she made that comment, that was before the latest delay to the great hope of October 2020.
Now things have changed and if they continue waiting it’ll be until 2023/2024 filming starts. I can honestly see EON and whoever distributes the film (Warner Bros, Apple, Universal) making an announcement for a production start date in 2022 aka the 60th anniversary for a 2023 release.
So with all that said, I’m pushing forward with my updated Bond 26 fancast.
I will say some things have stayed the same and changed, but I’m going to do things differently this time with the format.
Let’s begin with the fun one and discuss who will step up into Daniel Craig’s vacant tuxedo.
While the likes of Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy, Richard Madden and most recently Outlander star Sam Heughan are in the favourites lists, I don’t believe any of them will get the role.
Instead, I’ll be firmly sticking to my top pick, Henry Golding.
The moment I saw the 33-year-old in Crazy Rich Asians, it was his audition of how his Bond would look and showcased the charm, and he continued this with multiple red carpet events.
As for his acting, he was brilliant as one of the villains in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentleman. He proved his romantic leading man chops once again in Last Christmas, followed up by a decent dramatic performance and was the only good thing in the awfully dull movie Monsoon.
The British-Malaysian actor will be showcasing his action skills in the GI Joe spin-off Snake Eyes.
The reason I’m fully onboard the Golding train is that I believe he’d modernise the franchise while also respecting the past, especially the Moore era. There’s something Roger Moore about him, he has that twinkle in his eye (like Pierce Brosnan).
The guy even looks like Bond from Ian Fleming’s original description.
Additionally, following Craig, we need to see this character have a bit of fun again. Not too over the top or quippy like the MCU movies but along the lines of For Your Eyes Only where it blended the action, story and Moore’s performance and humour perfectly to be the best of his whole era.
If not Golding my shortlist includes John Boyega (29), Nicholas Hoult (31), Dev Patel (30), James Norton (35) and strong wildcard, Tom Ellis (42).
It may not be the top of the list, but when you think about the supporting characters it does pose an interesting question, do you keep Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw or recast?
The franchise has a long legacy of keeping the same actor in the role over multiple Bonds. Desmond Llewelyn as Q worked with everyone from Sean Connery to Brosnan, even recently Judi Dench’s M worked with both Brosnan and Craig.
Whatever choice is made, it makes for a different film. I believe whoever is picked as Bond, the only one that would return is Fiennes’ M.
For me, I’d have a whole clean slate and would work for the story I’d like to tell (more on that in a bit).
I honestly don’t have many for M because it has to be a certain actor to which Benedict Wong is perfect.
Everyone knows the 49-year-old from his role as Wong in the MCU and the Manchester lad as had a long career on stage and screen bringing gravitas that Fiennes brought.
Elsewhere, No Time To Die will mark the end of Harris as Moneypenny and will be a moment of legacy for the character. Thanks to her performance, she added new dimensions and is the reason she has a first name now. I wish we had a Moneypenny mini-series or film with Harris on missions before Skyfall.
Thanks to Harris and the backstory created this change means whoever takes over the role will likely have some action scenes and won’t be used solely for flirtation with 007.
Have a long think; I decided to go with Rachael Stirling.
This could be a popular choice among Bond fans because her mother Diana Rigg played Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It’d be a nod to the past, which is something the franchise loves doing.
Then solely from an acting point of view, Stirling is superb having performed on stage and is usually the best thing on-screen would also bring that high of class to the character.
Additionally, Stirling auditioned for the role of Vesper, so following in her mum’s footstep would be a lovely full-circle moment.
Plus I’d buy Golding’s Bond flirting with Stirling and be a nice change to see an older Moneypenny and younger Bond.
Shortlist includes – New Zealand actress Fern Sutherland (would be more a bantery friendship with Bond), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (if producers want a bigger name for spin-off potential).
Like Moneypenny, it took until Skyfall to introduce the head of Q branch. I wouldn’t do that this time as like everything else a new Q is the final puzzle piece to be revealed in Bond 26.
I think it’s important that they bring their own take on the character, but I would like to see some form of banter return when he and 007 meet as that seems to be missing from Whishaw’s performance.
I’ve been a fan of this man since I can remember, so my choice for Q is Bill Nighy.
The joy of watching him would be the fact it wouldn’t be Q, it’d just be Nighy in glasses talking to Bond, and every moment he’s on-screen would be a blessing.
Shortlist includes – Richard Ayoade (a fan favourite choice and would be a great choice), Rahul Kohli (One of my top picks for Bond for the IO game and could bring that Llewelyn vibe).
Tanner is an interesting character because he’s never been a regular on-screen character over multiple films until Rory Kinnear was cast. The largest role for the character to date was in For Your Eyes Only, where he replaced M while he was on leave.
However, portrayed right Tanner is significant being M’s number two and Chief of Staff. Which is why they’ll have a more prominent role in Bond 26 they’ll be the one assigning Bond’s mission and is the only official he meets until meeting M.
For the role, I want to change it up a bit and gender swap because there’s no reason now M’s chief of staff couldn’t be a woman. For this reason, Tanner would be played by Karen Gillan.
This is why I didn’t want to bring the Scot in as Moneypenny because I want to turn Tanner into a more important character on screen and bring in Gillan will help with that.
This actress has always been my pick to be the villain since seeing her opposite Golding in Crazy Rich Asians and continue to showcase her talents to fastly becoming one of the top British stars in Hollywood.
My choice for the villain is and will forever be, Gemma Chan.
The reason is I would love to see her play against type and be a smart, muppet master-esque villain. For a little bit of inspiration, I’d look at Robert Davi’s Franz Sanchez.
In the story, Chan would be the love interest until it’s revealed to everyone in the third act to be the plan all along.
Additionally, I wouldn’t have her die. I want to return to the individual movie format for the series but keep Chan in the background much like Biofled in Connery era.
For Chan’s villain plan to work, she needs a dummy but on-screen we’re seeing a villain in his own right until he’s revealed as the dummy in the third act.
The dummy would be Ben Mendelsohn. Whatever happens, the Aussie will be a villain in a Bond film shortly, but I’d love to see this different kind of bad guy role.
Because he is such a great actor and future Oscar nominee/winner, that everyone would believe he’d be the one Bond needs to get. However, before completing the mission, Mendelsohn is killed, and it’s then revealed Chan was the mastermind all along.
The switch would hopefully catch audiences’ off guard.
Like all great villains, they need bodyguards. Blofield has an organisation with plenty of villains from the series were apart, Karl Stromberg and Hugo Drax both had Jaws, then you have the most famous one Oddjob was protecting Goldfinger.
For Mendelsohn and Chan, I’d go for an Octopussy and Lex Luthor vibe where they’re protected by a security of women led by Julie Estelle and Samantha Win.
Both actresses are kick-ass action stars, Indonesian Estelle was Hammer Girl in The Raid 2, and Win is an incredible stunt performer/actress. The Canadian has appeared in Wonder Woman, Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Army of the Dead, both are coming out this year.
If you watch these videos, you can see what they could do, and if they were in the mould of Oddjob, silent but deadly, they could contribute to some of the best fight scenes in Bond history.
Apart from Chan, there will be no high profile “Bond girl” because there’s no need for one for this story.
A move that would undoubtedly annoy plenty of Bond fans, but there is a reason for this, and they’d return in the next four films.
Starting a new era of Bond is a fun but nervous moment because you have to follow the final chapter of the previous and maybe change the tone. That’s what happened when Martin Campbell did with Casino Royale grounding the film following the incredibly over the top Die Another Day.
This time around, I can see the producers expanding the filmmaker pool. If they do five films within this new era, then all five will be directed by someone different.
Depending on No Time To Die’s reaction and success, I can see Fukunaga returning and setting the tone and possible storyline moving forward.
If not, my top pick is Edgar Wright. If you’ve seen Scott Pilgrim or Baby Driver, you know he can handle a blockbuster with ease. Just make sure you’re on the same wave before committing to each other as Wright doesn’t want another Ant-Man situation and Bond doesn’t need a Danny Boyle situation.
Besides that, Wright is an incredible filmmaker who can handle it all from action, car chases, humour and has such a style that you’ll know this is an Edgar Wright movie.
I’d follow this up by getting some of the biggest directors in the world working today. These include Patty Jenkins, Zack Snyder, Steve McQueen and ever since I saw You Were Never Really Here, Lynne Ramsay.
Each one of these directors would bring something different from Snyder stylistic and visual style it would be the prettiest Bond. In contrast, Ramsay would helm something close to Licence To Kill.
There two important things about the music, who should score and who should sing the theme.
When it comes to the theme, we need something more upbeat as the last three have been all melancholy. It would be nice to hear music along the lines of Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name (the most underrated Bond song ever).
This is why you bring in the Foo Fighters!
They’re the biggest rock band in the world, everyone knows them and because it’s the Foos would be a banging tune.
If the producers wanted something more pop-focused, then there’s no one hotter right now then Dua Lipa. However, I’m sticking with the Foos.
The fun part for movie score fans is who should score Bond because I have two requests. The 007 theme isn’t heard until Bond is assigned that code and I’ve always felt Bond’s personal theme, the moment we met him, should be You Only Live Twice. I’ve always loved the theme, and nothing would change just updated.
Apart from that, the composer can have fun with it and while I’d love to see Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross they might not be traditional enough for the producers.
Then you have Michael Giacchino, and I like a lot of his stuff, he scored Up! he’s the reason why we all cry at the beginning. Then you have The Batman, and if that tease in the test footage anything to go by then, I might be on that train.
However, for now, I believe John Powell would be brilliant. I loved all his work on the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, and he’s the man I can see replacing John Williams when it comes to Star Wars because his Solo score was superb.
Behind The Scenes
Finally, I feel like No Time To Die is Michael G. Wilson’s farewell to the franchise to retire or follow in Albert “Cubby” Broccoli’s footsteps and be a consulting producer for Bond 26 before putting his feet up.
Michael will pass the baton to his son David G. Wilson, who works for EON on the video games and has experience of working on features.
It would keep the property in the family and learn from the best in Broccoli. It would also begin her plans of retirement, but that won’t be happening for a while.
So that’s my updated Bond 26, I’m pretty happy with it. What you think, do you agree? Have I mentioned someone who you didn’t think of initially? Let me know it in the comments.