Spectre, the latest James Bond, 007, movie opens in just a few weeks. Daniel Craig, the current re-incarnation of Bond has clearly stated he’s done with the character. There’s been speculation for some time regarding a replacement, the most famous name being tossed around is Idris Elba. I’d suggest Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson truly leave their comfort zone and cast a woman in the role of the most famous and long lasting spy in movie history.
There are several criteria for choosing the next Bond. The actress must be British. George Lazenby, born in Australia, was the only Bond born outside the British Isles. Roger Moore and Daniel Craig are English, Pierce Brosnan is Irish, and Timothy Dalton is Welsh. We’ve many fine actresses to choose from who fit this category.
Next, they must be under 40. Roger Moore starred in his first Bond movie, Live and Let Die, when he was 46. Pierce Brosnan was 42 when he did Goldeneye and Timothy Dalton was 41 when he played Bond in The Living Daylights. The others were under 40 with George Lazenby a tender 30 years old when he starred in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Finally, they must be credible in an action movie. James Bond is a man of action and Jane must be no different. While Sean Connery’s most famous film prior to Dr. No was Walt Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, he convinced someone he’d make a great agent with a ‘license to kill.’ And George Lazenby had only acted in a television series before being cast. (By the way, Lazenby got a raw deal with the critics. He wasn’t Connery, but he was a very credible Bond. In many ways, his film parallels the end of Craig’s Casino Royale and the issues raised in the sequel, Quantum of Solace.) So, prior experience is not required.
The following five women can pull it off. Remember, Jane Bond is not only an action hero, she’s also someone who conquers men in bed and other places. She doesn’t drink beer, only martinis, ‘shaken, not stirred’ and she can be ruthless, tossing the opposition off a cliff when necessary or dropping them into a huge vat of mud. Jane will look as good in her evening gown (remember she’s a woman, not a woman dressing up like a man in a tux) as she does in a wetsuit or a uniform.
Before beginning the countdown, there are several British actresses who might pull it off and deserve an honorable mention. They include, in alphabetical order: Gemma Arterton (‘Bond Girl’ Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace), Naomie Harris (‘Bond Girl’ Eve Moneypenny in both Skyfall and Spectre), Keira Knightley, and Carey Mulligan.
#5 – Sophie Cookson, Roxy/Lancelot in Kingsmen: The Secret Service, is the youngest of the possible Janes. Although she has the fewest acting credits, she’s listed as the lead actress in the upcoming Emperor
#4 – Rosamund Pike, ‘Bond Girl’ Miranda Frost in Die Another Day, has progressed tremendously since that role when she was 23. In addition she’s voiced Pussy Galore on BBC Radio and narrated The Spy Who Loved Me as an audiobook. She’s also played Queen Andromeda in Wrath of the Titans and starred in Gone Girl.
#3 – Natalie Dormer, Cressida in the wildly popular Mockingjay films and Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, has all the action credits to be Jane. Give her a Walther and the keys to an Aston Martin and she’ll do as M wants her to every time.
#2 – Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dido Belle in Belle and starring in episode VIII of Star Wars, can pull it off. She’ll shake your martini or maybe create a new one as she plays baccarat at the club waiting for the call from M. She’ll also cleverly banter with Q when he provides the latest gadget for use in the field.
#1 – Emily Blunt has it all. She played Boudica in the BBC TV production of the same name. In that drama, she fought the Romans. She also fought aliens in Edge of Tomorrow and protected her son in Looper. Most recently, she sang in Into the Woods and played FBI agent, Kate Macer, in Sicario. While I didn’t particularly like this last film, she was wonderful as a conflicted SWAT team leader who must confront right and wrong and decide which she’ll embrace. Her Walther will rest easily under her arm as she banters with the henchmen attempting to kill her. This Jane will seduce every ‘Bond Boy’ within sight, leaving them wanting more as she uses them to capture the villain. And, most importantly, she’ll kick ass when the need arises and then sip that martini afterwards.
I must confess though, that, while Emily Blunt has it all, there is another British actress who would be better. This one has the smarts as well as the charm to match, if not surpass, the six men who’ve portrayed Bond. She’s acted in almost every genre, but not played action roles. That won’t stop her as it didn’t stop Sean Connery.