And the next Bond is..?

This light-hearted post is my way of shaking off the dreadful Covid malaise that has settled over so many of us for the last 18 months. So I’m not talking about mental health, illness, depression, heavy life stuff, art or writing, I’m talking about something entirely daft and wonderfully trivial…who will be the next James Bond?

Barbara Broccoli take note!

Daniel Craig – for many, the definitive Bond.

While I’m a fan of the Bond franchise I don’t count myself as a hardened aficionado, but I am a massive movie geek & cinephile though, so the question of who and how the UK’s most successful movie franchise will continue, does interest me. I’ll discuss the actors touted over the internet and papers as current frontrunners first, about 24 of them by all accounts, then pitch my own out of left field contender & why I think he would be the best choice to take on the new Bond going forward.

Lashana Lynch

Firstly, excluding the idea of a female Bond, for which I think Lashana Lynch is awesome and has more than proved herself a brilliant 00 agent, by all means let’s have a female ass-kicking secret agent, but not a ‘Jane Bond’, but something new instead. As for James Bond, there are several of the male contenders that can be eliminated to narrow the field based on either age/height/acting ability – a short James Bond would be ridiculous! Although to date, Daniel Craig (53yrs) is the shortest James Bond there has been at only 5ft 10″ (most have been 6ft 2″ or slightly under), having a Bond shorter than Craig just wouldn’t work. Even ignoring the ‘tall, dark & handsome’ labels often attributed to Bond by its creator Ian Fleming and subsequent Bond incarnations, at the least Bond is supposed to be physically imposing, someone who can dominate or at least intimidate an opponent either by height/stature or physical size.

There are several frontrunners for the plum role to replace Daniel Craig, these are among the most popular names doing the rounds:

  1. Mad Max’sTom Hardy (44yrs 5ft 9″) – The odds on favourite. Great actor with undoubted versatility & appeal but too physically similar to Craig’s brusque complex Bond and just too short, also, the Venom actor would be one of the oldest Bonds when he starts with only Roger Moore being older.
  2. Luther’sIdris Elba (49yrs 6ft 2″) – Used to be my first choice, wonderful actor who can easily do sexy, suave, dangerous and edgy but now sadly he is just too old.
  3. Superman’sHenry Cavill (38yrs 6ft) – The obvious safe and perhaps boring choice, but rather wooden acting at times and comes with Superman baggage and reported personality problems – bit of a dick. Not keen on yet another private school/posh boy either.
  4. Bridgerton’sRege-Jean Page (31yrs 5ft 11″) – Would make the first Bond of colour which would be great and can certainly do sexy & suave but is he edgy, dark or imposing enough?
  5. Rich Young Asian’sHenry Golding (34yrs 6ft 1″) – Would make the first Bond of non-white Asian descent but too nice a guy? Not dark or edgy enough?
  6. Outlander’sSam Heughan (41yrs 6ft 2″) – Another safe choice, has a good fanbase though not widely known by public and unproven in sole lead role. Perhaps too safe/boring, he is older too and is he edgy enough with enough acting range?
  7. GoT’sRichard Madden (35yrs 5ft 9″) – Too short and still unproven as sole lead.
  8. Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya (32yrs 5ft 7/8″) – Great actor and very charismatic but sadly far too short and not physically imposing enough. If he were a beefed up 6ft he’d be one of top choices.
  9. Spiderman’sTom Holland (25yrs 5ft 6/7″) – Great actor but way too young and far too short/small in stature. Fantastic Spiderman, but Bond, no.
  10. Loki’sTom Hiddleston (40yrs 6ft 1″) – Would be a safe and popular choice. Good actor but is VERY known for Loki and therefore could be too typecast, also, brings humour but is he physically tough & edgy enough?
  11. McMafia’sJames Norton (36yrs 6ft) – Would be the safe choice and nice to have a diabetic actor in the lead role. Has proved he can do dark and brooding in Happy Valley so a possibility? But yet another advantaged private school/posh boy background is not a bonus.
  12. Star War’sJohn Boyega (29yrs 5ft 9″) – Good actor but just too short and some Star Wars baggage.
  13. Peaky Blinder’sCillian Murphy (45yrs 5ft 6/7″) – Good actor but far too short and too old to play a younger Bond.
  14. 50 Shade’sJamie Dornan (39yrs 5ft 9/10″) – Just a bit too short & damaged by 50 shades baggage.
  15. Dracula’sLuke Evans (42yrs 5ft 11″) – If rebooting Bond for a newer younger version, then too old? Also, his wannabe crooner status is a bit of a put off.
  16. David Copperfield’sDev Patel (31yrs 6ft 1″) – Great actor and versatile, would be the first Bond of colour which is great, but could the Green Knight actor be sexy and edgy enough?
  17. 1917’sGeorge MacKay (29yrs 6ft) – Young actor with versatility, could be a young Bond? But is the Captain Fantastic actor too young though and not edgy or sexy enough?
  18. X-Men’sNicholas Hoult (31yrs 6ft 2/3″) – Great and versatile actor, may be a possibility? Is the A Single Man actor too ‘pretty boy’ in looks though and not gruff or edgy enough?
  19. Kiss Ass’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson (31yrs 5ft 11″) – Good actor, though seen perhaps as a ‘pretty boy’ face rather than serious actor? Can do dark, sexy & edgy though as seen in Nocturnal Animals. Possibly a strong contender?
  20. Downton Abbey’sDan Stevens (38yrs 5ft 11″/6ft) – Too ‘sweet & safe’ choice wise and rather uninspiring/boring. Loyal fanbase but not dark, edgy or physically striking/imposing enough.
  21. GoT’sTom Hopper (36yrs 6ft 4″) – Not a well known actor and ironically, his VERY tall stature may be too tall, meaning the likelihood of him being able to ‘blend in’ in a spy context is doubtful, he’d stick out like a 6ft 4″ thumb! Not proven yet acting wise either or as sole lead.
  22. Rocketman’sJamie Bell (35yrs 5ft 7″) – Great and versatile actor who can pretty much play anything, but far too short/small in stature and lacks sex appeal. I’m afraid this is one role he couldn’t pull off.
  23. Viking’sClive Standen (40yrs 6ft 1″) – Not well known actor, so no massive fan base, would be an unusual choice. Is he versatile enough and too old for young Bond?
  24. Dunkirk’sHarry Styles (27yrs 5ft 11″/6ft) – Too young and not physically imposing enough to pull off Bond & FAR too distracting due to pop icon baggage. A total non starter.

So, those are narrowed down to 11 now…still a long list. If you discount anyone 40 or over, to reinvigorate Bond as a new younger Bond (which I think is definitely needed after Daniel Craig’s retiring Bond – re: my pitch idea later), then the list is narrowed further to just 8 possible contenders. Despite the fact that Ian Fleming’s Bond is supposed to be in his mid-late thirties around 37yrs, certainly in Moonraker, given that you would want any new Bond to have as many years as possible playing the role, then you could start looking at dismissing the older of the contenders too (meaning Henry Cavill at 38yrs and with his ‘maturity’ may not have much of a Bond run in him and would certainly struggle to play a Bond much younger than his actual age.) Do I seem fixated on age? There’s a reason for that…

How to overcome the colossal influence of Daniel Craig’s James Bond?

Daniel Craig has undoubtedly made a huge and lasting impression as Bond, for many he is now their favourite all-time Bond, with his mix of rough n’ ready physicality, that brusque side with a slight hint of tenderness beneath. So, how on earth do you follow such a powerful and definitive interpretation? Do you just offer up more of the same? The ONLY thing you can do, is to take Bond in an entirely new and fresh direction. Just continuing in the same vein but with another similar actor like Tom Hardy, just won’t work as brilliant an actor as Tom Hardy is, it would just be too familiar. Daniel Craig mark 2.0.

Here’s my pitch idea…!

The fact that Craig was playing an older Bond getting ready for retirement, means that the only way to really refresh and reboot the series is to take Bond in the opposite direction. Go from an aging older Bond on the point of retiring to a young Bond, in fact, Bond BEFORE he became Bond!

Restart the new series with a new Bond by having a younger actor play a youthful James Bond as a naval officer first, which, after some terrible event where he not only manages to survive against the odds but proves his bravery, cunning and skills, leads to MI6 approaching him and them recruiting him as a new agent! So the film charts how Bond became Bond, from how he was recruited to his training and first missions to what made him a 00 agent, with the film ending with him getting his 00 status and being directed to his first mission as 007. The series would then be up and running for years to come!

Not only would this approach give us something entirely new and fresh, we have NEVER seen a young Bond before he became Bond, what put him on the path, what drove him, what his training was like, what he had to give up, his mistakes etc., but it would give the new reboot a fresh start and one with plenty of mileage!

Francois Arnaud

Now, my other pitch idea – casting…and here’s my out of left field suggestion. The name is Arnaud…Francois Arnaud.

Yes, this is NOT a British actor (remember Pierce Brosnan is Irish, George Lazenby is Australian), BUT, this French Canadian actor can bring something truly unique to the part. Here are just 10 reasons why:

Francois Arnaud as Cesare Borgia, a guy not to mess with.
Francois in black Bond tux n’ tie
  1. Brit AccentFrancois Arnaud can do a perfect British accent as seen in his work on The Borgias.
  2. Languages – He is fluent in English, French & Spanish – in today’s multilingual society especially in the world of espionage, spy’s & secret agents, James Bond would HAVE to be able to speak in multiple languages, especially when he was undercover and assuming another identity. How great to have a tri-lingual actor that could do this naturally as well as doing British AND American accents flawlessly, allowing him to change multiple identities effortlessly. James Bond with some subtitles, hell yes!
  3. HeightFrancois Arnaud is 6ft 2″ tall, therefore he has the height, physicality, body and stature needed for the part, and is loved by ladies and men alike!
  4. Looks – He also has the looks (‘tall, dark and handsome’) to pull off a convincing James Bond, from his handsome face and great body to his deep voice and ridiculously thick hair. No (Sean Connery) toupee needed here!
  5. ActingArnaud has great range and acting chops and is one of the most versatile actors working in TV & film today, working in both French speaking and English speaking roles. After winning the Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film Award (VCFF) early in his career in the critically acclaimed I Killed My Mother, he went on to famously play the dark and dangerous Cesare Borgia in The Borgias, displaying an ability to portray brooding, sexy, Machiavellian and violently ruthless characters to the point where he was outshining established star Jeremy Irons. He can play shady, duplicitous characters in TV’s The Blindspot, romantic leads in films like Permission & She’s in Portland, humour and more sex appeal in US TV’s The Moody’s or angst ridden unhinged characters in French film Rabid Dogs and most recently he can be seen as a disturbed ex-military soldier unable to adjust to civilian life in French Canadian film La Switch.
  6. Solo lead/track record – Arnaud is never out of work! Unlike some of the other contenders on the list who have yet to carry a film or project single-handed, Francois Arnaud has already played the lead in both mainstream TV & independent film projects, from Midnight, Texas to French Canadian film Origami and upcoming Norbourg as well as joint lead with Lili Taylor in upcoming US indie film The Winter House. He has never given a duff/bad performance even if he is the only glue holding a project together.
  7. Age – He is 36yrs old but looks younger so could easily play a young Bond recruit in his early-mid-late twenties onwards, giving him possibly the longest run as a new Bond.
  8. FanbaseFrancois Arnaud being a French Canadian actor working in both French speaking & English speaking films he has the benefit of having a solid and very loyal fanbase, including those that love his work in independent films and network television shows like Heat Wave (Les Grandes Chaleurs) and Midnight, Texas. So although he is not a household name in the UK, apart from The Borgias, with the baggage and typecast problems others may have, neither is he an unknown and unproven actor with no following or fanbase.
  9. Hidden talents – Apart from speaking three languages fluently and a bit of Hungarian too, the guy can also play the piano and sing…yes, multi-talented. Could we have a scene with Bond tinkling the ivories?
  10. Something different – It would also be great, and a great forward movement for the franchise, to have an international actor in the role and one who happens to be bisexual too, although this doesn’t have to play any part in the role of Bond, it would show a more inclusive open policy on behalf of the movie makers and a major move away from being seen as old-fashioned and out-of-step.

There, there’s my pitch! I can see Francois Arnaud starting off as a young naval officer who’s unit comes under attack in South America or the Philippines (so he could use his Spanish to get out of his situation) or French speaking Africa etc., where he is able to survive a terrible assault, stop the bad guys, save people etc,. which makes MI6 take notice of him and decide to recruit him as a fresh new agent in training…hence the title of the new film ’00….’, as it charts the story of how James Bond became 007.

Barbara Broccoli, you can send me my cheque in the post! ūüėČ ‚̧ ūüėÄ

White Mountain The Movie – Part II Filming Locations

Taking a slight break from the Distant Worlds author interview series, hopefully this will be a visual treat for all those who love travelling (in real life or in the imagination) and film addicts like me!

As an avid¬†film fan, back in January I had a bit of fun and shared my vision of White Mountain –¬†The Movie, specifically focusing on my dream cast and director.

So, with visionary Ridley Scott directing, Christopher Plumber as Mr. Agyk, Rufus Sewell as the voice of Gralen, either Natalie Portman or Gemma Arterton as Wendya, a possible Henry Cavill or Aidan Turner as Korrun and charismatic Michael Fassbender as evil villain Morreck, the cast is ready.

For the full cast and character profiles, check out my original post: https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/white-mountain-the-movie/

Next we shift¬†our cinematic¬†focus¬†to filming locations for White Mountain – The Movie! ūüėÄ

*(Please note that apart from my illustrations and a few of my own photographs, most of the images used to show places/locations are NOT my own unless otherwise stated. Many thanks to their various creators. :D)

***

In order of book locations, first up, Mr. Agyk and Gralen’s home, White Mountain itself! Real location: Mont Blanc, Switzerland. (My inspiration: Mount Cook ‘Aoraki’, New Zealand).

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The living room.

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The map room, think of a pyramid room covered in maps and star charts with a central dais and the ‘tapestry of time’ shifting world map on it. (Lol, little bit like the map room in Raiders of the Lost Ark!) ūüėÄ

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Next, the ice city of √Źss√§tun, high up within the Arctic circle. Real location: the Arctic, Svarlbard, and Greenland. (My inspiration: the Franz Josef glacier and glacier terminus, New Zealand).

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The ice dungeons below the city.

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Back to White Mountain and the great library ( I love my libraries!).

Photo of Mount Cook aka White Mountain - CopyWhite Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then¬†travel to the¬†Grey Forest deep within the Russian boreal forest or ‘taiga’. Real location: Russian Urals/Siberia. (My inspiration: Forest of Dean, UK and Wistman’s Woods, Dartmoor, UK).

B5C2A8 Russia Siberia Sayan Mountains And Taiga. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

Russia Siberia Sayan Mountains And Taiga. Image shot 2007.

 

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The pancake rocks that Mr. Agyk & Gralen spent the night on, as hunting firewolves draw near. Real location: Russian taiga/Siberia. (My inspiration: Combestone Tor, Dartmoor, UK & Punakaiki, South Island, New Zealand).

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Grey Forest clearing

Wendya’s home – a tumble down cottage in the heart of the forest (less Bavarian fairytale and more decrepit than this though).

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Wendya’s summer retreat, high up in the Llrinaru trees – a treetop¬†sanctuary. Real location: Siberia. (My inspiration: the giant Kauri trees of New Zealand).

View over the Grey Forest from Wendya's summer home.

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The Amazon jungle, following the great river and its tributaries deeper into the rainforest.

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The path to the Oracle.

016Jungle path to the 'Oracle of the West'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dead gully.

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The Oracle’s Lair.

chislehurst_03[1]Then cross the Atlantic to the heart of Africa, the Congo Rainforest, home of the most ancient city in the world, Kallorm (Dwellum of old or Silverden in the «ľllfr tongue). Real location: Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. (My inspiration:¬†the Waipoa rainforest, North Island of¬†New Zealand and Abel Tasman rainforest, South Island of New Zealand).

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The¬†oldest and largest¬†Dworllian¬†realm, Kallorm – the ‘City of Light’ – a bustling subterranean metropolis of crowded honey coloured sandstone buildings, viaducts, bridges, rivers, forums and market squares deep beneath the jungles of the Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). Real locations: Sandstone buildings of Petra, Cairo, Nairobi, Kolcatta, Dwarka. (My inspiration: the narrow crowded architectural streets of Rome, particularly the Roman Forum and the market squares of Florence, Italy).

Firstly, one of the many ancient bridges to cross into Kallorm.

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The White Palace, the Royal House of Kallorm and the Senate, the seat of government. Inspired by Indian and Middle Eastern architecture with some Italian Renaissance thrown in!

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The Falls of Tarro. Real location: the Victoria Falls, border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. (My inspiration: the Huka Falls, New Zealand, Lyford Gorge, Dartmoor, UK and Canonteign Falls, Devon, UK)

69b553d5b8c9dd992b0e4d3076d9469b[1]Falls of Tarro and city of Kallorm

Draellth chambers and catacombs beneath the city of Kallorm. Real location: the Hang Son Dong cave system in Vietnam. (My inspiration: the Waitomo caves, New Zealand and Wookey Hole, Somerset, UK).

The secret passageway behind the Falls of Tarro16fd69ac89d29787b641144be667124d[1]9ebb332cced0f95b3451aa960968cb9a[1]543605b2a694d0cb5add1b5411ccaab2[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ‘Resting Rooms’ of Kallorm, a peaceful sanctuary and¬†haven to heal all wounds amidst the bustle of Kallorm.

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7b25eed066a091d9324ba17a3ebe459c[1]The journey to Fendellin, following the mighty Indus River up to the wild hills and mountains of the Hindu Kush where the demonic snow leopard attacks.

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The Himalayas, searching for the ‘Lost Kingdom of Dragons’, Fendellin.

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Fendellin, ‘The Lost Kingdom of Dragons’ – the vast hidden land within the Himalayas (the Encircling Mountains), originally an «ľllfren stronghold, now one of the last Dworllian kingdoms and home of all dragon races…also the home of M’Sorreck himself. Real location: Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and Himalayan region. (My inspiration: the Southern Alps, South Island of New Zealand and the Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand + the Tibetan legend of Shambhala).

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The ancient steles beside the iceberg lake in Fendellin.

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Mund’harr¬†and the capital, the Golden City. Real location: Architecture of Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Spain.

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Finding a quiet cloister in the city of clouds…

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The Hanging Gardens of Mund’harr. (My inspiration: the hanging gardens of Babylon & Nineveh).

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The blue poppy fields of Fendellin.

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The Tolltek Pass and the road to Morreck.

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The Shudras – the ‘Silent Marshes’.

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Hal’Torren’s choice, the ruins of Oralam. Real location: the deserts of China.

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The salt lake and Kavok’s Peak.

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Valley of darkness, Morreck’s fortress and the stone Sentinels.

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The sentinels

The Cavern of Souls – Morreck’s lair. Real location: Basilica Cistern at Istanbul, Turkey and Petra, Jordan.

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The Flame of Fendellin.

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The cavalcade home.

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Back to White Mountain again.

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***

Lol, there you go, a very looong visual exploration of the¬†cinematic locations for White Mountain – The Movie! You can tell that I’ve spent WAY too¬†much time¬†thinking about all this!

Next time, the beasts and creatures of White Mountain – The Movie! ūüėÄ

 

Oh, and for all you lovely White Mountain fans, there’s still a chance to vote for it in The People’s Book Prize. Voting stays open until August 31st, so if you love it please lend your support, every vote really does count! And a HUGE thank you to all the fabulous people who have already voted, White Mountain has garnered the most amazing comments and votes!

THANK YOU! ūüėÄ xxxx

White Mountain