For what feels like the better part of a decade (somehow it’s actually only been about two years), British actor and Bolognese enthusiast Tom Hiddleston has been considered the presumptive Next James Bond. Daniel Craig, who’d shepherded the spy through a four-film gritty reboot, was said to be done with the project. Hell, he said he was done: "I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists" than do another Bond film, Craig said while promoting 2015’s Spectre. Gossip-mongers and gambling houses installed Hiddleston as the favorite to succeed him, and it made a certain amount of sense: Hiddleston is British, charming, handsome, and also not black. Those are basically the qualifications.
Alas! News broke Tuesday that Hiddleston will not be playing the propped-up relic of a crumbling empire. That’s because, in the eyes of longtime Bond producer Barbara Broccoli (as reported by Page Six), he lacks a few of Bond’s essential qualities. Her alleged charges against Hiddleston are interesting, bizarre, and very accurate. They also teach an important lesson: Here’s how easy it is to lose a Bond franchise that was thought to be all but yours.
Step 1: Be Too Smug
Page Six reports that Broccoli believes that Hiddleston is "too smug" to play James Bond. On this count, he is guilty.
Exhibits B-ZZZ (that’s triple Z, like we’ve gone through the alphabet three times):
Giving a bad Golden Globes speech about how great you are at charity is definitely a smug thing to do. Dating Taylor Swift is not necessarily a smug thing to do, but dancing on rocks in sweaters for paparazzi and celebrating the Fourth of July like your middle name is Nantucket, all while dating Taylor Swift, is a smug thing to do. Turns out wearing an "I ❤ T.S." tank top while swimming with Taylor Swift is enough to sink your chances at playing an iconic alcoholic, misogynistic, violent, and really cool spy.
Step 2: Be Not Tough Enough
Broccoli reportedly also believes that Hiddleston, who was a tasteful and goofy fake Bond in The Night Manager, is "not tough enough" to play the real deal. Huh? She is tripping if she thinks that Daniel Craig, who is an actor, is in any material way "tougher" than Tom Hiddleston, who is also an actor. Broccoli may think she’s M, and that whoever she casts as James Bond becomes James Bond. Contrary to what Barbara Broccoli may tell you, Daniel Craig did NOT actually endure a series of heavy-rope whacks to his undercarriage, take a series of needles to the dome, or drink scorpion booze.
Step 3: Be Not Daniel Craig
Here’s a thought experiment: Maybe Daniel Craig, who, again, is an actor, and often involved in high-stakes negotiations involving multiyear contracts and very large sums of money, never meant to stop playing Bond. Maybe — and this is a leap, so please stay with me — Daniel Craig determined that playing hard to get, throwing a fit about playing Bond ever again, and insisting on doing a West End production of Othello would give him sufficient leverage to ask Broccoli and the Bond producers for even more than the two-picture, $150 million deal that was said to be on the table back in December. Just spitballing here.
If the guy who — and please don’t fight me on this — gave us the very best James Bond of all time decides that he wants to be James Bond again, I don’t care how not-smug and brutally tough Barbara Broccoli thinks you are. You’re not gonna be Bond.
Still: You probably shouldn’t have dated Taylor Swift.
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the number of James Bond films Daniel Craig has been in; he’s been in four, not three.