Daniel Craig isn’t going to be James Bond for much longer. Even though Craig signed up for another Bond movie after saying he’d “rather slash [his] wrists” than do exactly that — confirming his ability to prioritize a paycheck over all personal desires — the man’s time is up. The as-yet-untitled sequel coming next year will be Craig’s fifth Bond movie, which puts him in rare company — only the late Roger Moore and Sean Connery have played 007 five or more times.
If Bond films are coming out of Hollywood in perpetuity — and the box office numbers alone suggest they will — a new 007 actor should be coming sometime in the 2020s. And the latest odds from the betting site Ladbrokes have Daniel Kaluuya as the Bond front-runner with 6/1 odds, ahead of the likes of James Norton, Tom Hardy, and yes, even your internet husband Idris Elba.
That might seem surprising — especially given the other, more prominent names on the Bond shortlist — but just look at what Kaluuya’s been up to in the past year. He had an Oscar-nominated breakout role in Get Out and played a crucial supporting role in Black Panther, which just had one of the best opening box office weekends in history. On Sunday, he not only won the Rising Star award at the 2018 BAFTAs (basically the British Oscars), but gave an absurdly charming acceptance speech full of wit, attitude, and heart. Kaluuya is having a moment, and is now one of the most sought-after young talents in Hollywood.
While we’re technically several years away from Kaluuya-as-Bond coming to fruition (also, Craig would still need to hang up the tux, but I don’t think we’re going to need to twist his arm), it’s never too early to bring the hype. Please disregard Kaluuya’s supporting role in Johnny English: Reborn …
… and instead think about, like, literally anything else he’s done, because he ticks off all the boxes on the Bond checklist. There are four important qualities that a modern-day James Bond must have: emotional depth, charm, badassery, and sexiness-in-a-suit. Kaluuya nails all of these characteristics — here’s how. (A quick warning: By the end of this post, you’ll not only want Kaluuya as your new Bond, but his hand in marriage.)
One of the reasons Craig might be the greatest Bond we’ve ever had: His is a secret agent with emotional fragility. In Casino Royale, he opens up to the atypically mysterious Bond girl Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) — the clear impression here is that he’s never come close to sharing his feelings before — which makes it all the more heartbreaking when Lynd drowns near the end of the movie amid a ton of secrets. What, you didn’t think James Bond could cry?
A modern Bond should contain multitudes, in contrast to the outdated model who was unfazed by everything and shuddered at the thought of sharing his feelings. I’m not saying the new Bond has to pull out a Jane Austen novel while chartering to his next mission, but don’t forget who this character is: an emotionally repressed orphan dealing with mountains of loss while also being asked to murder strangers on a daily basis for the sake of his country.
When the script has called for it in his career, Kaluuya has nailed the emotional beats. Many will point to the first hypnosis scene in Get Out, when Kaluuya’s Chris is forced to recall the death of his mother, tears streaming down his horrified face, before he’s banished to the Sunken Place. It’s an evocative scene rife with symbolism. But for me, the moment that really solidifies Kaluuya’s range is his climactic speech in the Black Mirror episode “Fifteen Million Merits.”
The episode — TL;DR, imagine the HQ app taking over society — culminates with Kaluuya’s character, Bing, excoriating the system that traps him and countless other citizens. What makes the speech so effective is that Bing is soft-spoken for the better part of an hour; finally seeing him explode is equal parts cathartic and painful.
Kaluuya has proved time and again that he has the emotional range. Even if his hypothetical Bond movie calls for only five minutes of real feeling, trust that he’d nail those five minutes.
For better or worse, James Bond is a ladies’ man — Sir Ian Fleming might’ve made it a contractual obligation that 007 hook up with at least one woman per movie. So be it; Kaluuya is up for it.
Is he charming on screen? For sure — even if Black Panther didn’t show much of W’Kabi and Okoye’s romance, Kaluuya sold it with every smoldering glance he gave Danai Gurira. And he might be more charming IRL. Just watch any of his interviews: He has a sharp wit and great comedic timing (when asked by BuzzFeed whether he’d rather be on the Dora Milaje’s or the Avengers’ wanted list, he says the Avengers because “black women is stress”) and he effortlessly draws the attention of other, equally beautiful people around him.
Case in point: the way Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, and Alicia Vikander looked at him on The Graham Norton Show as he was telling a story, which is the same expression I make when the guy at my favorite sandwich shop puts extra avocado on my sub for free.
This man has a Bond-level amount of sauce.
It’s not rocket science: James Bond is going to fight people, and he’s going to look good doing it. Again, Craig’s Bond might’ve set the standard here in Casino Royale — the parkour scene in the first act of the movie is breathtaking stuff on the second, third, fourth, fifth, and 20th viewing.
Admittedly, Kaluuya hasn’t had much practice, but the chaotic ending of Get Out was a great showcase for, primarily, his aptitude for killing evil people in creative ways.
There was death by deer antlers for West Wing alum Bradley Whitford …
… Kaluuya calmly taking a knife to the hand before finishing off Evil Hypnotist Catherine Keener …
… and taking out Caleb Landry Jones by way of medicine ball, door handle, and a good old-fashioned kick to the skull.
This was the good shit. The Keener scene feels particularly apt and akin to the way modern Bond frequently suffers ungodly amounts of pain before summoning another level of strength to prevail. Also, killing-people-with-weapons-that-aren’t-supposed-to-be-weapons is a classic Bond trope that Kaluuya has clearly already perfected.
This is a simple question: Does Daniel Kaluuya look good in suits?
Yes. Yes he does.
Let’s not overthink this: Daniel Kaluuya should be the next James Bond, and the race really shouldn’t be close. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to call my movie industry bookie (you don’t have one of those?) before the odds get any higher.