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Tom Hanks Revealed His Choice for the Next James Bond and 8 Actors Who Turned Down the Role

Photo Credit: Kate Green / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Kate Green / Getty Images

The iconic American actor Tom Hanks has weighed in on who should play the next 007 now that Daniel Craig has retired from the role and producers are searching for a replacement. Read on to learn who Hanks envisions as the perfect James Bond.

First, let’s take a look at some other actors who had the chance to portray Bond and either lost out or turned it down. How different might our favorite spy have been if he’d been played by Cary Grant or Mel Gibson?

Cary Grant

Cary Grant
English-American actor Cary Grant as Captain Anthony Trumbull of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic war film ‘The Pride and the Passion’, 1957. (Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Before the very first James Bond movie was made, there were quite a few actors in mind to portray the spy. Near the top of the list was Cary Grant, who had already starred in spy thrillers such as Notorious (1946) and North By Northwest (1959). He was a big-name star, but two issues prevented him from becoming Bond.

Firstly, he was considered too old for the part, being in his 50s when Dr. No (1962) was being filmed. Secondly, he would only agree to do one or two movies, and producer Albert. R. “Cubby” Broccoli wanted someone to sign up for several films.

Patrick McGoohan

Patrick McGoohan sits beside Walter Macken
Patrick McGoohan sits beside Walter Macken in a scene from the film ‘The Quare Fellow’, 1962. (Photo Credit: Astor Pictures/Getty Images)

Another big name under consideration was Patrick McGoohan, who’d already played a secret agent in the Danger Man series. However, his reason for turning down the role was more unusual than the other actors on the list: as a practicing Catholic, he didn’t approve of Bond’s numerous affairs.

The producers must really have wanted him because he was approached again to join the franchise for Live and Let Die (1973). He turned it down again.

Michael Caine

Michael Caine throwing a punch
English actor Michael Caine, throwing a punch, August 1965. (Photo Credit: Stephan C Archetti/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Once Sean Connery had decided to walk away from Bond after You Only Live Twice (1967), the producers were eager to cast Michael Caine as his replacement.

Like McGoohan and Grant, Michael Caine had experience appearing as a spy, having been cast as Harry Palmer in The Iprcress File films. However, his experience in this area was exactly why Caine turned down the role: he didn’t want to be typecast as a British spy.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood checks his gun
Actor Clint Eastwood checks his gun at home in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Before George Lazenby took up the mantle of Bond, the producers also asked Clint Eastwood to join them, but he turned them down.

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2010, Eastwood explained how his lawyer came and said that the Broccolis would love to have him as Bond. “But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig,” Eastwood said. “That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson
Actor Mel Gibson as mutineer Fletcher Christian in the film ‘The Bounty’ (Photo Credit: Murray Close/Getty Images)

One reason that the role of Bond never ended up going to Gibson was because he was a touch on the small side at only 5’9” tall.

However, his fame at the time might also have been a factor against him. Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz reported how a producer had told him: “I don’t want to make a Mel Gibson movie; I want to make a James Bond movie.”

Another source suggests that Gibson was taken off the shortlist for The Living Daylights (1987) because he wasn’t British, and that he’d subsequently been considered for the Goldeneye (1995) reboot but had been already committed to Braveheart (1995) as actor and director.

Liam Neeson

Actor Liam Neeson,
Actor Liam Neeson, May 1992. (Photo Credit: Bertrand LAFORET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Another contender for the role of Bond when Goldeneye was being cast was actor Liam Neeson. Several sources suggest that he didn’t want to take on the mantle of Bond because he didn’t want to be typecast as an action hero. Presumably, he’d changed his mind somewhat by the time he starred in Taken

However, in March 2014, Liam gave The Independent a different reason for his refusal: “It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be said, ‘If you play James Bond we’re not getting married’. And I had to take that on board because I did want to marry her.”

Hugh Jackman

Actor Hugh Jackman
Actor Hugh Jackman talks at the Four Seasons Hotel on October 16, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Piyal Hosain/Fotos International/Getty Images)

When it came to casting a brand-new Bond for a remake of Casino Royale (2006), Hugh Jackman was approached. However, this was at a time when Jackman was already cast as Wolverine. He didn’t think he had time to star in two such successful franchises side by side.

Speaking about his decision in 2015 on an Australian talk show, Jackman commented: “At the time I was just about to do X-Men 2 and I was like, ”˜Ah, I don’t think it’s the right time.’ But it was not an easy one to give up.”

Henry Cavill

British actor Henry Cavill
British actor Henry Cavill attends a photocall as the new face of Dunhill ‘London’ fragrance at Selfridges store on January 16, 2008 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Rosie Greenway/Getty Images)

Cited by many sources as the first alternative to play Bond in the Casino Royale (2006) film is Henry Cavill. Ultimately, Craig won out because Cavill was deemed a little too young at 22 years old to play the infamous spy.

Despite his youth, Cavill impressed director Martin Campbell so much in his screentest that if Craig had turned the part down, the likelihood was that it would have been Cavill striding onto our screens in that famous tuxedo.

Who does Tom Hanks see filling the role?

Idris Elba attends a premiere in London in 2021
Idris Elba attends “The Harder They Fall” World Premiere during the 65th BFI London Film Festival in London, England. (Photo Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Now that a search is on for the next James Bond, Tom Hanks has shared his thoughts on the matter. In a recent interview with BBC, Hanks said he believes Idris Elba should be the next actor to don the iconic 007 role.

“Understand this, James Bond has a license to kill,” Hanks stated. “I would issue that license to Idris Elba based solely on the work that I’ve seen him do.” Hanks’ endorsement aligns him with other actors like Pierce Brosnan and numerous fans who have also supported Elba as the next Bond.

However, Elba himself has denied having a serious interest in the role, despite being linked to it for over a decade. In an episode of the podcast The Shop Uninterrupted, Elba said, “It is not a goal for my career. I don’t think that playing Bond will fulfill some of my personal goals. It will definitely satisfy the will of a nation. I’m not gonna lie, wherever I go in the world, different cultures always mention ‘Bond,’ and I feel it is beyond me at this point. It’s beyond me. It’s not a question of should I, do I, will I. Sometimes it’s about what the will of the nation dictates.”

More from us: From a Deliberately Dull Name to Sean Connery’s Wig: Fun Facts About James Bond

Regardless, until a new James Bond is officially announced, Elba is likely to be the subject of constant speculation.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Charlotte Bond

Charlotte Bond is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News