James Bond will welcome a new actor to the role after Daniel Craig steps down following the release of his final movie with the franchise, No Time To Die. As of yet, there is no official word on who will be replacing the 007 stalwart when the time comes, but that hasn’t stopped fans placing bets and bookies lining up potential candidates.
Currently, James Norton is holding on to a clear lead, with Ladbrokes shortening his odds from 2-1 to just 6-4.
However, he could face being knocked off the top spot by rival frontrunner Richard Madden.
Overnight, the Bodyguard star started to close the gap on Norton, his odds being slashed from 5-1 to 3-1.
The former Game of Thrones actor, who played Robb Stark in the HBO fantasy drama, is a former favourite to take over from Craig.
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Recently, reports emerged Norton had been confirmed as the new Bond following meetings with franchise bosses.
An insider told The Sun: “Numerous meetings and secret squirrel script readings were had at the back end of last year.
“James has always been in there frame but until four months ago there were no concrete moves,” they added.
The source said the Happy Valley star ticked all the boxes set by Bond bosses when approaching Craig’s replacement.
James Bond: Daniel Craig is departing the role of 007 after No Time To Die
“James has been filming in upstate New York for the past few months but was out celebrating recently, with one of his gang openly telling revellers that his mate was the new James Bond,” they said.
The insider claimed an announcement was expected to arrive this summer, officially confirming Norton as the next 007.
While those in charge of Bond have remained tight-lipped when it comes to rumours about who could be donning the iconic tuxedo next, producer Barbara Broccoli recently let slip a hint about the identity of the next actor.
“He can be of any colour, but he is male,” she told Variety, effectively ruling out the idea of a female Bond.
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I believe we should be creating new characters for women — strong female characters.
“I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
Craig will depart Bond after No Time To Die, having been drawn back in for one more round by an irresistible pitch from Broccoli.
He previously said he was done with the part after Spectre, quipping that he’d “rather slash [his] wrists” than return for another movie.
Now, though, he’s back for a final mission, alongside Madeleine Swann (played by Lea Seydoux), M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw) and new baddie Safin (Rami Malek).
Bond begins the upcoming movie retired from active service and living a quiet life in Jamaica.
The peace and tranquility is soon snatched away from him, however, after a visit from old pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) who asks for his help rescuing a kidnapped scientist.
The venture leads him on the hunt for new villain Safin who is armed with a dangerous new technology.
James Bond: No Time To Die is released in UK cinemas April 3.