Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are right. No, not about Daniel Craig’s era being a thought-out arc because, seriously, they backed into that one. (Unnecessarily, I might add.) But the longtime keepers of the James Bond flame are correct that an actor in his 30s is best for the role, when the inevitable recasting is announced.
It’s not about ageism or some revolt by boomers against Gen Z, either. It signals a new philosophy for a franchise adapting to making films today vs. the way many m2oons ago. More importantly, it underscores a firm understanding of the character. James Bond is a blunt instrument who wears his world-weariness like fashionable cufflinks. He’s not a plucky upstart but is, instead, a man with considerable experience under his belt. And more than a tad jaded about the world in which he inhabits. When looking at those parts of James Bond, along with his flaws, vices, and even chosen profession, there’s no way the series can ever cast a “younger” Bond.
Logistically, it makes sense that the producers planted their flag firmly in this territory. Getting an actor in their 30s means they are just young enough to commit to the franchise for at least 10 years. It also means they’re not too old to be eligible for social security at the end of their run. Plus, not for nothing, but it’s hard imagining actors in that age range signing up for something so physically demanding for a decade.
However, in the end, it all comes down to the character. There’s a reason Timothy Dalton turned down the role in the late 1960s but accepted it in the late ’80s; he knew he wasn’t ready to bring the necessary weight and authority to the part. Some reading this may laugh at the idea of a lead character in films like the Bond films, with pigeons doing double takes at bad guys popping like balloons, and an invisible car, requiring any sort of heft. But from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, all iterations of 007 never forget that he is, at his core, a solider.
Bond is traditionally a commander in the Royal Navy or a former member of SAS, a special forces unit in the British Army. This is a man whose business, starting at a young age, was death. The actor playing Bond must look like they know how to use a gun and not look silly while brandishing it. They need to look as competent flying a plane, a bus, a jet, or a tank as they do behind the wheel of a car.
Bond must look like a person with contacts worldwide who can truly adapt to any situation he’s in because, more than likely, he’s experienced worse on the battlefield or on a ship. The actor needs to not only convincingly order alcohol but look like someone who lives in the bottle. And finally, probably chief amongst all these requirements: The person portraying the next James Bond must look like a killer who is always one bad day away from retiring.