The Internet exploded this past week with James Bond casting rumors, as it is wont to do from time to time. This time around, the idea making waves on the web was that we could see the first female James (or perhaps Jane) Bond. And as reported by The Guardian, this wasn’t just a fan or writer’s idea. Rather, it came about after Gillian Anderson (star of The X-Files and The Fall) essentially “threw her hat in the ring” alongside popular favorites like Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Damian Lewis as a potential next Bond.

While changing the gender of Bond might be the most radical idea proposed just yet, the Anderson idea is merely the latest in a series of popular concepts that illustrate the public’s willingness to accept some change with this role after so many years. Elba has become a favorite mostly because he’s emerged as a tremendous talent in recent years, but also because many are keen to see a black actor in the role of Bond. Jon Hamm has been suggested by many who think it’s time for an American actor to have a shot at it. And while Anderson is the first specific actress to really emerge as a possibility, the idea of a female Bond isn’t new.

But what if instead of reaching across gender, race, or nationality lines in a move that would inevitably feel at least a little bit forced, the people behind the 007 franchise simply cast a relative unknown in the role? The notion that Bond needs to be an A-list star or a widely recognizable face may well be completely false. This is one of the few franchises in film or television that’s so unstoppably popular a little known actor would still draw crowds. People might be dismayed not to see a Hiddleston or Elba, but not so much so that they wouldn’t also be curious about what a lesser-known actor could do.

With that idea in mind, we’ve put together a short list of fine actors who despite success on their various projects may remain largely unknown to global audiences. Any of these could make a very interesting choice if the folks behind 007 wanted to make a bold move in replacing Daniel Craig when the time comes.

Ben Barnes

SDYMia9oThis 35-year-old actor from London has actually been working steadily for some time now, though he’s not a household name by any means and most of his projects have been relatively small. His most prominent role has been as Prince Caspian in the Chronicles Of Narnia films, which simply haven’t taken off the way other fantasy and young adult series tend to these days. Indeed, he even starred in the Prince Caspian video game, which received decent ratings from IGN. Barnes is a good-looking, young, fresh actor who seems well suited to maintain Craig’s darker and more rugged take on the character. An announcement that he’s taking on 007 would also be well-timed given that he’s been cast in the upcoming series Westworld. The two projects together would catapult Barnes to new heights.

Matthew Wolfenden

A 36-year-old Halifax native, Wolfenden is probably unknown to anyone outside the UK. He stars in UK soap opera Emmerdale, which remains very popular even though many of us view soaps as old fashioned. Indeed, the Emmerdale program retains such an enthusiastic following that Gala Bingo actually hosts a themed 90-ball bingo room based on the show. Calling the show one of the most popular and long-running soaps, the game welcomes droves of bingo playing fans loyal to Emmerdale with familiar settings and themes. Thus, there are many loyal fans who would recognize and appreciate Wolfenden, though they’re mostly limited to British soap lovers. That said, the actor would have broad appeal. He once won the British Soap Award for Sexiest Male, and his comedic touch could bring some of the cheekiness back to the Bond role. His would likely be a take somewhere in between Pierce Brosnan’s and Craig’s.

Tom Hughes

Tom+Hughes+d2LllTu7acFmNow we’re getting outside the box. Tom Hughes was born in 1986, and would represent a serious shift toward a younger Bond. It would be a different direction for the series (figure he’d be about 33 or so by the time he starred in a film), and one that could be tricky to work out given that they sort of re-booted the Bond saga with Craig already. But Bond fans are forgiving of abrupt shifts in the timeline given the continuous nature of the series, and Hughes would be a fascinating choice. Known largely as a musician, he’s done excellent work on a series of TV shows, and his image (you can see him in a suit at IMDB) is sort of naturally old-school, potentially brilliant for a Bond saga that always has old-fashioned elements.

Harry Eden

1129369_13If the folks behind 007 really wanted to shake things up, Eden would probably be the most radical pick on this list, simply because if Hughes is young, Eden’s a baby. Born in 1990, he’d likely only be in his late-20s by the time he played Bond. Nevertheless he looks the part, and he looks a little older than his age (in a good way). There’s almost something young Hiddleston-like about his appearance (perhaps the piercing eyes or sharp nose), but more importantly he’s done fine work in a few projects that simply didn’t take off the way one might have expected. For instance, he excelled in both Peter Pan (2003) and The Lazarus Child (2005), despite being very young in both films. Interestingly enough, Eden also acted alongside Daniel Craig in 2008’s Flashbacks Of A Fool.

The odds of any of these actors actually being considered are exceedingly low. But given the apparent desire among many fans to see something new done with the role, casting a name most film fans won’t have heard of would definitely be an interesting play. And these four would deliver.

About The Author

FiLTHY ESKiMO

I'm a game tester, developer and blogger. Love video-games.