-- Sean Connery
Is it a shame that Daniel Craig only got 3 Bond movies? Absolutely, especially when one of them was thinly-veiled ecological propoganda that has to be in the Bottom 5 for Bond movies. MGM's bankruptcy limbo easily robbed us of one more Bond film and possibly two in that timespan. With that being said, you can't have the "getting too old" angle of Skyfall proudly showing off the gray in Craig's 45 year old beard, and then have two more films with him as Bond. I don't believe Bond should be ageless, just that there should be a certain amount of physicality associated with the role. With Sam Mendes back at the helm for the next Bond (the director of Skyfall), I'm willing to believe that he has a good idea of where to go from here. After all, we did the most James Bond scene of all time with Mendes at the helm: Bond falling into the train before adjusting his cufflinks. Craig's deal was signed before Mendes agreed to return, so he knows better than anyone the cards he'll be playing. A one-picture deal for Craig still makes more sense to me for one simple reason: you can reveal that James Bond is a cover name (confirmed in the non-Eon, Casino Royale (1967); touched on in Quantum of Solace; ignore the headstones in Skyfall) and officially pass the torch to the next Bond.
If you remember that Pierce Brosnan's deal included an option for a fourth movie that the studio declined so they could move on to Craig, let's pretend that Craig's deal lists the second film as an option, or at least a buyout would be possible. In that scenario, who do we want to see rising out of the chair as Bond enters the room to pass the torch? Keep in mind that the next film will premiere in 2015. The earliest we'd see this new Bond is 2017, meaning they have to be relatively young. And before we go any further, yes, they have to be British. But beyond that, what are we looking for in a new Bond? Obviously, we want something we haven't seen before. If you want what you've already seen, there are 23 films already made for you (I don't include the non-Eon productions). So let's break down, in one word, what each of the actors so far has brought to the part.
Sean Connery: Physicality
George Lazenby: ???
Roger Moore: Debonair
Timothy Dalton: Dark
Pierce Brosnan: Playboy
Daniel Craig: Emotion
First up, Tom Hardy. Now, don't dwell on his portrayal of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, although that role portends a return to the more brutish, Sean Connery-style Bond many have been asking for. Focus on his portrayal of Eames in Inception, and use Bane as just a bit of spice to prove he could handle the physical aspects. With the combination of a return to the character's origins, mixed with modern filmmaking, we'd see an interesting take on the role. At 36, and a professionally-trained actor, Hardy is the safest choice.
Next up, Idris Elba. I'd love to see the people who couldn't handle Craig's blonde hair and blue eyes fidget nervously as they try to explain why they don't like the Elba selection without appearing racist. If you've seen Luther, you know he could play the role and bring a certain darkness to it that hasn't been there since Dalton, probably even surpassing that. If there's a knock on Elba, it's that he's only 4 years younger than Craig, a difference eaten up in the time between now and when we'd see his portrayal.
Lastly, my personal choice: Charlie Hunnam. Known for Sons of Anarchy and now, Pacific Rim, Hunnam has obviously established he could handle the physical nature of the role, and at just 33 years old, could be seen portraying the character for many films. His filmography is also short enough that he's something of an unknown, so he could bring something we're not expecting to the role. If there's a concern with his casting, it's that he bowed out of 50 Shades of Grey (good choice) because he didn't realize the attention such a beloved (it pained me to type that) character would bring (uh oh).
So there you have it: concerns with each, but weren't there when the Daily Mirror was running headlines such as "The Name's Bland - James Bland" announcing Craig's hiring?