Ben Whishaw: Bond Franchise Needs Reinvention, Gay 007

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 29, 2021
Originally published on September 29, 2021

Out British actor Ben Whishaw has some thoughts as to how to keep the James Bond brand fresh when Daniel Craig's run wraps up with the upcoming film "No Time to Die." How about a gay 007?

"I really believe that we should be working towards a world where anyone can play anything and it would be really thrilling if it didn't matter about someone's sexuality to take on a role like this," Whishaw told Attitude when asked if he thought casting a gay actor would bring something fresh to the franchise, UK newspaper The Independent reported. "I think that would be real progress."

The franchise actor — who has played MI6 quartermaster "Q" in three films, including the upcoming "No Time to Die" — even had a couple of names in mind, should the casting agent be listening: "The Hobbit" co-star Luke Evans, or "Bridgerton" actor Jonathan Bailey, he said, would be "ideal" for the role of the super-spy.

Evans has been previously mentioned in the press as a possible new Bond, as has another Bridgerton star, Regé-Jean Page, but producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are in no hurry to jump into the fray with suggestions of their own. Indeed, Broccoli and Wilson recently stated that they won't start thinking about Craig's successor until next year.

Craig himself recently opined that the character should remain male, after some amount of speculation that the next 007 might be a woman. His remarks were not made out of sexism, though; "There should simply be better parts for women and actors of color," Craig told Radio Times. "Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?"

Broccoli voiced similar sentiments, telling the British press, "I hope that there will be many, many films made with women, for women, by women, about women," but that "I don't think we have to take a male character and have a woman portray him."

The times may not yet be right for the powers that be to consider a female James Bond, but Whishaw sounded optimistic about the prospects for a gay 007. "I'm amazed by how much has changed just in the last five or six years," the actor reflected, "so we'll see."

Whishaw expanded on his thoughts in an interview with Variety's "Just for Variety" podcast, saying, "If they want to continue with this character and the franchise, I think you can explode it and do anything."

Adding that the film series should venture into "radical" and "really different" new territory, Whishaw added that the Bond brand has "got to change; it's got to keep changing. We're in different times now."

"You can honor the character and the tradition, and you can push it forward, too," the actor added. "And I think you have to, if it's not just going to become a kind of museum piece."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.