In news that has left fans wondering exactly what direction the next instalment of the much-loved Bond franchise might be heading, reports have suggested that a British comedy star is in late-stage talks to play one of the franchise’s longest-lived roles.
After a series of disappointing announcements about the next instalment of the world-renowned British franchise, including actors like Henry Cavill and Idris Elba variously being rumoured to have taken and turned down the role, as well as news that large swathes of the original Bond books are set to be re-written, suffice to say it’s been a confusing few months for fans.
Now, in news that will only leave many fans scratching their heads with greater vigour, reports and rumours have surfaced that a British comedy star is set to be cast in one of the franchise’s longest serving and most iconic roles.
Many fans are now wondering whether the franchise could be set to take a comedic, one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn, reverting to the campier Bond we’d come to expect by the end of the 1990s before Craig and Co. reinvigorated the franchise with a dark, moody take on Britain’s greatest soldier.
The casting in question is for the role of M, the head of MI6 and one of the few characters who can quite legitimately order Bond around. The role has previously been played by actors like Ralph Fiennes and Judi Dench, but has been left vacant since Daniel Craig’s franchise concluded.
Now, it seems that casting directors are leaning towards casting Daisy May Cooper, a British comedian and actress best known for her work in the pioneering and award-winning West Country comedy series This Country.
Cooper’s potential casting has raised concerns among fans of the franchise, as her comedic background could mark a change of tone for the Bond films. The recent franchise is known for its dark and atmospheric take on the spy-thriller, presenting us with ruthless and often brutal antagonists that are invariably conquered by the battle-hardened Lothario. Cooper’s comedic talents could mark something of a departure…
Nevertheless, reports suggest that Cooper is a top contender for the role and her potential casting has been attributed to her friendship with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who wrote much of the most recent instalment. Waller-Bridge’s involvement in the franchise has sparked interest in bringing more comedy to the films, and Cooper’s casting could be part of a wider effort to achieve this.
“With Daniel [Craig] leaving, it seemed the time to start looking at changes across the board and the dynamic between Bond and ‘M’ is at the heart of the films,” a source told The Sun. “So this opens the door to it being a bit lighter and more comedic going forwards – and will of course impact the direction the new 007 goes in too.”
The news has been met with mixed reactions from fans. Some believe that her comedic background could work well in the franchise, while others are concerned that it could take away from the more serious tone of the recent films.
While there is still no firm news about the next actor to play James Bond, the potential casting of Daisy May Cooper as M should be taken as a pretty clear yardstick for the direction the franchise is heading in.
Though many fans may love the slightly more sombre and cynical edge that Bond has taken on in recent instalments, franchises cannot repeat the same tone and tricks ad nauseam. Indeed, much of the longevity of the Bond franchise to date has been precisely because of the films’ ability and willingness to adapt its tone to the demands of the day’s audience.
Having said that, just because a comedy star is set to be cast doesn’t necessarily mean the tone of the entire franchise will have to shift alongside May-Cooper’s acting experience. Not only does this undermine her range as an actress, but also fails to note that many stars of the franchise have cut their teeth in comedy before moving onto more serious roles – see Ben Wishaw, who recently played Q, wetting his pants in legendary TV-series Nathan Barley, as one example…
All in all, we urge fans to keep an open mind. The casting is unconfirmed, a comedy actor can just as easily play serious roles, and in a world where the property market is in a mess and the cost of living crisis never seems to end, would a couple of gags be such a bad thing?