Speaking at the Hay Festival of Literature in Wales on Saturday, Sam Mendes confirmed what most expected: Spectre was officially his last James Bond film. The director—who was credited with injecting new life into the franchise with Skyfall—told the crowd, “It was an incredible adventure; I loved every second of it. But I think it’s time for somebody else.” And while Mendes has no hints as to who might take over directorial duties, he does have a very important message about the future of 007. When Daniel Craig departs the franchise after one more movie (if not sooner), Mendes warns that none of your favorites are likely to fill out Bond’s well-tailored tux.
Fans and London bookmakers alike have had a field day trying to guess the new Bond, but Mendes says they’re all off the mark. If it were up to the internet, favorites like Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston,, Tom Hardy, or, yes, Gillian Anderson would pick up the Walther PPK. But the fact is, the decision is up to producer Barbara Broccoli who inherited the power to pick the next James Bond from her father, original franchise producer, Albert Broccoli. And Barbara, Mendes says, isn’t one to play favorites.
“It’s not a democracy,” Mendes said according to The Telegraph. “It’s not The X Factor, it’s not the EU referendum, it’s not a public vote. Barbara Broccoli chooses who’s going to be the next Bond: end of story. I can guarantee whatever happens with it, it will not be what you expect. That’s what she’s been brilliant at, and that’s how it’ll survive.” Mendes says we should trust in her taste because the last time Broccoli chose and outside-the-box Bond, things worked out very well. “Public support for Daniel [Craig] was zero. It was her saying ‘that man over there is going to change the whole thing, I’m going to cast him.‘”
This might come as news to more casual Bond viewer, but Broccoli’s power over the franchise is well-known to 007 aficionados. When she sits down with an actor for lunch, Bond fans take notice. Hiddleston made headlines last December when he allegedly met with Mendes and Broccoli, and Jamie Bell, who is working Broccoli on the movie Film Stars Don’t Die, is the latest name to be linked to the franchise. The 30 year-old Bell would tie with George Lazenby as the youngest actor to take on the iconic role and, with his boyish good looks, could certainly pass for even younger. A young Bond would certainly be, as Mendes promises, unexpected. Should we all start placing our bets now?