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Next James Bond ‘clear favourite’ crushes Henry Cavill and Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy and Henry Cavill were strong contenders to take over from Daniel Craig as James Bond, but a new younger star is now the “clear favourite” after leaked reports of an impressive screen test.

Bond 24, also known as Spectre, is back on TV screens tonight. But however many fiendish twists and devilish turns there are on-screen, the off-screen race to replace Craig has been even more mind-boggling. The actor had actually first implied he might leave the role after that 2015 movie, so it has been seven long years when we have seen overwhelming favourites like Idris Elba slowly drop out of contention – mainly due to age.

The Luther star turns 51 next year, with the producers reportedly determined to find someone well under forty for the role. Even Hardy and Cavill, at 45 and 39, are clearly ageing out of a race that has long included numerous famous names like Tom Hiddleston, Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Paige, Grantchester’s James Norton and Poldark’s Aidan Turner.

Out of the blue, however, a new and less famous frontrunner shot past everyone after he apparently dazzled Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, who have also famously championed left-field choices like Craig himself to reboot the role. And UK bookies have been quick to push him to the front of the latest odds. Ladbrokes told Express Online today: “We’ve seen plenty of names head the Bond betting over the years, but none have been as surprising as the current favourite, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who continues to attract interest from 007 punters.”

The 32-year-old actor currently comfortably leads the pack with 2/1 odds to be the next James Bond. Ladbrokes have Henry Cavill next at 5/2, followed by Page on 6/1, Norton on 8/1 and Hardy way back on 10/1. William Hill, however, have Cavill just a squeak ahead on 7/4 with Taylor-Johnson on 2/1. Usual suspects follow with Paige on 11/2. Hardy on 6/1 and Norton on 7/1.

However, Taylor-Johnson is perfectly poised to take up the role for more than one reason. Not only do the producers want an actor who can potentially play the role for at least a decade, they are also said to be looking to reboot the franchise after Craig’s incarnation died by starting with Bond at a younger, more callow stage of his life. Taylor-Johnson famously broke through in the lead role of 2009’s John Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy, when he was 18. He subsequently started a relationship with his 42-year-old director Sam Taylor-Wood and the couple married in 2012.

The actor is also set to debut in 2023 in the lead role in the upcoming Sony Spider-verse blockbuster Kraven The Hunter. Cavill, meanwhile, suddenly has two very large openings in his diary. He walked away from his pet project TV show The Witcher in October. Plus he had just announced that he was, finally, officially returning as Superman in the troubled DC big screen universe, starting a fan frenzy with his cameo in The Rock’s Black Adam movie.

Unfortunately, just weeks later, he was forced to announce the new Warner Bros DC head James Gunn had decided not to continue with his tenure as the Man of Steel. Of course, all this just clears his path to a certain Aston Martin. He was almost in the driving seat back in 2006’s Casino Royale, revealing that he had been down to the final two in the casting process alongside Daniel Craig. However, Cavill has also just announced he is creating (and presumably starring in) an entire new Warhammer cinematic universe.

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