We cast our GoldenEye on who should be the next James Bond

By Sunny Lee and Clarissa Cruz
Updated July 27, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Though he’s the most bankable Bond ever, Pierce Brosnan’s days as 007 are (cue maniacal laughter) numbered.

While Brosnan’s three Bond outings to date have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, the 48-year-old Irishman has suggested he’ll shoot only one more installment, an as-yet-untitled film due to start production in January 2002.

So who replaces him? Rumors are swirling faster than a well-shaken martini. Russell Crowe, pop singer Robbie Williams, and Scottish hunk Gerard Butler (Dracula 2000) are a few of the names mentioned.

Problem is, all this speculation is premature. ”We’re not even thinking about it, not until January 2003,” says Anne Bennett, rep for franchise owners Eon Productions. And despite tabloid reports, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli hasn’t met with any potential subs. Even the manager of most-mentioned candidate Butler admits, ”There’s been a lot of talk, but nothing’s actually happened.”

Still, that won’t stop us from tabulating young Hollywood’s Bond ratings. So what does it take to fill our favorite spy’s tux? ”Bond would probably be a type A personality, mildly manipulative,” says British intelligence historian Nigel West (The Crown Jewels). Consistent with Bond, he notes, ”both intelligence officers and agents tend to have quite a high libido.” Former Bond girl Maud Adams (Octopussy) has her own wish list: ”He has to be strong, unpredictable — somebody a woman can’t really quite control.” Herewith, our picks for the next 007.

CHRISTIAN BALE After his pumped-up, chain-saw-wielding American Psycho turn, Bale, 27, has shed his title as prince of corset films (see Little Women). His sexiness (and accent) would be perfect. But is he ready to exchange indie cred for a mega-franchise? ”One part of him is really tickled, and the other part is like, ‘Will that typecast me forever?’ ” says his rep, adding that Bale is a Bond fan.

RUSSELL CROWE Sure, he can woo half of Hollywood and defeat a coliseum full of foes, but Bond requires subtlety. ”He’s got the presence, but can he wear the clothes?” says Alastair Dougall, author of James Bond: The Secret World of 007. ”He sometimes looks a bit dim and splobby.” Then there’s the 37-year-old Oscar winner’s offscreen high jinks. Says Nathan Cooper of Style.com: ”He’d be more likely to hit somebody over the head with a chair than shoot him with a laser pen.”

RUPERT EVERETT Fashion savvy? Hell, yeah. Accent? Yup. Everett, 42, has even been working on a script featuring a gay secret agent. ”He would add a new level of camp,” says Cooper. ”But that might make it too much of a spoof.” If he can channel his sparkle in My Best Friend’s Wedding, we’d line up faster than Denise Richards strips in The World Is Not Enough. The hitch? Bond girls.

HUGH JACKMAN While X-Men and Someone Like You proved he handles action and women with equal aplomb, it’s hard to imagine his brawn stuffed into a tux. Then again, the Swordfish star, 32, resembles another Bond: ”He has the same quality as a young Sean Connery,” says Cooper. ”He looks almost dangerous sometimes; you don’t know whether he’s going to charm you or attack you.”