Who is the real candidate for the eventual role as the sixth 007? Cindy Macdonald reports exclusively for MI6 from the inner circle...

James Purefoy - James Bond #6?
14th July 2004


Whether or not Pierce Brosnan returns as James Bond in the 21st film in the series, due out in theatres on November 18th 2005, one thing is certain - the world will have a new 007 by 2007.

Despite the current "will he, won't he" rumours surrounding Brosnan and the tit for tat exchanges in the media about the producers, MGM named him as their man whilst putting a stop to the "too old" debacle back in February.

But even if Brosnan puts on the tuxedo when Bond 21 filming starts in January 2005, it will be for the last time. Brosnan has stated that if he was to sign for Bond 21 it would be his last.

So the hunt for James Bond #6 is on, even if his identity may not be publicly announced until long after Brosnan's Bond 21 has been released in theatres and resold on DVD.

Casting James Bond #6
The long list of potential candidates named in the press are exactly that - potentials - and most of them have already announced their unapproached or disinterested status. For one reason or another, fans taking notes can cross off the 007 #6 list: Hugh Jackman, Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffurdd, Colin Farrell and Rupert Everett.

Traditionally kept top secret, screen tests and read through's for potential 007's can take years to come out of the woodwork. With James Bond #6 that may be set to change.

Close to the official Bond camp are a tight ring of long standing 007 aficionados who often get a whiff of the future before anyone else. Names, dates and details are passed along well in advance of the wider fan community and press being made aware. With the spotlight on the `Next Bond` question, one man has flown under the radar of all speculation and media rumours - and it is the same man the inner circle have been tipped off to.

Above: James Purefoy

It's All Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating
Timothy Dalton screen tested for his eventual role as 007 back in 1971 but had to wait 16 years before he was made James Bond # 4 as he was considered too young at the time. Pierce Brosnan, long tipped as a favourite, screen tested to take over from Roger Moore, but due to contractual problems had to wait 8 years to become James Bond #5.

James Purefoy screen tested for "GoldenEye" back in 1995, but the role would go to the public's favourite - Pierce Brosnan. Nine years later, Purefoy is back in the frame to play James Bond... #6.

The credentials which led producers to consider him back in 1995 put him above everyone except Brosnan. Standing at 6' 1" (1.85m), the English born actor met all the requirements the public expects of the super-spy. Whether or not Pierce Brosnan returns in Bond 21, Purefoy is top of the list to become his eventual successor. The well-informed agree, it's likely we will be seeing "Purefoy, James Purefoy" headlines in 2005 or 2007.

Purefoy 411

James Purefoy was born in Somerset, England on June 3rd 1964. He left school at the age of sixteen and took on various jobs, including working on a pig farm, before travelling and working extensively throughout Europe. At eighteen Purefoy returned to college to take his A-Levels, one of which was Drama. He then applied for and was accepted onto an acting course at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where he played the title role in Henry V and was seen by a casting director from the RSC and invited to join the company immediately in Stratford.

After two years having performed in eight productions, Purefoy spent the next six years dividing his time between theatre and television.

Purefoy made his feature film breakthrough in 1995 with "Feast of July", and has averaged around three films a year since. Among his recent top credits are "Vanity Fair" (2004), "Resident Evil" (2002), "The Wedding Tackle" (2000), "Lighthouse" (1999) and "Mansfield Park" (1999).

Right: Purefoy was voted "hunk of the year" in 1997 by a British television magazine.


The Bluffing Game
Generation-X fans may not be aware of the track record of past episodes of Bond casting. If the current Pierce Brosnan saga seems farcical, it tames in comparison to past masters Sean Connery and Roger Moore who left the public (and producers) hanging on whether or not they would return. In 1971, when Roger Moore had previously said he would not come back to make Bond 13, Sam Neil and James Brolin were screen tested. A short while later, Roger Moore confirmed he would be returning in "Octopussy".

Fast forward thirty years and the Internet has injected the cottage industry of Bond Rumours with steroids, creating dozens of stories every day. Who can blame Eon Productions for refusing to deny rumours whether factual or farcical? So don't hold your breath for statements dismissing or confirming candidates. Only when the official statement is made, usually accompanied by a press conference and photo opportunity, will the casting for Bond 21 and/or 007 #6 be confirmed.

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