He is the favourite to be the new James Bond later this year, with reports suggesting that Aaron Taylor-Johnson will be handed a Licence to Kill.
The 32-year-old actor, who grew up in High Wycombe, Bucks, is said to have dazzled Bond boss Barbara Broccoli in a screen test just before Christmas.
Ever since Daniel Craig announced that he hanging up his holster and was no longer going to play Ian Fleming’s super-spy, speculation has been rife about who might take over.
Broccoli stipulated she had had three criteria for the new Bond: he must be a man, he must be able to take over for the next 15 years, and he must be British.
Taylor-Johnson is currently a 2-1 shot with Ladbrokes, closely followed by James Norton at 5/2 and Superman actor Henry Cavill at 3/1. Richard Madden, Tom Hardy and Rege-Jean Page are all between 7/1 and 8/1.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the 2/1 favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the new James Bond and has remarkable similarities to previous stars who played the role
Taylor-Johnson, pictured with his wife, Sam, left, is said reported to have had a meeting with Bond producer Barbara Broccoli which ‘went well’
Broccoli is said to want to cast a British actor who was continue in the role for 15 years
Now the respected industry website Puck is hinting the virtual unknown could have beaten them all to the prize: ‘The Aaron Taylor-Johnson rumours are true,’ the site announced. ‘He sat with producer Barbara Broccoli, and the meeting went well.’
But Taylor-Johnson – at odds of 2-1 – seems to be the natural choice as, both personally and professionally, he has so much in common with the six men who have played Bond before him.
He’s an action hero, as was Timothy Dalton, a model like George Lazenby, and an actor since childhood, just like Daniel Craig. Even his personal life is pure 007 – from the blended stepfamily to his penchant for a much older woman.
An older wife – just like Roger Moore
Aaron Taylor-Johnson famously fell for his wife Sam when he was only 19 and she was 42 – 23 years his senior – and directing him in the film Nowhere Boy about John Lennon.
When they met, her marriage to art dealer Jay Jopling had just ended. He said of the audition: ‘I remember it very, very clearly. I know exactly what she was wearing. This white shirt that she still has, that I love. It definitely changed my life, though not in the way I expected.’
He added: ‘When I met Sam I’d already lived a life far beyond that of most of my contemporaries – I didn’t relate to anyone my age. I just feel that we’re on the same wavelength.’
Taylor-Johnson, just like Roger Moore, is married to an older woman
The shared an ‘intense connection’ but kept their relationship professional until the film wrapped. Sam said: ‘As soon as we finished, he told me he was going to marry me. We had never been on a date, or even kissed.’
He added: ‘A year to the minute after we met, exactly one year to the minute, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. I knew instantly that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person. I knew I wanted a family with her, I knew I wanted kids, and a month later she was pregnant with our first child.’
The couple now have two daughters, Wylda, 13, and Romy, 11.
Roger Moore, who played James Bond from 1973 to 1985 also liked older women. In fact, by the time he was cast as the spy he had married – and divorced – two older women.
His first wife was the actress and ice skater Doorn Van Steyn, whom he wed in 1946 aged 19. She was six years older than him. The marriage lasted for seven tempestuous years, during which time she bit his hand during a row, and once soaked all his clothes into the bath to stop him leaving her.
His second wife was 13 years older than him, the singer Dorothy Squires. Squires, 37 when they met, also had a ‘great temper.’ Moore recalls her hitting him over the head with a guitar during one argument. They tried unsuccessfully to start a family, with Squires suffering several miscarriages. He eventually he left her for Italian actress Luisa Mattioli, at which point Squires threw a brick through his window and reached through the glass to grab him, cutting her arms. Moore recalled: ‘The police came and they said “Madam, you’re bleeding.” And she said “It’s my heart that’s bleeding.”’ She refused to divorce him for seven years and even sued Moore for the restitution of her conjugal rights. He refused to go back to her.
Stage school – just like Daniel Craig
Both Taylor-Johnson and the last Bond, Daniel Craig, started their acting careers as children and have stage school training. Craig, whose father was a pub landlord, made his thespian debut aged six in the Frodsham primary school production of Oliver!
Aged 14 he joined the National Youth Theatre and moved to London where he took part in touring productions and aged 18 studied at Guildhall. He had some TV roles in his early 20s, and acted in a stage production of Les Grands Horizontales in 1994, alongside Rachel Weisz, whom he married in 2011.
Aaron Johnson, as he was then, attended the Jackie Palmer Stage School in High Wycombe between 1996 and 2008, studying drama, jazz, singing, tap dance and acrobatics. Other alumnae from this period include James Corden and Eddie Redmayne.
Both Taylor-Johnson and Daniel Craig, pictured, are products of stage school having begun their carreers
Like Daniel Craig, Johnson first appeared on stage aged six, although his first proper role was in a London production of Macbeth, as Macduff’s son. Like Craig, he took a role in The Bill when he was starting out. He also played a teenaged version of Edward Norton’s character in The Illusionist when he was 16.
The buff veteran of superhero films – just like Timothy Dalton
Not all Bonds have been adept at doing stunts, but an action-hero background is a distinct advantage, especially in the modern era where espionage comes with a side order of blockbuster spectacle.
Timothy Dalton was one of the most muscular Bonds, and although he came from a largely theatrical background he had – like Taylor-Johnson – starred in a big-budget action film before donning Bond’s tuxedo.
Dalton, who was Bond in The Living Daylights in 1987 and Licence to Kill in 1989, cut his teeth on the action in the 1980 film Flash Gordon, in which he played Prince Barin.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, like Timothy Dalton, pictured, has previous experience of action films
Taylor-Johnson made his breakthrough in the 2010 film Kick-Ass in which he played Dave Liziewski. He was also in the 2013 sequel. He’s got a foothold in the Marvel Cinematic Universe having played Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff in Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. Last year he played an assassin in the action-heavy Brad Pitt film, Bullet Train.
He has also filmed in the title role as Kraven The Hunter – a Marvel film which is due out in October this year – adding masses of muscle to depict the character’s transformation without the use of special effects. He has reportedly agreed to play the game hunter in further films if it is a success.
He is happy in Hollywood – just like Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan is the Hollywood Bond: he moved to Tinseltown in 1982 at the prompting of his wife Cassandra, who had just appeared in the Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and settled in the US as he filmed the series Remington Steele.
Born in Ireland, he moved to London as a young teen and trained at the Drama Centre. For most of his life, however, he has been based in Malibu in a $100 million beach home. He has a second home in Hawaii where he spent most of the past three years.
Taylor-Johnson, just like Pierce Brosnan, pictured here in Tomorrow Never Dies, loves living in Hollywood
Taylor-Johnson bought an eight bedroomed house in Hollywood in 2010 and the family was based chiefly in LA until the pandemic. They now live mostly in a house in Somerset, where they renewed their wedding vows last year.
A fashion model – just like George Lazenby
Naturally, Bond needs to look good and every man who has played 007 has appeared in advertisements.
However only George Lazenby, Bond in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was a full-time model before landing the role. Australian Lazenby had worked as a used car salesman in Finchley before hitting the big time as a very successful male model. He secured an audition after bumping into producer Cubby Broccoli in a barbershop. Even before the film was released Lazenby said that he didn’t want to be Bond any more, and co-star Diana Rigg described him as ‘bloody impossible.’
George Lazenby, pictured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was a full time model before donning the Bond tuxedo
Aaron Taylor-Johnson appeared in adverts for Persil and Rowntrees before he was famous, and was the face of Givenchy eau de toilette in 2017.
A blended stepfamily – just like Sean Connery
Sean Connery married French-Moroccan artist Michelle Roquebrune in 1975 after meeting her at a golf tournament in 1970.
He already had son Sean, from his marriage to actress Diane Cilento, and she had three children by two previous marriages, who he adopted after their wedding and to whom he was very close.
Sam Taylor-Johnson has Angelica and Jessie by her marriage to Jay Jopling and has since had two daughters with Aaron.
Sean Connery, just like Taylor-Johnson is part of a blended family
Both Taylor-Johnsons try to prioritise family, with Aaron saying: ‘I know when I’ve missed too many school runs. We’re lucky that we have the financial luxury not to have to be working all the time.’
After their wedding, both changed their names to take the hyphenated Taylor-Johnson. He said: ‘I just don’t see why women need to take the man’s name. I wanted to be a part of her just as much as she wanted to be part of me.’ Sam Taylor-Johnson said: ‘The great thing about Aaron is that he’s happy not working and being at home with the kids while I work. We’re actually fighting over it. He’s like, ‘No no, I like being an at-home dad, doing the cooking and the school runs.’
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