Next James Bond hopeful 'turned down' 007 role but now 'is ready'

As the race to become the next James Bond continues to rage on, many actors have expressed their interest in taking on the career-defining role.

The Bond odds are swamped with well-known Hollywood stars, including Henry Cavill, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Tom Hardy, but British actor Rupert Friend is keen to take on the role.

Speaking with Variety, the Pride & Prejudice actor explained that he was originally asked to play Bond, James Bond back in 2005 by the series’ boss Barbara Broccoli – long before Daniel Craig had signed on.

He said: “I was told: ‘We’d love to talk to you about playing James Bond, but rebooting the series. We want to do him basically straight out of college.'”

Friend was enthralled by the idea, but he instantly had a bad feeling about what came next.

READ ABOUT THE LATEST BOND ODDS HERE: Next James Bond – Three-horse race for new 007, Tom Hardy not included

“Basically they said,” Friend remembered. “‘You’ll do a screen test, and if it goes well, you’re signed up for three pictures which you won’t read and you won’t know who the director is. You’re basically handcuffed to it.'”

Friend admitted he felt he was “too young” and “didn’t have the experience” nor any of the “hard knocks, emotionally, psychologically, physically, that a great Bond should have”.

Shortly thereafter, he “politely declined” the role of James Bond. But now, he has changed his mind.

With the next James Bond actor likely to be announced within the coming years, the hunt is on for Bond producers.

And Friend thinks his time has finally come: “But very, very recently, last week, it started to come back into my consciousness that, let’s put it this way, maybe I’ve got the scars and the bruises now.

“From having literally been around the block or in the school of hard knocks, but also having navigated film sets and directors and difficult situations. You sort of realise you’re at a point where you can take things on that perhaps you couldn’t before.”

At the time of writing, however, he isn’t in the top 20 of names in Ladbrokes’ betting pool.

Instead, at the top of the list is Taylor-Johnson who has a staggering 15/8 on becoming the next tuxedoed super-spy.

Just behind him is James Norton, with a strong 5/2.

Ladbrokes’ Alex Apati said of the odds: “Punters are starting to lean towards James Norton once again in the race to replace Daniel Craig, and we’ve been forced to slash his odds as a result… so much so that he now heads the betting.”