I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the campaign for “the Internet’s Boyfriend” Tom Hiddleston as the new James Bond. For an actor, there’s no doubt that the opportunity to play Bond is next level. It’s a long-running, wildly successful, franchise. You go from stolid period dramas to a blockbuster paycheck. Everybody knows your name. (That was even the gist of the Chris Cornell theme song of Daniel Craig’s entrée into the series, Casino Royale). But, as a viewer, and as someone who is known to have a bit of a crush on Tom Hiddleston, I just cannot get my head around this idea.
Hiddleston’s recent miniseries with Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager, was basically an extended audition for Bond. It was a macho, Cold War-era, misogynistic spy thriller where a woman dies in the first episode just so Bond…er, Jonathan, finds purpose. And I was bored. Worse than that, I could find no charm in Hiddleston’s beautiful face and tailored suits. It wasn’t enough, because the story felt manufactured and soulless…and a soulless but pretty façade has never been the appeal of Hiddleston for me.
To me, what makes Tom Hiddleston an “Internet Boyfriend” is pretty much the antithesis of what makes James Bond who he is. Tom Hiddleston’s public persona is of someone kind, respectful of women, funny, sweet, and a bit dorky. He sings. He dances. He can flirt you up in multiple languages, but he’ll also lend you his coat or bring you a coffee if you’re cold. He’s the dream man: a sexy feminist.
I know what you’re thinking. “But, Mala, you think Idris Elba would make a great Bond. What’s that about?” Well, Idris Elba has charm and looks fabulous in a suit, and I can also buy that he’d fuck you up if you got in his way*. Much like Sean Connery or Daniel Craig. There’s a ruthlessness to many of his performances. I mean, I know a lot of people swooned for Loki in the “Avengers” films, but what’s ruthless about a whiny manbaby with a funny hat? That’s not the same aesthetic as Bond…and again, The Night Manager, which IS in the same vein as Bond, fell flat.
You could say that Hiddleston would fall in line with the less violent, more suave, Bonds like Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan…but, at least with Moore, there’s always an element of smarm. Like, that was my first real exposure to the character back in the day, and he was a straight-up sleaze. Who wants to see Tom Hiddleston being a sleaze?! Who wants to see him treating women like they’re disposable?
Okay, so, I really don’t want to see ANYONE treating women like they’re disposable.
Weirdly (and this is an edit of the original post), I would prefer Tom Hiddleston as a Bond villain. Because with the villains there’s at least a sense of fun — which Loki was good for when he wasn’t moping about Daddy not loving him best — and often a driving force or pathos for their megalomania. I mean, Javier Bardem stole Skyfall and ran away with it. Hiddleston as a villain could do the same. As the “hero” that is Bond…? Enh.
Yes, it’s acting. Yes, it’s a huge opportunity. But, damn, I’d rather see Tom Hiddleston in a bunch of romantic comedies than trapped in the meat grinder of a franchise that ultimately made Daniel Craig walk away.
*I can, and might, devote a whole post to why I can buy Idris Elba as James Bond much more easily…but, honestly, I’d rather see Idris in romantic comedies, too.