Whenever a young and attractive British actor reaches a certain level of international mainstream appeal, they earn the status of being rumored to be the next James Bond. By virtue of being young, attractive, famous, and British, the narrative of their career will suddenly be refocused toward the ultimate goal of playing 007. Just ask Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Lashana Lynch, Robert Pattinson, Sam Heughan, James Norton, Henry Golding, or Richard Madden, among many others.
Today we can welcome Regé-Jean Page, now of Bridgerton fame, to this club.
Last month, just before the release of the Netflix hit Bridgerton, Page posted on Twitter a "Shaken not stirred" Bond reference, igniting speculation that he might be in the running for the job after Daniel Craig's final film. And now, British betting firm Ladbrokes gives Page a one-in-five shot at getting the job.
“Tom Hardy still leads the way as favorite, with James Norton close behind in second place. But it really is all to play for in the race for 007 and RJP has a great chance if the odds are anything to go by,” Ladbrokes told Variety.
— Regé-Jean Page (@regejean) December 16, 2020
While none of this actually means anything at all, Page might be the most exciting new Bond prospect since Golding or even Elba. If you look at the list above, the group of potential candidates ranges from predictable (sorry, Hiddleston and Norton) to absolutely not going to happen (bye Hardy and Elba and probably Pattinson now that he's Battinson).
Though Bridgerton provided Page's breakout role, he's shown true acting chops that make him a more than worthy Bond hopeful. Take, for example, his role in Bridgerton, in which he deftly balances suave sophistication, mystery, pain, and raw sexual energy. But, what I think is more important, is Page's own view of his Bridgerton character on screen.
“Simon is tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, brooding, and broken in many ways—a thoroughly problematic anti-hero,” Page told Esquire last month. “How do we deconstruct and subvert that? What’s worth saving in this man? He’s hugely intelligent and generous, but can’t release those qualities. He doesn’t know how to love other people, or to let go of the restrictive pride and projection of strength that actually make him weaker.”
Does that sound like a pretty awesome approach to say another, tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, brooding, and broken character?
There's another thing Page told Esquire about Bridgerton that has stuck with me in an extremely Bond sense.
“One of the most exciting things about this project was to deconstruct what’s perceived as masculine strength, because that's a conversation we're having right now,” Page says. “We're asking what masculinity is, and a lot of it is letting go of this constant projection of dominance. Simon holds an utterly self-destructive grudge, and the only way to defeat that is to release vulnerability. We're still trying to figure out how to let men be vulnerable, to realize there’s strength in vulnerability, and that it’s how you fill out the circle of masculinity.”
That sounds exactly like what the Bond franchise needs. Craig's tenure of Bond certainly evolved the franchise's portrayal of a masculine icon, making him more human and vulnerable. It's not perfect, but it was a step forward for a franchise defined by toxic masculinity and antiquated, reductive gender norms.
Page very clearly understands what the future of male characters on the screen can and should look like. And he brings that very obviously to his acting in Bridgerton.
Of course, we also know he looks phenomenal in a suit.
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