We’re still waiting to see Craigs’ final outing as the British superspy, which is expected to arrive in cinemas on April 2, although reports are emerging the date may be pushed back yet again. All eyes, however, are fixed on the future and who will step into one of the biggest roles in cinema history. Tom Hardy has been the hot favourite since leaks emerged last year that he had already landed the role but neither the star nor the franchise’s producers have given any indication this might be true. Instead, a sensational rush on betting suggests the race remains wide open.
Cillian Murphy had been a hot favourite while the last series of Peaky Blinders was on screens during 2019 but had slipped down the leaderboard.
Although he plays a ruthless and violent gangster, the Irish star has frequently appeared on lists of actors tipped to play the gentleman spy alongside other TV leading men like The Bodyguard’s Richard Madden and HIghlander’s Sam Heughan.
But Murphy has never been clear out front – until now.
A major rush on bets over the weekend has seen Irish bookies BoyleSports suspend all James Bond odds after the Irish star suddenly shot out in front of all the other contenders.
Previously, BoyleSports had Murphy at 10/1 and then slashed hi to 11/2. But he was still far behind Madden on 4/1, Heughan on 5/2 and Norton at 9/4 with Hardy just ahead on 2/1.
Over the weekend all that changed so rapidly to such an extent that the bookies took the bold decision to stop all bets on the next James Bond.
Was there insider information promoting such a major rush on Cilliam Murphy?
A Boylesports spokesperson said: “We’ve suspended betting on the next James Bond after a flurry of activity on Cillian Murphy in the past 24 hours. Perhaps the punters know something we don’t as the Peaky Blinders star was hammered into Evens from 10/1, forcing us to pull the market until we find out if there is any truth in the rumours.”
But, by contrast, other UK bookies have reported no unusual activity on Murphy, with more current interest focussed on handsome Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page, who is racing up the rankings.
Page fuelled rumours by posting the following Bond-themed teas4r for his new show: “Regency, royalty. Shaken and stirred.”
Eagled-eyed fans also noticed his new New Year social media post showed the buff actor on a beach – in a supposed Bond-inspired pair of blue swim shorts, echoing Daniel Craig’s infamous Casino Royale swimwear.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “All eyes have been on Rege-Jean Page so far this year and punters remain convinced he’ll replace Daniel Craig as 007 off the back of Bridgerton’s success.”
Ladbrokes have propelled Page to 5/1, shooting past Idris Elba and Sam Heughan on 6/1 and closing fast on frontrunners James Norton on 7/4 and Tom Hardy on 6/4.
Apati added: “While punters think Rege-Jean Page is clearly a frontrunner, it’s worth remembering that this is a market in which Tom Hardy has headed the betting for some time now. He’s been there or thereabout for years and remains the most likely name to play Bond next.”