WHY RIZ AHMED SHOULD BE THE FIRST MUSLIM JAMES BOND
It isn't only mischief that makes us want Riz Ahmed to be the next James Bond. Yes, that plays a part. It's delicious, for instance, to wonder how mad 007 diehards would be should the producers follow up a man with blonde hair (Daniel Craig) with one who has dark skin. How far, they would dribble, can we get from Ian Fleming's original misogynistic spy? How, they would ask, in forums, can Bond drink a Martini, given that he's Muslim?
So yes that would be fun. But it isn't just a desire for stunt casting that makes Ahmed the smart choice to play MI6's most effective serial dater.
Rather, he is the best man for the job. As a low-level PI pursuing a murderous villain, he actually makes the mostly tacky City of Tiny Lights, out this Friday, watchable - even sneaking in an audition for 007's more explosive moments by bedding Billie Piper. He's hotter than you think.
The favourites for Bond are who you'd expect: Hardy (Tom), Fassbender (Michael), Hiddleston (Tom again). And while Idris Elba, for obvious reasons, would be a refresh, his range can often stretch from angry to angrier - somewhat removed from the emotional heft people expect ever since Craig cried in the shower with Eva Green in Casino Royale, and then spent the next film miserably searching for her killer.
Craig made a character of a role. To go back from that to a dry husk of a muscle man living his career in service to an old-fashioned idea of Britain might be the Brexit choice, but not one any interesting film-maker should take.
Ahmed, however, is more accomplished and casting him would not only virtue signal that Eon, who produce Bond, are forward-thinking, he'd also prove they don't believe the more tender Craig years to be a mistake. In other words, don't look back. And please don't cast Henry Cavill.
Ahmed would be superb. His ability, from Four Lions to Nightcrawler, has never been questioned, while last year's HBO series The Night Of showed he can play tough, too, and not look inappropriate doing so. What's more, Star Wars spin off Rogue One made him international, which helps the moneymen, while a brief turn in Girls as an unlikely surf instructor suggested he can be a sex symbol too.
What else do you need? Craig can't be Bond forever. He's 50 next year and, soon, those 20-something conquests are going to stop purring "Oh James..." and just say "Dad" instead. Ahmed is 34. He looks good in a tux. And, yes, Ahmed is a British Muslim, which would annoy people, and that is great for the internet. But, above all, can anyone think of a better actor to keep an ageing series relevant, and actually put its huge brand to some sort of lofty bridge-building good?