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Downton Abbey Star Talks Possible Bond Franchise Return After 25 Years

Exclusive: Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville says he’d consider a return to the James Bond franchise after briefly appearing in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville reflects on his time in the James Bond franchise and the possibly of returning to it. Bonneville is best known for his starring role of Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, in the British historical drama series Downton Abbey. The hit series began in 2010 and ran for six seasons, before continuing on in two feature films. The latest film in the franchise, Downton Abbey: A New Era, was released in May of 2022.

While Bonneville became a household name because of Downton Abbey, the series was far from Bonneville’s first claim to fame. In 1997, Bonneville appeared in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, portraying an Air Warfare Officer on the HMS Bedford. The film, which starred Pierce Brosnan as the iconic 007 and Judi Dench as M, received mixed reviews from critics at the time. However, it is one of the best-known Bond films in the franchise’s decades-long history.


Related: How Every James Bond Actor Changed 007 Movies

In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Bonneville discussed the possibility of returning to the Bond franchise for the first time in more than two decades. When asked if he would have any interest in possibly portraying M in James Bond 26 or other future films following his Tomorrow Never Dies role, Bonneville responded that despite Ralph Fiennes currently playing the role, he would be eager to step in if the opportunity arose. Read Bonneville’s full comment below:

Exclusive: “I think Ralph [Fiennes]’s got that role, hasn’t he? I think I’ve gone from air warfare officer to head of MI6. That would be pretty cool.”

Hugh Bonneville in Tomorrow Never Dies

Though Tomorrow Never Dies was one of the first major films Bonneville ever appeared in, his role in it was minimal. However, with his rise to fame on the global stage after spending more than a decade working on Downton Abbey and the beloved Paddington films, Bonneville could potentially bring some star-power to the next era of Bond films. With James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli stating that there are currently no actors in the running to fill the role of 007, the team around the titular spy (namely M, Q and Moneypenny) may also be getting a revamp. Perhaps bringing in other major British actors like Bonneville in supporting roles can help to give the franchise a fresh boost alongside the new Bond.

While Bonneville would not likely have been brought back to the Bond franchise after such a small role in a single film 25 years ago, his Downton Abbey fame has certainly changed things. Though the role of M is currently already filled by Fiennes, there are still many opportunities for Bonneville to have a role in James Bond 26 or otherwise. The Bond series is no stranger to cameos, with celebrities from Madonna to Minnie Driver appearing in past films. And with Bonneville having already appeared in the franchise once before, there’s every possibility that fans can see Robert Crawley himself in the next James Bond era.

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