Idris Elba tops a list of actors Americans were polled about to next play James Bond

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
May 05, 2023, 9:21 PM GMT+0

A recent YouGov poll explores what Americans think about the James Bond franchise, including the films they've seen, their favorite past and future Bond actors, and what traits they think an actor needs to fill the role. Eight in 10 Americans say they've seen at least one James Bond movie, and most say they either love (28%) or like (43%) the Bond franchise. Topping the list of Bond films most likely to have been seen by Americans are Goldfinger (seen by 43%), Casino Royale (39%), and Live and Let Die (38%).

Of the six actors to have played James Bond, Americans with an opinion on who the best has been are most likely to say that Sean Connery is their favorite. At least twice as many choose Connery as their favorite (46%) than name each of Roger Moore (17%), Daniel Craig (16%), Pierce Brosnan (12%), George Lazenby (5%), or Timothy Dalton (3%).

Who do Americans want to play James Bond in the future? While nearly half aren't sure, those with an opinion are most likely to select Idris Elba (24%) as their preferred future Bond when presented with a list of 10 possibilities — as well as an option to write in a name not included in the list of options. The selection includes names that have been mentioned as potential Bonds on multiple lists published by entertainment news sources. Henry Cavill and Tom Hardy take second and third place among Americans with an opinion on the next Bond, respectively. Women who provided a response (30%) were more likely than men (17%) to say Elba is their preferred future Bond. Among Black Americans, 43% choose Elba — a Black British actor — while no other contender is chosen by more than 12%.

Discussions around James Bond casting have included debates about the characteristics necessary to play James Bond. Our poll asked whether future James Bond actors needed to have four traits possessed by prior actors to reprise the role: being a man, straight, British, and white. At least half of Americans say that future Bond actors should be men (72%) and straight (59%). Fewer believe they need to be British (45%) or white (39%).

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll conducted April 28 - May 2, 2023

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on April 28 - May 2, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Emma McIntyre)

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