Ever since his first major onscreen performance in an American film as Loki in 2011’s Thor, audiences have been enamored with Tom Hiddleston, for good reason. He’s got the looks, the charming smile and the British accent. So is it any wonder that he may be a viable option for the next James Bond? If you’re not convinced yet, you need to be watching The Night Manager, the spy drama mini-series currently airing on AMC, starring Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.
Co-produced by AMC and BBC, The Night Manager is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by John le Carré. Tom Hiddleston stars as Jonathan Pine, a former soldier recruited by MI6 as a spy to infiltrate an arms-dealing organization led by Richard Roper (Laurie). The title refers to Pine’s job as a hotel night manager before he is recruited. The show starts off as a slow burn, but by the time you’re into the third episode, the pacing is elevated and the stakes are higher than ever. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy the first episode or two, because there are plenty of great moments throughout, and you’ll especially begin to see why this show serves as an audition for Tom Hiddleston as James Bond.
The Night Manager certainly takes some inspiration from the 007 franchise in terms of its look and style. It features exotic locations, femme fatales, roguish villains and an overall game of cat-and-mouse as the series’ protagonist, Jonathan Pine, gets deeper into Roper’s criminal organization. Even the opening credits look a little bit like those of a Bond film (without the nude women silhouettes). It makes for a fantastic mini-series, partly because it feels less like a TV show and more like an extended cut of a spy film. The build-up so far has been great, giving us plenty of characters to love or hate, and others we’re not quite sure how to feel about just yet.
Pine is not an invincible best-of-the-best secret agent, but more of an every man who’s driven by his conscience to take a step down the rabbit hole that is international espionage. He may not be an exact replica of James Bond, but there are definitely some similarities. Pine doesn’t drink, so he’s not ordering any shaken-not-stirred martinis, but he is a bit of a womanizer. He’s not as reckless as Bond, but he does contain a certain pathos mirroring him. Like Bond (particularly Craig’s version), Pine is a loner. He’s suffered tragedy and that keeps him from getting emotionally too close to anyone. But, when necessary, he’s able to dial up the charm and look dapper in a suit.
Ever since Daniel Craig said Spectre may be his last outing as everyone’s favorite secret agent, people have been wondering who would be worthy of picking up the moniker. If you are a James Bond fan, you’ve no doubt heard and/or supported the idea of Idris Elba becoming the next 007. If you’ve seen the show Luther, it’s not hard to imagine him as a fantastic option for the role. Unfortunately, given all the hype and debate regarding Elba as a potential Bond, Elba himself has stated it’s only rumors and nothing more. While that is disappointing to some fans, it’s clear that there are other very good options out there, including Tom Hiddleston.
Not only does The Night Manager showcase how Hiddleston would fit the mold of Bond, but when you consider his overall persona and vibe, it’s interesting to think about how Hiddleston would put a distinctive spin on the iconic character—one that might result in a new, classic Bond. As seen in The Night Manager, there’s a certain elegance to Hiddleston’s demeanor that would fit well within the same vein of the more charming Bonds portrayed by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. At the same time, that demeanor contains a hidden dark and brutish personality, like the Bonds portrayed by Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig. Perhaps that is what would make Hiddleston so great—he’d be the most versatile Bond yet. Let’s admit it, as great as Craig is in his fight scenes as Bond, he’s not nearly as charming and witty as some of his predecessors. And the issue is usually reversed, for the the more charming Bonds; there’s something lacking in their ability to get tough as the cold-hearted assassin. Tom Hiddleston, however, would be closest to Sean Connery as a best of both worlds kind of Bond, but updated for the 21st century. It’s important to also consider that Hiddleston is young, being only 35, which means he’d also be physically capable of playing Bond well into the 2020s, whereas other, older potential Bond candidates (Idris Elba, Damian Lewis) would not necessarily be able to handle the role quite as long.
Most of the actors who have portrayed Bond have had their own calling cards as proof that they could own the role as 007: Roger Moore in The Saint; Pierce Brosnan in Remington Steele; Daniel Craig in Layer Cake. Hiddleston’s performance as Jonathan Pine is all the calling card he needs, and reason enough for Bond fans to start tuning into this excellent series.
The Night Manager airs Tuesdays 10/9c on AMC.