Betting on the next Bond. James Bond. At Paddy Power.

Daniel Craig hasn’t indicated when his last picture as James Bond will be, the title for the 23rd film in the series hasn’t been announced, and no one knows the release date beyond 2011, but no matter! The gossipmongers are full of speculation and Paddy Power bookmakers are naturally already set to take bets on the next actor to take the plummest action-adventure role offered in Hollywood.

Atop the Paddy’s table is Will Smith (4/1), a choice that elicits reactions like “Can it really happen? A “Black” James Bond? I don’t want to sound racist but all this hype has come out ever since the historic victory of Barack Obama in winning the U.S. elections.” Oh wait, that was from an outfit called BeneathTheBrand.com last November.

Okay, how about “Now, every time there’s a search for a new Bond, people always talk about selecting a black James Bond.” Sorry, that was from something called HecklerSpray.com in *2005*, before Daniel Craig was officially given the part. (Incidentally, what does “every time” mean here? Does it mean the three times in the last 22 years? Surely, back in 1973, Roger Moore wasn’t receiving that much competition from, say, Sidney Poitier and Richard Pryor, was he?)

The truth is, though, despite Smith’s informal lobbying for the role, which made Hollywood-worshiping media headlines from Canada to India, he won’t get it for reasons beyond melanin count. Simply put, Will Smith is too big a movie star for James Bond and this franchise has never been prone to the marquee name. Yes, Roger Moore was a big name in the U.K. and Pierce Brosnan was fairly big in the U.S. when offered the roles, but it was all about the TV roles of Simon Templar and Remington Steele. Sean Connery was a virtual unknown and Timothy Dalton came from the British stage.

Plus, though the British super-agent has been played by a Scotsman (Connery), a Welshman (Dalton) and an Australian (George Lazenby), it’s hard to imagine a Yank in the role. You can take Idris Elba (10/1) and Eric Bana (40/1) off the “serious possibilities” list, as well as Smith’s other touts Jamie Foxx (16/1) and P. Diddy (100/1).

Clive Owen (8/1) and Hugh Jackman (12/1) both seem like solid choices, but Owen will be pushing 50 years old by the time producers are ready to take on another Bond (presumably), and Jackman might scare with his firm connection to comic book/movie superhero Wolverine. And even though Christian Bale (8/1) will have left Batman far behind by 2012, don’t buy this choice, either.

So who’s the smart pick? Live Bets Direct likes Orlando Bloom (10/1), Henry Cavill (12/1), and especially Alex O’Loughlin (10/1). None of ‘em are American and the latter two were reportedly in serious contention for the 007 role when Craig was awarded the part. And just look at O’Loughin (photo below); if this dude can’t appeal to the ladies in the audience, no one can.

The complete list of contenders for next James Bond, according to Paddy Power, is the following.

alex-oloughlinWill Smith: 4/1
Clive Owen: 8/1
Christian Bale: 8/1
Orlando Bloom: 10/1
Alex O’Loughlin: 10/1
Dougray Scott: 10/1
Idris Elba: 10/1
James Purefoy: 12/1
Henry Cavill: 12/1
Hugh Jackman: 12/1
Julian McMahon: 14/1
Goran Visnijc: 16/1
Jamie Foxx: 16/1
Gerard Butler: 16/1
Rufus Sewell: 18/1
Sam Riley: 20/1
Craig Fairbrass: 25/1
Ewan McGregor: 25/1
Jude Law: 33/1
Colin Salmon: 33/1
Dominic West: 33/1
Eric Bana: 40/1
Guy Pearce: 50/1
Colin Farrell: 50/1
Adrian Paul Hewitt: 50/1
Colin Firth: 66/1
Russell Crowe: 80/1
P. Diddy: 100/1
Hugh Grant: 100/1
Rupert Everett: 150/1
Robbie Williams: 250/1
David Walliams: 500/1

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