What can we expect of the next James Bond? The question is wide open now that Daniel Craig has left the stage, and given the rather definitive nature of his exit, we can expect not only a new actor in the part but a whole new character and story arc as well. Speculation is rife already – No Time to Die is out on DVD and is now movie history after all – so here is some more. It is time for James Bond 007 to go bald.
Come of it, I hear you cry. Like any hero, James Bond is ever well-coiffured. His hair is short and black, the author Ian Fleming wrote, with one short lock “which would never stay in place” but which instead “slowly subsided to form a thick comma above his right eyebrow”. He is suave and debonair, good looking and redolent of singer Hoagy Carmicheal.
This is true, but that doesn’t mean he is not subject to the ravages of time, just like the rest of us. After all, in Fleming’s books, Bond is in his mid- to late thirties and, given the many missions he has undertaken since the last of the original novels, one can only assume that he is not far off 45, the mandatory retirement age for double-Os. The American Hair Loss association reckons that
“By the age of thirty-five two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of fifty approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair”.
It seems unlikely, then, that Bond will have escaped entirely free, and perhaps Fleming would agree. In the late 50s, he was approached by Daily Express who wanted to adapted the James Bond stories into a series of comic strips. Fleming was reluctant at first, but in the end he agreed and, to aid the paper’s illustrators he commissioned an artist produce a sketch of his idea of Bond’s appearance. The result is on the left, and it looks to me like our hero is showing distinct signs of a receding hairline.
That’s just the Bond of literature, however, and the one in the films is somewhat different. That Bond is ever strong and virile, and happily immune from the ravages of time, even if actors who portray him have had a little help up top – with toupees, dyes and thickening products, comb-overs and clever lightening – the illusion. No Time to Die broke the mould.
When the film’s trailer was first released a couple of years ago – yes it really has been that long – it was quickly noticed that he was going – ever so slightly – grey. It was appropriate, it was said at the time, that Bond should look “more mature” in this Craig’s final entry into the series. “I get that they want to keep Bond looking young,” said one fan at the time “but actually Bond with a salt and pepper look is really cool”.
The bubble is burst. James Bond is mortal – he just proved it big time in that last film – and if he can go grey, why can’t he go bald? A silver fox is one thing, you might protest, and a baldie quite another. Bond is sophisticated after all, and going bald is common. Precisely so, and that is why we baldies need James Bond to refine the image, to show us how to lean into the toll that nature has taken, without any loss of vitality.
Loathe though I am to admit it, James Bond is the stuff of fantasy, but it is just real enough to be aspirational. Who doesn’t, in their softer moments, imagine themselves into the role of the glamorous agent, travelling the world and righting wrongs? Perhaps, if our hero went bald, or his hair just began to thin a little, it might add to the realism. Perhaps it would allow us to take one hard look in the mirror and dispense with the notion that it is our lack of hair that is holding us back.