It was upsetting enough when rumors started popping up online that James Bond’s vintage Aston Martin was going to get blown to smithereens in the next 007 movie. But this is just too much: The British tabloids are reporting that Judi Dench’s top spy character, M, is going to get killed off in Skyfall, currently shooting in England. Dench took over the role back when Pierce Brosnan was being fitted for his first tuxedo, in 1995’s GoldenEye, and was the only actor from that series of Bond films to make the transition into the Daniel Craig era.
The role has a long tradition—the late great Bernard Lee launched the character on the big screen in 1962’s Dr. No, and played it until 1979’s Moonraker—but Dench, 77, brought a fresh take to the part that charmed even die-hard fans of the Sean Connery epoch. In fact, making M a woman was one of the smartest choices Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson made when they took over the franchise from their father, Cubby Broccoli, in 1995. Casting a class act like Dame Dench was a stroke of pure genius.
Eon Productions, the company that produces all things Bond, won’t comment on the rumors of Dench’s rumored departure from the franchise. But then Eon never comments on any rumors. So lets for the moment assume it’s true. Who should replace Dench as the head of the British Secret Service? Should it be a woman again? Helen Mirren? Vanessa Redgrave? Susan Boyle? Or is it a man’s turn again? We know Ralph Fiennes has a role in Skyfall, presumably as an upper level Secret Service employee. Rumor has it he’s warming up for the role.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Who should play M if Dench departs? (And while we’re at it, is it time to bring Q back?)