Could Cillian Murphy be about to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond?
The 'Peaky Blinders' star is considered to be one of the favourites to land the coveted role
Could an Irish actor be about to lay claim to the coveted 007 tuxedo for the second time?
Social media has been awash with the news that Irish actor Cillian Murphy has seemingly muscled out the likes of Idris Elba and Tom Hardy for the role of the next James Bond.
The Peaky Blinders star is now only considered to be behind joint front-runners Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Night Manager) and Richard Madden (Bodyguard, Game of Thrones) in the race to take over from Daniel Craig.
Other crowd favourites, such as Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Damian Lewis and James Norton are seen as less likely to land the role.
Bond 25 is expected to begin shooting in southern Italy soon under the working title of Shatterhand, and is reported to be Craig's fifth and last outing as Ian Fleming's beloved British spy.
The movie is scheduled to be released in cinemas in April 2020.
And although roles are yet to be finalised for the forthcoming movie (reports abound that Oscar-winner Rami Malek will play a villain, while Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are expected to return), gossip has been rife about the next leading man for months.
Elba has been busy swatting away questions about the casting, though has seemingly had some fun toying with fans over the unprovoked interest.
In August 2018 he tweeted, "My name's Elba, Idris Elba," and later took a selfie (which many fans deemed "awkward") with Craig at the Golden Globes this year.
It probably hasn't helped that several fan campaigns are out in force, trying to edge their favourite actor closer to the coveted role.
If Murphy is cast, he would be the second Irish actor to play the role, following Pierce Brosnan's 11-year stint as the British Secret Service agent (Brosnan, meanwhile, is busying himself shooting a movie in Abu Dhabi).
Of the six men who have previously picked up the Bond mantle, three have been English (Craig, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton), one has been from Ireland (Brosnan), one from Scotland (Sean Connery) and one hailed from Australia (George Lazenby).
While the internet isn't exactly impressed at the potential casting choice, it's easy to see the similarities between Murphy and Craig. The two men have a similar set of piercing blue eyes and an indisputable track record of wearing an expensive suit extremely well.
But for many, it's simply too difficult to look past Murphy's previous roles, in which he's played several pretty convincing villains. Perhaps the most notable are his turns as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, and as psychopathic assassin Jackson Rippner in 2005 psychological thriller RedEye.
Some have even gone deep to discredit the "Murphy as Bond" theory, citing the fact that Murphy is 43 years old, which would mean he would be 45 by the time Bond 26's release rolls around. Craig was 38 when he made his Bond debut in Casino Royale in 2006.
Murphy is yet to comment on the theories.
Updated: March 11, 2019 09:27 AM