An impressionist’s masterful take on Robert De Niro as James Bond is an alternate glimpse on what could have been, a recent Twitter video shows. Irish social media star Al Foran offers audiences a sneak peek into what Daniel Craig’s 007 movies would have looked like had a different actor been thrust into the part. The stand-up comedian delivers hauntingly spot-on impressions of De Niro, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Mark Wahlberg, Donald Trump, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Gordon Ramsay, Larry David, Conor McGregor, and even current James Bond frontrunner Tom Hardy. It’s the perfect meta experience for those Bond stalwarts who have just seen No Time To Die and are still grappling with life post-Daniel Craig. Check out Robert De Niro and others as James Bond.
Foran seamlessly injects his impressions with characteristic flair befitting Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, and their various contemporaries; Robert De Niro’s subtle eye squint and Goodfellas swagger was practically screaming in his depiction as Foran sneaks in a clever Easter Egg for longtime fans of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Much like his Tom Hardy impression, Foran’s portrayal of dramatic powerhouse Denzel Washington is much more muted, right down to the lighthearted chuckle; viewers may remember Washington’s role in Flight listening to the audio. None of these impressions, not even Hardy, feels the least like James Bond, and yet the part of M16’s top agent has never been more unpredictable. Though the character is famous for being the consummate British gentleman, the franchise would certainly benefit from the occasional novelty every so often. Maybe not Robert De Niro, but you catch the drift.
And novelty it is. Daniel Craig’s current producers are aiming for inclusivity with their current batch of next-generation hopefuls. Most contenders heading betting websites these days are, in fact, unconventional options for James Bond, though not of the Robert De Niro ilk. Oddscheckers and US Bookies have Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page and he’s part-Zimbabwean. Idris Elba, a recurring fan-favorite, is being primed as the first Black 007. Lashana Lynch, who served as Craig’s relief in No Time To Die, is already changing movie history with her casting, knocking two minorities out of the park as the first female, Black James Bond in canon franchise lore. Though the rest of the cast is a touch whiter than this year’s Emmys, Tom Hardy remains the quintessential black sheep of the pack with the sort of Bond he’s willing to offer audiences. Much like Robert De Niro, Hardy is decidedly rough around the edges and would make for a rather rugged take on 007, the man who would never be caught looking scruffy if he tried. And yet it works.
Tom Hardy, known for his star-turning roles in Stuart: A Life Backwards, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and Venom, has practically made a career out of Hollywood’s most complicated ruffians. The actor himself grew up a street rat of sorts, dabbling in booze, drugs, and petty crime as he struggled to make a positive impression in school. He was essentially the Mark Wahlberg of British film, using his significant life experience playing exactly the same characters with the acute sense of hyperrealism only someone like Hardy (or Robert De Niro, with his mobster pieces) would exude. And yet, Hardy played field agent Ricki Tarr in the movie adaptation of John le Carré’s acclaimed spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to 007 perfection. Daniel Craig was the closest fans had to a rugged James Bond, and yet his portrayal remained conventionally silky smooth, a far cry from what Hardy’s iteration could’ve been.
Going for Tom Hardy over Regé-Jean Page would be the James Bond equivalent of casting Robert De Niro in a major Marvel Cinematic Universe role. It’s a little strange, but if Al Foran’s impressions are any indication, strange may be exactly what the franchise needs.