There’s a sure ceremony of passage that each British male actor of a sure age who has lately displayed a sure set of expertise onscreen should undergo — sooner or later they’ll be talked up as a potential James Bond.
For Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, this occurred shortly after the primary season of Gangs of London, Gareth Evans’ brutal and blood-soaked crime thriller collection, which aired on Sky within the U.Okay. in 2020 and the subsequent yr on AMC+ within the U.S.
The first episode alone — during which Dìrísù’s undercover cop character, Elliot Finch, takes out a complete pub’s value of Eastern European bruisers (with fists, ft, pint glasses, ashtrays and a solitary taking part in dart) and, in a later extra Saw-like scene, battles a person carrying solely boxer shorts and rubber boots and brandishing a meat cleaver — confirmed the actor is greater than able to taking up any sequence, Bond or in any other case. With the second season of Gangs of London now scheduled to land on AMC+ on Nov. 17, his standing because the U.Okay.’s most fun new motion hero is just set to extend additional.
According to Dìrísù, born in London to Nigerian dad and mom (Ṣọpẹ́ is a Yoruba identify which means “give thanks to God”), the primary speak of 007 really got here when he was simply 15.
“I played Macbeth in a school play and my best friend was like, ‘Hey, you’d be a great Bond,’ ” he recollects. While Dirisu dismissed it on the time, the world’s most well-known spy (and arguably’s the movie trade’s most illustrious gig) started being talked about once more later in life, after he’d joined the National Youth Theatre and later began breaking out on stage (akin to political comedy Tory Boyz from Brexit: The Uncivil War author James Graham) and display screen (notably as a warrior in The Huntsman: Winter’s War and the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive”).
“It’s something that has crept up over time,” he notes. “But then you do a Gangs of London, and the world gets to see you.”
U.Okay. bookmakers definitely noticed him, and commenced including Dìrísù to their ever-changing lineup of possible candidates. And whereas he claims he by no means checked in each day, he did begin to see the percentages scale back.
“I think the shortest I’ve ever been at any one time is 6 to 1, and that’s too close,” he says, acknowledging that each Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig had been whole outsiders after they had been employed (Craig’s rent was so sudden it sparked appreciable consternation). “I think Bond is the kingmaker — rather than [that] someone who is already king gets to be Bond. So yeah, the shorter the odds are, the less likely it’s going to happen.”
But whereas 007 gatekeepers Eon rigorously ponder who to crown, Dìrísù has spent the final couple of years flexing his performing muscle tissue elsewhere and landed him a promising share of accolades.
In late 2020 got here Remi Weekes’ chilling social realist horror His House, during which he performed a Sudanese asylum seeker whose non permanent London dwelling seems to be haunted by the nightmares he left behind. It garnered him a British Independent Film Award nomination for finest actor. Then in 2021 got here roles in each the darkish Christmas comedy Silent Night and the post-WWI interval drama Mothering Sunday, plus a BAFTA Rising Star nomination. Earlier this yr, he was the titular Mr. Malcolm in Bridgerton-like Regency romp Mr. Malcolm’s List, taking part in a picky bachelor who catches the attention of Frida Pinto in a interval drama that went the place few have been earlier than with its various casting (whereas Dìrísù says it’s one thing to be celebrated, he’s “not being complacent about it.”)
Around the time of Mr. Malcolm’s List, hypothesis started to assemble steam on-line that Dìrísù was to steer HBO Max’s Constantine TV collection because the famed supernatural detective. Ultimately the mission was shelved in September 2022 when Warner Bros. Discovery introduced it might be doing a Constantine movie sequel as a substitute, binging again Keanu Reeves (Dìrísù, who by no means previously acknowledged any involvement, tweeted a congratulatory observe: “Give ‘em Hell, King.”).
His potential journey into the DC world might have been lower quick, however Dìrísù notes how “lovely is it to be respected and regarded” sufficient for individuals to even take into account him for roles akin to Constantine and 007.
“If they’re thinking, he’d be a great Bond, I can change the character in my head to fit him and I think he’d do it justice, it’s a vote of confidence that I really appreciate,” he says. “But then any frustration comes the fact that I remember it’s not in my control. I can only do my best work and see what I get offered.”
As for season two of Gangs, he’s set to tackle all method of combat scenes as soon as once more, together with dealing with off towards a personality performed by powerlifter Zydrunas Savickas, a four-time winner of the World’s Strong Man competitors. It’s not one thing he shies from. “It’s heightened violence,” he says of the present, “and that’s the stuff that I gravitated toward.”
This story first appeared within the Nov. 9 problem of The Hollywood Reporter journal. Click here to subscribe.