With one certain the skill subsequent James Bond became free. Within the latest episode of Contented Valley, James Norton’s villainous Tommy Lee Royce did two excellent issues. First, he rid himself of the mangy man-bun with which the character has been saddled for the length of his incarceration for unspeakable crimes (correct for the extra hair he deserved six months in solitary).
Secondly, he demonstrated action-film chops in a gallant smash out from a high-safety courthouse as he became about to circulate on trial. Adopted, admittedly, by a no longer-so-gallant trot correct into a newsagents the place he hid within the backroom, within the encourage of a row of Toblerone, sooner than slinking away disguised as a lycra-warrior bicycle owner.
The scene is over and executed in lower than 5 minutes. And, within the context of Contented Valley’s brooding ambience and ceiling-to-ground misery, it feels reasonably cartoonish and overcooked. Nonetheless alongside with the certain, the phase has precipitated one other b-notice. Has this demonstration of action-hero prowess set up 37 year-worn Norton within the body because the unique James Bond?
Extra precisely, is he encourage within the body? Norton, the hunky scion of a posh family (his grandfather became a colonial administrator in what became then Tangaikya), has been piece of the 007 discourse for a while now. He’s neck and neck, within the bookies’s estimation, with Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page. And trailing correct within the encourage of favourites Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Henry Cavill.
Norton has continuously batted apart the demand of whether or no longer he could per chance well presumably at some point shuffle into essentially the most iconic slim-match tuxedo in cinema. Asked whether or no longer he would be “up for” Bond, he unprejudiced no longer too prolonged ago answered with stonking tact. “It’s traumatic to answer to that demand,” he knowledgeable the Radio Times. “They are focused on what route they’re making an strive to grab and additionally they haven’t known as me to be piece of that conversation.”
Might perhaps well presumably Contented Valley, and his latest biff-pow antics, create him piece of that conversation? His performance as rapist, murderer and supreme gas-lighter Tommy Lee Royce indubitably demolishes the postulate that Norton is correct a astronomical pair of shoulders. Or that he lacks the black charisma needed to painting Bond.
That became the label against him when he became the star of Grantchester, in which he performed a bland, hunky vicar. And in McMafia, in which he performed the bland, hunky son of an oligarch.
His personal history, too, suggested someone gliding via life in a fog of privilege. Norton’s successfully-to-attain family comprises in its ranks no longer easiest MBEs and colonial officers nonetheless one Archdeacon, a member of the Royal Engineers and the offspring of a line of Irish landed gentry. Privately knowledgeable, he went on to Cambridge, the place he became a tall cheese within the Marlowe Society, adopted by a stint in Rada. Leer our poshest doubtless Bond yet.
In Contented Valley, he has confirmed a completely diversified potential position, nonetheless. Superficially matey, correct under the surface Tommy is a relentless antagonist to Sarah Lancashire’s Sgt Catherine Cawood. He’s a predator and a deviant nonetheless one fuelled by a aggregate of psychosis and twinkling charm. Season by season Norton has built up Tommy into a exciting monster as an alternative of simply an icky unsuitable-steal. That’s quite an success given the character’s penchant for torture and murder (and his manipulation this year of naive son, Ryan).
Norton’s probabilities of changing into Bond hinge on what its custodians, the Broccoli dynasty, are buying for. If it’s one other Daniel Craig, he can have faith hidden within the encourage of that newsagent. He has none of Craig’s relax or turbo-charged grumpiness.
Nonetheless if the Broccolis are taking a look for to circulate in a single other route, then Norton will doubtless be correct what they need. On-cover and off, he’s the anti-Daniel Craig. Potentially the most latest 007 became a grump with a cuddly centre. He grouched his manner via his profession as Bond easiest to then cover hidden comedian expertise as Benoit Blanc in Knives Out. Norton’s Tommy is the different: outwardly likeable nonetheless under as frosty as a knife within the encourage. In that manner, he per chance harks encourage to Sean Connery’s usual Bond – a brutal charmer who killed without judgment of correct and unsuitable.
In genuine life, within the meantime, Norton displays a neat affability. He’s a jaunty presence on Twitter. True now after essentially the most latest Contented Valley, he became on social media thanking the director. And promising that “the subsequent few episodes are insane!” Never in 1,000,000 years would Daniel Craig hump on Twitter to part his enthusiasm with followers or chuck exclamation marks about relish confetti. Norton thinks nothing of it. After a decade-plus of a brooding Bond, could per chance well presumably his licence to charm be precisely what the franchise requires?