British actor Ben Whishaw, star of the 1950s-set BBC drama series The Hour, has been cast as Q in the upcoming James Bond movie.
Whishaw’s involvement in the latest 007 movie, Skyfall, was announced earlier this month. However, until today, the character he is to play had been kept under wraps by the film’s producers.
At 31, Ben Whishaw is 12 years younger than Daniel Craig – who has starred as the British secret-service agent 007 since 2005 – and is the first actor younger than the one playing Bond.
Q was originally played by Desmond Llewelyn. He appeared alongside 007 actors Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan in all the official James Bond movies from 1963 until his death in 1999.
John Cleese – who played Q’s assistant R in Llewelyn’s last Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough – became Q for Brosnan’s last outing as Bond in Die Another Day.
In the two unofficial James Bond movies – Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983) – Q was played by Geoffrey Bayldon and Alec McCowen, respectively.
All Q’d up
Whishaw is already a well-established film, TV and stage actor. His film credits include Perfume (2001) – as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the perfumer and serial killer – Stoned (2005) – as Keith Richards, of Rolling Stones fame – and Brideshead Revisited (2008) – as Sebastian Flyte.
Television work has included the first series of Peter Moffat’s Criminal Justice (2008) and Abi Morgan’s The Hour (2011), which, it was announced in August, will return for a second series.
His stage work includes playing Hamlet in 2004 and appearances in … some trace of her (2008) and Cock (2009).
Whishaw previously appeared with Craig in 2004, in the movie Layer Cake, a British crime thriller directed by Matthew Vaughan, which was based on the novel of the same name by J. J. Connolly.
According to BBC News, “[Whishaw] is due to play Richard II opposite Rory Kinnear in a new BBC Shakespeare adaptation, which is part of [the BBC’s 2012] cultural programming to coincide with the Olympics.”
Javier Bardem, Albert Finney and Naomie Harris will also be joining the cast for Skyfall, the 23rd official Bond film, which is due out next year.