Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 16:25 UK

Avatar star Sam Worthington tipped as next James Bond

Sam Worthington
Worthington tested for the James Bond role prior to Daniel Craig's casting

Avatar actor Sam Worthington has been tipped to become the next 007 in the wake of news that the 23rd Bond film has been placed on indefinite hold.

Bookmaker William Hill has made the 33-year-old 5/2 favourite to take over the role should Daniel Craig not return for his third instalment in the series.

British actor Christian Bale is 7/1 to take on the highly coveted role - as is Hollywood star Will Smith.

However Craig, 42, is expected to return as Bond for another film.

Previous hiatuses in production have led to the role of Ian Fleming's iconic spy being recast.

A six-year gap between 1989 and 1995 saw the departure of one Bond - Welsh actor Timothy Dalton - and the installation of another - Irish-born Pierce Brosnan.

We are very optimistic Bond will be back and we look forward to that
Mark Batey, Chief Executive
Film Distributors' Association

A four-year break between 2002 and 2006, meanwhile, saw Brosnan leave the series and Craig take over.

Continued uncertainty over the future of the MGM studio prompted Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to announce that work on the as-yet-untitled new film would halt.

"Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM... we have suspended development on Bond 23 indefinitely," the pair said on Tuesday.

Craig said he had "every confidence" in the decision and was looking forward to production resuming "as quickly as possible".

Some are speculating, though, that Craig, Wilson and Broccoli will use the break to collaborate on another project.

Broccoli, daughter of long-time Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli, is known to have purchased the film rights to A Steady Rain, the Broadway play Craig appeared in with X-Men star Hugh Jackman last year.

If made, the film would be the first non-Bond film made by the Eon production company since Bob Hope comedy Call Me Bwana in 1963.

On Wednesday, an Eon spokeswoman refused to comment on the speculation.

Daniel Craig with Barbara Broccoli (l) and Michael G Wilson (r)
Broccoli (l) and Wilson (r) are the producers of the James Bond films

Born in the UK but raised from an early age in Australia, Worthington can currently be seen in the remake of fantasy epic Clash of the Titans.

The actor did a screen test for Casino Royale, the 21st official Bond movie, but eventually lost out to Craig.

At a launch event on Tuesday for a trailer promoting this summer's film releases, Mark Batey of the Film Distributors' Association said the Bond films were "the backbone of British cinema".

"The prospect of not having a picture in next year's schedule obviously does raise eyebrows," he told the BBC News website.

"But we are very optimistic Bond will be back and we look forward to that."

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