James Bond star Naomie Harris has said there is “a very good chance” Daniel Craig will return as 007.
Harris, who played Moneypenny in 2012′s Skyfall and Spectre in 2015, was speaking after she was appointed an OBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
The Hollywood actress’s royal encounter comes just days before the Academy Awards, where she is up for an Oscar for her role as a drug addict in Moonlight.
Harris, who is synonymous with the character of Moneypenny, has previously spoken of her desire to see Craig return as Bond following speculation he may leave the role – and now says that if she was a betting woman she would put her money on him to return.
Earlier this week - the week Craig became the second-longest serving 007 - James Norton and Michael Fassbender were said to be the frontrunners to become the next Bond.
According to bookmakers Coral, betting surged on the likes of Norton and Fassbender taking over from Craig in the next film – but Harris is not convinced, telling the Press Association: ”I don’t think that’s true. I really don’t think that they’ve moved on from Daniel.
“I think there’s a very good chance that Daniel will come back. I think it’s way too early to be thinking about other people at this stage.”
The 40-year-old star, who received her OBE for services to drama, added: ”If I was going to bet, that’s the way I would bet.”
Harris said she thinks fans would be “very disappointed” if Craig did not return to the role, adding: “I think the fact that the last two Bonds – Spectre and Skyfall – have been the highest-grossing Bond movies of all time shows that people love him as Bond, and they desperately want him to return.
“And I don’t think Daniel is immune to that as well, I think he’s very aware of that, so I think that adds an extra level of pressure. But he has to ultimately do what feels right to him.
“But I know that we, as a cast, collectively want him back. I know that Barbara and Michael – our producers – desperately want him back, so I think the only person that needs persuading is Daniel.”
Shortly after the release of Spectre, Craig said he would rather “slash my wrists” than appear in another film as the secret service agent.
But Harris said that comment was “just a joke” and that it can be difficult to translate jokes in print.
Harris has previously said she wants to continue appearing in Bond films “for as long as they’ll have me”.
In a week that will see her go from the Palace to Los Angeles for the glittering Oscars ceremony on Sunday, Harris said: ”I’m not going to forget this week.”
She is nominated in the supporting actress category for her role in Moonlight as Paula, the drug-addicted mother of a young black gay man growing up in Miami.
“I don’t think I have a chance of winning at all,” she said, adding that it is “incredible” to be nominated.
She said the experience of collecting her award from the Queen was “lovely”, and said the monarch asked her what she was working on at the moment.
Harris was wearing a dress by Mary Katrantzou and teamed it with a clutch by Bottega Veneta.