Pierce Brosnan is backing Tom Hardy as the next James Bond.

The 65-year-old actor - who starred as the iconic British agent from 1995 until 2002 - has heaped praise on Daniel Craig for his performances as Bond, and suggested that London-born Tom is the ideal candidate to eventually replace him.

Pierce explained: ''I think a woman could play Bond but it wouldn't be James Bond. Daniel Craig has been an incredible Bond. He's very physical, he looks lethal. You genuinely believe this is someone who could kill a man.''

A number of high-profile stars have been linked with the coveted role over recent years, including Idris Elba and Damian Lewis.

But Pierce believes Tom, 40, has all of the necessary talent and experience to make a brilliant Bond.

He told the Mail on Sunday newspaper: ''He will do the next movie, and then I think Tom Hardy could be a good Bond.

''I'd be happy to see him do it. You need an actor who can put a bit of wiggle into it - that's what makes Bond.''

In the years following his own exit from the franchise, Pierce had bitter-sweet feelings towards the Bond movies.

But over recent years, the veteran star - who made his first appearance as 007 in 'GoldenEye' - has adopted a more philosophical attitude.

Reflecting on his return to Pinewood studios to film the first 'Mamma Mia!' movie, he shared: ''I looked out of my dressing room window, saw a huge 007 on the wall opposite me and realised we were on the James Bond set.

''That was the moment I faced up to my past. I had issues for many years. Now I just have great feelings about Bond.''