Actors who almost played James Bond and one who became 007’s boss instead

Actors who almost played James Bond and one who became 007’s boss instead

james bond

Barbara Broccoli says there will be a reinvention of Bond (Image: Getty)

Six actors have already played 007 – Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig – and speculation is mounting on who will play 007 next.

Despite the bookies naming their top picks for 007, James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli has recently stated that there will be a “reinvention of Bond” and proclaimed: “Nobody’s in  the running.” 

But what about the actors who almost got the role? Here are some big names who came tantalisingly close to playing James Bond, with some still ending up in the franchise in other roles. 

Cary Grant

cary

Cary Grant is best known for To Catch A Thief (Image: Getty)

Arguably one of the most famous Hollywood stars of all time, Cary Grant came achingly close to playing 007. 

The actor is best known for To Catch a Thief (1955), North By Northwest (1959) and Notorious (1946). His charm and good looks made him an obvious choice to play the spy and he was approached by Dr. No director Terrence Young about starring as the first Bond film. 

Grant had initially accepted the role but only wanted to make one Bond movie as he was already 58 years old, so didn’t want to sign a multi-film contract.

He was ultimately dropped as producers wanted an actor who would play 007 in multiple films. Sean Connery was cast instead and went on to play Bond in seven films. 

Connery is regarded as being the best actor to have played 007 in the franchise and has topped many best Bond polls over the years, so perhaps he was the best choice over Grant after all? 

Clint Eastwood

clint eastwood

Clint Eastwood took over from Sean Connery (Image: Getty)

In the late 1960s Dirty Harry star, Clint Eastwood, was tipped to take over the role of James Bond after Sir Sean Connery left the role due to ongoing feuds with producers. 

Reports of rows over money, lack of privacy and even a court case ultimately led to Connery quitting the franchise much to the dismay of 007 fans who loved his roguish charm. 

The Scottish actor even demanded $1 million with a percentage of the film’s gross if they wanted him to make 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Producers refused and so a vacancy for 007 was created. 

Sean Connery

sean connery

Sean Connery as James Bond next to his Aston Martin DB5 (Image: Getty)

After Connery’s exit, producers were shopping around for a new 007 and they asked Clint Eastwood.

At the time Eastwood was nowhere near as famous as he is today, and the role would have likely taken the star, who was predominantly known for westerns, down a completely different acting path.

Surprisingly, the actor turned down the major movie opportunity, a bold move considering the iconic nature of the role. One of the reasons he cited was that he thought James Bond should be British. 

Eastwood has no regrets about turning down the part and told the LA Times years later: “I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. This was after Sean Connery left. 

“My lawyer represented the Broccolis [who produce the Bond franchise] and he came and said: “They would love to have you. But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”

Henry Cavill

henry cavill

Henry Cavill has been a top pick for the role (Image: Getty)

British actor Henry Cavill has been a top pick for the role since he first auditioned aged 22 in 2005. He recently confessed it would be extremely exciting to be cast as the next James Bond.

The 39-year-old Superman and Witcher actor told the Hollywood Reporter: “I think it would be very exciting to have a conversation with the producers. In an ideal world, I’d never have to turn anything down. Nothing is off the table. It’s an honour to even be part of that conversation.” 

Cavill came close to the spy role back in 2005 when he reportedly made it to the final two in the 007 audition process. He claims he was ‘fat-shamed’ by director Martin Campbell – who favoured him for the role – during the Bond audition process. 

No one could doubt his impressive physicality now though and it could be one of his main strengths in the audition process for Bond 26. Cavill certainly looks the part as well, with dashing good looks and a charming personality to boot, it’s easy to see how he could slip right into the role of 007.

Liam Neeson

liam neeson

Liam Neeson was in the running to play the role in the 90s (Image: Getty)

Taken star Liam Neeson previously revealed he was in the running to play the role of James Bond in the 90s. 

Speaking on NBC’s The Rich Eisen Show, the popular Irish thespian was grilled on several rumours during the show’s “Celebrity True or False” segment.

It was during this segment that Neeson was questioned on whether it was true he had turned down playing James Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye, a role that went to Pierce Brosnan. 

Answering that the rumour was false, Liam then provided the full context of where the rumour had originated from.

Neeson claimed to be one of the actors they were considering for the part, stating that casting directors had “sent out feelers” in his direction.

Technically he wasn’t offered the role but said he would have had to turn it down even if he was, explaining that his late wife Natasha Richardson made him choose between marrying her and playing James Bond.

“I remember my dear, departed wife [who died in 2009], said to me — we were shooting a film in North Carolina called Nell — and she looked at me straight in the face and she said, ‘Liam if you’re offered this and if you do it, you know we can’t get married,’” he recalled.

Given his captivating performance in the Taken franchise, it’s easy to imagine Neeson playing a roguish 007 that is more than happy to use his licence to kill. 

Though he’s probably too old to portray Bond now, fans still hope that in future films Neeson may be cast as a stone-cold Bond villain. Especially after his memorable turn as famous Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. 

Clive Owen

clive

Clive Owen came close to bagging the role before Daniel Craig (Image: Getty)

With his dark hair, brooding charm and dashing looks, Clive Owen is surely the perfect casting for Bond. The Sin City star reportedly came very close to taking on the role before it went to Daniel Craig who would become the first blonde Bond.

Rumours have swirled for years that Owen, who was the hot favourite to replace Pierce Brosnan, failed to reach a deal with producers.

The British actor insists that he was never approached by the Bond team for the film though.

Owen said: “I wear a tuxedo in (the film) Croupier and that might have had something to do with it. There was a lot of talk, but it didn’t come from me.”

He also previously told Glamour magazine that he wouldn’t have suited the spy role and that playing James Bond would have been like entering a golden prison. He said: “I never understood what I would have been able to add to the role, or how I could play a character who has already been defined in the past. For me, Sean Connery is the real James Bond.”

Ralph Fiennes 

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes replaced Judi Dench as M (Image: Getty)

Ralph Fiennes replaced Judi Dench as M in Skyfall in 2012 and continued playing Mallory in Spectre and No Time To Die. It wasn’t his first crack at the Bond franchise though as the veteran actor was also considered for Goldeneye and Casino Royale. 

The award-winning star allegedly had initial talks with producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli over the vacant role of Bond in the mid-1990s, but he lost out on the chance to be Timothy Dalton’s successor. 

Fiennes is convinced he wouldn’t have made a brilliant Bond anyway and previously told Seven magazine: “There was an early conversation. There was a conversation that was great, and a meeting with Cubby Broccoli that was terrific. I think that’s all I can really say, except that it didn’t lead to anything on both sides.

“I don’t think I felt ready to commit and I think they were looking at Pierce. I think I would have been a terrible Bond anyway.”

Potter fans will surely be relieved that Fiennes didn’t take up the Bond mantle, as he probably wouldn’t have ended up playing Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films.”

Published at Thu, 11 Aug 2022 19:35:00 +0000