Updated: Feb 7, 2018 1:42 pm
Who's your particular James Bond 007? Seriously, when you think of James Bond movies, which actor comes to mind? Much of it probably has to do with when you were introduced to Bond films in the first place; that actor, whoever it may be, is likely the one you're most in favor of. What's hard to believe now, with Bond 25 scheduled to hit theaters next November, is that there was a time when the character was an unknown quantity. People may have been familiar with him from Ian Fleming's novels, but that was it. That all changed in 1962 when Sean Connery identified himself for the first time as "Bond. James Bond" in Dr. No and movie history was made.
So far, there have been six James Bond actors (seven if you count Barry Nelson in a 1955 live TV production of Casino Royale), with Connery starring in a total of six official Bond films (plus the unofficial Never Say Never Again), George Lazenby taking on one, Roger Moore seven, Timothy Dalton two, Pierce Brosnan four, and Daniel Craig getting ready to start his fifth. Each of them have become a part of the legacy of 007, but there are so many more who auditioned for the part and came really close to getting it. This is a look at some of the men over the years who hoped they would have a chance to play the one and only character, and a few may just surprise you.
It may seem odd to have the fifth actor to play James Bond on this list, but the truth is that he first auditioned for and was cast as Bond for 1987’s The Living Daylights. His TV series Remington Steele had come to a close, Roger Moore was finished with 007 and producer Albert Broccoli thought Pierce would be perfect. He was signed and getting ready to meet the press, when NBC, exercising a clause in his TV contract, decided at literally the last minute to renew the series, hoping to ride the coattails of Bond’s publicity. Broccoli was having none of that, so Pierce was let go. Remington came back but was quickly re-cancelled, and Timothy Dalton was signed to play the character of Bond instead. Pierce would finally get the role in 1995’s GoldenEye.
In 1959, producer Kevin McClory was working with James Bond creator Ian Fleming on a potential Bond film prior to the character’s rights being secured by producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. The project never actually happened and, in a situation too complicated to explain here, ended up with McClory producing the fourth Bond film, Thunderball, with Broccoli and Saltzman due to his being awarded all rights to the story he and Fleming came up with. One of the first actors they spoke to about the project was Burton (on-again, off-again husband to Elizabeth Taylor). Unable to see the potential in Bond, the actor signed on for the film Look Back in Anger instead.