Celebrate National Trivia Day With The Actors Who Could Have Been James Bond!


 

Today is National Trivia Day so I thought why not share some trivia?  I love film trivia.  I especially love trivia about who was considered for certain films.  Hell, one of my most popular posts on the Shattered Lens dealt with all of the actors who were considered for the Godfather!

(I even came up with an alternative cast for The Godfather, even though I consider the actual film to be the best cast film in history.)

I also happen to love the James Bond films.  (Well, not so much the recent Bond films.  I’ve made my feelings on SPECTRE clear.)  As a franchise, I absolutely love them.  So, with all that in mind, here is a look at the actors who could have been Bond.  I’ve compiled this article from many sources.  And yes, you could probably just find a lot of the information on Wikipedia but then you’d miss out on my editorial commentary.

Hoagy Carmichael

Ian Fleming himself always said that his pick for Bond would have been the musician, Hoagy Carmichael.  He even made a point, in Casino Royale, of having Vesper Lynd exclaim that Bond looked like Hoagy Carmichael.  Of course, the first actor to actually play Bond was Barry Nelson in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale.  Nelson is probably best remembered for playing Mr. Ullman in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Barry Nelson, the first James Bond

When Dr. No went into production in 1961, many actors were considered for the role before Sean Connery was eventually cast.  Many of them were very well-known actors and, had they been cast, Dr. No would not have been remembered as a Bond movie.  Instead, it would be remembered as a star vehicle for … well, let’s take a look at some of the better-known possibilities:

Among the famous actors who were mentioned for Bond in 1961: Cary Grant, Richard Burton, James Mason, Trevor Howard, Stanley Baker, George Baker, Jimmy Stewart, Rex Harrison, and David Niven.  (Of that list, I think Burton would have made for an interesting Bond.  If the Bond films had been made in the 1940s, Grant would have been my first choice.  Trying to imagine Jimmy Stewart as a British secret agent is … interesting.)

Once it became obvious that a star was not going to play Bond, the role was offered to Patrick McGoohan and Rod Taylor.  McGoohan had moral objections to the character.  Rod Taylor reportedly felt that the film would flop.  Steve Reeves, the American body builder who became famous for playing Hercules in Italy, was reportedly strongly considered.  At one point, director Terrence Young wanted to offer the role to Richard Johnson, who later played Dr. Menard in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

Of course, the role went to Sean Connery and made Connery a huge star.  In 1967, after Connery announced that he would no longer play the world’s most famous secret agent, there was a huge and widely publicized search for his replacement.  Some of the names that were considered are intriguing.  Others are just bizarre.

Oliver Reed

To me, perhaps the most intriguing name mentioned was that of Oliver Reed.  Reed definitely would have brought a rougher edge of the role than some of the other actors considered.  However, that’s one reason why Reed wasn’t picked.  Apparently, it was felt that he did not have the right public image to play the suave Mr. Bond.

Somewhat inevitably, Michael Caine was sought out for the role.  Caine, however, refused to consider it because he had already starred in three back-to-back spy thrillers and didn’t want to get typecast.  Caine’s former roommate, Terrence Stamp, was another possibility but wanted too much control over the future direction of the Bond films.  Future Bond Timothy Dalton was considered to be too young.  Another future Bond, Roger Moore, didn’t want to give up his television career.  Eric Braeden has the right look for Bond but was German.  Rumor has it that producer Cubby Broccoli even considered Dick Van Dyke for the role, though I find that hard to believe.  An even more surprising possibility was the nobleman Lord Lucan, who was offered a screen test in 1967 and who, ten years later, would vanish after being accused of murdering his children’s nanny.

Lord Lucan

Among the actors who auditioned before George Lazenby was cast in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Michael Billington, Jeremy Brett, Peter Purves, Robert Campbell, Patrick Mower, Daniel Pilon, John Richardson, Anthony Rogers, Hans De Vries, and Peter Snow.

After the mixed reception of both Lazenby’s performance and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Lazenby was soon out as James Bond.  Even today, there’s a lot of controversy about what led to Lazenby being dismissed from the role.  Some say Lazenby demanded too much money.  Some say that Lazenby was merely used a pawn to try to get Sean Connery to return to the role.  Regardless, Lazenby only made one film as Bond.  (Of course, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has retroactively been recognized as being one of the best of the series.)

With Connery still claiming that he would never return to the role, the film’s producers went through the motions of looking for a new Bond.  Once again, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton were considered.  Connery suggested that a talk show host named Simon Dee should play the role.  An actor named Roger Green auditioned.  So did Michael Gambon, though he later said he was turned down because, in his own words, he “had tits like a woman.”  Interestingly, several Americans were mentioned.  Clint Eastwood as James Bond?  Burt Reynolds?  Adam “Batman” West? The mind boggles but their names were mentioned.

John Gavin

And interestingly enough, an American was cast.  John Gavin is best known for playing Sam Loomis in Psycho but he was also, briefly, James Bond.  After Gavin accepted he role and signed a contract, Sean Connery announced that he would be willing to return to the role.  Gavin was paid off and Connery went on to star in Diamonds are Forever.

After Diamonds, Connery left the role for a second time and, once again, Bond was recast.  This time, Roger Moore would finally accept the role.  However, before Moore was cast, several other actors were considered.  Some of the regular possibilities were mentioned again: John Gavin, Simon Oates, Timothy Dalton, and Michael Billington.  Others considered included Jon Finch, Ranulph Fiennes, Peter Laughton, and Guy Peters.  Some of those names are probably as unknown to you as they are to me but it’s intriguing to think that Guy Peters may not be a well-known name but, at one time, there was a possibility that he could suddenly become one of the biggest stars in the world.

Looking over the history of the Bond franchise, it’s interesting to see the number of times that Moore tried to leave the role, just to be talked into returning.  Every time that Moore considered quitting, a new group of actors would be considered for the role of Bond.  In 1979, when Moore said he might not return after Moonraker, Timothy Dalton, Michael Jayston, Patrick Mower (who was also considered for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and Michael Billington were all considered as replacements.  So was Julian Glover.  Ironically, when Moore did agree to return to the role, Glover was cast as the villain in For Your Eyes Only.

David Warbeck

To me, the most intriguing actor mentioned as a replacement for Roger Moore was David Warbeck.  Warbeck was a television actor and model who subsequently had a nearly legendary film career in Italy.  Not only did he play a key role in Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker!, but he also starred in Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat and The Beyond.  He also appeared in the best of Italian Apocalypse Now rip-offs, The Last Hunter.  In interviews, Warbeck claimed that he was under contract to Cubby Broccoli to step into the role in case Roger Moore ever walked off the set.  The likable and rugged Warbeck would have been an interesting Bond.

In 1983, when Moore again said he might not return to the role, Michael Billington (who actually did appear in a Bond film when he played a KGB agent killed at the start of The Spy Who Loved Me) would be once more considered as a replacement.  British TV actors Lewis Collins and Ian Ogilvy were also considered for the role.  In a repeat of what happened with John Gavin in Diamonds are Forever, American actor James Brolin was actually put under contract until Moore agreed to play the role in Octopussy.

James Brolin, in a screen test for Octopussy

After A View To A Kill, Moore left the role for the final time.  Famously, future Bond Pierce Brosnan was actually cast as his replacement until the surge of interest created by his casting led to the renewal of Remington Steele, the American television show in which Brosnan was starring.  Once the show was renewed, Brosnan could no longer work the Bond films into his schedule.

Among the other names mentioned: Sean Bean, Simon MacCorkindale, Andrew Clarke, Finlay Light, Mark Greenstreet, Neil Dickson, Christopher Lambert, Mel Gibson, and Antony Hamilton.  Sam Neill was another possibility and reportedly came very close to getting the role.  Watch any of the films that Neill made when he was younger and you can definitely see hints of Bond.

Sam Neill

In the end, Timothy Dalton finally accepted the role.  Ironically, for an actor who spent 20 years being courted for the role, Dalton turned out to be a bit of a flop as Bond.  He made two movies (both of which were considered to be disappointing when compared to the previous Bond films) and then left the role.

Looking over the contemporary reviews of Dalton as Bond, one thing that comes through clearly is that a lot of people resented him for taking a role that they felt should have gone to Pierce Brosnan.  When the Bond films resumed production with Goldeneye in 1994, Brosnan finally stepped into the role.  Reportedly, if Brosnan had turned down the role, the second choice was Sean Bean.  Much like Julian Glover, Bean may have lost out on 007 but he did end up playing the villain.

Sean Bean

Among the other actors who were reportedly considered before Brosnan accepted the role: Mark Frankel, Paul McGann, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, and Lambert Wilson.  Ralph Fiennes, who has been M since Skyfall, was also considered.

As opposed to his predecessors, Brosnan seemed to be very comfortable with the idea of playing Bond and never threatened to leave the role.  Looking over the Bond-related articles that were published from 1995 to 2004, I found the occasional speculation about whether Rupert Everett would be the first gay James Bond or if Sharon Stone would be the first female James Bond but I found very little speculation about Brosnan actually leaving the role.  Indeed, when Brosnan officially retired as Bond in 2004, it was less his decision and more at the prodding of the franchise’s producers, who felt that the series needed to be rejuvenated with a new (and younger) actor.  After Brosnan left, the series was rebooted and Daniel Craig played the role in Casino Royale.

In the past, I’ve made it clear that Daniel Craig is hardly my favorite Bond.  I loved Skyfall (and I consider it to the 2nd best Bond film, after From Russia With Love) but, even in that case, I felt that the film succeeded despite Craig instead of because of him.  With Casino Royale, we were supposed to be seeing a young and inexperienced Bond.  That’s never come through to me, probably because Craig looked like he was nearly 50 years old when he made Casino Royale.

Among the actors who were mentioned for the role before Craig received the role: Ralph Fiennes (again), Colin Salmon, Ewan McGregor, Henry Cavill, Rupert Friend, Julian McMahon, Alex O’Laughlin, Clive Owen, Dougray Scott, and Goran Visjnic.  Dominic West, who I think would have been great in the role, reportedly ruled himself out because he heard a rumor that Brosnan would be returning to the role.

Dominic West

Daniel Craig, of course, has been talking about leaving the role ever since he was first cast.  I think Skyfall would have been a perfect movie for him to leave on.  (It would have saved the world from SPECTRE.)  However, Craig has apparently agreed to do at least one more Bond film.  Maybe two.

When Craig does leave, who will replace him?  Idris Elba, of course, is probably the most widely discussed possibility.  James Norton has also been named as a possibility.  Others that I’ve seen mentioned: Tom Hardy, Jack Huston, Aidan Turner, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Henry Cavill (again).

My personal choice?  Dominic Cooper.  He’d be an off-center Bond but I think it would still be an intriguing pick.

Dominic Cooper

Who knows what the future may hold for 007?  All I know is that I look forward to the speculation.

Happy National Trivia Day, everyone!

A Movie A Day #299: Blame It On Rio (1984, directed by Stanley Donen)


When I was growing up in Baltimore, I used to go down to this independent video story every weekend and check out movies.  Every time that I stepped into the store, the first thing I saw was the poster for Blame It On Rio hanging over the front register.  The store did not actually have any copies of Blame It On Rio in stock and I don’t think anyone working there had ever seen it but it only takes one look at the poster to guess what they were thinking when they hung it at the front of the store.

Blame It On Rio is one of the films that Michael Caine made during that period when he was willing to accept any paycheck.  (The Jaws 4 years.)  Caine plays Matthew, who goes on a vacation to Rio with his 17 year-old daughter, Nikki (Demi Moore), his best friend Victor (Joseph Bologna), and Victor’s daughter, Jennifer (Michelle Johnson).  Both Matthew and Victor’s marriages are falling apart and Victor encourages Matthew to hit on every topless woman they see.  Instead, Matthew ends up fooling around with Jennifer.  When Victor discovers that his daughter to having an affair with an older, married man, he recruits Matthew to help him discover the man’s identity.  In between the scenes of all the action in Brazil, Matthew and Jennifer appear in interview segments that do no add up to much.

It may be hard to believe but this forgettable movie was co-written by Larry Gelbart and directed by the same director responsible for Singin’ In The Rain, Charade, and Two For The Road, Stanley Donen.  For a film about a 43 year-old man having a sexual relationship with a 17 year-old, Blame It On Rio is a hopelessly square movie.  Caine and Bologna walking along a topless beach and accidentally leering at their own daughters is about as funny as things get.  Michael Caine’s a trooper and does the best that he can but Michelle Johnson is bland as Jennifer.  She and Demi Moore should have switched roles.

 

A Movie A Day #254: Mr. Destiny (1990, directed by James Orr)


When did your life first start to go downhill?

Larry Burrows (James Beluhsi) is convinced that, if he had not struck out while playing in the state high school baseball championship when he was 15, his life would have turned out so much differently.  He would be a success, instead of a mid-level executive with money problems, a dissatisfied wife, Ellen (Linda Hamilton), and a weird best friend (Jon Lovitz, of course).  On Larry’s 35th birthday, Michael Caine shows up as Larry’s guardian angel and, before you can say “George Bailey,” Larry is transported to an alternate timeline where he won that baseball game and got everything that he wanted.  Now, Larry has a big home, a sexy wife (Rene Russo), and a sexy mistress (Courtney Cox).  But he doesn’t have Ellen and Larry realizes that this all he ever wanted in the first place.

1990 was a busy year for Jim Belushi, starring in both this and Taking Care of Business.  Of the two films, Mr. Destiny is marginally better.   The story itself is predictable and the film makes a big mistake by trying to get dramatic during the final act.  (Everyone knows that Larry’s rival at the compamy is sleazy because he is played by Hart Bochner and everyone remembers Die Hard.  There was no need to turn him into a murderer, even if it was in a parallel universe.)   However, Michael Caine has the ability to make even the worst dialogue sound good.  Belushi is relatively restrained and any film that features Rene Russo, Courtney Cox, and Linda Hamilton can’t be all bad.   Mr. Destiny is forgettable but inoffensively entertaining.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Alfie (dir by Lewis Gilbert)


alfie_original

One night, in the UK, in 1965…

In a London flat, a phone rings.  Up-and-coming actor Terrence Stamp answers.  On the other end, the producers of an up-coming film called Alfie ask Stamp if he would be interested in playing the lead role.  In many ways, Stamp seems like the obvious choice.  After all, he already starred in the stage version of Alfie.  He knows the character and everyone knows that he’s going to be a big star…

And that’s why Stamp turns down the role.  The character of Alfie is an irresponsible and self-centered womanizer who, over the course of the play, has numerous affairs, arranges for one illegal abortion, treats almost everyone terribly, and, at the end of the movie, ends up alone.  Not only will the film’s risqué subject matter provide a challenge, even if it is being made in “swinging London,” but Alfie just isn’t a heroic figure.  He has some good lines.  He makes a few good jokes and, after arranging an abortion for one of his girlfriends, he realizes just how empty his life really is.  But, as written, Alfie is hardly sympathetic.

Stamp says he’s not interested in playing Alfie on screen and then he hangs up.

Two minutes later, the phone rings again.  Stamp answers.  It’s the producers of Alfie.  They ask to speak to his roommate, a cockney actor who was born Maurice Micklewhite but who, at the start of his acting career, changed his name to Michael Caine.

And that’s how Michael Caine came to star in the 1966 film, Alfie.

Alfie not only made Michael Caine a star, it also landed him his first Oscar nomination.  It was especially a popular film in the States, where it tapped into a youth culture that was obsessed with all things British and a desire, on the part of many filmgoers, to see films that deal with “adult” topics that American films, at that time, wouldn’t dare touch.  Though Alfie may seem rather tame by today’s standards (for a film about a man obsessed with sex, there’s actually not much of it to be found in Alfie), one can still see why it would have taken American audiences by surprise in 1966.  At a time when American films still starred Doris Day and Bob Hope, here was a British film about a working class cockney who screws almost every woman he meets, both figuratively and literally.

And really, it’s fortunate that Michael Caine accepted that role.  Along with Stamp, Alfie‘s producers also tried to interest Richard Harris and Laurence Harvey in the role.  All three of them would have brought a harder edge to the character.  However, Michael Caine has just enough charm to make Alfie likable, even when his actions are not.  Since a good deal of the film is made up of Alfie breaking the fourth wall and talking straight to the audience (and, often times, not exactly saying that most charitable of words), that charm is essential to the film’s success.  Michael Caine’s Alfie is self-centered but, at the same time, you never doubt that there’s a better man lurking underneath the surface.  You forgive Alfie a lot because, thanks to Caine’s performance, you can see the man that he’s capable of being.

Alfie is pretty much Michael Caine’s show but he’s ably supported by the rest of the cast, especially Jane Asher as a poignantly insecure hitchhiker and Shelley Winters as a cheerfully promiscous American.  And then there’s Denholm Elliott, who plays an abortionist with a seedy intensity that catch you off-guard and drives home the dark reality lurking underneath Alfie‘s charm.

For a film that is often described as being very much a product of its time, Alfie holds up surprisingly well.  It was nominated for best picture but it lost to something far more sedate, A Man For All Seasons.

 

A Soggy Bowl of PULP (United Artists 1972)


cracked rear viewer

pulp1

They had the hook in me, and I was caught like a large mouth bass. The bait was the stuff my dreams were made of, a heady concoction of gangsters and femmes fatale, of faded Hollywood stars and references to Mickey Spillane and Ross MacDonald. I had let my guard down and plunged headlong into the trap, forgetting you can’t judge a book by its cover, especially one luridly titled PULP.

pulp2

It all started so promisingly. I was introduced to Mickey King, a second-rate English hack writing under the pseudonym “Guy Strange”, scribbler of paperback trash like “Kill Me Gently” and “My Gun is Long”. Mick’s paid a visit by a gravel-voiced goon called Dinuccio, a Neanderthal throwback who hires the wordsmith to ghost a biography for his mysterious boss. Next thing Mickey knows, he’s on a tour bus and told he’ll be contacted. An American named Miller could be the one, but Miller…

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And finally, here’s what won with the Detroit Film Critics!


Spotlight

You can check out the Detroit nominations here.  Remember how stunned everyone was when Liev Schrieber was nominated for best supporting actor?  Well, he went on to win!

You can check out all the winners below!

Best Picture: Spotlight

Best Director: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Actor: Michael Caine, Youth

Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor: Liev Schrieber, Spotlight

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Ensemble: Spotlight

Breakthrough: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl and Ex Machina

Best Screenplay: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for Spotlight

Best Documentary: Amy

And here are the Phoenix Film Critics Nominations!


And finally, to wrap up today’s excursion into awards season, here are the Phoenix Film Critics Nominations!  As soon as you look over these nominations and see if your favorite film made the list, be sure to go back and read Patrick’s review of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny and Jedadiah Leland’s review of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace!

BEST PICTURE

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Room
Spotlight
BEST COMEDY FILM

The Big Short
Dope
Joy
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST MYSTERY OR THRILLER FILM

Bridge of Spies
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Anomalisa
Inside Out

The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

The Assassin
White God
Youth

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
He Named My Malala
Listen to Me Marlon

BEST HORROR FILM

Bone Tomahawk
Crimson Peak
It Follows
Unfriended

BEST MUSICAL

Amy
Pitch Perfect 2
Straight Outta Compton

BEST ACTOR

Michael Caine, Youth
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Brie Larson, Room
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Jacob Tremblay, Room

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

BEST DIRECTOR

Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

BEST SCREENPLAY

Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

BEST SCORE

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL, Mad Max: Fury Road
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies