As Skyfall officially goes into production, Daniel Craig makes his third outing as the world’s suavest super-spy - a role that has proved to be a highpoint in his career. Some other actors, however, have not been so lucky. Over the course of Bond’s long and illustrious big-screen career, many famous names have been linked with the role. Some turned it down, some were rejected, others were just plain silly. Here’s a list of some of the best…
The explorer and former British Army officer is clearly a real-life man of action, having travelled across the globe in search of the next great challenge - according to no less than the Guinness Book of World Records he is the world's greatest living explorer - so it’s not at all surprising that Ranulph was strongly considered to step into 007’s well-pressed tux. Unfortunately for the non-acting Fiennes, his lack of thesping chops and claims that his "Hands [were] too big and [he had] a face like a farmer" nixed his chances of playing the secret agent man.
Having played Great British heroes in the likes of The Dambusters and Robin Hood, it looked like Richard Todd was a shoo-in to originate the role of Bond on the big screen. Not only did he have the looks, the charm and the stature to make the character his own, but he also had the backing of Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. Unfortunately for Dickie, however, scheduling conflicts meant he had to pass and the job went to the then relatively unknown Sean Connery.
In 1967, Caine was offered the role after Sean Connery stepped down following the Japan-based shenanigans of You Only Live Twice. Sir Michael, however, decided the job wasn’t for him, mostly because he already had his own successful Harry Palmer spy series rolling out but also because he didn’t want to be typecast. The job then passed to one-off 007 George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Before Sean Connery decided to come back for one more official Bond adventure (his actual last outing as the spy, Never Say Never Again, isn’t actually an official 007 title fact fans!), the casting nets were thrown wide for a George Lazenby replacement. Having decided that they needed somebody with proven acting chops after George’s marvellous mess-up, the producers offered the role to Michael Gambon, but in a moment of wonderful self-effacement the future Professor Dumbledore turned down the chance citing that he wasn’t good looking enough to play Bond.
You’ve got to feel a little sorry for the most talented McGann brother. Despite having blown away audiences with the cult likes of Withnail & I and impressing in such intriguing fare as The Monocled Mutineer, Paul has remained the blockbuster bridesmaid on many an occasion. Not only did he almost sink the Doctor Who franchise with his expensive TV movie turn, but he was at one time the frontrunner to take the Bond mantle following Timothy Dalton’s departure. The story goes that the producers loved him but felt that Pierce Brosnan was the man for the job, while McGann was second choice if the Irish actor said no but he clearly didn’t . Pity poor Paul.
Dubbed by Empire magazine as the ‘Unluckiest man in Hollywood’, Henry Cavill has had his fair share of casting disappointments. First up, he was frontrunner to star in the revamped Superman Returns before director Bryan Singer dumped him in favour of Brandon Routh. Next, he was supposed to play Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire before Robert Pattinson nicked it from him. Then he was the man touted to be the next Bond before he was deemed too young and sidelined in favour of Daniel Craig. Cavill is getting his due now though with a double whammy of big roles as Theseus in Tarsem Singh’s The Immortals and another stab at Superman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming franchise reboot, Man Of Steel.
Despite playing one of Bond’s greatest ever villains, the three-nippled, dwarf-employing, single-shooting, man-with-a-golden-gun Francisco Scaramanga, if Ian Fleming had got his own way the 007 gig would have gone to Christopher Lee. Okay, there may have been some nepotism at work in the decision (Lee was Fleming’s cousin) but we’d loved to have seen the one-time Dracula delivering the smutty lines that made Bond famous. Unfortunately, conflict of interest was cited and it was never to be.
Other actors considered for the job included Christopher Lambert (his French accent let him down), Clive Owen (contract conflicts), Mel Gibson (too short and too famous), Cary Grant (felt he was too old at the time and only wanted to do one film), Patrick McGoohan (he though the character was too promiscuous), Richard Burton (wanted too much money), Clint Eastwood (he felt Bond should be played by a British actor), Liam Neeson (not interested in starring in action movies - until he started making loads of action movies!) and Gerard Butler (who thought it would ruin his career).