The men that almost played Bond

Movies Blog

It's a big week for 007 as it marks the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie. Since Sean Connery first played the spy in 1972's 'Dr No', five more actors have donned a tux, supped martinis and romanced women in the name of British cinema, but what about those who lost out?

These actors all had a shot at their licence to kill, but would they have hit or missed?

Mel Gibson

Fresh off the success of 'Mad Max' and 'Lethal Weapon', Gibbo almost got his hands on the Bond role back in 1987. It would have been an odd shift from suave and sophisticated British spy to a manic Aussie, but MGM were up for it. Thankfully, Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccolli rejected the idea. According to scriptwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who penned 'The Man With The Golden Gun' and 'Live And Let Die', "Cubby was against it. Cubby first of all had a thing about tall people. Bond had to be tall. And so Mel Gibson was too short."

[Related story: How George Lazenby blagged James Bond role]
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James Brolin

Josh Brolin's daddy was another famous face destined for the role. When Roger Moore hinted that he was keen to quit the franchise, Brolin screen-tested for the role in the next film 'Octopussy' (1983). Unfortunately for him, Moore eventually decided to continue in the series. You can see Brolin's dodgy screen-test here.

Clint Eastwood

Clint was offered the Bond part in 1970 but declined as he felt he couldn't better Sean Connery's version. In a recent interview he said: "I was offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. 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."

Sam Neill

Before 'Jurassic Park', Sam Neill was close to becoming Bond in 1986 having already impressed producers with his spy role in TV mini-series 'Reilly, Ace of Spies'. It's reported that Neill became the front runner to star in 'The Living Daylights' after Pierce Brosnan got tied up in his 'Remington Steele' contract. Unfortunately Neill eventually lost out to Timothy Dalton (who producers had wanted since 1968) as he'd just finished filming 'Brenda Starr'.

Sir Michael Gambon

After the disaster that was George Lazenby's outing as the spy, producers frantically searched for their next big star. Plucking a number of stage actors from the boards was the first step. In an interview on 'The Late Late Show' Michael Gambon revealed that he was one of those actors but noted that he couldn't possibly be Bond as he was bald, had a double chin and had "girls' t**s".

Sir Michael Caine

In 1967, Caine was offered the role after Sean Connery stepped down following the Japan-based shenanigans of 'You Only Live Twice'. Caine reportedly turned down the role as he was afraid of getting typecast as a spy actor. The cockney legend had already starred as the popular British spy Harry Palmer in two films. The job then passed to one-off 007 George Lazenby in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. If you want an idea of what Caine's Bond would have been like, click here.

Henry Cavill

Dubbed the 'Unluckiest man in Hollywood' by Empire magazine, Cavill has had his fair share of casting disappointments. First up, he missed out on 'Superman Returns' after director Bryan Singer dumped him in favour of Brandon Routh. Next, he lost Cedric Diggory in 'Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire' to Robert Pattinson. Then he was the man touted to be the next Bond before he was deemed too young and sidelined in favour of Daniel Craig.

Cary Grant

The best man at producers Albert and Dana Broccoli's wedding, Grant was the family's first choice to play Bond way back in 1962. The actor was sidelined after he refused to sign up for more than one film. Albert Broccolli insisted that the first Bond would appear in at least three films as he didn't want to have to find a replacement almost immediately. Apparently Patrick McGoohan, Richard Johnson, James Mason, Rex Harrison, David Niven and Trevor Howard were all considered for the role before Connery.

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Liam Neeson

Back in 1994 Hollywood star Liam Neeson turned down the chance to play James Bond, because he wasn't interested in starring in action movies. He said: "I was approached very heavily, but I wasn't really interested." Since then Neeson has gone on to make a number of action movies including 'Taken', 'The Grey' and 'Battleship'.

Colin Farrell

After Pierce Brosnan confirmed he was leaving the 007 franchise he revealed that he wanted Colin Farrell to replace him as he'd "eat the head off them all." Farrell quickly quashed the idea, announcing: "I would not like to do it. They should find someone the audience has no history with."

Who do you think would have made a good Bond? Who would you like to become the next 007? Let us know in the comments below...