45 Fascinating Facts About James Bond
In the early 1960s, American producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Canadian producer Harry Saltzman teamed up on a dream venture: The chance to adapt author Ian Fleming's gentleman spy hero James Bond for the big screen. The pair formed Eon Productions and got to work, but little did they know that they would produce not only a successful film with Dr. No, but a cinematic icon for the ages.
Six decades, 25 films, six actors, and billions of dollars in box office later, we're still talking about Agent 007, his literary legacy, and his big screen adventures. As No Time to Die arrives to end yet another era of Bond cinematic excellence, let's look back on one of the greatest film franchises of all time with 45 facts about Bond. James Bond.
1. The James Bond character grew out of wedding anxiety.
James Bond, the legendary spy character that would launch a bestselling book series and a billion-dollar film franchise, actually began with a fair bit of anxiety. According to Bond author Ian Fleming, his journey to writing the character started in 1952, when, after living his entire life as a bachelor, he was preparing to marry for the first time. Faced with that major life change, Fleming sought "some activity to take [his] mind off it." He decided to write a book inspired, in part, by his service in Naval Intelligence during World War II. The result was the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953.
2. James Bond owes his name to an ornithologist.
When he began writing his spy thrillers, Fleming sought out a masculine yet not-too-flashy name for his hero, but he didn't just pluck "James Bond" out of thin air. He lifted it from the cover of one of his birdwatching "bibles" at home in Jamaica: Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. When the real Bond later discovered this, Fleming apologized, and offered to allow the ornithologist to name a nasty species of bird after him one day.
3. James Bond's first on-screen appearance was on network television.
Almost from the beginning, Fleming saw his creation as a character who could thrive in the film world, but quickly grew frustrated as he found that many producers didn't initially agree. Despairing of Hollywood, Fleming gave the adaptation rights for his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, to CBS Television, which adapted the book as part of the anthology series Climax! in 1954. The adaptation, featuring an American gambler named "Jimmy Bond" (played by Barry Nelson), was almost immediately forgotten.
4. Thunderball was almost the first James Bond movie.
In the late 1950s, before Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli came calling, Ian Fleming set out to try and make a Bond film of his own, with the help of producer Kevin McClory and writer Jack Whittingham. Together, the three men hammered out a treatment about a nuclear weapons heist that they named Thunderball. When the film project fell through, Fleming went back home to Jamaica and decided the idea would do just fine as the plot for the next Bond novel. He wrote Thunderball without giving any credit to McClory or Whittingham, and published it in 1961. McClory's legal claim to the story would haunt Bond's eventual film producers for decades.
5. Albert “Cubby” Broccoli blew his first shot to make a Bond movie.
Today, producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli's name is synonymous with the James Bond film series, and it's hard to imagine a world in which his family isn't involved with the franchise. But Broccoli actually, through no fault of his own, blew his shot at getting the rights to 007 the first time around. In the late 1950s, while caring for his sick wife Nedra Clark, Broccoli sent then-producing partner Irving Allen to London to meet with Fleming about securing the movie rights to his novels. Broccoli was a huge fan of the Bond books. Allen ... not so much.
Allen told Fleming that not only were the Bond novels not good enough for films, but that they might not even make good television. Fleming was, of course, offended, and ended up selling the rights to producer Harry Saltzman instead. Fortunately for Broccoli, he ultimately partnered with Saltzman to make the films, launching one of cinema's most profitable collaborations in the process.
6. JFK had a hand in helping to get the Bond movies made.
These days, the Bond films have a lot of famous fans, but that wasn't necessarily the case back in the days before the films. One key early Bond fan? President John F. Kennedy, who named From Russia With Love one of his favorite books in a 1961 Life magazine article. The endorsement sent paperback sales of Fleming's novels into high gear just as Saltzman and Broccoli set out to make deals to finance their first Bond film. So one of Bond's famous fans also caused a ripple effect that helped the movies get made.
7. James Bond owes his famous gun to a firearms expert.
In Fleming's early novels, Bond carries a 0.25 caliber Beretta pistol, a very portable gun that drew objections from firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd, who took it upon himself to write to Fleming and dismiss the Beretta as "a lady's gun." Fleming took Boothroyd's suggestion and gave Bond a Walther PPK, now the character's signature gun, instead. There's an homage to this change in Dr. No, when an MI6 armorer named "Boothroyd" (played by Peter Burton), trades Bond's Beretta for the PPK.
8. Ian Fleming didn't want Sean Connery as Bond.
When it came time to cast the first big-screen Bond, Broccoli and Saltzman looked at hundreds of actors for the role, and ended up backing little-known Scottish actor Sean Connery for the part. Fleming, who had very clear ideas about his personal vision for Bond, wasn't sold, thinking Connery seemed too rough and was more stuntman than charismatic gentleman spy. Eventually Fleming came around, not least because female friends of his were all too ready to tell him just how attractive the new star was.
9. Roger Moore almost played James Bond much earlier.
A number of big and small names were considered to play Bond for the first film, Dr. No. Among them: Future Bond Roger Moore, who was unavailable due to his commitments on TV series like The Alaskans and Maverick. By 1962, the year Dr. No was released, Moore would have a spy franchise of his own thanks to his role as Simon Templar in the TV adaptation of The Saint. His time as Bond would come a little more than a decade later.
10. Lois Maxwell hand-picked her role as Miss Moneypenny.
Lois Maxwell co-starred in 14 James Bond films over a period of more than 20 years as Miss Moneypenny, M's trusted secretary who flirted her way through three different Bond stars. The role that would make Maxwell famous was actually one she chose herself. During casting for Dr. No, Maxwell was offered one of two roles: Miss Moneypenny, or Bond's love interest early in the film, Sylvia Trench. Seeing that she'd have to act in nothing but a pajama top if she played Trench, Maxwell chose Moneypenny instead, landing the role of a lifetime in the process. The role of Sylvia Trench went to Eunice Gayson instead.
11. Noel Coward could have been Dr. No.
Casting the very first Bond villain turned out to be a momentous task for producers, as it set the tone for the films to come. Joseph Wiseman eventually became Bond's first Big Bad, Dr. Julius No, but Fleming originally had a different idea. Fleming wanted his friend and neighbor in Jamaica, playwright Noel Coward, to play the title role. Coward quickly declined Fleming's invitation, but it's interesting to think about what might have been.
12. That's not Sean Connery in the original James Bond opening.
These days it's a sight as iconic as anything in cinema history: James Bond walking horizontally across the screen as we track him through a gun barrel until 007 turns and fires, dropping his would-be assassin. But back during production of Dr. No, the famed "gun barrel sequence" was just another idea, one that didn't necessarily require Sean Connery to execute. It's hard to tell now, but for the first three Bond films, Connery wasn't actually the man in the barrel. It was his stuntman, Bob Simmons, which means Simmons is technically the second actor to play Bond for Eon Productions.
13. Goldfinger inspired an urban legend.
Goldfinger is packed with memorable moments and widely considered one of the best Bond films, as well as the one that set the standard for what the series was meant to be. Between the killer flying hats and cars with ejector seats, though, the third Bond film is still perhaps best remembered for the image of a nude woman covered in gold paint, which adorned many of the Goldfinger posters back in 1964.
In the film, the woman is Jill Masterston, a mistress of the title villain played by Shirley Eaton. When Goldfinger discovers her betrayal, he kills her via "skin suffocation" by completely coating her skin with gold paint. The illusion was so convincing that it inspired an urban legend that Eaton herself had died of skin suffocation during the making of the film. Thankfully, it's not true, and as of this writing Eaton is still alive today to reminisce about her time as a Bond girl.
14. Roald Dahl wrote You Only Live Twice.
Bond films are often made by the same rotating group of frequent collaborators, but a few surprising names have snuck in across the series' history. For instance, Connery's fifth Bond film, You Only Live Twice, was scripted by none other than Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG.
15. Sean Connery was mobbed during You Only Live Twice.
One contributing factor to Connery eventually quitting the Bond films was the extreme public attention he received, which reached a fever pitch during the making of You Only Live Twice. When the production arrived in Japan to shoot on location, hundreds of journalists and fans came along for the whole ride, and Connery found he couldn't go anywhere without a member of the Japanese press finding him. Literally. On one memorable occasion, Connery went to use the toilet, only to find a photographer perched above the stall, looking down at him.
16. One James Bond book was written anonymously.
After Fleming's death in 1964, there was still a massive demand for new Bond works both on the screen and on the page. Fleming's literary legacy would eventually be carried on in Bond novels by everyone from Kingsley Amis to Jeffrey Deaver to, most recently, Anthony Horowitz. In the late 1960s, though, one Bond book came along that remains a great mystery, because no one knows exactly who wrote it.
Released in 1967, 0031/2: The Adventures of James Bond Junior was released by Fleming's literary company, Glidrose, and Bond publisher Jonathan Cape. The novel—which features 007's nephew investigating a gold caper—was marketed as an official piece of Bond canon, and even received some good reviews. Despite that, the only credit on the book is the pseudonym "R. D. Mascott." Apparently everyone at the publishing house was sworn to secrecy as to who Mascott was, and their identity remains unknown to this day.
17. Timothy Dalton was almost James Bond much sooner.
When Connery asked to be released from his contract in the wake of You Only Live Twice, producers began searching for the next Bond, and eventually found him in Australian model George Lazenby. There was another contender at the time, though, who would have a role to play in Bond's history later. Timothy Dalton was offered the role for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but considered himself too young to play the part. He'd get his chance again more than a decade later.
18. George Lazenby snuck his way into playing James Bond.
With Connery out of the picture following You Only Live Twice, and Bond producers on the hunt for a new actor to inhabit the role, George Lazenby—a little-known Australian model—simply decided he wanted to play Bond, and went for it. According to Lazenby, got his hands on a suit cut for Connery, a watch matching Bond's, and other accessories, then snuck into Saltzman and Broccoli's offices in London. When he reached Saltzman's door, Lazenby strode in and said "I heard you're looking for James Bond." Saltzman was impressed enough to put Lazenby through screen testing, and he eventually won the part. Despite the triumph, Lazenby backed away from Bond after just one film, 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
19. Sean Connery's Diamonds Are Forever salary set records.
By the end of You Only Live Twice, Connery was fed up with playing Bond, and was so angry with the film's producers that he flat-out refused to work whenever Saltzman was on the film's set. After the disappointing returns of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, producers were desperate to get him back, and Connery found himself in a very interesting negotiating position. United Artists president David Picker offered Connery $1.25 million and 12.5 percent of the film's gross if he would return for Diamonds Are Forever. At the time, it set a Guinness World Record for highest payment to a single actor in the history of film.
20. Roger Moore's gambling habit got him cast as James Bond.
Though he missed his chance to play Bond back in the days of Dr. No, Roger Moore simply had to wait for his moment. It came thanks in part to his habit of gambling at upscale clubs in London, where he'd often play alongside Saltzman and Broccoli. That friendly gambling rivalry eventually led to a call from Saltzman himself, offering Moore the chance to be the third big-screen Bond.
21. Many people believed Live and Let Die was cursed.
Live and Let Die was the first Bond film made after the permanent departure of Connery as Bond, which mean the pressure was on—and it led to some rather difficult situations. The production of the film, Moore's first as Bond, was packed with setbacks. Stuntmen kept crashing the boats used for chase scenes; a Louisiana bayou flooded at a key moment in production; and Moore himself ended up with kidney stones that landed him in the hospital. It was all enough for some members of the crew to draw the conclusion that the film was cursed. Thankfully, it was probably just a bit of superstition thanks to the film's voodoo-infused plot.
22. The Man with the Golden Gun featured a groundbreaking stunt.
The Bond films are packed with unforgettable stunt work, including a few notable firsts. For 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun, producers hoped to engineer a complex car stunt in which the vehicle would jump from one side of a broken bridge to the other, executing a corkscrew twist in the process. To make sure it would work, the production broke new ground, and became the first stunt team in history to use computer modeling to calculate the jump.
23. Roger Moore couldn't stand violence.
Moore made more Bond films than any other actor in the Eon series, starring in seven films between 1973 and 1985, and he remains closely identified with the character in the public consciousness. Despite being in the role for so long, Moore despised working with guns, and identified as a pacifist—which, he once said, was "hardly the right background for somebody who is playing Bond."
Moore informed his performance with a line from one of Fleming's books, which stated that while Bond would kill for his job, he didn't enjoy it.
24. One Bond villain was brought back by popular demand.
Most Bond villains don't even survive the single film they're in, let alone live to appear in another one. In 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me, the series introduced the villainous Jaws, a massive enforcer with a set of deadly metal teeth, played by Richard Kiel. The character not only survived the film, but was brought back two years later for the next Bond adventure, Moonraker. The reason? Fans sent in so many letters praising Kiel's performance and demanding more of the character, producers felt they couldn't say no to an encore.
25. Roger Moore almost ducked out of playing Bond early.
Though Moore is the most enduring Bond in terms of total films made, there was a time when the actor's tenure as 007 was almost cut short. After his first three films (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me), Moore's contract with Eon Production went into a film-by-film agreement. He returned for Moonraker in 1979, but then rumors surfaced that he was actually ready to leave the series, which led Cubby Broccoli to start the search for his replacement. Moore later claimed that he'd never actually considered leaving, and that the auditions were just a negotiating tactic to keep Moore's salary low for the next film. Moore returned for For Your Eyes Only in 1981, and followed it up with Octopussy in 1983 and A View to a Kill in 1985.
26. One Bond film is missing a key character.
Aside from Bond himself, there are several other key figures who recur throughout the series. The most prominent is M, the head of MI6 and, therefore, Bond's boss. Played by actors including Bernard Lee, Judi Dench, and most recently Ralph Fiennes, M is naturally a big part of each Bond plot, as he or she is usually the person handing 007 his mission. However, there is one film where M doesn't appear at all: 1981's For Your Eyes Only, which sees MI6 chief of staff Bill Tanner (played by James Villiers) representing the agency.
27. Sean Connery co-wrote a Bond movie that was never made.
In 1965, the Bond team got to work on the fourth film in the series, Thunderball, with one key wrinkle. Kevin McClory, who co-created the original treatment with Fleming in 1959, had been granted the film rights in an earlier court case. As a result, McClory served as producer on Thunderball, and was granted the rights to adapt the story again once 10 years had passed.
So, a decade later, McClory tried to mount a comeback film titled Warhead, co-written by himself, novelist Len Deighton, and Connery, who was lured back by McClory with the idea of eclipsing Broccoli and Saltzman's own Bond series. The film, which would have included robotic fish, hijacked warheads, and sharks in New York City's sewers, was set to begin production in the late 1970s with Connery returning as Bond. Then McClory's backers, fearing legal action from Broccoli, dropped out. Warhead was dead in the water, but it wasn't McClory's last attempt.
28. Pierce Brosnan paid an early visit to James Bond.
Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in four films beginning in 1995, but his first brush with the character actually came a few years earlier. In 1980, during the production of For Your Eyes Only, Brosnan visited the film's set and hung out for a while because his then-wife, actress Cassandra Harris, was co-starring in the film as Countess Lisl von Schlaff.
29. Two Bond movies faced off in 1983.
Remember Kevin McClory, the producer who co-created the treatment for Thunderball and won its film rights in the process? Well, he didn't just go away when his 1970s project, Warhead, didn't get made. In 1983, McClory finally got his wish to adapt Thunderball again with Never Say Never Again, a Warner Bros. production that saw the much-publicized return of Connery as Bond. The film, which is a loose update of the Thunderball plot, was directed by The Empire Strikes Back helmer Irvin Kirshner, and featured Kim Basinger as a Bond girl. To make things more tense for Broccoli and Saltzman, it opened the same year as the Roger Moore-starring Octopussy, creating a tale of two dueling Bonds. Octopussy ultimately won the box office, and despite the triumph of getting Never Say Never Again made, McClory kept trying to get more Bond projects off the ground well into the 2000s.
30. Maud Adams played two different Bond girls.
Though only two Bond girls have ever reprised their roles for sequels, only one actress has had the honor playing two different Bond girls in two separate films. Maud Adams appeared as the doomed Andrea Anders in 1974's The Man With the Golden Gun. Adams then returned nearly a decade later to play the title role in 1983's Octopussy, giving her unique standing in the Bond franchise canon.
31. David Bowie and Sting were almost Bond villains.
The 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill features pop culture icon Grace Jones in a key role, playing the secondary villain May Day alongside Christopher Walken's made tech tycoon, Max Zorin. But the film almost featured at least one more star from the music world in a key role. Before Walken was cast, both Sting and David Bowie were considered for the Zorin part. Sting met with director John Glen about the part, but his time commitments elsewhere kept him out of final contention. Bowie declined the offer outright, and later said he "didn't want to spend five months watching my double fall off mountains."
32. Pierce Brosnan was originally set to replace Roger Moore as Bond in the mid-1980s, but lost the role due to a contract clause.
In 1986, with Moore retired from Bond after A View to a Kill, producers tested several actors to replace him as 007, and eventually settled on Pierce Brosnan, who'd just been freed up due to the cancellation of his TV series, Remington Steele. There was just one problem: NBC had a 60-day option to renew Brosnan's contract and pick the show back up—so Brosnan and the producers waited it out. On the 59th day of the option, NBC decided to renew Remington Steele after all. Brosnan's dream was crushed just one day before landing the role of a lifetime, and Timothy Dalton became the next Bond. Brosnan would, of course, eventually get his chance.
33. Licence to Kill almost had a different title.
Licence to Kill, the 16th James Bond film in the series and the second and final to star Dalton, is the first film in the franchise to use a title that isn't drawn from one of Fleming's novels or short stories. The film follows 007 on a quest for revenge, after his fabled license to kill is stripped by MI6, and thus was originally titled Licence Revoked. By the time the film made it to theaters, the title had been changed. Why? When the film was put before test audiences, producers discovered a large number of people didn't actually know what the word revoked meant.
34. GoldenEye is more than just a movie title.
In 1995, after a six-year absence from the screen, Bond returned with Brosnan's first outing, GoldenEye. In the film, the name is derived from a satellite capable of disabling electronics via electromagnetic pulse, but it's not just a clever sounding name for a piece of tech. The film was named after Fleming's home in Jamaica, where he wrote each of his Bond adventures from 1952 until his death in 1964. The property is still in use today, and is now a luxury resort.
35. The events of 9/11 played a role in ending Pierce Brosnan’s Bond era.
On September 11, 2001, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were in London preparing to begin shooting Die Another Day, Brosnan's fourth outing as Bond. By the time the day was over, even if they didn't know it at the time, both were certain they needed to change the game. Die Another Day was produced without major rewrites, but it was clear that the producers "had to redefine" Bond's tone and place in the world moving forward. The producers decided to part ways with Brosnan after seven years and four movies, paving the way for the Daniel Craig era.
36. Daniel Craig really didn't want to be James Bond (at first).
After nearly two decades watching him in the role, it's hard to look back now and think that Daniel Craig almost wasn't James Bond. But according to the actor himself, he was extremely hesitant to take the offer seriously.
“It was genuinely like, my life is going to get f***ed if I do this," Craig told GQ of his initial hesitation.
Still, producer Barbara Broccoli felt that Craig's resistance was all posturing, and she turned out to be right. Craig said yes, and was officially cast in the fall of 2005.
37. The casting of Daniel Craig was met with serious backlash
In the fall of 2005, three years after Brosnan's last outing as Bond, Daniel Craig was announced as the sixth 007 in the Eon Productions series. At the time, Craig was mostly known for indie films, and at the press conference revealing him, sporting long, rather light hair that made him stand out from the rest of the Bond pack. The resulting backlash to the news was swift and rather nasty. The Daily Mirror christened him "James Bland," and fans furious that producers had chosen a blonde actor began setting up websites opposing the choice, some of which are still in existence today.
As of this writing, Craig is the longest-serving Bond in the history of the franchise, capping 16 years of billion-dollar grossing films with No Time to Die.
38. Casino Royale set an interesting world record.
Craig's tenure as Bond has been defined by some of the most daring and impressive stunt work in the entire 007 series, and it's been that way from the start. During the production of Casino Royale, the film set a record with a scene in which Bond's Aston Martin flips over several times in a harrowing crash. The flip, assisted by a nitrogen cannon, led to seven distinct rolls, which was a Guinness World Record.
39. Quantum of Solace began shooting without a finished script.
Bond films, particularly in the modern era, are often sent into production with firm release dates already in mind on the calendar, which means the movie needs to be done on time no matter what obstacles the project might have to overcome. In the case of Quantum of Solace, the Casino Royale sequel still considered a low point of the Craig era, that meant launching the film's shoot—big budget action sequences and all—without a complete script.
The film's production calendar coincided with a major writer's strike, which meant the script that was on hand—which needed work—couldn't actually be polished by other writers. That left director Marc Forster and Craig himself to sort of throw a story together on the fly.
"The idea was to make a follow-up to Casino Royale and ultimately I felt like, 'OK worst case scenario the strike goes on, I’ll just make it sort of like a '70s revenge movie; very action-driven, lots of cuts to hide that there’s a lot of action and a little less story,'" Forster later recalled. "To disguise it."
40. Being James Bond has been painful for Daniel Craig.
James Bond films are known for their elaborate stunt work, and that means there's an extra danger involved for stars who want to throw themselves right into the fray. During his tenure as Bond, Craig never shied away from doing as many of his own stunts as possible—and he's felt it. His injuries across 16 years of Bond filmmaking include a torn labrum in his right shoulder during the making of Quantum of Solace (which he later re-injured during the same shoot), two ruptured calves during the making of Skyfall, a blown ligament in his knee during the filming of Spectre that required him to wear a brace for the rest of the shoot, and finally, an injured ankle during No Time to Die that set filming back as he underwent surgery in 2019.
41. The James Bond series features a lot of recurring collaborators.
The Broccoli family is synonymous with James Bond films at this point, having been involved in every single film in the main series from 1962 to today, but they're far from the only big names who've stuck around behind the scenes. The history of the Bond series is packed with frequent collaborators who have worked on several films, keeping the behind-the-scenes crew familiar and engaged.
On the directing side, John Glen holds the record for most Bond films directed, with five; he served as editor for three more. Other key frequent players include production designers Ken Adam (seven films) and Peter Lamont (nine films, plus assorted crew work on nine more), screenwriters Richard Maibaum (13 films) and the team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (seven films), title designers Maurice Binder (14 films) and Daniel Kleinman (eight films), and composer John Barry (11 films). One other key player, though, stands out above the rest: Musician Derek Watkins played trumpet on every Bond score from Dr. No in 1962 to Skyfall 50 years later. Watkins, a professional trumpeter since the age of 17, passed away in 2013 at the age of 68.
42. Bond Girls have only returned to the franchise on two occasions.
Bond girls, the love interests that have helped drive the franchise's sex appeal for decades, don't have a long life expectancy, at least in terms of their endurance in the franchise. By the end of each film, the women Bond romances have typically either been killed off, or he has just moved on to other interests, and other women, by the time the next movie rolls around. In the history of the franchise, excluding Lois Maxwell's Moneypenny (who flirts with Bond, but never sleeps with him), Bond girls have only returned for follow-up films twice. The first Bond girl ever, Dr. No's Eunice Gayson, made a brief return as Sylvia Trench in the early minutes of From Russia With Love, then faded from the picture. In 2021, with No Time to Die, Léa Seydoux is reprising her role as Madeleine Swann from Spectre.
43. Only one singer has sung multiple James Bond themes.
Being asked to record the main title song for a James Bond film is a badge of honor at this point, and the job has been taken by everyone from Tom Jones to Adele to Paul McCartney to, most recently, Billie Eilish. In 25 films, though, only one singer has ever been invited back to record more than one title song. In 1964, Shirley Bassey became the first singer to record a Bond theme with vocals for "Goldfinger" (Matt Monro sang "From Russia with Love," but the song was used for the closing credits), going down as a pop culture legend in the process. Bassey then returned two more times for Bond themes with "Diamonds Are Forever" in 1971 and "Moonraker" in 1979. Interestingly, she almost had four Bond theme credits to her name: Before Tom Jones was brought in to sing "Thunderball" in 1965, producers considered a song called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," performed by Bassey, for the main titles.
44. Many actors were almost James Bond.
Six actors have played James Bond in the 25 films by Eon Productions thus far, making it a very rarefied club. But there are quite a few more almost Bonds floating around out there. From the very first casting call to the most recent, numerous major names have screen tested for the role, only to lose out to the eventual star. Among the biggest actors to almost make it: Cary Grant, David Niven (who did go on to play Bond in the spoof film Casino Royale in 1967), Richard Burton, Michael Gambon, Burt Reynolds, James Brolin, Sam Neill, and Ewan McGregor. Hey, there's still time for some of them to make the cut!
45. James Bond’s age is constantly changing.
James Bond is a character who seems perpetually not too young, but not too old. He needs to be old enough to look experienced, but not so old that he looks stiff in a fight; young enough to be seductive, but old enough to look like he knows his way around a hotel casino. Bond's age in any given film is rarely brought up, but over the course of the series the ages of the actors who have played him have varied widely.
Lazenby, who was 29 when he was cast in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, remains the youngest actor to take on Bond for Eon Productions. Though Craig holds the record for longest Bond tenure, with 16 years from casting to final film release, Moore still ranks as the oldest Bond. He was 58 when he announced his retirement from the role in 1985, after 12 years and seven films. For the record, Craig is hanging up his bow tie and shoulder holster at the age of 53, making him the second-oldest Bond in the Eon series.
Additional Sources: Nobody Does It Better: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross (2020); Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury (2015); Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012)