Hollywood Gothique
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Who was Bond – and who wasn't…

In answer to a reader’s question, the TV Guide column FlickChick has a long answer about which actors played the role of James Bond on screen, when and why they were cast, and why other actors in the running never made it. It’s interesting reading, if a bit muddle in its chronology: at one point, we’re told Timothy Dalton had to turn down an offer to play the part because he was committed to BRENDA STARR (1989) – even though he appeared in the 1989 007 film LICENSE TO KILL.

Among the interesting never-weres:

  • Patrick MacGoohan, who played a secret agent in DANGER MAN and THE PRISONER
  • Richard Johnson, who was excellent in the 1963 version of THE HAUNTING, before before his career descended into low-budget Italian horror flicks
  • Sam Neill, who ended up playing a real-life character that supposedly inspired Ian Fleming – REILLY: ACE OF SPIES
  • Julian Glover, who eventually got to play a Bond baddie in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
  • And perhaps most incredibly, David Warbeck, a relatively obscure actor known mostly to fans of Euro-trash cinema, In his autobiography, Warbeck apparently claimed he was a perpetual understudy, ready to step in at a moment’s notice if negotiations broke down with whoever the current Bond star was. 

The article neglects to mention Barry Nelson, who played the part in a made-for-television special basedon CASINO ROYALE, years before the films started. It also leaves out the numerous people who played variations of James Bond (David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen) in the feature film spoofy CASINO ROYALE. (Curiously, the Cinematical website has a post linking to the FlickChick column, in which they inadvertently conflate the adaptations of CASINO ROYALE, saying that Barry Nelson played “Jimmy Bond” in the tele-version. The name “Jimmy Bond” is actually given to Woody Allen in the movie version; he’s supposed to be 007’s jealous newphew.)