James Bond actor: Six legendary actors who turned down 007

James Bond: Dalton stars in The Living Daylights 1987 trailer

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James Bond is often considered a dream role for an actor, guaranteeing you millions of fans worldwide and a regular job for however many films you like. However, some of the biggest names in Hollywood have turned down the opportunity to ask for their martini shaken, not stirred. Express.co.uk breaks down some of the biggest legends to walk away from 007.

The first actor who played James Bond was Sir Sean Connery, who was 007 for six official canon movies.

After George Lazenby performed the role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Sir Sean returned for one more movie before the baton was handed to Sir Roger Moore.

Sir Roger played Bond in seven films before Timothy Dalton took over for two, after which the baton was handed yet again to another actor, this time Pierce Brosnan in 1995.

He kept the role for four movies until Daniel Craig, the incumbent, took over for 2006’s Casino Royale.

Among these names, however, are a whole host of other stars who either failed to get the role or turned it down.

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Sir Michael Caine

Sir Michael Caine is reported to have turned down the role after being offered it in 1967, at the time George Lazenby was being hired to fill Bond’s shoes.

Previous to this offer, Sir Michael had played Harry Palmer in two movies The Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin, as well as playing womaniser Alfie Elkins in the 1966 movie Alfie.

As a result, Sir Michael was reportedly concerned about being typecast, and while it is not clear if he was offered the role, Sir Michael made it clear it was not for him.

Speaking about playing Bond in 2018, he said: “I was always much more ordinary.

“Bond was a glamorous, imaginative creation. I’ve always played real people.”

Sir Michael Gambon

Sir Michael Gambon, AKA Albus Dumbledore, was also in the running to take over from George Lazenby as Bond, but he didn’t feel he was good looking enough to take over.

He said in a TV interview that he was invited to audition “years ago when I was young and had hair, and was quite thin.”

He continued: “George Lazenby played James Bond but wasn’t very good, so Cubby Broccoli got ten young stage actors, I was one of them, into an office in the West End and interviewed us.

“And I said, ‘I can’t play James Bond because I’m bald, and I’ve got a double chin, and I’ve got girl’s t**s. I’ve got all that you see… he didn’t offer it me.”

Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli went on to explain to Sir Michael how these issues were even so for Sir Sean, and he had to use ice to make the actor puff up his chest before takes, but Sir Michael was nevertheless left out of the role.

Richard Burton

Before even Sir Sean was given the debut James Bond role, British star Richard Burton was in the running.

Ian Fleming was a mega-fan of Richard’s and approached him to take on the role, hoping his James would be ‘brooding’ and dark.

However, given the newness of the idea of this womanising spy, Richard was sceptical of whether it would be a success, ultimately passing on the role.

Legend has it Richard was approached once again after Sir Sean left the franchise, but at this point, his price was too high, so he was passed over for George Lazenby.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood may be best known for his roles in Westerns, but there was once a time he was being considered to take over from George Lazenby.

However, while he was interested in the role, one thing ultimately meant he could not take on the job: his nationality.

He once said of this decision: “I thought James Bond should be British. I am of British descent but by that same token, I thought that it should be more of the culture there and also, it was not my thing.”

It seems he also did not like the idea of being one of the greatest fictional spies ever seen, though he certainly has filled the time since.

Cary Grant

A favourite of Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant was approached at the same time as Clint and Sir Michael but felt his age was in the way of his being able to take the role.

As well as this, he also hoped only to be in one movie, which, given the huge franchise James Bond has become, was likely not an option.

Dana Broccoli, Cubby’s wife, said in a TV documentary: “Cubby knew if he asked Cary to do it, it would be a one-film deal, and then he would have to start all over again, searching for Bond.”

Despite this being an issue, Dana said Cary was their ‘best man’ so this could have been a big blow for the production team.

Christian Bale

In the later years of Bond, when it was known to be a success, there were far fewer actors to have turned down the role.

However, Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale was one of them, joking he had already played a ‘psycho’ before and felt James Bond would be continuing in this trend.

According to Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, Barbara Broccoli eyed Christian for the role, saying it would be “Christian’s for the asking” as they were making Pierce Brosnan’s The World is Not Enough.

However, Christian was not interested, saying he thought Bond represented “every despicable stereotype about England and British actors,” and he had “already played a serial killer” as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

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