The Man Who Could Have Been Bond - By Robert

Some time ago, this website produced an article called The Men Who Could Have Been Bond, a self-explanatory piece all about the actors who were linked to the role of James Bond but, for some reason or other, never got to don the tuxedo and order a vodka martini in front of the camera. Such exercises, as fun as they are and as hard as they try, can never entirely be comprehensive because there are bound to be many meetings and conversations with or about actors that remained private. We all know that, for example, James Brolin was in the running to be James Bond because we've seen test footage of him as 007 but there are many actors who have been looked at or spoken to by Bond producers over the years in a more surreptitious way. I was recently lucky enough to discover a 'Bond that might have been' I wasn't previously aware of myself when I had the pleasure of speaking to Guy Peters. Guy was a stage actor with some television experience and in the early seventies came to the attention of a casting agent who knew the James Bond role was going to be up for grabs again after the departure of George Lazenby.
Taking up the story, Guy told me, "Having left Cartier the Court Jewellers, I had gained an Actors Equity card and appeared in TV commercials both here and abroad, worked as an extra in various films and at the Royal Opera House. I had previous stage experience too. My stage name at the time was Peter Laughton and that was the name on my Equity card - later changed back to Guy Peters. The reason for the stage name was that I am related to the late, great, actor Charles Laughton on my mother's side of the family. It came about that, on the 26th April, 1972, Mayfair (8, Hill Street) casting agent Alan Foenander, met me and thought I'd make a good Bond. He arranged a four way meeting between the producer 'Cubby' Broccoli, director Guy Hamilton, himself and me. The meeting took place at EON productions' then headquarters at 2, South Audley Street, Mayfair on 1st May, 1972.
At the interview, Cubby Broccoli asked me about military service. I pointed out that conscription was stopped one year before I would have been called up, so I never did National Service. However, I was a cadet in the ATC as a lad! He asked me about my acting experience in general and what parts I had played. I can't readily recall the whole conversation - after all, it was thirty nine years ago this month! The film director Guy Hamilton was present and asked me questions too. Cubbi Broccoli said that had he met me when they were looking for a new face, they might have used me instead of Lazenby but, now, they might want a known face to play Bond. Afterwards, the man who had arranged the interview, Alan Foenander (casting agent), said that the interview went well and they would be in touch."
A certain Sir Roger Moore though was to end the Bond dream of Guy and a number of other actors around that time, including, so Bond lore has it, UFO star Michael Billington and Jeremy (best Sherlock Holmes of all time) Brett. The producers felt that the next Bond probably had to have some name recognition and were perhaps wary of repeating the Lazenby experiment. Although Lazenby had done a creditable job and they were more than happy to use him again (it must be stressed too that OHMSS was far from being a box office bomb despite it sometimes being portrayed this way) his abrupt departure from the series after one film and sometimes less than professional behaviour clearly made someone like a Roger Moore look like a very safe pair of hands and an attractive option at the time.

"I finally learnt that it was to be Roger Moore's first outing as Bond," explained Guy. “On this point, I had heard that they were considering Moore before I had my interview and mentioned this fact to Cubby Broccoli. He said that Moore was known as The Saint and couldn't be Bond too!" What did he make of Broccoli and Hamilton at the interview? "My first impression of Cubby Broccoli and Guy Hamilton, when I walked into their office, was that they looked more like City types, in their dark suits, than my idea of a film men. I guess my idea of producers and directors was formed by seeing American film directors casually dressed in flowered shirts and wearing baseball caps! I felt that Guy Hamilton had a warmth about him and was very human. I liked him and could have worked with him. Cubby Broccoli, on the other hand, was a bit remote and unfathomable."
What does Guy think about the iconic series he could potentially have been a part of? "My favourite Bond and Bond films were the Sean Connery films with From Russia with Love being my all time favourite. I have stood near Connery in the flesh and was very impressed. He was not dressed particularly smartly and his hair was thinning in the front. However, he is very tall and broad with it! He has a face that looks as if it has been carved out of granite. His eyebrows arch and deep grooves in his face lead down to a broad mouth. For such a large man, he moves with a panther like grace. If he had never gone into acting and had just been truck driver, he would still have been a charismatic man who turned heads. As far as I'm concerned all the other Bonds were 'also rans' of varying talents. Some very good in their own way some not so good. No names, no pack drill. But, without a doubt, Connery has always been the man to beat and, in my opinion, no one has come close."
"I think the books and early films were about a character called James Bond. The later films, were about 'action' with the character coming second and being carried by events and special effects. If I had been asked to play Bond, I would have hoped they reverted to a character lead role rather than an action/special effects lead film. I couldn't hope to have emulated Connery and it would have been a mistake to have tried. However, I would have tried within my own personality to capture a character who was a slight outsider; his own man. A man with a mixture of sophistication and toughness. A man with a laconic turn of phrase adept at those one-liner quips that Connery did so well. I always thought the man who SHOULD have played Bond, because he looked most like the strip cartoon character of James Bond drawn by John McLusky in the early Daily Express series (before the films came out), was the Canadian actor Lee Patterson. He was in several films in the UK back in the fifties then moved to America where he starred in several TV series. Strangely, he was never mentioned in relation to the Bond films."
And what has Guy been up to since his brush with the incredible world of James Bond? "Later in life, I went back into full-time higher education and gained a BA (hons) degree in Writing for Film and Television. I then wrote to Barbara Broccoli telling her how I met her father and in what circumstances. I asked if I could work as a writer on the Bond films. I didn't receive a reply! The American actor Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for his part in the film Ed Wood, was a great drinking buddy of mine while he was over here, with his wife Barbara Bain, making the TV series Space 1999. In recent years, I've worked as a journalist on both newspapers and glossy magazines."

Guy as he is today
(photo: Nigel Cheffers-Heard)

So there you have it. Guy Peters. Another man who might have been Bond! How many more might be out there?
- Robert
* Many thanks to Guy Peters for sharing some of his recollections and answering some questions for this article.


c 2011 Alternative 007