The Men Who Could Have Been Bond (Reloaded) - Part 3

Who may have taken on the part of James Bond in For Your Eyes Only if Roger Moore (who only signed at the last minute) had not returned? Which actors were in the frame to become the first Bond of the eighties?
Was Timothy Dalton a candidate for the film that would follow Moonraker? It appears he was but his enthusiasm was lukewarm. "There was a time in the late 1970s, when Roger may not have done another one, for whatever reason. They were looking around then, and I went to see Mr Broccoli in Los Angeles. At that time, they didn't have a script finished and also, the way the Bond movies had gone - although they were fun and entertaining - wasn’t my idea of Bond movies. They had become a completely different entity. I know Roger, and think he does a fantastic job. He was brilliant. Roger is one of the only people in the world who can be fun in the midst of all that gadgetry. But the movies had gone a long way from their roots; they had drifted in a way that was chalk and cheese to Sean. But in truth my favorite Bond movies were always the first three."
A much mentioned potential James Bond in Britain at this time was cult television action man Lewis Collins - star of The Professionals. In the show, Collins played Bodie, an undercover police operative with a military background. Bodie was sardonic, raced around in a Ford Capri, was handy with his fists, and nearly always ended up in a gunfight. Collins shot his last Professionals episode in 1981 (although it wasn't broadcast until 1983) and was moving to the big screen to play an SAS soldier in Who Dares Wins. It's possible that Collins was interviewed for Octopussy rather than For Your Eyes Only but either is quite feasible. Cubby's daughter Barbara, if she had dinner with Martin Shaw in 1978 and asked him to test, would obviously have been aware of Lewis Collins.

Collins later reflected on an awkward interview with Cubby Broccoli that apparently put paid to his chances. "It would be nice to get back to the original Bond, not the character created by Sean Connery - but the one from the books. He's not over-handsome, over-tall. He's about my age and has got my attitudes. I was in Cubby Broccoli's office for five minutes, but it was really over for me in seconds. I have heard since that he doesn't like me. That's unfair. He's expecting another Connery to walk through the door and there are few of them around. I think he's really shut the door on me. He found me too aggressive. I knew it all - that kind of attitude. Two or three years ago that would be the case, purely because I was nervous and defensive. I felt they were playing the producer bit with fat cigars. When someone walks into their office for the most popular film job in the world, a little actor is bound to put on a few airs. If Cubby couldn't see I was being self-protective I don't have faith in his judgment." Collins later made a series of 'Macaroni Combat' action films in Italy (Code Name Wild Geese, Commando Leopard, The Commander) and starred in a Jack the Ripper television miniseries with Michael Caine but he seemed to lose interest in acting in the end, becoming a businessman. If anyone was an obvious choice to play Bond in the early eighties it was Lewis Collins.
The actor Michael Jayston (who had just appeared in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Alec Guinness) said in an interview (many years later) that he was vying with Patrick Mower and Michael Billington to play 007 in For Your Eyes Only. "But then the outgoing star, Roger Moore, decided that he wanted to do more, so none of us got the part." Jayston seems like a strange person to be so close to Bond as he was in his forties and not as handsome as many of the other candidates linked to the part through the decades. He was a polished screen presence though. Jayston would later go on to be a Bond audio book narrator with You Only Live Twice.
Back again for yet another stab at the most famous role in cinema was David Warbeck. Warbeck claimed he did an extensive three day screen test in 1980 for a proposed new Bond film to be directed by John Hough. Warbeck, in his own words, "had to spend three days on a closed set with security men guarding the place! But the audition wasn't terribly wonderful. It was done in a great rush and, anyway, Roger Moore carried on in the part." The happy go lucky Kiwi's Bond dreams were all but extinguished by now. He was in his forties and time was not on his side. For a brief period though, before Roger decided to come back, it seemed as if the keys to the Lotus were his. Warbeck claims at one early stage of what later became For Your Eyes Only he was actually signed to play James Bond.
Here is some more Warbeckian Bond talk from the man himself - "But it's ironic that I was actually contracted to be the new Bond and my director was going to be Johnny Hough, because I had chats with Brocolli and said no, I didn't want to work with John Glen, because I have this problem with directors. John Glen and Martin Campbell, well the younger Martin Campbell, were sort of similar in that they just didn't share my sense of humour and my sense of humour is based on experience and it's based on visual gags. For example, when I did the Bond bits with John Glen, there was a sequence where somebody sticks a gun in my back while I'm on the telephone and I thought it would be a great visual gag if when he says “put your hands up” you've still got the telephone in your hand with the cord attached. And so you whack him with the telephone and then you try to strangle him with the cord while the person on the other end is still talking! You see what I mean? It would have been a good visual as well as well as plot gag, but John Glen wouldn't see that, and that's when I thought “uh oh!” he's not taking my opinions or suggestions which most of my wonderful directors that I adore, like Antonio Margheriti, Lucio Fulci, Fabrizio de Angelis and dear Russ Meyer, were very good at, as was Herman Cohen, because I always look at my film making as a skeleton thing and you come along with your mad ideas and throw them in the pot and stir them up as hard as you can and go for it." Is it possible that Warbeck tested for Octopussy too? Perhaps.

According to director John Hough (speaking on the commentary track for the Watcher in the Woods DVD release), the David Warbeck story is true. "I can't recall what titles they were. What happened was that Roger Moore had entered into dispute with Cubby Broccoli over salary and this was something that was documented in Variety and the trade papers and Roger was looking for a hike in pay, and so, had decided that he wouldn't play Bond again unless he was paid an increase in salary. At this point the Bond company had decided they wouldn't do that and they would go with a new James Bond and a new director. They chose an actor called David Warbeck who was secretly tested. I had directed David Warbeck in a film called Wolfshead (aka Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood), which is a very highly regarded little film. Cubby Broccoli had seen this and had decided that if David Warbeck got to play James Bond then I would get to direct. In fact, they did a two picture deal with me because they were going to do two James Bonds, back-to-back. The idea was, at that particular point, they wouldn't do just one James Bond at time but we were going to do two at a time. And so, two directors would both alternate and do a Bond each and the whole thing was pretty much set up. But before David Warbeck got the chance to sign the contract, Roger Moore had decided that he would go ahead and take the deal that was on the table. I knew that he and I would never work together because we had a dispute on the Saint TV series and we weren't compatible. The chance never arose past that point."
Michael Billington was still firmly in the frame and was still close to the Broccoli family. Billington was about 40 at the time and still capable of stepping into the breach. "Time passed and For Your Eyes Only was on the horizon. By this time the ‘usual suspects’ were gone. John Glen was at the helm; script by Richard Maibaum, close to retirement and Michael G Wilson, a lawyer by profession. The sharp and witty Christopher Woods dialogue was sadly no more. The troops were gathering to go to Corfu to begin filming but Roger was being coy. I think the money was an issue. Cubby had me fitted out with wardrobe and flew me to Corfu. We had a picture shoot." If you look on Getty Images there is a photograph of Billington with Cubby, Dana and (an especially bored and miserable looking) Barbara Broccoli attending a Chariots of Fire party together. Billington is billed as Barbara's boyfriend.
Yes, it's Patrick Mower again. Michael Jayston claims Mower was one of the potential Bonds he was in competition with when he was considered in the early eighties regarding For Your Eyes Only. Mower claims he was in contention up to and including The Living Daylights but this seems hard to believe.
Nicholas Clay, best known for playing Lancelot in John Boorman's Excalibur, is said to have been someone on the radar when Eon were considering a shortlist of Bonds to replace Roger Moore in the early eighties. Clay was about 35 at the time.
In 1973 the smooth Christopher Cazenove played James Bond in Omnibus: The British Hero, a documentary and literary review style show on the BBC. He acted out several scenes from Ian Fleming's novels, including Goldfinger, where James Bond is nearly killed with a chainsaw (as opposed to the laser in the film Goldfinger). Cazenove later played Ben Carrington in the glossy American soap opera Dynasty. Cazenove is sometimes named as one of the actors they thought about as a possible replacement for Roger Moore at this time.
Once again, it was not certain whether or not Roger Moore would be back for the next Bond - which became Octopussy. So once again Eon began looking at alternative options. 1983 was highly unusual as it saw the release of rival Bond films. The long threatened remake of Thunderball was on the horizon in the form of Never Say Never Again.
The biggest factor that Never Say Never Again had was Sean Connery playing James Bond for the first (and last) time since 1971. Eon wanted Roger Moore, who though creaking by now was at least popular and long established in the role, for this mighty Battle of the Bonds. Roger Moore did of course return for Octopussy but who would have taken on Sean Connery in 1983  if he hadn't?
Michael Billington, for the last time it seems, was yet again in the wings to replace Roger Moore should the star not come back after For Your Eyes Only. It seems as if Billington was philosophical about the part of Bond escaping him for good when he viewed Octopussy. "Octopussy rolled around. Roger this time was being extra coy. I tested once more with Deborah Sheldon and Susan Penhaligon but it was purely cosmetic. I didn’t feel John Glen was truly an actors director. And anyway, he seemed more secure with Roger so, in my view; he needed me and any other candidate for that matter, like acute pneumonia. And with all respect, Michael G Wilson was not really a writer. And with all the will in the world, I couldn’t quite see myself, dressed as a Circus Clown clutching a Faberge Egg, and the finale with the ticking time bomb was in my view a resurrected dead turkey, so consequently I was uncharacteristically very, very nervous of the prospects."

James Brolin is one of the few actors who had his 007 screen test released as a DVD extra. Brolin tested for Octopussy and did an extensive audition with John Glen, acting alongside Maud Adams and Vijay Amritraj. Brolin was 43 at the time, dark haired and quite handsome in a mature sort of way. He was known for films like Westworld and Capricorn One. Brolin did his test with an American accent but John Glen said the idea was to get a sense of how he would look and move as Bond and the accent could be worked on later. It is speculated that an offer was made to Brolin and he had begun searching for a house in London but, as we know, Roger Moore returned to shatter his Bond ambitions. It is possible that Brolin was also considered during the For Your Eyes Only casting discussions.
We know that Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins were linked to Bond but what about their lesser known Professionals third wheel Steve Adler? Here is a profile of him from The Professionals website that says he tested for the part: 'When the production team decided to recruit an extra, semi-regular character for the 1980 episodes, actor Steve Alder was hired by casting director Esta Charkham to portray agent Murphy (we never learned his first name!). Tall, dark and handsome – a rival to Bodie for the female fans' affections? Murphy was ostensibly introduced (in the episode 'Blackout') in an attempt to broaden out the CI5 squad, though some fans have postulated that he was brought in as a potential replacement for Martin Shaw! Although Steve appeared in eight episodes, his role often comprised of just occasional lines of dialogue. It would seem the production team and/or LWT weren't fully committed/confident about offering a direct alternative to Lewis or Martin anyway! Indeed, although consideration was given to dropping Martin Shaw from the series, Brian Clemens said that Steve would not have replaced him - rather Mark 1 would have opted for a better-known actor. Steve's best opportunities came in 'Foxhole on the Roof' where Murphy and Bodie climbed a Chambers Wharf factory chimney and 'The Ojuka Situation' when Bodie and Doyle go missing and Murphy is assigned to find them. Whether the original intention was to retain Steve for the 1981 episodes is not clear but by the time they went into production Steve had been cast alongside actress Lorraine Chase in the sitcom The Other 'Arf. Born in 1950, he attended Goodal Secondary School in Leyton, East London. During the late 1960's or early 70s he apparently lived with (or may have actually been married to) model/actress Ayshea Brough who starred in Gerry Anderson's UFO. In 1979 Steve played the lead in a four-part serial for the BBC entitled Kiss the Girls and Make them Cry. It is somewhat surprising that this did not lead to further high-profile roles. After The Professionals came the lame 1985 sit-com Constant Hot Water and other work mainly consisted of minor supporting roles in various dramas. According to one press clipping he auditioned for the role of James Bond at some stage. A few theatrical appearances during the 1970's and 80's are known about but, again, info is very scant indeed. He played in Grease, Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar' at various times. Tragically Steve passed away at the age of 47 on or around 7th March 1997 due to intestinal haemorrhaging."
In the book 'Roger Moore: A Biography' by Roy Moseley, Superman star Christopher Reeve is named as an actor that Broccoli was threatening to replace Roger with at this time if contract negotiations could not be settled. Evidence that Reeve was ever in the running to be Bond remains thin on the ground but there is a fun still of Reeve visiting Moore on the set of Octopussy at Pinewood while he was shooting Superman III.
Daniel Pilon apparently was considered again in the 1980s. Given his age (born in 1940) you'd presume this was for Octopussy or even For Your Eyes Only. By the time of The Living Daylights he would have been too old to be starting out as the new Bond.
Ben Cross is sometimes cited as someone who was considered for James Bond. At this time he was about 34 and had just won acclaim for his portrayal of the British Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. It seems reasonable to deduce that if Cross was spoken of it was probably for the film that become Octopussy. Any evidence that he was ever up for the part is nebulous.

Oliver Tobias looked set for stardom in the seventies but blamed an appearance in the trashy soft porn Joan Collins film The Stud for typecasting him as shallow beefcake. Tobias had one last shot at superstardom when he was brought in to test for Octopussy. The Swiss born actor was in his early thirties. In 2003, a poster on the Brit Movie Forum told this story - "About twenty odd years ago I was working near Pinewood and used to sneak in and use the canteen. Over a sunny week I watched James Brolin and Oliver Tobias do screen tests for James Bond. Directed, it looked like, by the stuntman Martin Grace. It involved beating up Clive Curtis on a lavish room set. Due to the hot weather, tables and chairs were out on the patio and the french windows of the bar opened out onto the garden. As I sat taking in the life of the stars with a coke and packet of dry roasted peanuts I noticed a lonely person sitting quietly under a Skol Lager brolly having a light ale. It was Oliver Tobias. After a while he was joined by a middle-aged lady with a metal cash box. The lady sat down opened the box and counted out some cash. She gave him the money and he signed a page of foolscap. She then left. The whole thing took about a minute. He then got up went to the bar where Martin Grace and the rest of the Crew were drinking and started chatting. I went past the restaurant and as I left I could see, through the window, James Brolin sitting with some suits having a meal."
Anthony Andrews is another actor often presumed to have been up for the part of Bond somewhere around this time. It's possible he was discussed but equally possible there was no thought of him playing Bond. Andrews was in his thirties at the time and basking in the success of Brideshead Revisited. He later turned down the lead role in the television series Remington Steele because he didn't want to relocate to the United States. The part was taken by Pierce Brosnan instead.
The Living Daylights was the 25th anniversary Bond film and the first since 1973 that would not feature Roger Moore. It was finally time for Roger to bow out and make way for a younger Bond. The producers thought they had solved the Bond casting riddle early on when Pierce Brosnan officially signed on to play 007 in The Living Daylights. Brosnan had begun his 007 costume fittings when fate intervened in cruel fashion. His television show Remington Steele - a piece of eighties fluff that had Brosnan as a suave pseudo private eye - was ailing in the ratings and on the way out but the studio decided to cash in on the publicity surrounding Brosnan and James Bond and optioned a new series just as Brosnan's contract was about to expire. Brosnan was furious and his Bond dream was (until 1994 anyway) shattered.
Timothy Dalton, a serious looking classically trained stage actor who was best known now for playing Prince Barin in campy cult classic Flash Gordon, was the eventual replacement for Brosnan. Dalton had existing theatrical commitments in the West End and so was not an early contender for The Living Daylights but when he unexpectedly became available again he was signed by Eon. But who would it have been if they hadn't got Dalton? Who could have been the fourth big screen James Bond?
The original script treatment for what became The Living Daylights featured Bond as a young officer in the Royal Navy. Michael G Wilson was the main driver of this concept - a reboot that would show us how Bond met M, Q and Moneypenny for the first time. Mark Greenstreet was in his twenties and had just acted in a miniseries called Brat Farrar. Greenstreet was tested at Pinewood for the 'young Bond' film that never was.
Michael Praed, the star of Robin Sherwood, said many years later that he had tested for The Living Daylights. Praed said he did his Bond audition with Fiona Fullerton.
The tall dark haired Stephen Hartley, later to become best known as Superintendent Tom Chandler in police series The Bill, claims he tested for the part when Roger Moore left but was thought to be too young (Hartley would have been in his mid twenties at the time).

Marcus Gilbert was a suave young actor with male model good looks who had appeared in The Masks of Death (starring Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes) and Biggles: Adventures in Time. He was soon to sign on for a part in Rambo III and became a heart-throb on the small screen when he starred in the miniseries Riders. Years later a website devoted to Gilbert said that he had told them he was contacted twice by the James Bond people in 1986 to discuss the part but lost out in the end to Timothy Dalton.
A poster on a sci-fi forum once mentioned that Dirk Benedict, star of The A-Team, told him he'd turned down the part of Bond when Roger Moore left. Benedict would have been about 40 when they had to pick a Bond for The Living Daylights. Was Benedict at least considered in the eighties? It's possible and he was no stranger to Britain after just shooting an episode of Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense in London.
Northern Ireland born New Zealander Sam Neill was the choice of many at Eon Productions - except Cubby Broccoli it seems. The television series Reilly, Ace Of Spies and a suave turn as the diabolical Damien Thorn in Omen III suggested Neill was up to the task of being James Bond and he was asked to film a screen test. However, Neill's screen test (which, like James Brolin's, was made public as a DVD extra) did not go well. Neill came across as wooden and disinterested and Cubby Broccoli, who was never enthused about Neill in the first place, ended any thoughts of the actor becoming Bond. Many years later Neill said he was badgered into the test by a pushy agent and didn't even want to play James Bond. "It was one of the worst days of my life. I didn't want to be there, and I was so uncomfortable all day. There was nothing good about the day at all."
In an interview with Bobby Rivers in 1988, Mel Gibson mentioned that he'd turned down Bond a few times because he found it boring. In the 1980s Gibson was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and didn't exactly need James Bond (a part which is usually given to an up and coming actor or television star). Gibson seemed to imply that he'd passed on Timothy Dalton's part because Bond wasn't mentally stimulating enough. That's a bit rich coming from a man who was happy to make endless Lethal Weapon films! Tom Mankiewicz, writer on Bond films for Cubby Brocoli, had a different version of events. He said that Gibson wanted to do Bond but that Broccoli thought the actor was too short. Broccoli is said to have remarked that he wanted to "make a James Bond movie not a Mel Gibson movie."
Trevor Eve, the star of TV's Shoestring (a British detective series), is sometimes listed as a candidate to play Bond in The Living Daylights. Eve was in his mid thirties and a respected stage actor. Eve denies that he was tested but said he had a very informal meeting with the producers. It's hard to imagine Trevor Eve as James Bond to be honest.
The French actor Christophe Lambert was apparently tested for The Living Daylights. Lambert, who was born in New York (his father was a diplomat at the United Nations) and raised in Switzerland, was about 30 at the time and had featured in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan Lord of the Apes, Highlander, and Subway. According to IMDB, he was John Glen's first choice for the role. They did later work together on a 2001 film called The Point Men. It is believed that Lambert's French accent put paid to his chances. His height (5'9) and limited acting range probably didn't help.

Lambert Wilson, another French actor, was also in contention. He was in his late twenties and acted with Sean Connery in the 1982 film Five Days One Summer. Wilson screen tested for The Living Daylights, appearing in test footage opposite Maryam d'Abo as Tatiana Romanova, re-enacting scenes from From Russia with Love. Wilson's better English and (to be frank) better acting presumably made him a more serious contender than Christophe Lambert. Wilson later became best known to film audiences for the Matrix sequels.
The Australian actor Andrew Clarke, who played Simon Templar in a 1987 TV film pilot, was one of several Australian actors in contention to play James Bond in The Living Daylights. In his memoirs John Glen said - "The strongest Australian contenders included a young unknown called Finlay Light, Andrew Clarke was more experienced and was a front runner for quite some time, but after a while he had enough and left." Clarke's reasoning was this - "I looked at the contract and it said: ‘Double this and halve that.' It was still ridiculous. I was interested in playing Bond... but they wouldn't accept my terms." Clarke seems to have mostly worked in his native Australia. In 2005 he had a stint in the long running Aussie soap opera Neighbours.
Another Australian, Bryan Brown, was apparently floated by Barbara Broccoli as a potential new Bond for The Living Daylights. Brown was quite a big name for a time in the 1980s thanks to films like F/X and (later on) Cocktail with Tom Cruise. He was best known to audiences at the time for his role as Luke O'Neil in The Thorn Birds with Richard Chamberlain. It's hard to imagine him as Bond though, competent actor that he is.
Bond fans often wondered if Finlay Light existed. A newspaper article at the time claimed he had signed a ten year deal to become James Bond. This didn't happen but when Dalton was cast and the name Finlay Light vanished without trace you could be forgiven for wondering if he was even a real person. It turns out that he was. In John Glen's memoir the director says that Light - an Australian model - was a contender and a decent one too. In recent years a picture of Light has appeared on the internet just to confirm that he was indeed real and wasn't just a figment of John Glen's imagination.
John James, a 30 year old American actor who played Jeff Colby in the popular soap opera Dynasty, was mentioned in showbiz reports at the time as someone being considered as the replacement for Roger Moore. John James was also heavily speculated to be the choice of the Salkinds to replace Christopher Reeve as Superman should Reeve depart the franchise. We can sort of say he was the Henry Cavill of the eighties - only with much less success.

Anthony Hamilton was a London born Australian dancer, model and actor. Hamilton attracted the interest of Eon and was - according to some stories - very close to being their preferred choice to be the next Bond. The good looking Hamilton was about 35 at the time. He took over the main role in the series Cover Up after the death of the series' lead actor Jon-Erik Hexum and had a small part in Jumpin' Jack Flash with Whoopi Goldberg. Though a strong candidate who they were apparently impressed with it is alleged or speculated that Hamilton's sexuality may have harmed his chances of playing the part.
Robert Bathurst, later best known for the television show Cold Feet, claims he tested to play Bond for The Living Daylights but suspected it was only to put pressure on Timothy Dalton to make a decision. It's hard to imagine he was a serious contender. Bathurst was about 30 at the time and had mostly appeared in comedy shows. "Oh, that was such a ludicrous audition," said Bathurst. "I could never have done it - Bond actors are always very different to me. But some casting director persuaded me to go. The thing was, they already had Timothy Dalton. But I think he hadn’t signed yet so they wanted to tell him, ‘They’re still seeing people, you know,’ to put pressure on him to sign. I was just an arm-twisting exercise."
The suave Simon MacCorkindale, actor in films like The Riddle of the Sands and Jaws 3, was linked to the part of Bond many times and even Roger Moore named him as a possible successor. MacCorkindale was 34 at the time. He had a habit of booming his lines too loudly but all the same he seemed like a contender. However, in a 2005 interview (mostly about the television series Falcon Crest) MacCorkindale said that no one had ever tried to lure him into the Bond role. It seems the speculation was just that. It's possible that he was at least discussed though. Eighties kids might have fond memories of MacCorkindale in the short lived series Manimal.
Neil Dickson, who played Biggles in 1986's would be Bond style franchise starter Biggles: Adventures in Time, is often said to have been considered around this time. Dickson's lack of height might have counted against him.
It appears that a young Sean Bean had an informal chat about the part of Bond for The Living Daylights. He would be a much more serious contender the next time the role became available.
- MC

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