The Men Who Could Have Been Bond (Reloaded) - Part 4

In 1994 Timothy Dalton announced he did not wish to return to the role of 007. The gap between his last film was too long and he wished to move on. Whether he jumped or was pushed is another issue but Timothy was out. Enter Pierce Brosnan - again. Brosnan had originally been cast as James Bond in 1986 for The Living Daylights but a television contract was re-activated at the last minute and Brosnan had to reluctantly go back to shooting Remington Steele instead of doing Bond.
Dalton had replaced him and played Bond in The Living Daylights but now the situation was reversed and Brosnan was replacing Dalton. The James Bond rumours had followed the actor for several years and now for 1995's GoldenEye he would finally take the role he had coveted for so long. Brosnan did not though have a completely clear run at the part. Eon tested, sounded out, and sized up many actors before making their choice. So who might have played Bond in GoldenEye if it hadn't been Pierce Brosnan?
Liam Neeson claims that he was contacted about playing Bond in the early nineties. “I was heavily courted, let’s put it that way, and I’m sure some other actors were too,” he said. “It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be [Natasha Richardson] said, ‘If you play James Bond we’re not getting married!’ And I had to take that on board, because I did want to marry her.” Neeson was about 35 at the time and a respected and in demand actor through films like Schindler's List. Neeson further claimed that he wasn't interested in the part because he didn't want to make action films. There's a nice irony there given his late career resurgence as an action star.
It's crazy old Mel Gibson again. Stories persist that Gibson was offered the part of James Bond in 1994 before Brosnan. It's possible the Gibson stories come from an early nineties report that producer Joel Silver wanted to buy the James Bond franchise and cast Gibson. Strange to believe Eon still wanted to cast Gibson after he so publicly dissed the franchise on Bobby Rivers.
Eddie Murphy apparently made an unlikely pitch to become the new Bond in the early nineties. Here's a blog post from Billy Ingram. "Back in 1992 I was working on the movie poster for 'Boomerang' (art directed by Alex Swart), a film starring Eddie Murphy. Eddie was always a problem, he wouldn't do photo shoots and hired a relative to do the on set photography that we had to use. It was bad, especially for our use. So we were already severely limited. 'Boomerang' was a romantic comedy but word came down from Paramount - Eddie had to be seen in a tux for the poster, and we should make him look as distinguished as possible - because Eddie wants to be the next James Bond!"
nathaniel parker james bond
Later to become familiar to television viewers for his role in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Nathaniel Parker was one of the many young British actors considered for GoldenEye. Quite suave and posh with black hair, Parker was a fairly obvious person to consider. At the time he'd done a lot of theatre work and had a small part in the Kevin Costner film The Bodyguard. Parker later said that he would love to be James Bond but it wasn't to be.
Sean Bean apparently came very close to playing Bond in GoldenEye. The actor was known for his Sharpe historical adventure television series and had recently played a villain in the Harrison Ford film Patriot Games. He was about 35 years old. It is alleged that producer Barbara Broccoli wanted Bean to play Bond but was overruled (at this stage Barbara Broccoli's parents were still alive and she didn't have the absolute power over the franchise that she does now) and didn't get her way. This speculation has some slither of credibilty given that she picked Daniel Craig - another 'bit of rough' blond actor  - when she finally took custody of the series. As compensation, Bean was given the part of 006 in the film.
Alan Rickman is often said to have auditioned to be James Bond in the nineties as a potential Dalton replacement. Rickman would have been in his late forties and not the most obvious Bond candidate. It seems more likely that he was contacted for the part that became Alec Trevelyan but ultimtely declined the invitation.
A young James Purefoy was considered for GoldenEye and for some remains one of the best James Bonds we never had. Purefoy would later come into consideration again when Pierce Brosnan was ejected from the role. At the time Purefoy was still a young television actor trying to make his way. An appearance in The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes was probably his most visible part.
Charles Dance is a strange one as Dance - who played a villain in For Your Eyes only and Ian Fleming in 1990 - claims he was asked to test for the part when Timothy Dalton left. Dance would have been in his mid forties at the time. He apparently declined the offer on the advice of his agent. "She (my agent) might have been right. I don't know that it would have ruined my career, but I am not sure I was right (for the part) anyway."
Jason Isaacs, later best known for his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, was noted in newspaper reports of the time as someone who tested for GoldenEye. In 1994 Issacs was a little known British television actor and 31 years old. Eon can be afforded credit then in sensing the potential of Isaacs - who went on to become a prolific film actor. We got a glimpse of what Isaacs might have looked like as Bond when he played the suave undercover spy Clark Devlin in the weak Jackie Chan comedy The Tuxedo in 2002. Isaacs was frequently a popular Bond contender with fans - who sensed that the actor would have brought a darker edge to the part reminiscent of Timothy Dalton.
jeremy northam james bond
The suave Jeremy Northam was apparently sounded out for GoldenEye. He was in his early thirties at the time. In a 2008 interview with the Scotsman, Northam commented that his father's death made him take himself out of the running to be James Bond. It is possible that he was considered again post GoldenEye but Northam's desire for privacy might have made him a difficult person to sign. Northam was very James Bondish as the villain in the Sandra Bullock film The Net around this time. He would have been a viable option around 1995 had he been more interested in the part.
Adrian Paul was the popular star of the Highlander television series. For years he was a relatively frequent fan suggestion in next 007 polls and lists thanks to his action man status and a sort of resemblance to a young Sean Connery. His limited acting ability was his Achilles heel. In 2016, at a convention called Las Vegas Wizard World, Adrian Paul was asked about James Bond and said that he had an interview with the producers to discuss the part before Pierce Brosnan was cast. It is sometimes said that he was also considered in 2005 but he would probably have been too old (Paul was born in 1959) to have been a candidate for Casino Royale.
Colin Wells was best known for the terrible revival of the cult British TV series The Professionals. Wells was used as a stand in for Bond during casting calls. He was given a test for GoldenEye but it was always a long shot for Wells. He seems to have plunged into obscurity since he was linked to Bond.
Mark Frankel was born in London in 1962. After a brief career as a professional tennis player, he turned to acting. He was performing in the play Days of Cavafy (above a pub) when he was spotted by casting director Jerry Landon. "One minute I was cycling to the theatre and playing to 40 people," he explained, "the next I was flying to Italy to film the mini-series 'Michelangelo' (in the title role)." He next appeared in another mini-series, Young Catherine, with Julia Ormond and Vanessa Redgrave, and clocked up appearances in such BBC productions as Vanity Dies Hard and Maigret. In 1992 he starred in the well received film Leon the Pig Farmer and in 1994 Frankel played a Bondish spy in the short lived television series Fortune Hunter. Handsome and muscular, Frankel was tested for GoldenEye and seemed to have a bright future. He did not get the part of Bond though. Tragically, Frankel, an avid motorcyclist, died in a motorbike accident on the 24th of September 1996.

There was a time when Greg Wise was the bookies favourite to be the next Bond after Brosnan but by the time Brosnan left the part Wise was no longer a major contender. Wise was tested for GoldenEye and that appears to have been his best and only chance. "It would be great to do it," he said in the late nineties "The producers saw me after Timothy Dalton left, but I had these very unsexy sideburns for some period thing, which spoilt my chances."
In a 2000 interview in Boxing Monthly magazine, former IBF cruiserweight world champion, actor, and Sky pundit Glenn McCrory spoke of reading for the part of James Bond in 1994. McCrory had appeared in children's show Press Gang, medical soap drama Casualty and a couple of TV movies. In the next few years he made appearances in Gerry Anderson's Space Precinct and Our Friends in the North. He was 6'4 and handsome but his limited acting experience must have gone against him. I wonder if he tested using his Geordie accent?
Paul McGann seems to have had a lot of bad luck as an actor. His scenes in the theatrical version of Alien 3 were mostly cut and took him from a major character to someone in the film for five minutes, his role as Doctor Who in a TV film pilot amounted to no series, and he lost the part of Sharpe to Sean Bean when he got injured. It is widely reported now that McGann was the back up choice to Pierce Brosnan for GoldenEye although McGann has always been strangely silent on the issue. McGann, a fine actor in films like Withnail & I, probably had the charm and acting chops to make a decent fist of the part.
Ralph Fiennes later played M in the Bond films. He was a pretty big star around 1994 and had some informal talks with Eon about the part of James Bond. These do not seem to have gone very far and Fiennes never seemed to express any particular interest in the part. “There was a conversation that was great and a meeting with Cubby Broccoli, that was terrific,” said Fiennes. “I think that’s all I can say, except that it didn’t lead to anything on both sides. I don’t think I felt ready to commit and I think they were looking at Pierce [Brosnan].” A few years later he was panned for his wooden and charisma free turn as John Steed in a big screen version of The Avengers. Perhaps Fiennes saw missing out on Bond as a lucky escape. His heart didn't seem to in such comic book roles.
Hugh Grant was a hot ticket at the time thanks to Four Weddings a Funeral. It was unavoidable that his name would feature in speculation. It does seem as if it was mostly hot air, unwarranted fabrication and gossip by the press. "I was never offered James Bond, sadly," said a jesting Grant in 2014. "Which is a shame, because I think I would look nice in a white tuxedo. And I do love to kill." Though suave in spades, it's hard to think that Grant had the right acting persona for Bond anyway and would have struggled to convince in the physicality stakes.
It appears that Dougray Scott was in the running to replace Pierce Brosnan before the film that became Die Another Day was made. "They first talked to me about it five years ago but then Pierce Brosnan wanted another go," said Scott in 2006. He appears to have been someone that they very much had in mind for the next Bond during Brosnan's run.
Russell Crowe, then the hottest actor in the world for a time thanks to his part as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, was the object of a flurry of speculation in 2001 and 2002 about him replacing Brosnan. Former 007 director John Glen said that Crowe would be the perfect Bond. Nothing much came of any of this.
In 2001 there were a gaggle of stories claiming that Friends star Matthew Perry was going to be the new James Bond. These stories turned out to be nonsense. “The report is that I’m the next James Bond? Really? Don’t you have to have a British accent to be the next James Bond? I could possibly be James Bond? I don’t know. Is that really a rumor?”
Tall and posh with a matinee idol look, Jonathan Cake was touted as a potential new Bond at this time. Cake had put himself on the map with a commanding performance as Oswald Mosley in a British television miniseries. Some Bond sites even listed Cake as someone who had been considered or tested. Years later though, in an interview with an American theatre magazine, Cake was asked about James Bond and said that no one had ever made any contact with him concerning the part.
On the 14th of October, 2005, British actor Daniel Craig was unveiled as the sixth James Bond. But who would have played Bond if Daniel Craig had been abducted by aliens or shipwrecked on a desert island? Who potentially could have been the new Bond in Casino Royale?
Ralph Fiennes was again spoken to prior to the Casino Royale reboot. Clearly nothing much came out of it as he didn't seem to figure much in next Bond speculation around this time. Fiennes was now getting too old for what they had in mind.
john barrowman james bond
The Torchwood and Doctor Who star John Barrowman says that he auditioned for the part of James Bond in 2002 as a potential replacement for Brosnan down the line. They told him he was too young. “I actually met with the Broccoli family. I did the audition in my Scottish accent, to emulate Sean Connery. They were bowled over, but said I’d have to wait 15 years to be right for the part.” Despite this Barrowman doesn't seem to have been a contender for Casino Royale.
Orlando Bloom was later said to have been someone the studio were interested in but that Eon were not. Bloom was about 28 at the time but looked even younger than that.
The inexplicably successful and very annoying pop star Robbie Williams made a pitch to be James Bond early in the new century. It's safe to say his chances of getting the part were zero. Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams poured ice cold water on his 007 pipe dream. "Robbie Williams, bless him, I don't think is quite what we're looking for," she said.
In 2002, The Sunday People reported that pop star and Eastenders 'bad boy' Martin Kemp was in the running to replace Pierce Brosnan in the next film. Kemp's agent had supposedly spoken to "the people who make the Bond films". Kemp does not appear to have been a contender for the role though leading us to suspect that this might have been some promotional mischief by a shrewd agent.
In 2002 there were unlikely stories that dull 'Heartbeat hunk' Jason Durr was set to replace Pierce Brosnan. Heartbeat was a British television sunday night soap/drama series set in the 1960s about rural folk. Here's a typical example of the speculation: 'Pierce Brosnan is set to be replaced as James Bond by Heartbeat hunk Jason Durr, according to reports. Durr has told friends that he is earmarked to take over the role from Brosnan, who is currently filming the latest Bond flick. Durr, 34, has played policeman Mike Bradley in Heartbeat for four years - but is set to give up the role after the next series because he feels it is limiting his chances of becoming the next James Bond. He has told friends that he has already auditioned for the role as Bond, according to a report in today's Star newspaper.' Keep dreaming Jason.
In 2003 there were reports that young Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was in line to be the next Bond. Rhys-Meyers later featured in Mission Impossible III and showed that he wasn't a bad shout at all for a young Bond. 
2003 was full of gossip that Jude Law was set to be the first choice when it came to replacing Brosnan. Law was quick to set the record straight. He said that he didn't think the part was right for him and would constrict his freedom to do different parts.
In 2003 there were reports that 31 year old Irish actor Stuart Townsend was being lined up as a potential replacement. Townsend was about to feature as Dorian Gray in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The reports turned out to be false.
In a 2004 interview, Pierce Brosnan suggested Colin Farrell as his replacement. The ubiquitous Farrell had this to say in response - "I think Pierce is just messing with me, causing me a lot of grief. Pierce Brosnan f**ked me on this. Nah. They would never offer it to me anyway, so I wouldn't even go there."
Rupert Everett's name was thrown around in the press when it became clear that Brosnan might not be coming back. Everett had this to say - “I'd like to play James Bond, but straight. It won't happen because Bond fans would burn down MGM if the studios got a gay actor to play James Bond. There was never going to be an alternative gay Bond either. That never happened.” Everett was already too old to be a serious contender.
In 2004, Michael Madsen, who starred in Die Another Day, said his friend Pierce Brosnan had been axed as Bond and a young Australian actor was replacing him. After some amateur sleuthing, everyone decided this was 25 year old Heath Ledger. It was an interesting and not unbelievable piece of gossip. Eon were looking for a young actor and Ledger was highly regarded. Ledger soon dismissed the speculation though and said he wasn't interested in the part.
Christian Bale was by now tied up as the lead in Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot. There was still a lot of speculation about him and Bond and whispers that he was someone they wanted to do it. In an interview for Esquire many years later Bale debunked the Bond stories. ESQ: Is it true you were offered Bond before Daniel Craig? BALE: No. I've never heard of that.

Cristian Solimeno is an English actor best known for the trashy Footballer's Wives. Martin Campbell is said to have liked him as a candidate. It's hard to believe that he got very deep into the selection process though. Several years later he took a part in the teen soap Hollyoaks so his career doesn't seem to have gone very far since 2005.
Joseph Fiennes was another member of the Fiennes dynasty. He was apparently approached in 2005 but had no interest in the part. Fiennes was in his mid thirties and best known for his portrayal of William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Steven Brand, best known as the main villain in the film The Scorpion King, was named in 2005 as a surprise candidate to replace Pierce Brosnan. Brand was 37 at the time and had mostly worked in television. His website later said the following: 'After James Bond performer Pierce Brosnan retired, Steven was considered for the job as new ‘007' for ‘Casino Royale’ in 2005, but – as everyone might know – they’ve chosen Daniel Craig.'
In 2005 there were countless stories that American 'theatre star' Rikki Lee Travolta was going to be the new James Bond. These stories turned out to be absolute nonsense. Here is what Travolta had to say years later: "I had agreed to do a cameo appearance in a film called Crime Fiction. A few days after filming my scene, a story appeared on the Internet that I had been summoned from the set of Crime Fiction to fly to England to shoot a screen test for James Bond. Nothing of the sort had happened. I had never even been contacted for a screen test for Bond, much less having executed one. Suddenly, there were countless press releases claiming to be from my manager on my being courted to be the next Bond. None of that was true, the press releases were totally fabricated and not from my camp at all."
James Purefoy was one of the first people to discuss becoming the new Bond with the producers after the departure of Pierce Brosnan. Purefoy had branched out into films by now and played parts in some modestly high profile movies like A Knight's Tale and Resident Evil. Casino Royale would be his last shot at getting the part of 007. It wasn't to be. “The room is very Bondesque: wood pannelling, big table. You sit there trying to be as serious and panther-like as you can, just letting them look at you. They asked what I thought should be changed and I was eight minutes into my soliloquy when I noticed they were all staring at my legs. Being a ludicrous, over-excited boy of 42, I was kicking them like a child. I realised there was no hope.”
Colin Salmon played Bond's MI6 colleague Robinson in the Pierce Brosnan films and made no secret of the fact that he would love to take over as 007 when Brosnan left. Salmon played Bond during screen tests to cast actresses and took action man roles in films like Resident Evil and Alien v Predator. He was in his early forties when the role came up. Despite Salmon's enthusiasm it doesn't appear as if his Bond dream came very came close to being granted. It might have been too strange for Charles Robinson to suddenly be James Bond in the next film.
Colin Firth was frequently the object of Bond speculation around this time. He was already too mature though for what they had in mind for Casino Royale and years later said he'd never been approached. Firth's part as suave but deadly secret agent Harry Hart/Galahad in Matthew Vaughn's 2014 film Kingsmen showed that Firth - sometimes typecast as a period heartthrob - was a surprisingly great action hero.
Around 2005 there was a lot of speculation that Scottish actor Ewan Stewart was one of the final candidates to play Bond in Casino Royale. It was a bizarre theory as Stewart was 47 and didn't look much like James Bond. A few years later, Stewart finally revealed why his name had been thrown into the gossip surrounding the next Bond. "I was officially 7-1 on at the bookies to be the next Bond, and I really wish I'd put a bet against myself because the truth is I was never in the running. In fact they wanted someone to read opposite the potential Bonds. They had an assortment of people going through the audition process, there were two days of full-on screen tests and they needed an actor to read the part of the baddie. And somehow word gets out that I'm up for the part. I've never broken silence on it until now. I just pretended it was a serious consideration. Why not? Who wouldn't want to be Bond?"
henry cavill james bond
Henry Cavill was relatively obscure and had small roles in films The Count of Monte Cristo and I Capture the Castle plus some television appearances. Cavill's big break could have come earlier when he was cast as Superman in McG's proposed 2004 film Superman: Flyby. When McG left the project he was replaced by Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh got the part instead. Cavill was one of the young actors brought in to test for Casino Royale and is believed to have made it to the final round. It was between Craig and Cavill. The director Martin Campbell wanted to cast Cavill but obviously didn't get his way. It was Cavill's age, he was only twenty-two at the time, that went against him. "I was going to be the wet behind the ears Bond," quipped Cavill later. "Perhaps Henry Cavill was too young for it then, he was 22 at the time we auditioned for Casino Royale, but maybe he could still be James Bond in the future," Martin Campbell said. "After all, Pierce Brosnan did a great screen test only to eventually get the part years later." Cavill would go on to finally land Superman for 2013's Man of Steel. He came a star in his own right without James Bond. His association with Superman and commitments to the expanding DC film universe are why it's very possible that we'll never see Cavill as Bond.
Some stories suggest that a dark horse contender came perilously close to beating both Cavill and Craig. His name? Worthington. Sam Worthington. Worthington was 30 years old and Australian. "They (Eon) had seen my tapes and wanted to make Bond younger, like (Matt Damon in) The Bourne Identity," said Worthington in a 2006 interview. "So they kept phoning up, wanting me to audition, but I kept refusing." Eon's persistence eventually paid off and Worthington flew to London to take part in a day’s filming with director Martin Campbell. "I read every single book, saw every film I could and did everything to prepare myself. I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time; I gave it the best I could. I think it’s amazingly good-going to get where I did." One newspaper story suggested that Worthington got as far as undertaking weapons training to prepare himself for the part of James Bond. "Things would be completely different now," said Worthington. "But I gave it a damn good crack." At the time Worthington was under the radar and had appeared in films like Somersault and Hart's War. A few years later he was cast in Terminator Salvation and James Cameron's Avatar and became one of the highest profile actors in the world for a time.
Rupert Penry-Jones, best known for his role as Adam Carter in the BBC One spy drama series Spooks, was named by a newspaper as someone considered but rejected for being too young at the time. This seems strange as Penry-Jones would have been in his thirties when the search for Brosnan's replacement was taking place. "Maybe at the moment I don't look old enough but perhaps I'll get a shot at it when Daniel Craig moves on from the role," said Penry-Jones. "For a lot of actors, myself included, it's a dream part."

In 2017, the Coronation Street actor Tristan Gemmill appeared on the daytime chat show Loose Women and revealed that he auditioned to play James Bond for what became Casino Royale. "I auditioned for James Bond before Daniel Craig. They saw pretty much every actor in England who could walk upright. I met the casting director and between us on her desk were piles of DVDs of Ewan McGregor movies, Jude Law movies and Hugh Jackman movies. I could barely see her over this pile of DVDs. So what chance did I stand in that company?"
Adrian Lester, a 37 year old actor best known as the big-time con artist Michael "Mickey Bricks" Stone on the BBC television series Hustle, attracted some press around this time about potentially becoming the first black Bond. Bond author Anthony Horowitz later named Lester as someone who had the cool and suaveness to make a great 007. Lester doesn't appear to have been tested but he did say the publicity was good for his profile as an actor.
Early in the new millennium, this article appeared in the press: 'James Bond producers have slammed reports that they are planning to replace Pierce Brosnan with unknown Scottish actor Gerard Butler. Butler himself was said to have fueled the speculation by claiming he is to be the next 007. A spokesman for Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, says, "It just isn't true and I wish these rumors would stop. We have been inundated with calls all week, Pierce Brosnan will play James Bond in the forthcoming production and for the foreseeable future." It seemed Butler’s meteoric rise was complete when news broke he was to inherit James Bond’s licence to kill. Butler appeared to confirm the rumours on television, only to have a spokeswoman for the producers deny them. An over-eager press may have missed the joke, for what Butler said was: "I’ve chatted with Barbara Broccoli and she knows that I’ll only do it if Ann Widdecombe can be my Bond girl." It was a joke...' It appears as if Butler's joke about being the new Bond hadn't endeared him to Eon. Perhaps they simply thought he was all wrong for the part.
Dougray Scott was a contender again for Casino Royale but - now in his forties - ultimately deemed too old for what was supposed to be a reboot depicting a younger Bond. If the role had been recast five years earlier it's very possible that Scott might have been chosen.
Best known as Dr Luka Kovac on the popular television series ER, Croatian actor Goran Višnjic had impressed Martin Campbell when he tested for Zorro. Višnjic was brought in by the director to test for the part of James Bond in Casino Royale and according to most accounts got down to the final four. Casting director Debbie McWilliams confirmed to the Australian press that Višnjic screen tested for the Bond role but was 'just too young'.
Matthew Goode is a tall posh looking actor who - at this time - was best known for Woody Allen's Match Point. Goode was brought in to test for Casino Royale but presumably was another actor felt to be too young. He was in his late twenties at the time. In a 2016 interview on magazine show This Morning regarding new Bond speculation, Matthew Goode said - "I went for it last time and met Barbara [Broccoli - film producer], who was lovely, but she hasn't brought me in this time. I think they should halve the budget and reboot it. I don't think the modern James Bond is working."
A former professional boxer turned actor, Gary Stretch had won good notices for his part in cult British film Dead Man's Shoes. Stretch was also cast as Cleitus supporting Sir Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie in Oliver Stone's 2004 film Alexander. From IMDB - 'During the early nineties, Gary Stretch was the glamor-boy of British boxing. His good looks coupled with KO power in his fists ensured he was big box-office. He also made money strutting his stuff on the catwalk as a male model. Some said he earned more as a model than actually fighting, and his appearances in the British tabloid newspapers made sure that he was never out of the headlines. Despite winning the British light-middleweight championship, his big moment undoubtedly came in 1991 when he challenged Chris Eubank for the WBO world middleweight championship in London. "Beauty V The Best" attracted the big celebrity crowd, and it was a major sporting event. Even though he did not really train for the contest, he gave the iron-chinned champion hell for five rounds. After many unsuccessful attempts for a rematch, Stretch had one more fight then retired. Ultimately, the lure of Tinseltown proved too much.' A newspaper article in 2005 claimed that Stretch had had five call backs to read for the part of James Bond in Casino Royale. In 2011, a poster on the Boxrec forum defended Mr Stretch from accusations that he was an idiot who once got knocked out by someone in a chip shop for pushing to the front of the que with Lionel Blair's daughter. Don't ask. Here's what he said - "Gary is one of the most humble, lovely and spiritual people you'll ever meet and I've got loads of time for the bloke. In terms of his acting career, Gary has been his own worst enemy at times and didn't play the whole Hollywood game and network there like he should have else I have no hesitation to say he would have been a lot bigger then he currently is. I will say though that he was the favourite to take over the role of James Bond from Pierce Brosnan and was the the Bond producers personal favourite to land the role after he auditioned for the part a few times but I guess he wasn't considered a big enough actor at the time." In 2010 Gary Stretch starred in Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus. Maybe Shane Meadows stopped returning his phone calls.
Ewan McGregor's friend Charley Boorman let slip on their motorcycle travel show that McGregor met with the Bond producers to discuss replacing Brosnan early in the casting process for Casino Royale. Martin Campbell has admitted that McGregor was someone they spoke to but said it didn't get very far. In more recent years McGregor has poured cold water on fresh Bond speculation and said the part doesn't interest him as he'd be reluctant to lock himself into another franchise (after Star Wars) where he might not be able to do different things.
gruffudd bond
Ioan Gruffudd, tall with dark good looks and known through his swashbuckling antics as Hornblower on television, was often talked of as a potential James Bond at this time. Here is what he had to say on the matter years later: "You know where this rumour started - I did a six or seven-page spread in British Esquire magazine with Pierce Brosnan on the cover. I think it was either the launch of the first or second Bond that he did. He was on the cover, so inside they made the whole magazine Bond-themed. My fashion spread and interview was dressed in fantastic suits, driving a fantastic car and the title was, 'Live and Let Dai' - the Welsh abbreviation of the name David and they said, 'This is our next tip for Bond'. And yeah, the pictures were fantastic and I looked like a very young James Bond. I think people started taking bets on it from that point onwards! Whenever it comes up, my name is associated. I'll be honest, I did have a meeting with Barbara Broccoli, but it was around the same time that I'd literally just got cast as Mr Fantastic. I was impossible to tender for another franchise at the time."
Luke Mably, a young English actor, was 28 and best known for 2004's The Prince And Me. Mably was looked at with the young Bond angle in mind but does not appear to have featured in the final shake up.
Soap opera star Clive Robertson was heavily touted as a potential candidate around this time. Robertson was British, a familiar face on American television, and looked a lot like a younger Pierce Brosnan. Here's a puff piece of the era - 'On TV, he's cheated death to charm dozens of women. No wonder heart-throb Clive Robertson is being touted as the next 007. The name's Robertson, Clive Robertson, and so far it may be familiar only to the fans of the spectacularly silly California soap Sunset Beach on Channel 5. But if the Americans have anything to do with it, then 34-year-old ex-public schoolboy Clive is in line to be the next James Bond  when Pierce Brosnan decides he's had enough of playing 007 on the big screen. Clive's credentials for playing the famous secret agent are built on the fact that he's very British and now has a worldwide fan base, thanks to his role as the devilishly good-looking Ben Evans in Sunset Beach. But, more importantly, America's influential magazine TV guide believes Clive is just the man to follow Brosnan. "If Pierce Brosnan ever decides to quit playing 007", it declared last week, "Robertson could fill his shoes in a heartbeat." Naturally, it's a prospect that Clive, a product of top public school; Marlborough, regards with relish. "I'm not touting for the part", he says from his Los Angeles home. "But I'm very flattered even to be mentioned as a possibility. In fact, it's a bit of a shock. It's impossible to say what my chances would be of landing the role. But I'm the right age for the part. Bond was in his mid-thirties, although I must say Pierce looks great and probably better for having to wait longer than he wanted before playing the part of James Bond." Robertson was not however wanted by the Bond producers and his Bond dream remained just that. He later starred in 62 episodes of Wicked Wicked Games with Tatum O'Neal. No, I've never heard of it either.
Rupert Friend, then a new young actor only known for The Libertine and Pride & Prejudice, read for the part of Bond in Casino Royale but then withdrew himself from contention because he felt he was too young. James Bond Casting Director Debbie McWilliams said in an interview years later that Friend was very impressive and would have stood a good chance of being Bond if he'd decided to pursue it. Friend later became a familiar face through the television series Homeland.
Martin Henderson, a New Zealander, was best known for The Ring. He was one of many actors considered for Bond during the Casino Royale search. Henderson doesn't seem to have got to the latter stages of the casting.
The German-born, US-based, Australian television actor Ingo Rademacher met with Martin Campbell in Los Angeles to discuss the part of Bond. Rademacher clearly didn't get too far along in the casting process and his name was absent from the final Bond speculation of the time.
Australian actor Eric Bana, known for Chopper and Ang Lee's Hulk, was named as the next Bond by a number of newspapers in 2004. It sounded like there could be something happening. It was Bana who dismissed the gossip. “I haven’t got a bloody clue. It’s kinda baffling to me. I’ve said, like, a million times I wouldn’t do it. It’s never, ever, ever been something we’ve had a discussion about.”
Another New Zealander, Antony Starr, read for the part and was an impressive candidate by all accounts. Starr featured in The World's Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins around this time. He's worked mostly in television since his brush with James Bond and starred in the series Banshee.
Dominic West, best known for The Wire, has said that he was auditioned for the part before it was offered to Daniel Craig. West later claimed that James Bond wasn't his thing and he removed himself from contention. Sour grapes maybe. West is a year younger than Daniel Craig and seemed - on the face of it - a reasonable candidate.

The beefy Australian actor Alex O'Loughlin, then largely unknown, was tested for the part of 007 in Casino Royale. O'Loughlin called it the biggest day of his life and talked about how he was taken out to buy suits for the test. It appears as if he did not make the final shortlist though. O'Loughlin was about 28 at the time. In their 2006 book 'A Star is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies', casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson from The Casting Company shed some light on the search for Bond #6. "The age issue turned out to be stickier than we’d expected. We were all very excited about Alex O’Loughlin, for example, partly because he was so young. Alex is a terrifically sexy, masterful, and take-charge person - just the type who can make you remember that James Bond is a seriously dangerous man. He might make a fabulous Bond in a few years, but when we saw him, he just didn’t seem old enough for that 007 sense of command." O'Loughlin later starred in the revamped Hawaii Five-0 on television.
Yet another Australian next. Daniel Goddard was a model and star of The Beastmaster TV series. He was looked at but didn't become a serious candidate. A few years later he joined the soap opera The Young and the Restless.
There was interest in the New Zealand actor Karl Urban but he was apparently too busy. "Yeah, there was a period when they were casting it the last time around where I'd met with Barbara Broccoli and various other producers. Unfortunately I was shooting another movie and I couldn't do the final test." Urban had just starred in the last two Lord of the Rings films, Chronicles of Riddick, and played an assassin in The Bourne Supremacy. Missing out on Bond doesn't seem to have bothered Urban. He remains one of the busiest actors in the industry and became part of the new Star Trek franchise.
In the summer of 2005, Pride and Prejudice star Matthew Macfadyen had this to say when asked if the Bond people had been in contact with him. "Yes, they might have. I don't know about Bond. It's a weird one, isn't it? It's a bit camp. It would change your life."
David Morrissey was mentioned as a Bond candidate around this time. It's possible he was someone they thought about but he was already a little on the old side for a Bond reboot in 2006. Morrissey later became famous to viewers around the world when he played a villain in zombie series The Walking Dead.

Mystery tends to surround Julian McMahon's Bond aspirations regarding Casino Royale. McMahon was a popular suggestion for Bond around this time. He played a suave character in Nip/Tuck on tv and was carving out a film career by taking the part of Dr Doom in The Fantastic Four movies. It was even reported that McMahon had declared himself to be in the final auditions and Michael G Wlson and Martin Campbell were said to be impressed by him. Another version of the McMahon saga is that he was approached to discuss the part in 2004 but told them he could not be considered because of his television contract and options on Fantastic Four sequels. This second story sounds credible.
The late soap star Geraint Owen, who featured in the Welsh-language soap Pobol y Cwm, said he went through five auditions for the part of Bond in Casino Royale. "I got a call from my agent who said I'd better get to Tunbridge Wells and he told me it was the first audition for the part of James Bond. It was one hell of a drive and I didn't really have to do any lines when I got there. All they asked me to say was my name, my address and who my agent was. But I did it a bit differently because when it came for me to say my agent's name I said it was James Bond, the best-known agent there is." Sadly, Owen died suddenly in 2009 at just 43 years of age.
Irish actor Chris Feeney claimed on his website to have made the final selections for the part in 2005. "It is real. I'm there among the last few so maybe the training will come into play. I've jumped 39 times out of an aeroplane. Pierce Brosnan has never done that. I've seen a lot of action and would like to a do a lot of my own stunts." Feeney's claims always seemed to smack more of self promotion than reality. Feeney remains little known and hasn't done much acting.
Roderick O'Grady was an unknown Northern Irish actor who is said to have read for the part. His agent said - "Roderick is only really known on this side of the Atlantic for his stage work. But his reputation is spreading - despite his reluctance to woo the publicity machine. He has read with Olivia Lee for the Bond movie and looks just like a young Sean Connery. He's not the favourite, but even if he doesn't get it, the exposure will do him no harm." You can still count O'Grady's IMDB credits on one hand so his acting career obviously never went anywhere.
In a flurry of internet speculation mistaken for fact, Croupier star Clive Owen was all but announced as James Bond in 2004. Fans began to wish him well. However, Owen was apparently never in contention. There is a story (probably apocryphal) that he didn't sign because they wouldn't give him percentage points but Owen himself has consistently denied that he was ever asked to be Bond. He later described the role as being 'like a golden prison' and seems to be one actor who is happy it passed him by. "It was never on the radar. There was nothing to it. I'd done a film, Croupier, where I'd worn a tuxedo and there was nothing more than that."
Like Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman was often presumed to be the heir apparent to Brosnan. In a 2013 interview Jackman suggested that he had turned the part down. “I sort of have (been asked). At the time I was just about to do X-Men 2 and I was like, "Ah, I don't think it's the right time. But it was not an easy one to give up.” This would explain why Jackman was strangely absent from Casino Royale's casting calls.
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