The Men Who Could Have Been Bond (Reloaded) - Part 4
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.
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
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
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!"
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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?
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.
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
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.
DIE ANOTHER DAY
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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,"
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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."
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?"
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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, 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.