Alternative James Bonds - Decade By Decade, chosen by Luke Quantrill

Alternative Sixties Bond - Laurence Harvey

Of all the actors who could concievably have played James Bond in the sixties besides Connery and Lazenby, Laurence Harvey is arguably the most obvious one. The Lithuanian born actor grew up in South Africa before moving to England to lanch an acting career. He won an Academy Award nomination for Room At The Top, the film he is probably best remembered for alongside The Manchurian Candidate. I watched Room at The Top for the first time about 2 O'Clock in the morning once on the world's smallest television and it didn't take a huge amount of imagination to picture the lean, dapper Harvey as 007 in a sixties James Bond film.

Kevin McClory is rumoured to have thought immediately of Harvey when he briefly considered producing his own Thunderball film in the mid sixties. It's very plausible to suggest that Laurence Harvey could have made an iconic and interesting alternative James Bond in the first decade of the series.

Alternative Seventies Bond - Ian Ogilvy

Ian Ogilvy first came to prominence through his association with friend Michael Reeves. Reeves' distinctive horror films (most notably Witchfinder General) marked the dashing Ogilvy as a future star in the sixties and for many years the perpetually youthful actor was on the fringes of Bond contention.

At 6' tall and 160 pounds the lean Ogilvy would have been an excellent alternative seventies James Bond. He had the humour (Ogilvy gave a funny performance in one of Michael Palin's 'Ripping Yarns'), charm and looks and his distinctive voice would have been another natural asset. Like Bond, he also went to Eton, and has a natural air of poise and grace.

He had to make do with Simon Templar, stepping into Roger Moore's shoes when his appearances in Upstairs Downstairs brought him to the attention of The Saint producers. As popular as it was, Ogilvy seems to regard it as a mixed blessing - mainstream success making people forget the serious appearances he had made on stage and screen and resulting in a drop in interesting acting offers.

I remember watching Ogilvy in one of those wonderfully campy British compendium horror films called Beyond The Grave once and thinking that his charm and good looks could have transfered to James Bond very nicely.

Ogilvy just edges out Michael Billington for the seventies alternative Bond position because I have a feeling he would have fitted the decade and been a more 'modern' Bond for that era. Ogilvy played a Bond type spy years later on television and still had a certain 007 vibe.

Alternative Eighties Bond - Lewis Collins

Sometimes, when I'm rolling out pastry, I often wish I had a Lewis Collins James Bond film in my DVD collection. He'd wear a blazer and beat a lot of people up. The Professionals was a guilty pleasure before Granada Plus disappeared from my freeview box, replaced by a crappy Quiz phone-in channel (you crooks!) and I think Lewis Collins would have been great as James Bond. I think he would have played it relatively straight but the cult appeal of Bodie playing 007 would have made it enjoyable for me anyway. I can watch Who Dares Wins on this level and that must be one of the most ridiculous films ever made.

You either smile at the mere thought of Bodie as James Bond or roll your eyes. Collins earned his action-man image in The Professionals and never quite escaped from the part. He seemed to be eager and enthusiastic to have a crack at James Bond but it never came his way and his career fizzled out after several low-budget action films. Have you ever seen Commando Leopard? No. Me neither. If you want to see Sir Lewis of Collins in action and Ernest Borgnine speaking German, click on the link below for the Codename Wildgeese trailer.

Could Lewis Collins have done James Bond? Was he a good actor? I think it would have been fun watching him try.

Alternative Nineties Bond - James Purefoy

James Purefoy tested for GoldenEye but, although he was linked to Bond many times up to 2005, the part passed him by eventually and instead of making Casino Royale he had to make do with supporting Chevy Chase in Goose On The Loose.

Purefoy would have been a young looking Bond in the nineties but may well have proved to be a very good one. Purefoy certainly looked the part and his youthful appearance back then would have freshened Bond up considerably while retaining the requisite charm and refined qualities.

He is also an underrated actor who has progressed to play different roles despite his conventional good looks. Interestingly, Purefoy has played villains and characters with dubious morality very well, and has a few more facets to his acting scope than you would think. He has turned into a very interesting and reliable actor as he's got older. This duality hints at the subtext of Bond. Is James Bond a hero or a villain? Is he a good man or a not very nice one?

Have you ever seen Ben Elton's film Maybe Baby? I feel sorry for you if you have because it is probably the worst film in the history of cinema. However, if you ever notice it's on television take a peek to see Purefoy in it. His character (a debonair actor) is very Bondish and even makes a joke about 'the Bond people' contacting his agent.

Alternative 2000 and beyond Bond - Christian Bale

Widely regarded as the best Batman since Adam West, Christian Bale made the transition from child actor to serious actor. He's different in every film and always interesting. I was never that convinced by his Bond possibilities but American Psycho made me start to see how he could be very good in the role. Batman Begins was the final piece of evidence. In Bruce Wayne playboy mode Bale is suave, cool, dapper and stylish. He makes Daniel Craig's James Bond look like a right scruffy herbert.

Bale could be the suave, intelligent Bond we know while adding new qualities. He's also no slouch when it comes to being tough and, when the role requires him to do so, he can speak in a very, very deep voice.

Christian Bale could easily have done Casino Royale. He has both the acting chops and physical wherewithall to inject new energy and depth to Bond while maintaining traditional attributes. Bale just edges out Gerard Butler because Casino Royale would have suited him a little more and he would have been an excellent 'young' Bond.



c 2007 Alternative 007