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