Friends, a couple of days ago I shared that 1963 interview with Ian Fleming – part of the BBC Desert Island Discs radio series. Back when I had the honor of writing for the Retroist I had talked about how I came to be a fan of the James Bond films and books rather late – with Roger Moore being the first actor I saw in the role of 007 in Moonraker, which I caught at the local Drive-In back on June 29th of 1979. It wouldn’t be until much later until I actually saw Sean Connery in the role of James Bond – my love of his work came from films like Darby O’Gill and the Little People, The Man Who Would Be King, Outland, and of course Highlander. One of my best friends, who it is safe to say was a bigger 007 fan than myself, was taken aback over dinner when he learned I had never seen a James Bond film with Connery – in fact after we had scarfed down our portions of pizza he demanded we hit the local Blockbuster to rent Dr. No. That was how certain he was that I was going to flip out over the Sean Connery version of the character – he was totally right too.
Afterwards I dove straight into the books and films of 007 – Sean Connery became my favorite actor to portray James Bond for the longest time – with George Lazenby a close second and then followed by Dalton and Moore. I will admit that list was immediately altered when I watched Casino Royale in 2006 – Daniel Craig in his first outing reminded me a lot of what I love about the character from Fleming’s novels.
It has been said that both Harry Saltzman as well as Albert R. Broccoli, the Producers for Dr. No, had considered the possibility that Cary Grant (His Girl Friday, North by Northwest) could play 007. That did not come to be as Grant would only agree to play the part in a single film – which would knock the idea of a franchise into a cocked hat – then there was the matter of his age. Other actors up for the role of 007 in Dr. No include David Niven and Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner) – the latter would have absolutely killed in the role although he was very much against the casual violence of Bond.
Did you know though that Burt Reynolds was approached to play 007 in Diamonds Are Forever – it has been said he refused the part as he felt the character needed to be British and he wouldn’t be able to pull off the accent. Thanks to this Deepfake video however we can see what it would have looked like if Reynolds had been able to star in Dr. No – with Connery’s voice no less.