The name's Bond - James Bond. This iconic line has been repeated in several Bond movies; yet each time it is spoken, it never fails to make the viewer smile.
From 1962, when the first Bond movie Dr. No was released, right up until 2008 when Quantum of Solace opened, 6 different actors have portrayed the suave secret agent who likes his martini shaken not stirred. Roger Moore, having acted in 7 films, is the most prolific Bond and George Lazenby is the least - having done just 1 film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Casting for James Bond, the most profitable and longest running English-language film franchise, must have been an arduous task. The British super spy with a passion for fast cars, inventive gadgets, and beautiful women had to be just the right blend of smart and sexy, light-hearted and fast-footed.
A long list of actors was considered to play this coveted character through nearly 5 decades of its Hollywood existence. Surprisingly, not all actors thought playing Bond would be a boon to their careers - while Ewan McGregor refused for fear of being typecast, Gerard Butler felt it would destroy his career, and Liam Neeson had no interest in an action film. Of the older lot of actors, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds both declined since they felt Bond had to be British. Cary Grant, 58 years old at the time of being offered the role, felt he was too old to play the part. Richard Burton rejected the offer because he wanted to be paid more.
Christopher Lambert was considered though not chosen, because of his French accent and Mel Gibson was rejected because he was too short and famous.
Not many know that Jude Law, Heath Ledger, Eric Bana, Colin Firth, Jason Statham, and Hugh Grant, were all at some time or other considered for the role of 007.
Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond in 4 films - from 1995 to 2002 - was originally chosen to play Bond in The Living Daylights. Unfortunately for him, his hit TV show, Remington Steele got renewed at the same time, and since he played the eponymous character, it was decided he could not play Bond at the same time. The role then went to Timothy Dalton.
The story behind Dalton's casting is even more interesting. Timothy Dalton was first offered the role in 1967 (at age 21). He refused since he did not want to be remembered as the actor who had replaced the first and hugely popular Bond - Sean Connery. He was approached again in 1979 - this time too, he declined since he felt the plot lines for Bond films were no longer original. Finally, in 1987, a good 20 years after he was first asked, he played Bond in The Living Daylights.
Before the release of Casino Royale in 2006, there was a massive hue and cry by a section of committed Bond fans over the casting of Daniel Craig. They felt Craig would never do justice to their beloved action hero. The fans wrote angry blogs and even threatened to boycott the film. Ironically, Casino Royale went on to become the highest grossing Bond movie of all time with a large section of critics feeling that Daniel Craig was the best thing to have happened to the franchise since Sean Connery.
The new Bond has been found and crowned - the casting directors can rest easy, at least for few more years.