James Bond: The mysterious British Special Agent known worldwide as 007. It’s a coveted role for any actor. As the likes of Sean Connery, Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan have shown, playing the role of James Bond makes you not only a bankable star in one of the highest grossing franchises of all time, but it can also make sure that your name lives on for generations to come. It is for that reason that it is hard to fathom why some actors have actually been offered the lucrative role and then turned it down.
In 1970, the producers behind the franchise were looking to replace one of the most popular James Bond actors of all time, Sean Connery. First on the list was one of the finest American actors going around: Clint Eastwood. The star had made a name for himself in western films such as “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” and “A Fistful Of Dollars,” so it wasn’t surprising that he was looked at for the role of James Bond. However, when offered the role, Eastwood turned it down because he felt the role should go to a British actor. It was probably a good thing he did turn down the role, or he would most likely not have gotten to play his most famous role – that of Harry Callahan in “Dirty Harry.”
The fact that Bond should be British also scared off a few more of the actors that were also approached for the role. TV’s Batman Adam West was also looked at the role, as was Burt Reynolds, another actor who had made a name for himself in the Western genre…this time in the television series “Gunsmoke.”
Also considered for the role of James Bond in the early 1970s was an actor who is known to fans of the Harry Potter franchise as Professor Albus Wulfric Brian Dumbledore – the theatre-trained Michael Gambon. Despite being a forerunner to play Bond, however, Gambon turned down the role because he didn’t feel that he had the looks to full off playing the debonair spy who was popular with the ladies.
In the mid 1990s, one of Ireland’s favorite sons, Liam Neeson, turned down the role of James Bond because he said he wasn’t interested in starring in action films. Something obviously changed his mind over the years as he is now the successful star of the “Taken” series of films.
Flash-forward to the 2000s and there was a fresh batch of performers who were threatening to take the role ahead of Daniel Craig. After he parodied the James Bond character in his “Millenium” video clip, popstar Robbie Williams was actually approached about playing the role in a feature film. However, he turned down the role saying he didn’t feel like he was refined enough for the role.
Aside from Williams, other actors considered to play James Bond in the 2000s were Dominic West, who went on to make a name for himself in “300” and “The Wire,” and Ewan McGergor who has received critical acclaim for films such as “Trainspotting,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Moulin Rouge” while winning over fans in George Lucas’ reboot of the “Star Wars” franchise. McGregor turned down the Bond role because he was afraid of becoming typecast, while West pulled himself out of the running when he heard that Pierce Brosnan may have been wanting to return to the role.
However, the actor who was the biggest threat to Daniel Craig was Australian actor Hugh Jackman. The Aussie actor was perfect for the role; he had the looks and was a guaranteed crowd pleaser, as his work as Wolverine in the “X-Men” franchise showed. The producer’s plans of naming Jackman as the new Bond were shelved, however, when Jackman read the script and didn’t like the direction the series was going in.
Whenever the role of James Bond is left vacant, there are never a shortage of names that are linked to the role. However, as time has shown in the past, just because an actor has made the decision to turn down what could have been the biggest role of their life, it doesn’t necessarily mean they still won’t become famous.