It’s been 60 years since the first official James Bond film, Dr. No, hit theaters, starring Sean Connery. However, Ian Fleming’s 007 was almost officially played by an American, well, a British-born one.
Cary Grant, who died 36 years ago today, was one of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men during its Golden Age and could have kept the role. No wonder he was considered the star since he effortlessly exuded Bond credentials as a tall, handsome gentleman, not to mention he starred in action thrillers alongside the beautiful leading ladies. The acting legend had been asked to play 007 in Dr. No by Bond producer Cubby Broccoli, who had had the actor serve as her best man at her wedding. However, he was never meant to be.
Danger Man TV star Patrick McGoohan was reportedly considered after playing spy John Drake, while David Niven, who went on to play 007 in the 1967 Casino Royale parody, is rumored to have been in the running. .
Broccoli and Saltzman even hosted a Find James Bond contest, screen-testing six finalists. The winner was model Peter Anthony, 28, who Broccoli compared to Gregory Peck, but allegedly he couldn’t handle the 007 part.
In the end, the producers found their Bond in Sean Connery, 32, who could commit to five movies. Although he needed a lot of work before he faced Fleming’s spy.
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When Connery met with Broccoli and Saltzman, he appeared in scruffy clothes, but was able to play Fleming’s spy so well with his panther-like walk that they cast him.
Dr. No director Terence Young set about teaching the Scottish bodybuilder the ways of the 007 lifestyle. The filmmaker took the former milkman to his tailor and hairdresser while introducing him to the kind of restaurants, casinos, and women that Bond I would search.
Connery played 007 in six official movies and the unofficial Never Say Never Again.
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