ROD TAYLOR “[Famed James Bond producer] Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli wanted me to screen test for James Bond when he was preparing Dr. No in 1961,” Rod Taylor told Starlog in 1986. “I refused because I thought that it was beneath me. I didn’t think that Bond would be successful in the movies. That was one of the greatest mistakes of my career! Every time a new Bond picture became a smash hit, I tore out my hair. Cubby and I have laughed about it ever since.” Was Rod Taylor nearly Bond, or did Cubby Broccoli get a kick out of going up to age appropriate leading men and saying, ‘Hey, you could be Bond…want to audition?’ He seemed to do it a lot. Either way, Taylor would have made for a fine 007, and he actually found his way into Bond-style territory with 1965’s The Liquidator, in which he plays a man who haphazardly tumbles into the spy game.
FINLAY LIGHT His experience of casting the then-unsuccessful George Lazenby in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service did not scare Albert R. Broccoli away from Aussie models, and the producer actually tested the unknown Finlay Light, best known for a series of beer ads, to play Bond in The Living Daylights. Not surprisingly, he didn’t make the cut and vanished into obscurity, with Timothy Dalton of course scoring the role.
ANDREW CLARKE In the eighties, the moustached Andrew Clarke was the king of Aussie TV, popping up on shows like Prisoner and Sons And Daughters, and TV mini-series such as Anzacs, A Thousand Skies, and Sword Of Honour. He screen-tested for Bond when Broccoli was on his mid-eighties Aussie actor kick, but didn’t get the role. A stab at international stardom came when he played Simon Templar (ironically, a role made famous by Roger Moore) in CBS’ reboot of the classic sixties programme, The Saint, with the 1987 telemovie, The Saint In Manhattan, but he never made the big leagues.
MEL GIBSON Remember the days when Mel Gibson was in demand? He claims to have turned the 007 role down several times – in the mid-eighties around the time of The Living Daylights, and then in the nineties, after Timothy Dalton. He probably would have been fine in the role too…even if there’s a chance that he would have played it with old Mel crazy eyes. “At one point, Mel Gibson wanted to play Bond,” Bond scriptwriter, Tom Mankiewicz, has said. “Cubby was against it. Cubby had a thing about tall people. Bond had to be tall, and Mel Gibson was too short.”
ANTHONY HAMILTON An actor, model, and ballet dancer, Anthony Hamilton is best remembered today if at all for replacing Russian roulette victim, Jon-Erik Hexum, on the TV show, Cover Up; being in the Aussie-shot Mission: Impossible TV series; and for dying from an AIDS-related illness. Like Finlay Light and Andrew Clarke, he auditioned for The Living Daylights but didn’t get the gig.
SAM WORTHINGTON Sam Worthington did a screen test for Casino Royale, but of course lost out to Daniel Craig. Though the idea of Wortho playing an old public school boy might seem odd, Casino Royale’s director, Martin Campbell, told FilmInk that the Avatar star did just fine. “Yes, he tested, and he was very good, by the way,” the director said. “I felt that he was a little young, as we all did. Daniel was definitely the front runner, but Sam’s a very good actor.” Fellow Aussies, Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck, Fantastic Four) and Alex O’Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0), were also allegedly in the mix when it came time to recast Bond for Casino Royale.
ERIC BANA One Aussie hotly rumoured to take on the Bond role after Pierce Brosnan was Chopper star, Eric Bana, though he told FilmInk that it was never anything more than pure rumour. “There was an article about how I had actually signed on to make a sequel to Chopper, which is complete bullshit,” the actor said. “It’s up there with the James Bond thing. I don’t know where it comes from.” Even more amusingly, these rumours started to swirl while Bana was shooting Steven Spielberg’s Munich with Daniel Craig, who of course actually had been offered the role of 007. “We were both acutely aware of the ridiculous stuff that had been thrown around,” Bana laughed to FilmInk. “He was very much aware that I was never in the mix, so it was never uncomfortable.”
HUGH JACKMAN Hugh Jackman was apparently offered the chance to test for the role around the time of Casino Royale, but turned it down out of fear of being boxed in. But with Daniel Craig contracted for only one more film, Jackman’s name has again been thrown around as a possible successor. When asked on The Project if he’d consider taking on the role of James Bond, Jackman smiled and paused. “I’d definitely consider it,” he replied.
Casino Royale will screen at The Sydney Opera House with a live score performed by The Sydney Symphony Orchestra from February 28-March 2. For all ticketing information, click here.