Interchangeable Actors

I’ve had a thought and I’m not sure if someone has posted this before.

Which Bond films would work with any of the actors? Obviously there would be minor cosmetic changes to the script but

To start with one film per actor with multiple films I think Thunderball, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye, Spectre.


Maybe Octopussy, Tomorrow never dies and Dr No. I’m not sure about Spectre…but it’s cleary a topic with a subjective point of view. :wink:

I’m not sure the changes would really have been as “minor” and “cosmetic” as you think. So much of each film hinges on the man in the center ring, that swapping them out would shift the whole dynamic.

That said, there are certainly entries where it’s fascinating to imagine how differently things could have gone, and indeed they come up often on these boards. For instance:

  • OHMSS with Sean Connery. The film would’ve had added gravitas and impact if we’d seen the guy we’d known for 5 films finally fall in love and have his world shattered, instead of this stranger we’ve just met. Plus little moments like tossing the hat to Moneypenny would’ve meant more. On the other hand, had Connery stayed on, there’s every reason to believe the producers would’ve continued on with business as usual and not taken the bold, Fleming-faithful approach we got.

  • DAF with Lazenby carrying on the more serious tone of OHMSS and seeking revenge for Tracy. Arguably not what audiences wanted from a Bond film in 1971, but it’s intriguing to consider.

  • DAF with Roger Moore. Arguably the film that would have to change the least to accommodate the swap.

  • FYEO with Timothy Dalton. Probably not wildly different from what we got – and the pre-credits visit to Tracy’s grave and guest shot by Blofeld suggest they were written to introduce a new guy, anyway – but if it had worked, maybe it would’ve signaled a prolonged return to “straight” adventures instead of momentary blip in the Moore formula.

  • AVTAK with Dalton or Brosnan. Might have been nice to see a Bond in the same age range as his opponents and love interests, especially considering the whole thing’s aimed at the MTV crowd.

  • TLD with Brosnan. Would it have been a continuation of Moore-style lightness instead of the sharp turn Dalton gave us? We’ll never know.

And obviously, any “debut” film for any actor is full of what ifs? What if we’d gotten someone else entirely for DN, OHMSS, LALD, TLD, GE and CR?


I’ve always felt that SC in OHMSS is a better idea than a practical application. To explain, do we get the SC of DN thru TB - engaged, lively, fighting fit? If so then it’s a great idea. But I always assume that the SC we would’ve got would’ve been the one that skulked around YOLT - distant, disengaged, and distinctly dumpier…And at that moment I believe OHMSS would suffer for it. Laz’s youthful energy goes a long way in giving the film its vim, as well as adding to the tragedy of the ending.

But this is a fantasy exercise and so we get the SC we want, right??

I’m going to try and be a little left-field with my interchangeable actor/film choice. I love FRWL, and much of that is down to SC’s superlative performance. Could anyone do it better? No, but I actually think every single one of the others would have put in a convincing performance, such is the quality of the script and most importantly the consistent strength of the rest of the cast. Lax, TD, Brozza, and DC could all have made it work, not quite to SC’s standard, but that’s not failure considering how great he is in the film.

What about Sir Rog, I hear you say? Well, I think the Sir Rog of The Saint (a black and white episode) would be more than at home in FRWL. Hey, this is a fantasy exercise and we get the Sir Rog we want, right???

Believe it or not, I think Roger could have pulled off OHMSS. Well, maybe not the swaggering moments in the kilt at Piz Gloria…but I think Roger was underrated in his range . I think he could have done well in the romantic scenes with Diana Rigg better than George, and could have delivered a very emotional scene in the climax.

Edit: I think it goes without saying that Dalton could have as well.


But in my dreams Connery would have bowed out with OHMSS - and then we would have gotten a reboot with Moore directly in LALD - and he would have bowed out with OP, and then Dalton would start with TLD, do LTK, then a modified AVTAK and one more - with Brosnan doing his four plus one last one. And Craig doing his four.

Well, it’s tempting to heap all kinds of hopes and dreams on a mythical Connery OHMSS. Sure, he was sleep-walking through YOLT, but why not when his job was to push buttons on gadgets for two hours and do and say things that don’t add up to anything approaching logic? He wanted to act, and the script treated him like a “Thunderbirds” marionette.

Maybe, the fantasy goes, Connery’s creative juices would have flowed again if handed a script that actually dealt with human emotions, a real romance for Bond instead of another wanton fling, a shocking ending where Bond does NOT come out on top and loses someone he really cares about. Maybe he would have put real effort into it then, poured out his heart and soul and given his – or anyone’s – best turn in the role.

And maybe, the dream continues, the positive experience would have kept Connery on for another film, or several more. Maybe DAF could have been a “revenge” flick, maybe this, maybe that…

But as I said above, I think it’s just as likely, maybe more so, that if Connery had stayed on, we’d have gotten more of the same…YOLT in the snow…a happy-go-lucky explosion-fest. Maybe the powers-that-be would’ve felt no one would want or accept a more vulnerable Connery, that it’d be impossible for audiences to buy the guy who treated all those other women as disposable playthings to suddenly do an about-face and say, “this one really matters.” And they may have been right. It would have put a lot on Connery and it’s always possible it would not have worked. And with Connery on board, there might not have been the pressure to hire on as impressive an actress as Diana Rigg (because now there’d be nothing to “compensate” for). Could the romance have worked with Bardot as Tracy, or the female phenom-du-jour?

I agree there’s a humanity to Laz that makes the story work, and it’s entirely possible that with Connery’s imperturbable superman on board, it would have fallen apart. At the same time, Laz is so young, and with no history invested in the role no matter how many souvenirs he pulls out of his desk, that things are still missing the sense of import and significance they would have had otherwise.

OHMSS will always be fascinating to me for how very close it comes to being perfect, before falling short. I imagine if Connery had been on board, that “almost” aspect would remain the same, even if the reasons would be different.

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Of all the potential “what ifs” in the Bond world Connery in OHMSS seems to be at the top. I think if Connery had starred but Peter Hunt had still directed OHMSS then the tone of the film would have been much the same as the final product. I would like to think that Connery would have been fully engaged given the material and enjoyed the character based approach but agree that he probably would have had a different leading lady. The script for OHMSS had everything he would have been looking for but he was so fed up with Bond at the time he probably never asked to read it. Would Connery have gotten back into the kind of shape he was in prior to YOLT? Possibly but we’ll never know.

If OHMSS had been made right after Thunderball Connery would have been in it but the film would more likely have been loaded with gadgets and lost a lot of its heart. Therefore I prefer a Lazenby starring OHMSS without a hardware approach than a Connery starring one with it.

I agree Moore that could have done it. Moore truly delivered in the moments he was given to be more dramatic in his films. The others also would do just fine with it. We may get some version of OHMSS for the next film in which case we get Craig’s take on it.

At least his declined state in DAF would’ve worked better as we could’ve chalked it up to depression over Tracy’s death, just as Fleming has Bond falling apart in YOLT.

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“I’m lethargic and sweaty from drowning my sorrows in bowls of peking duck.”
"“Darling, I give you best duck.”

It would appear SC was prescient. His YOLT is an Oscar-winning performance if you watch it after OHMSS. Especially prescient if you presume that it will kick off whole threads of argument over continuity and correct sequencing.

“You want to shee me upshet over the death of Trassshey? Here, watch me plod around the shuburbhs of Tokyo.”

Personally speaking, I could easily picture Dalton in OHMSS, FYEO, GE or CR.
Also, Connery in TSWLM, Lazenby in TMWTGG and Moore in TND.

However, some films just belong to the actor who played Bond in them:

The first 4(DN, FRWL, GF, TB) belong to Connery.
MR and OP belong to Moore.
TLD belongs to Dalton.

I have another one for you: Dalton in Skyfall. I think this would be right up his alley.

I also like the idea that someone mentioned earlier about putting any of the other actors in From Russia With Love. I think of all of them Brosnan is the one that intrigues me the most for that film.

I can imagine a very interesting GOLDENEYE with Dalton.

My ideal timeline:

DN-YOLT = Connery
OHMSS-DAF = Lazenby
LALD-MR = Moore
FYEO-GE = Dalton
TWINE-DAD = Brosnan
CR-SP = Craig

Specifically, imagine the Dalton in some of those later Moore films! I think those scripts (even adujusted slightly away from the comedic) would’ve ended up much higher on my list of favorites had Dalton starred in them. Not to mention, when I read Fleming’s Octopussy, I always imagine Dalton as Bond.

Connery is the best overall Bond in my opinion, but at that point, I couldn’t see him equaling or matching George Lazenby in the action department. I think Lazenby worked well for OHMSS because he wasn’t a myth.

Agreed on the mytth-factor. OHMSS would have been different with him - but still I believe that Connery could have pulled it off extremely well, as an older Bond who finally fell in love, seeing a chance to quit the service… and then “that” happens…

Agreed on the mytth-factor. OHMSS would have been different with him - but still I believe that Connery could have pulled it off extremely well, as an older Bond who finally fell in love, seeing a chance to quit the service… and then “that” happens…

Yes, but have we ever seen anything to suggest he wants to quit the service? Back before the mopey navel-gazing of the Brosnan years and the grumbling burnout Craig model, Bond was presented as a guy who very much enjoyed what he did. Certainly he didn’t seem to wrestle with the kind of regret and self-doubt of the literary Bond (and even he was too addicted to danger to have tolerated "retirement for long).

When Tracy shows up in the life of Movie Bond, it’s not so much a matter of “finally, my ticket out of this dark and lonely lifestyle” as it is, “Holy crap, I think I’d give it all up for this one.” When Bond pops the question, we don’t think, “Aww, a happy ending at last,” we think, “OMG, he’s going to give up his status as the world’s swingin’-est bachelor for this chick?”

In that regard, I think Lazenby’s job was made immensely harder by having to not only replace Connery, but also (1) go “soft” on a woman, (2) let the bad guy end the film one up on him and ( 3 ) break down crying. It just made it too easy for people to write him off as “not the REAL James Bond,” and the film itself as a misfire. Never mind that it’s true to the book; then, as now, a lot more people watch movies than read books.

On the other hand, I suppose it could be argued that only a new guy COULD make us believe in the plot. By 1969, Connery’s Bond was so established as an imperturbable, invincible force of nature that maybe no one would have swallowed him falling for Tracy, no matter how good a job Connery did with the material. Maybe for once, being “no Sean Connery” works in Laz’s favor.

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I also think the Sir Hillary Bray persona/costume throws people off. “Bond doesn’t dress like that!”. Well, of course he doesn’t. He’s undercover, which is a great espionage film trope. The whole point of that disguise is how un-Bond he is. He’s apparently never been in a helicopter before, gets air sickness, is nervous around guns and isn’t a sporting man even at his best. The womanising is done in secret, which as we know, helps to end the charade.

Yes, afraid of guns, afraid of women, gets air sick and wears glasses. No one would ever guess he’s Superm-- I mean, 007.

And while all that rutting at Piz Gloria is amusing, it makes the “romance” with Tracy seem a bit hollow.

Interestingly, i can’t see any of the other actors being able to do both. Craig and Dalton could sell the romance, but the Hilary bray disguise sequences wouldn’t fly, whilst Connery and Moore would be the other way round, for that “myth” quality you point out. Brosnan…if he used the performance he seemingly saved for non-Bond appearances, maybe could’ve carried off both, but his Bond performance is so clearly designed with elements of Connery and Moore that he´d fall into the same category as them.