But I remember the odd reports about both even from back in the day. Today both are a little over the age where they’d need the popular sharpen-my-profile-with-007 routine. What Eon confirms or not in that regard seems to be more a question of screentests and how good they can be marketed.
However, it was evidently during times when the series as a whole was deemed more important than who was going to play Bond. And especially during the Moore years the ‘offers’ turned up so inflationary as if after TSWLM the role was constantly up for grabs. We know of course better.
With Fleming I think it’s not important who was his first choice; he was keen to see his books filmed and wanted the films to be a huge success, whether that meant James Stewart, Cary Grant or Richard Burton. He’d probably have been happy with any actor as long as the audience was and the box office justified the expense.
“In July 2003, Queen Elizabeth II made Brosnan an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his ‘outstanding contribution to the British film industry’. As an Irish citizen, he is ineligible to receive the full OBE honour, which is awarded only to a citizen of the Commonwealth realms.
On 23 September 2004, Brosnan became a citizen of the United States, but retained his Irish citizenship. Brosnan said that ‘my Irishness is in everything I do. It’s the spirit of who I am, as a man, an actor, a father. It’s where I come from.’ Brosnan was asked by a fan if it annoyed him when people get his nationality confused. He said: ‘It amuses me in some respects that they should confuse me with an Englishman when I’m dyed-in-the-wool, born and bred Irishman.’”
I think Downey as Sherlock Holmes may be the best argument AGAINST an American Bond.
As somebody mentioned above, for whatever reasons the transition for a Brit to play an American is a lot easier than for an American to play a Brit, for every successful example there’s a couple of Johnny Depps or Robert Downey Jr’s…
Re Eastwood and Reynolds, I have no doubt their agents put them up for the role and its certainly possibly a casting director had them in for meetings but there has never been any official confirmation they were considered for the role as opposed to Brolin, Neil and as Bruce mentions above, Gavin, altho my understanding was negotiations were already well under way with Sean when Gavin was drafted in, so it’s a fair assumption he was never more than a back up.
It’s worth noting that during pre-production on a movie, multiple actors will be seen and considered even while negotiations are going on with someone else, Hence the number of actors discussed and screen tested during the Rog years;
Rog loved to play the game of “this is my last Bond film”, but always returned when coaxed with the right terms. During that time Eon saw plenty of alternatives, but none were ever offered the role or really got close to it as Rog was always the choice if he agreed to come back.
69 and 71 are the two years most shrouded in mystery, we know Rog was wanted both times but tied up with TV, we know John Gavin was lined up as an alternate should discussions with Sean collapse, but other than that I’m not sure we really know anything concrete about who else was actually considered.
But back to the point, I don’t have a problem with an American Bond, but that choice would have to be better than the British option and right now I don’t see anyone that fits that mantle, especially when the list of British options is so strong.
They went for Moore because he was enormously popular, was known as a reliable and solid team player from his days as Simon Templar - in contrast to Lazenby and Connery - and after the somewhat underwhelming The Persuaders was on the move to films already. He fit the bill in various regards and was already familiar with the stuff he’d play as 007. And he was probably a bargain option to begin with.
As an American myself, I wouldn’t feel right about one of my fellow countrymen playing 007. I’ve always viewed the Bond franchise as a uniquely British product, and something about having the character played by an American would in my eyes “dilute” the product, for lack of a better term.
Actually the “James Stewart” in question is the British actor Stewart Granger [James Lablache Stewart]. “Offscreen friends and colleagues continued to call him Jimmy for the rest of his life, but to the general public he became Stewart Granger.”
Erm, I’m afraid not. It’s a popular misconception with fans, especially since Granger did bear a certain facial semblance to the young Fleming. But I’m afraid it’s bunk.
How do I arrive at my conviction?
Robert Sellers’ excellent The Battle for Bond puts the light on the troubled early Bond film project that was later to become Thunderball, book and film. Especially chapters eight and nine go into a detailed recap of events, notes, correspondence between Fleming, McClory and Bryce.
In the early stages there was hope to interest Hitchcock in the project and sell it to him as a vehicle for James Stewart. The Stewart of Vertigo and Rear Window.
“Of course Stewart is the toppest of stars,” Fleming continued. “And personally I wouldn’t at all mind him as Bond if he can slightly anglicise his accent. If we got him and Hitchcock we really would be off to the races. Cross all your fingers.”
The Battle for Bond, Robert Sellers, p.44
Besides, Granger changed his name when he started his acting career. Few people outside his personal circle even knew about his real name. It’s not very likely Fleming’s little band of hopeful would-be film producers belonged to that circle, or that they would refer to him by his real name in the late 50s when he’s been “Stewart Granger” almost since the start of his career in the mid-30s.
I got to ask Adam West about these rumors at a convention a few years ago. He answered that it was true that he talked to the producers, but West felt that Bond should be British, and the talks stopped there.
Since we’re most likely looking at 2022 as the introduction for the next Bond you’re probably right about Evans, who will be 43. A shame in way as I really thought he had potential but casting Bond is a long game.
Ah, thanks for the info! BTW, I’m aware that Granger changed his name when he began acting.
Fleming’s full quote includes “Hitchcock is in search of a vehicle, particularly for James Stewart but, whether our story would suit Stewart or not, he is definitely interested and wants to see (a script).”
Sellers says in his CBn interview “I think Fleming at that time was dizzy over the prospect of Hitchcock coming aboard the Bond project and quite frankly if the director had wanted Grace Kelly to play Bond I think Fleming would have agreed.”
EDIT: I think it’s safe to say it’s not Jimmy Stewart that Fleming wanted (if at all), but Hitchcock and if it meant Hitchcock & Stewart then so be it…