For Your Eyebrows Only: The 007 regulars
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This is your last chance Mr. Bond! But not so for the super-spy's rolling retinue of players...
Despite Daniel Craig successfully taking over the role of James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), Eon Productions has now put the immortal series on a backburner because of a potential take-over of MGM. Whether another Bond film will be produced under the partnership remains to be seen, and even if the series kick-starts once more, there’s no guarantee that Craig will return as the world’s most famous secret agent.
The past 40 years has seen a number of actors who have contributed to more than one film. So with this imposed hiatus, it's worth taking a look at those performers who have been in the most 007 movies.
Making his debut in the second Bond film From Russia with Love (1963), Desmond Llewelyn has made an unbeatable 17 appearances as Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, AKA ‘Q’, the bad-tempered gadget-man who kitted out 007 with the latest high-tech gear, whether it’s the legendary Aston Martin in Goldfinger (1964) or Little Nellie the gyrocopter in You Only Live Twice (1967). Llewelyn became a fan favourite; a Bond film would not be complete without 'Q' (his absence from Live and Let Die in 1973 is unforgivable). The Welsh actor was linked to five Bond actors, and his death in 1999 left a large gap in the series that can never be filled. “Now pay attention 007!”
Making her debut in the first 007 outing Dr No (1962), the durable Canadian actress Lois Maxwell made 14 appearances as Secretary Jane Moneypenny, forever flirting with 007 when he returns home from another world-saving assignment. Ian Fleming always regarded Maxwell, who died in 2007, as the perfect Moneypenny because, in his opinion, she had the most kissable lips! Sadly, when a younger Bond came on the scene, she had to make way for a younger Moneypenny.
Another debut from Dr No was Bernard Lee, who featured in 11 films as Bond’s humourless boss Rear Admiral Sir Miles Mazerney, AKA ‘M’. Like Llewellyn and Maxwell, Lee was always a welcome presence in each film and his death in 1981 was the first major blow to the series since Sean Connery’s departure.
With seven appearances, the eyebrow-raising Roger Moore has played 007 the most times. Although too tongue-in-cheek for some fans, Sir Roger made the role his own with both of his facial expressions surviving a deadly arsenal of camp villains, silly gadgets and seventies flares!
Also boasting seven films is German actor Walter Gotell. After making his debut as Blofeld’s head of training Mozerney in From Russia with Love, Gotell, who died in 1997, turned up years later as KGB head General Anatol Gogal in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and played the part in the next five films.
With 6 films under his belt, Sean Connery is the definitive 007 (Never Say Never Again (1983) is not an official Bond film and therefore does not count). Despite Ian Fleming’s reservations, Sir Sean will always be Bond; everyone else is a pale imitation.
Making her debut in Goldeneye (1995), Judi Dench is the current M with 6 appearances to her name. Bringing back much of Bernard Lee’s stern authority from the early films; she is a important link between Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
Also with 6 films is British actor Geoffrey Keen, who first appeared as Defence Minister Sir Frederick Gray in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), a part he played in the next five films. A lifelong friend of Llewellyn, Keen, who died in 2005, would have made an excellent M if Bernard Lee hadn’t got the job first.
The actor who did get Lee’s job made a total of 5 films. Robert Brown first appeared as Admiral Hargreaves in The Spy Who Loved Me. He was promoted to M for Octopussy (1983) and played him in the next three films. A fine actor, Brown, who died in 2003, was too avuncular to threaten the memory of Bernard Lee.
Making his debut in Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan was 007 in 4 films, and for that brief time came closest to Connery’s old style. His co-star in each film was Samantha Bond, as a more feminist Moneypenny. Unlike the previous Moneypennys, she got to snog Bond, albeit through Q’s virtual reality specs!
Also with 4 is Anthony Chin, who had more uncredited bits parts than any other actor, playing one of Dr No’s technicians in Dr No, Goldfinger’s servant in Goldfinger, a Spectre guard in You Only Live Twice and a Chinese tycoon in A View to a Kill (1985).
Several actors have made 3 appearances but only Colin Salmon has played the same character, M’s assistant Charles Robinson in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002). After playing arms dealer Brad Whittaker in The Living Daylights (1987), Joe Don Baker turned up as CIA agent Jack Wade in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Jamaican-born actress Martine Beswick made her debut in Dr No as one of the uncredited dancing girls in the legendary title design. She won cult immortality as the feuding gypsy girl in From Russia With Love and had a larger but less effective part as CIA agent Paula Caplan in Thunderball (1966).
Equally interesting are the appearances by the late Scottish actor Anthony Dawson, who made his debut as doomed double-agent Professor Dent in Dr No and later turned up as the unseen Ernst Stavro Blofeld in From Russia with Love and Thunderball. Canadian actor Shane Rimmer had uncredited bits parts as a NASA technician in You Only Live Twice and a CIA operative in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) before getting his largest role as Commander Carter in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Maud Adams was Andrea Anders in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) and later turned up as Octopussy. For good measure she made an unbilled appearance in A View to A Kill. Appearing uncredited as a NASA engineer in Thunderball, George Baker (once considered to play Bond) was Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and Captain Benson in The Spy Who Loved Me.
British actor Jeremy Bulloch (aka the original 'Boba Fett' in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back) had a tiny role as a British naval officer in The Spy Who Loved Me. He later played Q’s assistant Smithers in For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy. Had Bulloch stayed with the series, he would have been a more acceptable replacement for Llewellyn than John Cleese.
Several actors have done two Bond films, but not necessarily as the same person. Adding Quantum of Solace (2008) to his spectacular Bond debut in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig not only reinvented the role, he rebooted the series and pushed all the previous Bonds into the background.
Both films also feature Giancarlo Giannini as double agent Rene Mathis, Jeffrey Wright as CIA operative Felix Leiter and Jesper Christianson as the mysterious Mr White.
Prior to Craig’s brilliant turn, Timothy Dalton was Ian Fleming’s Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill (1989), and was perhaps a little too serious for some fans’ taste. Both films featured Caroline Bliss as a dewy-eyed Moneypenny.
Several actors have played Felix Leiter prior to Jeffrey Wright taking over the role (Jack Lord, Cec Linder, Rik Van Nutter, Norman Jones and John Terry) but David Hedison is the only other actor to appear twice as the CIA agent in Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill. As Sylvia Trench in Dr No and From Russia with Love, Eunice Grayson remains Bond’s only long-term girlfriend – two films!
Richard Kiel remains Bond’s best-known bad-guy Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979's Moonraker (Blofeld was played by different actors over the years), and American actor Clifton Webb was woefully unfunny redneck Sheriff J. W. Pepper in Live and Let Die and Die and The Man With the Golden Gun.
Goldeneye and The World is Not Enough featured Robbie Coltrane as ex-KGB agent Valentine Zukovsky and Michael Kitchen as M’s Chief-of-Staff Bill Tanner (originally played by the late Michael Goodlife in The Man With the Golden Gun, the late James Villiers in For Your Eyes Only and more recently by Rory Kinnear in Quantum of Solace). After making his debut as Q’s assistant ‘R’ in The World is Not Enough, John Cleese got his promotion for Die Another Day but posed no threat to the memory of Desmond Llewellyn.
After playing Bond’s Tokyo contact Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice, the late Charles Gray made a fine, if rather camp Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. Burt Kwouk was Mr Ling in Goldfinger and Spectre #3 in You Only Live Twice, getting killed in both. And in an interesting turn of events, sixties pin-up Tsai Chin, who played double agent Ling in You Only Live Twice, returned to the series as Madame Wu in Casino Royale.
For smaller roles, the late American actor Ed Bishop (who would have made a great Felix Leiter) had uncredited appearances as a NASA controller in You Only Live Twice and nuclear technician Klaus Hergishiber in Diamonds Are Forever. Nadim Sawalha was Aziz Fekkesh in The Spy Who Loved Me and the Tangier chief of police in The Living Daylights and tough guy actor Marc Lawrence played a gangster in Diamonds Are Forever, a part he more or less repeated in The Man With the Golden Gun.
Other Bond bit-parts include burly actor Milton Reid as a guard in Dr No and Sandor in The Spy Who Loved Me, Michael Culver rowing a boat in From Russia with Love and flying a plane in Thunderball, and Albert Moses as a barman in The Spy Who Loved Me and Bond contact Sadruddin in Octopussy.
Well, that’s your lot. I suppose I’d better give George Lazenby a mention here. Who did he play again?
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