James Bond films have, no doubt, been a go-to spy-thriller franchise for moviegoers for decades. Each of these movies has entertained billions of viewers globally. The first Bond film, Dr. No, was released in 1962, while the most recent came out in 2021, No Time To Die, starring Daniel Craig. Truly, each film served suspense, drama, action, and everything in between to keep its audience on the edge of their seat.
Naturally, the long-running franchise has seen many actors take on the titular character. Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and most recently, Daniel Craig, among many other actors have played James Bond to varying degrees of success. No Time To Die brought down the curtains to Craig’s rendition of 007, who began his journey as the spy in 2006’s Casino Royale. While we bid a heartfelt farewell to Craig and patiently wait for the announcement of the next actor to take on the role of Bond, here is the rundown of actors almost cast as 007.
6/6 Sam Neill
Sam Neill is undoubtedly best known among fans as Dr. Alan Grant in the original Jurassic Park trilogy. But before playing the role of Grant, Neill had the opportunity to play yet another fabled character of the 80s. In 1986, the actor auditioned for the part of James Bond in the movie The Living Daylights. However, per Den of Geek, Neill never wanted the part, and was more or less coerced into auditioning by his agent. The role ultimately went to TImothy Dalton, a friend of Neill’s, so all worked out in the end.
5/6 Henry Cavill
Casino Royale, directed by Martin Campbell, introduces Daniel Craig as the charming British spy in his early days as 007. It may surprise many Bond fans that Henry Cavill was almost cast instead. Campbell, speaking with Cinema Blend, explained that Cavill was rejected for the 007 role because he was too young and inexperienced at the time. He further added as to why Craig was just right for the role, saying, “Daniel just fitted the part from being a superb actor, and probably the best actor amongst them all.” Though it may not have worked out for Cavill back then, his name has since been popularly associated with the next James Bond now that he’s older and has proven himself a global star.
4/6 Hugh Jackman
Another name considered for the part of James Bond instead of Craig for Casino Royale was Hugh Jackman. During those days, Jackman was preparing for X2: X-Men United when producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Gibson approached him about the role. Of course, the actor had to turn down the part as he was not interested in getting involved in two colossal franchises at that time. Nonetheless, Jackman eventually went on to portray Wolverine in ample of X-Men projects that were commercially and critically successful.
3/6 Christian Bale
1999’s American Psycho starring Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman definitively painted a new image of Bale as an actor in the early-2000s. Soon after this gig, he was the most sought-after actor for every big-ticket project in Hollywood. And the James Bond franchise, naturally, was one of them. However, the actor rejected the role due to lack of interest, even though the producer Barbara Broccoli told him that the part was his for taking in Casino Royale. In fact, he felt the role was wrong in representing stereotypes about England and British actors, further pushing him to turn it down. That said, everything worked out for the best for Craig and Bale, as the latter went on to play Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy.
2/6 Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes has several acting credits in his portfolio, but to some, he is best known as Lord Voldemort in the beloved Harry Potter franchise. Following this fabled role, Fiennes portrayed the character of MI6 head, Colonel Gareth Mallory aka M, in Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die. However, this is not the first time Fiennes had been attached to the Bond franchise in some capacity. In fact, during the mid-90s, the actor was in talks to succeed Dalton as James Bond, but sadly, that did not pan out. In an interview with Seven Magazine, Fiennes explained why: “I don’t think I felt ready to commit and I think they were looking at Pierce. I think I would have been a terrible Bond anyway.”
1/6 Mel Gibson
Mad Max star Mel Gibson, too, had a long history with the character of Bond. Gibson was one of many contenders for the role of famous 007, though it is not known for which film. It was revealed by the actor in an interview with JoBlo that he was approached by directors during the shooting of The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) in Australia, but he rejected the part due to its length commitment. That said, even without the brand of James Bond in his portfolio, the actor managed to earn praise for his work in films like Ransom, Lethal Weapon, and What Women Want.