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Sean Connery Almost Missed Out On James Bond Role To This Female Actor

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James Bond movies are a cultural phenomenon known for their suave protagonist, thrilling action sequences, and exotic locations. Created by author Ian Fleming, the character of James Bond, also known by his code number 007, has been portrayed by various actors, including Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.

The franchise has evolved, reflecting changing cultural norms and cinematic trends. While early films like Dr. No and Goldfinger leaned heavily on Cold War tensions and gadgetry, recent entries like Casino Royale and Skyfall delved deeper into Bond’s character, exploring his vulnerabilities and struggles. In an intriguing development, a new biography recently claimed that before Sean Connery landed the role of James Bond, Hollywood producers had toyed with the idea of having a female play the iconic character.

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Nicholas Shakespeare says producer George Ratoff wanted Susan Hayward cast as James Bond

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, Sean Connery, 1963.

In his upcoming biography, Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, Nicholas Shakespeare delves into the inception of the James Bond franchise, revealing a captivating tale of casting challenges. As the franchise was poised to launch, a quest ensued to find the perfect actor to embody the iconic role. Despite its allure, the role faced rejection from several prominent figures in the industry. Notably, Gregory Ratoff, a producer who had acquired the film rights to Fleming’s inaugural Bond novel, Casino Royale, suggested the audacious idea of casting the acclaimed American actress Susan Hayward as a female version of the suave agent 007. “Since the mid-1950s, many well-known actors had been approached,” the author wrote. “Gregory Ratoff had the arresting idea of having Bond played by a woman, Susan Hayward.”

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VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Susan Hayward, 1967

Shakespeare clarified that the choice to cast Hayward stemmed from her burgeoning fame during that period. Fueled by her notable performances in films such as My Foolish Heart, The Conqueror, With a Song in My Heart, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, and her acclaimed portrayal in the 1958 film I Want To Live! which earned her an Oscar for Best Actress, she became a sought-after talent for the role.

Sean Connery was not Iam Fleming’s first choice

Shakespeare also documented an intriguing revelation from Fleming’s film agent, Robert Fenn, in his book. Fenn disclosed the arduous search for an actor to undertake the role. Remarkably, no one was willing to commit to more than a single film contract, which added an extra layer of challenge to the casting process.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, Sean Connery, 1983. (c) Warner Brothers/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

“We tried twenty or thirty. No major actor would play the part for more than one picture,” the film agent told Shakespeare, “and we couldn’t set up a deal with a distributor without commitment from a leading actor.” He further disclosed that when Connery was eventually selected, Fleming was not particularly impressed. “Fleming said, he’s not my idea of Bond at all, I just want an elegant man, not this roughneck.”

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