His name’s Bond, James Bond, and he’s been at the top of his game for over 50 years. Since his introduction to audiences in 1962’s Dr. No, in fact, Ian Fleming’s MI6 agent has become one of the most popular film characters of all time. And whether you know him as embodied by Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, his films continue to engross fans both young and old.
As befitting a secret service operative, though, Bond’s past is littered with surprises that even his biggest fans won’t know. Be cautioned – these facts are strictly for your eyes only.
20. Pierce Brosnan was the deadliest Bond
Certainly, Bond is not afraid to kill when the situation requires. But out of the six actors to play him on the big screen, Pierce Brosnan was the one who made best use of his license to kill. According to The Guardian in 2012, the actor had an average of over 33 kills per movie. Sean Connery’s You Only Live Twice is the bloodiest film overall, however, with 196 on-screen fatalities racked up throughout its running time.
19. James Bond should have kicked the bucket in his first film
Bond’s very first kill occurs in Dr. No after he correctly assumes that his assailant Professor Dent has spent his gun’s six bullets. However, the scene could actually have ended with Bond’s death, as Dent’s firearm was a model that typically held seven slugs. But then if that had happened, one very lucrative franchise may not have existed….
18. License to Kill posed a problem for the censors
While fans expect to see some violence in Bond movies, censors thought that 1989’s License to Kill pushed things too far. In fact, several scenes – including the sight of a henchman falling into a mincer – were cut by both U.K. and U.S. censors because they were considered too gory.
17. Steven Spielberg was desperate to direct a Bond movie
Despite being considered one of history’s greatest movie directors, Steven Spielberg was passed over to be at the helm of a Bond flick. Indeed, the Jaws filmmaker twice offered his services to producer Albert Broccoli but was turned down on both counts. Luckily for both Spielberg and cinema lovers, though, the director went on to make his 1981 hit, Raiders of the Lost Ark, instead.
16. Stanley Kubrick had a big part to play on The Spy Who Loved Me
Although producers passed on Spielberg, the Bond team actually called on another legendary director for help with 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. While filming a tricky tanker set, production designer Ken Adam asked The Shining’s Stanley Kubrick to help him light the scene. Kubrick promptly agreed, too, and lit the set without the permission of Albert Broccoli.
15. Bond has been shot at more times than you think
Naturally, Bond has made some enemies over time, but the number of attempts on his life is staggering. In 2012, super fan Gordon Stanger calculated that the MI6 operative had been shot at 4,662 times. That’s nearly 200 times in each film.
14. The man who wrote The BFG turned his talents to writing the You Only Live Twice script
We all know that Bond was created by novelist Ian Fleming. However, it may be surprising to learn that beloved children’s author Roald Dahl penned You Only Live Twice’s script. But the former pal of the 007 author didn’t look back on the experience fondly. While speaking to reporter Tom Soter in 1980, in fact, Dahl described writing the 1967 film as “an awful job.”
13. GoldenEye got its name from a real-life place
Up until 1989’s License to Kill, every Bond film was named fully or partially after one of Fleming’s stories. But filmmakers continued the Fleming link even after they ran out of titles from the author’s original works. Specifically, 1995’s GoldenEye was named after Fleming’s house in Jamaica, where he penned his first 007 novels.
12. Die Another Day nearly confirmed one of Bond’s biggest rumors
There’s a fan theory for everything, and the James Bond universe is no exception to this rule. But one of the more insane examples, that “James Bond” is actually just a code name given to several agents rather than one man’s moniker, was nearly given weight by film producers. Director Lee Tamahori wanted to confirm this long-held rumor by having Sean Connery cameo in Pierce Brosnan’s Die Another Day. Luckily, though, his idea never made the final cut.
11. Just one James Bond theme has been number one
Over the years, Bond has given us some classic songs – from Shirley Bassey’s stirring “Goldfinger” to Adele’s Oscar-winning “Skyfall.” Nevertheless, Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” from 1985 is to date the only Bond theme to have topped the U.S. singles charts. Perhaps that’s because the song was, and remains, so darn catchy….
10. Bond was tragically linked to a real-life murder case
In 1989 the world was shocked by the case of Erik and Lyle Menendez – two brothers who murdered their mother and father. And, intriguingly, Bond had a small link to the heinous crime. To wit, the pair shot their parents dead while the couple watched The Spy Who Loved Me on TV. The siblings then used License to Kill as their alibi, claiming that they had gone to the movies to watch it when the murders were said to have taken place. However, they eventually plumped for seeing Batman instead.
9. Sean Connery wasn’t the first actor to play Bond at the movies
While we often think of Sean Connery as the first ever cinematic Bond, he wasn’t actually the first actor to don the agent’s iconic tuxedo on the big screen. That honor falls to Connery’s stuntman Bob Simmons, who appeared as the character in Dr. No’s famous gun barrel title sequence.
8. Casino Royale made stunt history
Over the years, Bond has given us many insane and ground-breaking stunts. And the franchise keeps making history to this day. Most recently, 2006’s Casino Royale set the world record for the greatest number of consecutive cannon rolls in a car after stunt driver Adam Kirley executed a staggering seven flips on screen.
7. Roger Moore had a lot of trouble with his PPK
Besides Martinis and glamorous women, the thing we usually associate with 007 is guns. So it makes it all the more surprising that third Bond Roger Moore was deathly afraid of firearms. In fact, the star’s fear was so bad that he had to train himself not to blink every time he heard a gunshot.
6. Connery was seriously lacking in one department
For many, Sean Connery is not only the best actor to play Bond but the epitome of style itself. However, the Scottish actor was hiding a less than suave secret on screen. Because of a nasty case of male pattern baldness, Connery wore a hairpiece in every 007 film in which he starred.
5. Judi Dench was M-ortified after this happened during one scene
Cell phones have spoilt many a film screening. Even M actress Judi Dench ruined a take on 2012’s Skyfall when her mobile rang out on set. But as she told British TV show Daybreak in 2012, the moment was given an extra layer of embarrassment by the fact that her ringtone was the Bond theme itself.
4. George Lazenby lied his way into Bond’s shoes
George Lazenby is often considered the weakest Bond – and perhaps that’s with good reason. After all, before he took on the iconic part in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the former model had had no acting experience. What’s more, he only got the role after lying to producer Harry Saltzman about his credentials.
3. The role of Bond has been turned down by some massive stars
While 007 has catapulted many actors into superstardom, the role has surprisingly been turned down by countless big names. In particular, American actors Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds both passed on the opportunity, reasoning that Bond could only be played by an Englishman. Ironically, however, the character has only been played twice by English actors: Roger Moore and, more recently, Daniel Craig.
2. JFK was a massive Bond fan
One of Bond’s biggest fans was John F. Kennedy, and he regularly voiced his love for Fleming’s From Russia with Love in public. Fittingly, then, the novel’s 1963 film adaptation was the final movie the president ever watched at the White House. He was assassinated just two days after seeing it.
1. Bond should have died from liver failure years ago
“Martini – shaken, not stirred.” Has there ever been a cooler film line? But it turns out that no one should take Bond as their drinking role model. As noted by the British Medical Journal in 2013, and based on his on-screen habits, 007 consumes four times the maximum amount of alcohol recommended weekly by the U.K. Chief Medical Officers. And let’s face it: given that intake, potentially fatal liver cirrhosis should have set in years ago.