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'Bond, James Bond.'

10 Little-Known Facts from the Making of the 007 Franchise

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 04, 2022

James Bond Day is held on October 5, the date of the 1962 world premiere of Dr. No, the first film based on Ian Fleming's popular espionage series. To celebrate, here are ten little known facts about the beloved books and movies about the dapper British spy.

1. Fleming created 007 as a way to alleviate wedding anxiety.

Preparing to walk down the aisle for the first time in 1952, longtime bachelor Fleming was battling some nerves. He said he started writing the first book, Casino Royale, as a way to take his mind off things. The book was inspired, in part, by his own experiences serving in Naval Intelligence during WWII.

2. GoldenEye is more than just the name of a Bond film.

After serving in World War II, Fleming settled in Jamaica. He bought fifteen acres of land on the northern coastline of the country and built his home on the edge of a cliff overlooking a private beach. He named his estate GoldenEye and cited a few different origins for the name, including Carson McCuller's 1941 novel, Reflection in a Golden Eye and Operation GoldenEye, a contingency plan Fleming developed during the war. Over the next twelve years, he wrote all of his Bond novels in this idyllic setting.

Several of the Bond movies were filmed near GoldenEye, including Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and No Time to Die. The estate is now a luxury resort with private villas, cottages, and beach huts. Time for a literary-inspired vacation?

3. In real life, Bond was a professional bird watcher.

For his debonair special agent, Fleming wanted a name that was "as mundane as possible." He found it on the cover of one of his favorite birding books, Birds of the West Indies by Dr. James Bond, an ornithologist. Fleming didn't contact the real Bond about the use of his name, but later paid tribute to his field in Dr. No by placing a large ornithological sanctuary on Dr. No's island in the Bahamas. He also gave Bond a signed first-edition copy of You Only Live Twice with the inscription: "To the real James Bond, from the thief of his identity."

4. Fleming did not favor Sean Connery as the first Bond.

Fleming was initially opposed to casting Connery as the debonair spy. He felt that the Scottish bodybuilder was more stuntman than leading man and said he lacked the finesse and elegance of the character. But he was overruled by, well, everyone else. Over the years, Bond has been played by seven different actors:

A number of other actors (some quite surprising) have been considered for the role, including: Cary Grant, Christopher Lee, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Liam Neeson, Mel Gibson, Sam Neill, Hugh Grant, Gerard Butler, Sean Bean, and Will Smith.

Now that Craig has retired from the role, we're excited to learn who the next 007 will be!

6. Bond is an orphan and a widower.

Not surprisingly, there isn't much known about the personal life of the "International Man of Mystery." But in You Only Live Twice, Fleming provided Bond's childhood history in an obituary. Bond's parents are identified as Andew Bond, a Scottish weapons dealer, and Monique Delacroix, a Swiss woman. After they died in a climbing accident when Bond was eleven-years-old, he lived in Edinburgh with an aunt until being recruited by the Royal Navy.

It is often forgotten that, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond marries the daughter of crime boss Marc-Ange Draco, Teresa 'Tracy' Draco (played by Diana Rigg). But she is killed hours after the nuptials leaving Bond in grief—though the notorious ladies man never stays lonely for long.

5. Only one actress has ever appeared as two different Bond girls.

Playing a Bond girl is a coveted role for many actresses, but it's typically a short-lived gig as most Bond girls appear in only one film. A handful of actresses have seen their characters return in subsequent films, but only Swedish actress Maud Adams has had the distinction of playing two different Bond girls. In 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun, she played Andrea Anders and in 1983, she appeared in the titular role of Octopussy.

7. The Bond franchise has employed some notable ghost writers.

After Fleming's 1964 death, there was still quite a demand for new Bond-age, so other authors stepped up to write new material. Some notable names on that list include Kingsley Amis, Jeffrey Deaver, and Anthony Horowitz.

Children's author Roald Dahl was a close friend to Fleming. Perhaps this is part of why he was chosen to write the screenplay for You Only Live Twice when previous screenwriter Richard Maibaum was unavailable.

8. One noteworthy fan may be responsible for the success of the film franchise.

In 1954, John F. Kennedy was recovering from back surgery when a friend gave him a copy of the newly released Casino Royale. Kennedy was enraptured with the character and identified strongly with him. In fact, he crafted his image around the dashing spy while running for POTUS some years later. In a 1961 magazine interview, President Kennedy named From Russia With Love as one of his favorite books. The mention sent sales of the book through the roof propelling the success of the film franchise, which was just getting started. Incidentally, From Russia with Love was also the last movie that JFK saw before his assassination on November 22, 1963.

9. David Bowie and Sting were both considered for the same Bond villain.

A View to a Kill famously features model-singer Grace Jones playing the villainous May Day alongside baddie Max Zorin played by Christopher Walken. But the film very nearly had another musical icon in Walken's role. Sting met with director John Glen about the part, but other commitments ultimately prevented his participation. Next David Bowie was offered the part, but turned it down, later saying, "I didn't want to spend five months watching my double fall off mountains."

10. Playing Bond was rather a dangerous role for Daniel Craig.

Craig insisted on doing many of his own stunts and it hasn't always worked out well for him. His injuries during sixteen years in the role have included a torn labrum in his right shoulder during the making of Quantum of Solace and two ruptured calves during the making of Skyfall. After breaking his leg during the filming of Spectre, Craig continued to perform his own stunts even though, according to producer Barbara Broccoli, he could barely walk. In No Time to Die, his last Bond film, Craig kept the tradition alive, with an ankle injury so severe, it required surgery.

These are just a few of the fascinating facts we learned while researching the seventy-year history of James Bond! It’s been so much fun learning more about this touchstone of popular culture!

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