James Bond is the singularly most-recognizable spy character of all time, thanks to the immense popularity of both Ian Fleming's iconic novels, and the string of blockbuster films the franchise has yielded over the years. The Bond saga has given rise to the extensive careers of actors like Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, and people still flock to see them today.
However, no process is ever smooth in Hollywood, and oftentimes these actors had to compete with several others for the role. Some of them weren't even the studio's first choice! In the case of these 12 actors, we can't help but wonder what their version of Bond would have looked like.
The veteran actor of stage and screen was already a massive force in Hollywood, especially thanks to movies like My Fair Lady. He was considered to be the star of Dr. No, but ultimately lost out to Sean Connery.
In a decision that ultimately looks hilarious to us now, Neeson was offered the role in 1994 for the upcoming Goldeneye, but turned it down because he "wasn't interested in starring in action movies." How times have changed.
This one probably isn't surprising given Caine's knack for playing British spies. In fact, that was actually why he turned the role down: he was worried about being typecast.
Everybody's favorite actor who never survives any of his movies auditioned quite hard to play Bond in Goldeneye, and while he lost the role to Pierce Brosnan, EON liked him enough to offer him the role of lead villain Alec "006" Trevelyan instead.
Dick Van Dyke
Van Dyke was highly interested in the role, and auditioned for the role when Sean Connery first left the franchise. Producer Albert R. Broccoli wasn't impessed with Van Dyke's "English" accent though, which probably isn't surprising for anybody who's seen Mary Poppins.
The choices just get weirder from here...
Best-known to most audiences as General Zod from the Superman franchise, Stamp's signature intensity and talent could have made him an awesome Bond. Unfortunately, he was turned down for his ideas for the franchise being "too radical."
The veteran actor (and father of Josh Brolin) was being heavily considered for the part, so much so that he actually bought a house in London to be nearer to the production. However, Roger Moore decided to return, and Brolin was turned down.
During a brief period in the 70s where actors from outside the UK were considered for the role, Eastwood was directly offered to play Bond as Sean Connery's replacement. However, Eastwood turned it down because he felt the character should be British.
Yes, that's right, Batman was almost Bond. Much like Eastwood, West was offered to be Connery's replacement, but felt that the role should be played by a British actor.
Riding high off the success of franchises like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, Gibson was pitched to the studio to replace Roger Moore, but by this point, Broccoli was convinced the character needed to be British.
He was offered the role in the same year as both Eastwood and West, and turned it down for similar reasons. Can you imagine James Bond with that mustache? I sure can't.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "WTF? Timothy Dalton DID play James Bond. TWICE in fact!" And you're right. The thing is though, he took the role the THIRD time he was asked to play the super spy. He'd turned down the role twice before, both in 1969 and in 1979. The first time was because he felt he was too young and didn't want to be Connery's replacement, and the second because he didn't like the direction the franchise was taking at the time.