Sam Neill has described his audition for James Bond in 1987's The Living Daylights as being like a "bad dream." Despite being one of the most iconic roles in cinema, actors tend to approach the role of Bond with caution because of the risk of typecasting. While Sean Connery managed to forge a successful career after he left the franchise, it took a few years before audiences would accept him in other roles. The movie star status of both Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan quickly waned once they departed the role, though both actors would forge ahead with successful careers as character actors.
It was major news when Roger Moore left the role following 1985's A View To A Kill, as he was – and remains – the longest-serving actor to play Bond, having made seven movies. The producers settled on three possible replacements for the next Bond movie The Living Daylights; Sam Neill, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. While a number of people were impressed with Neill's screen test, series producer Albert Broccoli wasn't convinced. The role was eventually offered to Brosnan, who was unable to accept due to being tied to a TV series, so the part went to Dalton.
Not that Sam Neill has any regrets about missing out. The actor recalled his test for The Living Daylights in a new interview with The Telegraph, and explained that it just didn't feel like him.
"No. Don’t ask! It was all a bad dream. The lesson I learnt that day was never be bullied by your agent into going along to something you don’t want to do ever again. That was the last time."
The star goes to explain his feelings, stating he never wanted to become a movie star, which is something the role would have granted him.
"And it’s been really interesting being here at the film festival – my friend and I Bryan Brown, we can go into Venice and do whatever we want. We can live a life. And without naming names, some of the people who have been our hotel for the last couple of days, there is no money on earth that could compensate me for the lives they have to live. There are guests on my corridor with six security guards outside their door. Six! And those are the people they now live with.
"When you get there, you’ve lost all semblance of life. So I’m very comfortable with whatever career that I have. Because it’s permitted me great privilege with very little loss."
While Neill has been the lead in major movies like Jurassic Park, he's always tended to focus on smaller movies or supporting roles, and even if he only played Bond once, the outcome would have altered the course of his career regardless.
Daniel Craig is due to return as Bond for the fifth and final time with James Bond 25, and it appears increasingly likely Danny Boyle will be the one directing him. Beyond that, plenty of names have been thrown around in relation to his eventual successor, including Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron. The franchise producers are likely glad they have at least a couple more years before the stress of hunting for a new Bond star kicks in.
Source: The Telegraph
- James Bond 25 (2019) release date: Feb 14, 2020