You're Charles K. Feldman - who do you cast as Bond in a serious version of Casino Royale?

edited May 2019 in Actors Posts: 1,644
Imagine you're film producer Charles K. Feldman. You have the screen rights to Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel Casino Royale. You've decided to make a serious adaptation of Casino Royale (1967) instead of a spoof. Who do you cast as James Bond?

We're assuming Roger Moore is unavailable because of The Saint and Timothy Dalton is too young.
Feldman and his friend, the director Howard Hawks, had an interest in adapting Casino Royale, considering Leigh Brackett as a writer and Cary Grant as James Bond. They eventually gave up once they saw the 1962 film Dr. No,

Grant had retired from films in 1966. He was 62 so too old for the role.

Terence Cooper - who played a 'version' of James Bond in Casino Royale - a very likely choice.

Ian Fleming had suggested Richard Burton for the part.
Writing in 1959 to his friend Ivar Bryce, whose company Xanadu was planning to make the first Bond film, Fleming said, "Both Dehn [a Hollywood screenwriter] and I think that Richard Burton would be by far the best James Bond."

Burton was in his early 40s at the time of Casino Royale. The right age for the part.

David Niven? I can't imagine him playing a ruthless type Bond. He was good as a charming Bond in CR 67 but as a serious Bond, I'm not sure.

I'm going to go with Terence Cooper. I haven't seen him in anything other than the spoof CR so it's hard to know his full potential but Wikipedia states:
Producer Charles K. Feldman kept him on a contract for two years before the film was made.

I guess he would have played Bond in a serious version of CR. I'd also guess Orson Welles would be cast as Le Chiffre. With Cooper - a relative unknown in the starring role - the studio would want a bigger star like Welles in the picture. I think his role would have been increased, more scenes. He didn't have many scenes in CR 67.


Comments

  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Defender of Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Éric Serra & the Bond double bill of '83!
    Posts: 4,772
    Richard Burton sounds as a great option. Stellar actor and a great voice too.
    Still though, I would have liked to see David Niven playing a less comical Bond. Shame his skills were so wasted in the spoof that we eventually got.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 3,157
    Agreed about Burton
  • Posts: 19,339
    Burton or Oliver Reed for me.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,191
    Oliver Reed
    James Mason
    Richard Burton
    Rod Taylor
  • Posts: 1,986
    This is a great topic...and a very difficult question! I agree that Burton would have done very well, and that Dalton would have been too young (alas!). I would probably do what Brocolli and Saltzman did--find a relatively unknown actor with some stage experience and natural charisma.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 29,587
    I've always felt Burton would be perfect since first hearing about his original plans.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Paradox Hotel
    Posts: 38,299
    Connery asked for a million dollars to play Bond in CR. That was too much for Feldman. Later, when they had turned it into a spoof and the budget had been raised considerably, they ended up paying Sellers a million dollars instead, and Feldman regretted turning down Connery s demands.

    Terence Cooper was the one they initially cast, while the intention still was to make it a serious Bond film.

    I think Laurence Harvey could have been a good Bond.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 29,587
    Harvey would have been another great choice.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "Better cold with them on, than dead with them off, I always say."Moderator
    Posts: 11,469
    It would be the same actor I wish had been cast originally. Terrance Young's first choice, Richard Johnson. Between Deadlier Than The Male and Danger Route, there's no doubt in my mind, Johnson would have made for one hell of a good Bond.
  • Posts: 1,986
    I think Laurence Harvey could have been a good Bond.

    You're right--that's actually the best suggestion I've heard so far. Harvey would be perfect for the cold, brutal Bond of Fleming's Casino Royale, just as he played a convincing bitter assassin in The Manchurian Candidate.

    And if anyone is wondering how good the serious version of Casino Royale could have been, make sure to read Jeremy Duns's Rogue Royale, his study of Ben Hecht's unused scripts.
  • Posts: 14,212
    Richard Burton would have been really great. At the same time I have to agree with @Thunderfinger; it's easy imagining Laurence Harvey in the role.

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  • edited May 2019 Posts: 1,644
    Thanks for the replies to my initial post.

    Laurence Harvey is a great suggestion. Most likely a stronger candidate than my choice Terence Cooper.

    The Independent newspaper:
    However, as the series progressed, and Connery relaxed into the role of Bond, the actor became indivisible from the part, which did not stop the producer Kevin McClory planning to cast another actor in his own version of Thunderball. At one stage it almost seemed as though the soignée charms of the Lithuanian-born British actor Laurence Harvey, then fresh from his successes in Room at the Top and The Manchurian Candidate, would inherit the part. However, although Harvey was one of the actors mentioned by McClory - the other being Richard Burton - an agreement was reached with EON, leaving fans to speculate that Bond's label snobbery could have been written with Harvey in mind, as indeed could one of the few physical descriptions that Fleming ever issued of his anti-hero - "...something cold and dangerous in that face... Bond knew there was something alien and un-English about himself".

    Harvey possessed or developed a British upper class accent. Taking a guess, had Fleming known about Harvey pre-Doctor No (perhaps he didn't know of him?) he might have suggested him for the part.

  • edited May 2019 Posts: 3,001
    I read that when Kevin McClory was planning to cast another actor in his own version of Thunderball, that is before Harry & Cubby stepped in at the last minute with their own co-producing deal, the actor that McClory wanted was none other than Lithuanian-born British actor Laurence Harvey to play 007, then fresh from his successes in Room at the Top and The Manchurian Candidate!! Had the Broccoli deal fallen through, then history would've been rewritten and Harvey would've been Bond in TB.

    People tend to forget the other leading candidates for Dr. No before Connery was finally chosen. Those were Stephen Boyd and Rod Taylor, besides Richard Johnson and Michael Craig, that is. Personally, I think Boyd would have made a very good Bond as well. It's funny to think that, at sometime, all of these actors have appeared in a Bond spoof after their initial consideration for the role in '61. Harvey was in The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966), Stephen Boyd was in Assignment K (1967), Rod Taylor was in The Liquidator (1965), Richard Johnson was in Danger Route (1967), while Michael Craig was in Modesty Blaise (1966).

    The other plausible British alternative to Connery was Oliver Reed. In 1967, at which point Connery had seemingly left the role of 007, Reed was in the frame and despite Broccoli's claims that, "...with Reed we would have had a far greater problem to destroy his image and remould him as James Bond. We just didn't have the time or money to do that", the role could have been ideal for him. Though there is the faint suggestion that post-Oliver!, Reed may have been dropped on the grounds of cost, not so much his off-screen hellraising antics.

    Here's a snap of Michael Craig in Modesty Blaise...
    3778-12802.jpg
  • I agree that Oliver Reed would have been a good choice at the time as a younger Bond.

    And while Laurence Harvey may seem to have lacked the physical toughness that some would say is essential for the role, Fleming appeared to define 'toughness' as the ability to take an incredible amount of punishment as well as being able to dish it out - an ability that certainly comes to the fore in Casino Royale.
  • Posts: 40
    Richard Burton
    Stanley Baker
    and for an offbeat choice Dirk Bogarde in his matinee idol days
  • edited October 2019 Posts: 3,001
    You know, after seeing Lawrence Harvey in the 1963 thriller The Running Man I’ve decided we dodged a bullet had Harvey appeared in McClory’s originally proposed Thunderball. The guy is a stick insect without his shirt on and his puny physique is quite visible to see in the swimming scenes with the gorgeous Lee Remick. Harvey looks good in a suit but his physique has clearly been ravaged by his battle with the bottle and his addiction to alcoholism. To see how Harvey would’ve looked in TB just watch The Running Man to get a glimpse of how unsuitable he would’ve been.

    To see what I mean go to 56:38 to see Harvey’s skeletal frame...
  • Posts: 376
    Jeremy Brett who played Sherlock Holmes in the 80's I think. Right age and strong look in the 60's. In fact as a younger man he looked very similar to the Daily Expess drawing of Bond and matched Flemings Cruel look.
    Also, bit left field, but check out a vintage picture of Inspector Morse himself, John Thaw. He'd have been great in ''67. Cracking actor.
    You know the more I think about this thread the more I hate the deplorable CR '67 and the wasted opportunity that turning it into a spoof was.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 29,587
    Richard Burton, or Patrick McGoohan, or Laurence Harvey. All would have given a far more Flemingesque interpretation than we got from Connery, I’m sure. That would have been a nice alternative film (or series of films).
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 2,880
    Hi, I saw your discussion and scanned the web for actors around 1967. Funnily, I came across a picture that I first thought was a young Roger Moore.

    tumblr_mki4d9vjrn1qb07v0o9_r1_1280-1.jpg

    But it was child-actor Bobby Driscoll instead. He was famous as a child, working for Disney, but died in 1968 at age 31 after a long time of drug abuse. Really a sad story.

    MV5BNTM0NzIyODIzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk2NzEzNzM@._V1_.jpg
  • AleanderAleander Kavala, Greece
    Posts: 33
    Terence Cooper, easily. But honestly, Sean Connery WAS James Bond, so I'd pay him the price to do Casino Royale anyway.

    Which kinda makes me ponder hard about that. Sean Connery in Casino Royale? Almost as good as Sean Connery in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "Better cold with them on, than dead with them off, I always say."Moderator
    edited October 2019 Posts: 11,469
    bondsum wrote: »
    You know, after seeing Lawrence Harvey in the 1963 thriller The Running Man I’ve decided we dodged a bullet had Harvey appeared in McClory’s originally proposed Thunderball. The guy is a stick insect without his shirt on and his puny physique is quite visible to see in the swimming scenes with the gorgeous Lee Remick. Harvey looks good in a suit but his physique has clearly been ravaged by his battle with the bottle and his addiction to alcoholism. To see how Harvey would’ve looked in TB just watch The Running Man to get a glimpse of how unsuitable he would’ve been.

    To see what I mean go to 56:38 to see Harvey’s skeletal frame...

    That was on TCM a few weeks ago. I missed the firt half hour or so. His build was one the slight side. But he definitely had something, a coldness to him.

  • edited April 24 Posts: 196
    I don't know how true this is, but according to some, Peter Sellers originally wanted to interpret Bond seriously and was annoyed at the decision to make the movie a spoof. He certainly would not have been the first actor I would have thought of for the role if the movie would have been based on Ben Hecht's screenplay. However, his popularity and fame could have been useful to Feldman if he seriously wanted to compete with Eon. Sellers being a great actor, I think he could have made an interesting choice.

    77ac1015d759bc5b706977dde3840b2d.jpg

    If the ambition was to make a thriller and not a comedy, perhaps Feldman would not have needed to summon an ensemble cast of stars and Orson Welles would not have been selected here to play Le Chiffre. Nevertheless, I would have loved to see a serious confrontation between Sellers and Welles, adapted from Hecht's script which in all likelihood was excellent. If not Welles, maybe the great Robert Morley could have been available, and cheaper for Feldman. It seems to me that he would have been as good a choice, if not better.
  • Posts: 7,809
    I think Sellers if he played it straight could of been interesting... I know Sellers was a comedic actor but did he do any drama roles?

    and has he ever talked about Casino royale
  • thedovethedove hiding in the Greek underworld
    Posts: 3,516
    Risico007 wrote: »
    I think Sellers if he played it straight could of been interesting... I know Sellers was a comedic actor but did he do any drama roles?

    and has he ever talked about Casino royale

    He walked out of the picture before his part was finished. I don't think there is much about him talking. I think Sellers as a serious Bond would have been not what audiences were expecting.
  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Defender of Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Éric Serra & the Bond double bill of '83!
    Posts: 4,772
    I have always liked David Niven in everything he ever appeared in, so I'd stick with him really.

    Richard Burton would be another fine choice though.
  • Posts: 196
    thedove wrote: »
    I think Sellers as a serious Bond would have been not what audiences were expecting.
    On paper probably not, but with a major promotion campaign it could have been done. However, since Sellers demanded as much as Connery, it is likely that Feldman, even if it meant spending such a sum, would have returned to the later, at the expense of the former. It was just a simple proposition on my part but based on a seemingly real enthusiasm from Sellers for the role. I think he could have been convincing, but I'm not sure if he could have won public favor. Still, his popularity would have been useful to Feldman.
    Risico007 wrote: »
    I know Sellers was a comedic actor but did he do any drama roles?
    There was Hoffman in 1970, but also The Prisoner of Zenda in 1979; despite being a comedy, Sellers plays a serious role in the later (but also a comedic one, he has two parts). They are the only ones which come to mind. There is also Being There, but the nature of his role is more ambiguous.
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