Why so many Felixes?

TokolosheTokoloshe Under your bed
edited June 2014 in Actors Posts: 2,667
Has it ever been properly explained why the actor for Felix Leiter changed for every film until recently?

During the Bondmania days of the 60s I can't understand why any actor wouldn't want to hold on to a coveted role in the series and/or why the producers wouldn't sign someone with more than one film in mind. I'm just curious as to whether any official explanation of the sequence of events behind this has ever been given?
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  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    edited June 2014 Posts: 8,476
    According to Leiter's wiki page, Jack Lord was asked to return after DN, but demanded too much money. Thus a new actor was chosen for GF. Rik Van Nutter was asked to play Leiter after he and his wife had dinner with Cubby. David Hedison got the role as he was a friend of Roger Moore's.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Leiter#Films
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Planet of Death
    Posts: 32,598
    Young liked them young. Hamilton liked them old and hammy. Glen wanted someone to match Dalton, but for LTK he wanted someone with more gravitas (takes nothing) And very appropriate to have the LALD Leiter back as the film takes much from that novel. The reboot is a reboot, so that explains itself. Add up the previous post and this, and you pretty much have it.
  • Posts: 2,341
    I thought Jack Lord and Rik Van Nutter were pretty good. I hated the Hamilton Leiters with the exception of David Hedison. I recall him playing on that Sci Fi series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" back in the 1960's. The guy in TLD was kinda dull.
    The reboot Leiter in CR and QoS is good. I hope he returns.
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 8,476
    Perhaps Terry's block of wood performance shook things up too much, so they went back to a safe choice for LTK. Jokes aside, I think Hedison was asked to return because a Leiter the audience are familiar with would surely provide more of an impact after Della's death and the shark attack scene. The audience would be more sympathetic towards these tragedies.
  • This may have some help to @Tokoloshe, from @saunders.
    saunders wrote:
    I think they had always intended to have a regular returning actor to play Felix, but when the first actor Jack Lord was asked to reprise his role in Goldfinger he demanded co star billing, a bigger role and lots more money so the part went to a miscast Cec Linder. When original director Terrance Young returned to the series with Thunderball he recast Rick Van Nutter as a much younger and good looking Felix more in line with both Ian Fleming's version and Lord's portrayal in Dr No. Rick Van Nutter was actually signed up on a three picture contract but regrettably the writers could find no place for him in either You Only Live Twice or On Her Majesty's Secret Service. By the time of Diamonds Are Forever it was felt that the rapidly ageing Connery needed a suitably matching weathered Leiter so the part went to Norman Burton who's portrayal was more reminiscent of Linder's.
    In Live And Let Die with a brand new Bond came a yet another brand new Leiter and as Roger Moore and David Hedison were good friends the on-screen chemistry worked well despite the Leiter role being underwritten ( as per usual). Incredibly the character didn't make another appearance for the next six films ( apart from Bernie Casey's role in the unofficial NSNA) and it was 14 years later when John Terry took over the role in an almost blink and you'd miss him cameo in The Living Daylights before David Hedison made Bond history by being the first actor to return to the role in Licence To Kill, the reasons for his return are believed to be that as the Felix role was integral to the story it was felt that a recognisable and proved Leiter was needed.
    Perhaps mindful of the constant recasting issues regarding the character it was felt that for the Brosnan years Bond needed a brand new CIA companion Jack Wade.
    Felix returned to the series in Casino Royale with Jeffrey Wright now having played him in two consecutive films and it's thought that he will be returning to the role in future films, but then again considering the history who knows...

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Planet of Death
    edited June 2014 Posts: 32,598
    QBranch wrote:
    Perhaps Terry's block of wood performance shook things up too much, so they went back to a safe choice for LTK. Jokes aside, I think Hedison was asked to return because a Leiter the audience are familiar with would surely provide more of an impact after Della's death and the shark attack scene. The audience would be more sympathetic towards these tragedies.

    Yes, but one film two years back would make audiences more familiar with Terry at that point than one film sixteens years ago would for Hedison? I heard this argument before, and it suddenly makes no sense.
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 8,476
    I have no idea. Wasn't Hedison a more popular Leiter than Terry before the release of LTK? Perhaps the casting choice does just come down to him being friends with Rog, after all.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Planet of Death
    Posts: 32,598
    And that Terry sucked and Glen realized it after watching his own film.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 2,216
    And that Terry sucked and Glen realized it after watching his own film.

    This.
  • Posts: 6,432
    Terry is definitely the worst Leiter, Hedison did a reasonable job. Jack Lord for me will always be Leiter.
  • Posts: 5,747
    I want you all to promise me that if you ever come across Craig, Mendes, Logan, or the Producers, you express how badly Wright's Leiter must return.
  • pachazopachazo Make Your Choice
    Posts: 6,394
    Jack Lord was too cool. They soon realized that they couldn't have Felix be cooler than Bond. However, by the time we got to Norman Burton they realized that they had gone too far in the opposite direction.
  • StirredNotShakenStirredNotShaken I'm gonna use this to clarify that Dalton is tied with Craig
    Posts: 1,637
    pachazo wrote:
    Jack Lord was too cool. They soon realized that they couldn't have Felix be cooler than Bond. However, by the time we got to Norman Burton they realized that they had gone too far in the opposite direction.

    I'm pretty sure that happened right away with Linder.
  • edited June 2014 Posts: 8,827
    pachazo wrote:
    Jack Lord was too cool. They soon realized that they couldn't have Felix be cooler than Bond. However, by the time we got to Norman Burton they realized that they had gone too far in the opposite direction.

    Either way, JL was NOT cooler than SC.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Defender of the Continuation.
    Posts: 12,784
    This may have some help to @Tokoloshe, from @saunders.
    saunders wrote:
    I think they had always intended to have a regular returning actor to play Felix, but when the first actor Jack Lord was asked to reprise his role in Goldfinger he demanded co star billing, a bigger role and lots more money so the part went to a miscast Cec Linder. When original director Terrance Young returned to the series with Thunderball he recast Rick Van Nutter as a much younger and good looking Felix more in line with both Ian Fleming's version and Lord's portrayal in Dr No. Rick Van Nutter was actually signed up on a three picture contract but regrettably the writers could find no place for him in either You Only Live Twice or On Her Majesty's Secret Service. By the time of Diamonds Are Forever it was felt that the rapidly ageing Connery needed a suitably matching weathered Leiter so the part went to Norman Burton who's portrayal was more reminiscent of Linder's.
    In Live And Let Die with a brand new Bond came a yet another brand new Leiter and as Roger Moore and David Hedison were good friends the on-screen chemistry worked well despite the Leiter role being underwritten ( as per usual). Incredibly the character didn't make another appearance for the next six films ( apart from Bernie Casey's role in the unofficial NSNA) and it was 14 years later when John Terry took over the role in an almost blink and you'd miss him cameo in The Living Daylights before David Hedison made Bond history by being the first actor to return to the role in Licence To Kill, the reasons for his return are believed to be that as the Felix role was integral to the story it was felt that a recognisable and proved Leiter was needed.
    Perhaps mindful of the constant recasting issues regarding the character it was felt that for the Brosnan years Bond needed a brand new CIA companion Jack Wade.
    Felix returned to the series in Casino Royale with Jeffrey Wright now having played him in two consecutive films and it's thought that he will be returning to the role in future films, but then again considering the history who knows...

    That's actually a very good summation of the situation regarding Leiter and this is a great idea for a thread as its something I've often wondered about too.
  • Posts: 2,341
    I always thought that Cic Linder sucked. that bozo in DAF was equally digusting.
    Ric Van Nutter reminds me of a young Clint Eastwood. His manerisms, facial expression. He was pretty good in an underwritten part.

    Jack Lord was super cool and though he may not have been as cool as Sean, he was serious competition.
  • Posts: 12,082
    Interesting topic. I think the irregular frequency Leiter was used in the series also played a role. And having Leiter recast early on in the series probably created a vicious circle: he makes less of an.impact and is less likely to be reused.
  • NicNacNicNac Moderator
    Posts: 6,661
    Ludovico wrote:
    Interesting topic. I think the irregular frequency Leiter was used in the series also played a role. And having Leiter recast early on in the series probably created a vicious circle: he makes less of an.impact and is less likely to be reused.

    Similarly the impact of Blofeld took a tumble when they cast three such physically and culturally different actors for the role.

    These two characters are part of the Bond heritage, and they were badly treated.
  • Posts: 12,082
    One of the reasons why I think they could easily reuse Blofeld and nobody among the general public would notice. Heck, they could have had Leiter in GE and only the fans would have made the connection!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Planet of Death
    Posts: 32,598
    Cec Linder was once voted the best Leiter on a Norwegian site. I love him as well. They put things in the drinking water here.
  • Posts: 12,082
    They must do. Or people associate him with GF. This was in a way the beginning of the character's downfall. He never completely recovered GF.
  • pachazopachazo Make Your Choice
    Posts: 6,394
    I really didn't have a problem with Linder personally. It was just strange that Felix had aged so much since the last time we saw him.
  • Posts: 12,082
    In itself the age change was bad enough.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Planet of Death
    Posts: 32,598
    Ludovico wrote:
    In itself the age change was bad enough.

    A bit like OHMSS-DAF then. But Bond lost his wife, that was his excuse. Leiter did not experience that for another quarter of a century.
  • Posts: 532
    Cool, co-billing, I need more money Jack Lord went on to......?
  • CrabKey wrote:
    Cool, co-billing, I need more money Jack Lord went on to......?

    That's a joke, right? (Forgive me, sometimes it's hard to tell...) :-?? Jack Lord went on to stardom in his own right on the original version of Hawaii Five-0. "Book him, Danno!"
  • Truth is, Leiter is a bit of an odd character. In the books he livens up Fleming's rather dour prose and Bond character, but in the film Bond himself is a more humorous personality so Leiter is less needed. Another reason for having different actors is that Bond is really a narcassistic character in the films; when they have a young, handsome actor as in Thunderball, then it seems Connery's Bond is rather dismissive of him cos he has to be top dog. Personally I didn't see Cec Linder as bad, he fits, it's only wrong if you are expecting the Leiter in the books, as with Norman Burton in DAF. And if that's the case then the rather dour, short, black Leiter of the Craig years is even more out of sorts.

    In a way, though, it's like having different actors as Blofeld, unwittingly it promotes the idea that Bond himself is a guy who can't be tied down, he is not in a relationship with anyone in particular, save the guys and gals in the office.
  • Posts: 12,082
    I think only Bill Tanner has been worst treated in the movies, and this is why I want the casting of both characters to remain consistent. So even though the novel's Leiter is not black, I hope they keep Jeffrey Wright, just like I hope they keep Rory Kinnear.
  • Posts: 532

    CrabKey said:
    Cool, co-billing, I need more money Jack Lord went on to......?

    That's a joke, right? (Forgive me, sometimes it's hard to tell...) Jack Lord went on to stardom in his own right on the original version of Hawaii Five-0. "Book him, Danno!"

    Actually, no, it isn't a joke. Beyond Hawaii Five-O, what did JL do?



  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Planet of Death
    Posts: 32,598
    CrabKey wrote:
    CrabKey said:
    Cool, co-billing, I need more money Jack Lord went on to......?

    That's a joke, right? (Forgive me, sometimes it's hard to tell...) Jack Lord went on to stardom in his own right on the original version of Hawaii Five-0. "Book him, Danno!"

    Actually, no, it isn't a joke. Beyond Hawaii Five-O, what did JL do?



    He became the Messiah.
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