A film franchise that with so many entries that it is simply staggering, the fact that there are 26 movies in the official James Bond series is absolutely mind blowing. Starting out with the 1962 movie Dr. No, the most recent entry in the series is 2015’s Spectre. On top of that, it is abundantly clear that this series will continue into the future, especially in light of the recent rumors about Idris Elba taking over the mantle of 007.
Considering so many Bond films have been produced, that means that at least hundreds of people have worked doggedly on them behind the scenes. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that some pretty fascinating things happened while these movies were being captured on film that most people have no idea about. After all, in order for any major movie to be produced, there are legions of people that have to make decisions, some of which are pretty fascinating. With that in mind, it is time to look at 20 behind the scenes things you didn’t know about the James Bond films.
In order for a fact to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to behind the scenes information about the James Bond movies in one way or another. For instance, you could find details relating to the production of any of the many James Bond movies that have made it to the big screen. On top of that, anything related to planned crossovers or other attempts to extend the franchise could end up here too.
20 M Was Named after Ian Fleming’s Mother
Without a doubt, one of the most interesting characters in the entire Bond series, whenever M shows up fans know they are bound to be in for something interesting. The head of the Secret Intelligence Service, the character is Bond’s immediate superior which goes to show how impactful M is. After all, Bond is incredibly good at what he does and not exactly the kind of character that is going to take orders from just anyone. Created by the original Bond author, Ian Fleming, it turns out that he named M after an authority figure in his own life. Revealed to be the nickname that Fleming had given to his own mother, it seems like the name M immediately comes to mind for him when writing about someone who is in charge.
19 007 Was Named After a Bus Route
Proof positive of just how thoroughly the Bond series has become a part of the popular lexicon, if you bring up the number 007, the number of people that will understand the reference is staggering. The number assigned to Bond by his bosses, it signifies that he is one of a select few people that are among the secret service’s elite. Also, a symbol of the fact that Bond is a field agent, somehow this series has managed to make the number 007 sound totally badass. That fact is even more stunning once you learn what inspired Ian Fleming to come up with that figure, 007 was a bus route he often took.
18 12 Directors Have Helmed Bond Movies
A franchise of films that has come to mean the world to people, whenever it is announced that a new actor is taking over the role of James Bond people tend to respond passionately. Also incredibly important, the directors behind the films are hugely influential but many observers don’t care nearly as much about them. However, it is pretty interesting that so many people have helmed James Bond movies over the years. Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, Peter R. Hunt, John Glen, Martin Campbell, Roger Spottiswoode, Michael Apted, Lee Tamahori, Martin Campbell, Marc Forster, and Sam Mendes. All of those people can boast about directing official Bond movies and Dany Boyle is set to be added to that list as he is supposed to helm the next 007 film.
17 Daniel Craig is Younger than the Franchise
Typically portrayed by men that are of a certain age, James Bond has never been a character that people in their teens or twenties are going to be tapped to play. As such, it was only after the film franchise had been going strong for decades that an actor that is younger than the series took over its main role. The subject of great anger when he was first cast, the fact that Daniel Craig was the first blonde Bond received an awful lot of discussion. On the other side of things, the fact that he was the first Bond actor that was born after Dr. No, the series’ debut movie, was released did not come to the attention of pretty much anyone.
16 Many Famous Actors Turned Down Bond
Probably the hardest task by far for those in charge of the Bond series, they must lose sleep every time they have to replace the person that has been playing their main character. After all, each time a new Bond actor has been announced the reaction among the fan base is oversized, to say the least. Portrayed in the past by actors including Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton, and Sean Connery, they were known entities but not huge movie stars when they took on the role. However, that in no way means that in the past Bond producers haven’t made efforts to recruit huge names to play the part. In fact, Hugh Jackman, Cary Grant, Liam Neeson. Clint Eastwood, and Burt Reynolds all turned down the role, the latter 2 because they felt only Brits should play Bond.
15 There Are Unofficial Bond Movies
Around for more than 60 years, since Dr. No hit theaters in 1962 there have been 26 official entries in the James Bond franchise as of the time of this writing. However, what many people may not realize is that there also have been some Bond films produced that aren’t officially connected to the movie series they love so much. For instance, when Casino Royale was released in 2006 it actually was the 3rd production under that name that featured the Bond character. On top of that, when Sean Connery played Bond in 1983’s Never Say Never Again it was not produced by the people behind the Roger Moore 007 movies that were being released at the time. Finally, there was a TV movie but there will be more on that later.
14 The Spy Who Loved Me Was a Huge Departure
A series of filmed that are inspired by a line of books, several of which share the same names, people have read the stories behind films like Moonraker, Thunderball, Goldfinger, and You Only Live Twice. Perfect source material for movie producers to adapt, in most cases, the films by the same name got their stories from the books that inspired them. Then there is The Spy Who Loved Me which is totally different in this regard. Sharing pretty much nothing in common with the book it got its name from, aside from James Bond and a few other characters appearing in both, their stories are completely different.
13 Someone Else Did All of Roger Moore’s Running
Sometimes, when you read about what went on behind the scenes of a major movie it gives you a window into why a film looks and feels the way it does. When it comes to this little tidbit of information, that is not going to be the case at all. In fact, it has pretty much zero bearing on how these movies turned out, especially since actors use doubles to shoot certain scenes all the time. However, this piece of Bond trivia is pretty darn hilarious. Self-conscience about the way he looked when he ran, he made sure that anytime you see Bond run in any of his films a stunt double that looked cool in motion shot the scene for him.
12 The Adaptation Rights Were Sold for Only $1,000
Previously on this list, we briefly touched on the existence of what essentially is a James Bond TV movie and now it is time to go into it further. Produced and released as a part of CBS’s anthology series Climax Mystery Theater, this 1954 TV version of Casino Royale was a movie in the same way that Twilight Zone episodes are. Whether you think that qualifies it as a movie or not, the fact is this, it was the first adaptation of any James Bond story brought to life and featured the first live-action Bond actor, Barry Nelson. More interesting than that however, Ian Fleming sold the TV rights to CBS for the meager sum of $1,000.
11 Casino Royale Was the First Bond Movie in China
From one entry related to Casino Royale to another, it is time to look at the version of that story that most people know the best, the 2006 Daniel Craig film adaptation. Breaking the mold in so many ways, it featured an all-new Bond actor, a much more frenetic pace, and felt a lot more gritty than the more stylized films that preceded it. Despite pulling no punches, it also managed to be the first James Bond movie that could legally be viewed in the country of China. A gigantic boon to its financial prospects since that market is huge, producers must have been overjoyed to learn that Casino Royale would be welcomed in the country.
10 George Lazenby Was high Maintenance
Blessed with a marketable look, when George Lazenby was cast as James Bond he couldn’t have had any idea what he was truly in for. Already a successful model when he starred in an advertisement for Big Fry Chocolate, the commercial caught the eye of Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli who felt he looked the part. Only the second actor cast to play 007 based on his looks, he only played the character once, in 1969’s On Her Majesty's Secret Service. His debut film, despite his lack of experience, it seems being the star of a film went to his head based on his behavior. Said to do things like send back a car that was meant to take him to set if he didn’t like the color, that is only one example of the kind of thing he did at the time.
9 Christopher Lee is Ian Fleming’s Cousin
An absolute legend of the movie industry and life in general, not only did Christopher Lee play a part in several fantastic films but he actually was incredibly badass away from the set. For that reason, it makes perfect sense that the people behind the James Bond series wanted him to appear in one of their movies. On top of his real-life qualifications, Ian Fleming may have wanted to have Lee in one of the films based on his work in part because they are legitimate step-cousins. Despite that connection, when he was offered the role of Dr. No in the movie of the same name he turned it down. Thankfully, however, he eventually signed on to play Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun and did a fantastic job. Sadly, by then, Fleming had passed away.
8 Ian Fleming Was Not a Fan of Dr. No
The mind behind a character that millions of people have come to love, Ian Fleming will go down in history for bringing James Bond into existence. Clearly proud of his many books about the character, considering Bond was Ian Fleming’s bran child it is really easy to understand how difficult it might be to see someone else take control of him. Perhaps that is why he felt the way he did about Dr. No the first time he saw a screening of the movie. Reported to have said it was “dreadful. Simply dreadful” after his first viewing, that is not the kind of response anyone involved would have liked to hear.
7 Sean Connery Wore a Hairpiece
Still, the person that many people think of when the character James Bond is brought up, Sean Connery’s portrayal has always been the legendary one for many long-time fans. In fact, his version of 007 was so influential that every actor that took over the role afterwards until Daniel Craig was cast in part because they looked like him. However, it turns out that the prototypical vision of Bond that many of us think of was given some artificial help to look as dashing as he did. Eventually revealed to have been wearing a hairpiece during every scene in which he played Bond, its quality was impressive as pretty much nobody could tell he had a toupee on.
6 Goldfinger Was Banned
Something all writers should be really careful about, using an incomplete quote can completely change what a person was saying. An example of that, when Gert Fröbe spoke about his World War II experience, he said “during the Third Reich, I had the luck to be able to help two Jewish people, although I was a member of the Nazi party.” However, when his statement was covered by a journalist, his quote was cut down to “I was a member of the Nazi party” which made it look like he was bragging about being part of the Third Reich. This resulted in Israel banning all screenings of Goldfinger, the Bond movie he starred in. Fortunately, that ban was rescinded when it came out that Fröbe was actually speaking about protecting two German Jews because one of the people he saved told his story.
5 Thunderball’s Explosion Was Out of Control
The kind of thing that takes a high degree of precision, if you want to prevent catastrophe when creating an explosion on the set of a movie then you need to know exactly what you are doing. For that reason, it makes absolutely no sense at all to work with materials that are not completely understood by the special effects team. However, while creating an explosion for the movie Thunderball, the decision was made to use an experimental rocket fuel. Not aware of how explosive that fuel actually was, while setting up the scene they used far too much of it. As a result, when they set off the explosion it was so oversized that windows in a town 30 miles away were smashed by the shockwave. It really is amazing that nobody was seriously injured.
4 One Movie Got Its Title Because of a Typo
Let’s be real here, when it comes to the titles of Bond movies, a lot of them are pretty ridiculous. In fact, it really is amazing that anyone took movies with names like You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, and Octopussy seriously. For that reason, at times it can feel like when naming the Bond movies they took a series of words they thought sounded cool in a hat and pulled them out. Of course, that is not the case at all but in at least one case the title of a 007 movie was partially accidental. Released in 1997, Tomorrow Never Dies did solid business but it is interesting to wonder how it would have done if a typo hadn’t led to that title. Meant to be named Tomorrow Never Lies, a single mistake while faxing the script changed that fate.
3 Roger Moore has a Fear
The actor that has played James Bond on the big screen more than anyone else, Roger Moore played 007 a fitting 7 times on the big screen. Despite that, his run as the character far too often resides in the shadows while people talk about Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, or Pierce Brosnan instead. Still, true devotees of the franchise know all too well just how fantastic Moore was in the role for his time. What even fans of his may not realize, however, is that in one notable way, his tenure as Bond makes absolutely no sense. A sufferer of hoplophobia, Moore fears firearms so portraying a character known to wield one at every turn may have seemed like a challenge early on. Of course, the fact that his weapons were fake likely would have helped.
2 Dr. No Almost Wasn’t Human
A mistake that would have been so monumental that it likely would have changed pop culture forever, if the villain from the first Bond movie was created as planned everything would have changed. At one point scripted to be portrayed by an actual monkey, how anyone thought that was a good idea even for a moment is totally mystifying. After all, it seems virtually impossible that people would have bought even an artificially intelligent monkey as a huge danger to an agent the caliber of James Bond. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the story was changed back to feature the badass villain from the book.
1 Sean Connery Really Was In Danger
A moment you can’t look away from, the scene in Goldfinger where a laser slowly makes its way towards Bond from in between his legs is choked full of tension. Highly relatable, it is easy to imagine how scary that impending doom would be and Sean Connery is especially compelling in this moment as well. At first, coming off like he did was doing a marvelous job acting in the scene, his performance may have been related to the real danger present on set. Shot by firing a harmless laser at the table, special-effects man Albert J. Luxford cut through the medal with an acetylene torch from below. However, from his position, Luxford could not see Connery so his ability to follow instructions was the determining factor in whether or not Connery was horribly injured.