The name is Bond. James Bond.
Bond was created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short-story collections. Since Fleming’s death in 1964, eight other authors have written authorized Bond novels or novelizations. The latest novel is Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz, published in September 2015. Additionally Charlie Higson wrote a series on a young James Bond, and Kate Westbrook wrote three novels based on the diaries of a recurring series character, Moneypenny. The character has also been adapted for television, radio, comic strip, video games and most famously film.
After 26 films, seven Bonds, more than $7 billion in ticket sales to date. No need to introduce yourself, Bond – James-Bond – chances are everybody here already knows who you are.
But hold on. How much do we really know about the man of mystery who has donned a tux to save the world so many times? Enjoy these shaken-not-stirred facts about the fellow who describes himself as “a sort of licensed trouble-shooter” at cocktail parties.
57. An eventful childhood
Ian Fleming wrote Bond’s obituary for the novel You Only Live Twice. From it, we learn: Bond’s parents were Andrew Bond, a Scottish man, and Monique Delacroix, a Swiss woman; the senior Bond worked for a weapons company and traveled often with his family; both parents died when Bond was 11; and he lived with an aunt in England. Bond studied at Eton and Fettes College in Edinburgh, graduated from high school at 17 and was recruited into the Royal Navy. The Bond family motto? “The world is not enough.”
56. The Spy Who Loved Being in Movies
As of 2017, there are 25 films in the James Bond franchise, from 1963’s Dr. No to 2015’s Spectre. A 26th Bond film, 1967’s Casino Royale, stars David Niven as an older James Bond — but it’s a satire of the character and isn’t considered part of the “official” Bond canon.
55. That’ll buy a lot of martinis.
2012’s Skyfall holds the record for the highest-grossing Bond film, pulling in US$1.1 billion in ticket sales worldwide. In total, the James Bond film franchise has a combined worldwide box office of US$7 billion, placing it fourth behind Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Marvel Universe films.
54. An exclusive club (the only kind Bond likes)
So far, seven actors have played 007 on film: Sean Connery (7 times), David Niven (1), George Lazenby (1), Roger Moore (7), Timothy Dalton (2), Pierce Brosnan (4) and Daniel Craig (4). All the actors who have played Bond in the past have been 6’1” to 6’2”, except Daniel Craig who is 5’10”.
53. Do you like your martinis shaken?
As one of the longest-running and most profitable film characters, James Bond has seen a lot of high-profile actors up for the role. Some of the more famous could-have-been-Bonds include: Patrick McGoohan, Christopher Lee, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Adam West, Tom Jones, Mel Gibson, Sam Neill, Hugh Grant, Gerard Butler and Sean Bean (who got to be a baddie in 1995’s Goldeneye). Cary Grant – the debonair leading man whom Fleming turned to as the physical model for his character – was considered for the role, but Grant turned it down, fearing he was too old to pull it off.
52. Talk about a particular set of skills…
Irish-born actor Liam Neeson, who at the time was known for films like Darkman and Schindler’s List, was heavily courted by producers to become the next James Bond after Timothy Dalton moved on. In a 2014 newspaper interview, he said: “It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be said, ‘If you play James Bond, we’re not getting married.’ And I had to take that on board because I did want to marry her.” Neeson added he didn’t regret turning down the role, and it’s fair to say the star of Taken, The Grey and The A-Team has satisfied his itch for action since then.
51. Suit up.
While under contract to play James Bond, Pierce Brosnan wasn’t allowed to wear a tuxedo in any other films.
50. A birdwatcher, huh? Well, that’s… kind of dangerous.
Author Ian Fleming said he chose the name “James Bond” because he wanted to a “brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name” for his fictional spy. Bond’s namesake is the ornithologist Dr. James Bond, whose name Fleming lifted from a birdwatching manual.
49. Like the writing teachers say: “Write what you know.”
While Bond’s name may have been based on an ornithologist, there’s no denying a lot of the character came from Fleming’s own experiences. There’s no evidence of Fleming owning a car with an ejector seat, but both he and Bond were commanders in the British Navy… preferred coffee to tea… preferred their martinis shaken not stirred… oh, and there’s that bit about Fleming working as a spy. Once he was recruited into Naval Intelligence, he became the personal assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey – who likely served as inspiration for M. (For the record, Fleming said Bond is a composite of many individuals he came across during his time in Naval Intelligence.)
48. Probably not the biggest hazard in his line of work.
Fleming was also a heavy smoker, smoking up to 80 cigarettes a day. Bond is a heavy smoker in Fleming’s novels and has lit up frequently on film over the years; the inclusion of a real-life cigarette brand in 1989’s Licence to Kill led to a required Surgeon General’s warning in the closing credits. The last time Bond lit up was a cigar in 2002’s Die Another Day.
47. “I can’t do that and then run two-and-a-half miles.”
Daniel Craig refused to smoke in several scenes in Quantum of Solace despite the script calling for it. “I don’t wish for him to smoke,” he told a British newspaper. “Fleming wrote a Bond who smoked 60 cigarettes a day. I can’t do that and then run two-and-a-half miles down a road — it just doesn’t tie in.”
46. Market research, 1960s-style
When Bond producer Cubby Broccoli was looking for the perfect actor to play James Bond in the 1960s, he happened to see Sean Connery in 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People. He was especially impressed with how Connery handled a fist fight in the climax of the film. But he had to be sure Connery had the sex appeal that would attract female moviegoers, so he brought his wife to another screening of the film. Suffice to say, she was impressed.
45. So much for my plans to leave a pretty corpse
In 1964’s Goldfinger, the main villain dispatches a traitorous secretary by painting her entire body with gold paint. As Bond explains, her cause of death was suffocation; since the body breathes through pores in the skin, blocking all those pores with paint deprives the body of oxygen. This is not true; while a person might have an adverse reaction to paint on their skin, you can’t die from suffocation unless the mouth or nose is blocked. Still, producers were concerned enough about tempting fate that they left a six-inch patch of actress Shirley Eaton’s stomach unpainted just in case.
44. “And you are…?” “Analyst. Business analyst.”
The full name of Bond’s employer, MI6, is the Secret Intelligence Service (the M comes from its original name, “Military Intelligence, Section 6”). Its existence wasn’t officially acknowledged by the British government until 1994. Today, its website lists “operational data analyst” and “business support officer” among its career opportunities for British citizens.
43. “No, Mr. Bond, open a chocolate factory.”
The screenplay for 1967’s You Only Live Twice was written by Roald Dahl, a close friend of Fleming’s. The writer of James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was tapped to write the screenplay adaptation of Fleming’s novel despite having no film experience; he ended up tossing most of the book’s plot and put the book’s characters in an entirely new story.
42. Um… ouch.
In 1996, while promoting his film The Rock, Sean Connery talked to The Tonight Show’s Jay Leno about getting injured on the set during his Bond years. In Connery’s own words:
“A number of years ago with a guy who’s become very successful, Steve Seagal, we were going to do a film called Never Say Never Again, and there was a possibility I was going to Aikido and what have you. And I got ahold of Steven, and we had this training in the building where I had an apartment and he was really very, very good and everything, and I got a little cocky because I thought I knew what I was doing… and he broke my wrist.”
That’s the same Steven Seagal who went on to star in many action pictures in which he hurt a lot of criminals, terrorists and other bad guys (but no suave secret agents). Connery joked how the injury prevented him from reaching for his wallet.
41. Big fans in high places, Part I
U.S. President John F. Kennedy was a huge James Bond fan. In a 1961 interview with Life, he listed From Russia With Love as one of his favorite novels. Sales boomed and the next Bond film made was, naturally, From Russia With Love. Kennedy viewed From Russia with Love at the White House on Nov. 21, 1963 – one day before his fateful ride in Dallas.
40. Big fans in high places, Part II
Elvis Presley saw The Spy Who Loved Me on August 10, 1977, during a special viewing at the General Cinema in Whitehaven, Tenn. It was the last movie the avid film buff saw before dying six days later at the age of 42.
39. Oh, irony. You do enjoy your work.
Another big James Bond fan was Warren Zevon, the American singer-songwriter behind such hits as “Werewolves of London” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band.” When his cancer diagnosis became public in 2002, he wryly told reporters “I just want to live long enough to see the next James Bond movie.” He achieved this goal and lived long enough to see it – ironically, it was Die Another Day.
38. Ziggy Stardust, on the other hand? Huge Bond fan.
David Bowie was offered the part of Max Zorin in 1985’s A View to a Kill, but he turned down the role to star in Labyrinth instead. Bowie later said he thought the script was “terrible” and the producers weren’t impressed by his bluntness. In 2003, he admitted he didn’t like Bond films in general and hadn’t seen one since the Sean Connery era.
37. Odd line, sir.
Oddjob never speaks in the film Goldfinger. His only dialogue is an “Aha!” on the golf course, “Ah” when ordering men to pick up Tilly after he hits her with his hat, a grunt when he hands Bond a gas mask at the back of the Army truck, and a scream at the conclusion of his fight with Bond. The source novel explains he can’t speak due to having a cleft palate.
36. Sweet wheels, bro.
For the production of Goldfinger, Aston Martin was reluctant to provide two of their cars to the filmmakers. The producers had to pay for the Aston Martin, but after the success of the film, both at the box-office and for the company, they never had to spend money on a car again.
35. The perks of being Bond.
Starting with its DB5 model in Goldfinger, cars created by Aston Martin have been the ones most closely connected to the James Bond franchise; Aston Martin’s DB10 coupe was built specifically for 2015’s Spectre. For his service, Daniel Craig is allowed to take any Aston Martin he likes for a spin any time he likes.
34. Thanks for the cars…
James Bond destroyed 7 out of 10 of the stylish Aston Martin DB10 two-door coupés designed specifically for Spectre. The total cost of these vehicles? $37 million.
33. Talk about a licence to kill
Who’s the most killing-est James Bond out there? So far, the record is held Pierce Brosnan, whose onscreen kills total 135. 1995’s Goldeneye racks up the highest kill count, with 47 people killed onscreen by 007. To be fair, Bond has been shot at more than 5,000 times over the course of his career.
32. Hold that note
When Shirley Bassey recorded the Goldfinger theme song, she sang as the opening credits were running on a screen in front of her so that she could match the vocals. When she hit her final high note, the titles kept running, so she was forced to hold the note until she almost passed out.
31. Instead of Pierce!?
Other actors considered to play Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye, including Liam Neeson, Mel Gibson and Sam Neill. At one point, the press reported that Bond’s gender was going to be swapped, and Sharon Stone was considered to play the role.
30. From London with love
Sean Connery never traveled to the United States to film Goldfinger. Every scene where he appears to be in the United States, he was actually in Pinewood Studios outside London. This explains why Bond flips a light switch down to discover the golden corpse of Jill: English light switches are generally turned on by flicking them down, instead of up like American switches.
29. Beam me up, Bond
Goldfinger was the first film to feature a laser beam. The script originally called for a spinning buzzsaw (as in the novel), but the filmmakers decided this was boring and unoriginal.
28. Gorgeous in gold
Goldfinger wears yellow or a golden item of clothing in every scene except for one. There’s one scene where he sports a United States Army Colonel’s uniform. In this scene, he carries a golden gun.
27. Naughty names
In Goldfinger, when the promiscuously-named Mrs. Galore introduces herself to Bond, he replies “I must be dreaming.” The original script had Bond replying “I know you are, but what’s your name?” This was deemed too suggestive.
26. Shaken, not stirred
Bond’s alcoholic drink of choice is a Vesper martini, named after Bond’s first love. It is made with three measures Gordon’s gin, one measure vodka, half of Kina Lillet, shaken over ice with a thin slice of lemon peel. It appears in many Bond novels and films and is first described in the novel Casino Royale.
25. Rest in peace, Bond won’t sound the same without you.
Spectre is the first Bond film not to feature the iconic trumpet playing of Derek Watkins. Since Dr. No, Watkins had featured on the soundtrack of every single Bond film; he died in 2013, shortly after the release of Skyfall in 2012.
24. Doing his part for better racial relations
1973’s Live and Let Die is the first Bond film in which 007 has a liaison with an African-American woman (Rosie Carver, played by Gloria Hendry). When the film was released in South Africa, all their love scenes had to be removed because of the apartheid policies of the South African government.
23. Can’t keep a good villain down
Played by actor Richard Kiel, “Jaws” is the only time a henchman ever returned in a James Bond movie. Jaws first appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and returned for 1979’s Moonraker. Kiel, who stood at 7’2”, could only keep his metal teeth in his mouth for about half a minute at a time. In one famous scene in The Spy Who Loved Me, the chain he bit through was actually made of licorice.
The role of the bond girl Domino in Thunderball is one of the most auditioned for Bond roles in history. Hundreds of actresses were considered for the part, including Julie Christie, Raquel Welch, and Faye Dunaway. The role eventually went to Claudine Auger, a former Miss France.
21. Is that a gun in your opening credits or…
The famous gun barrel sequence that starts every official James Bond film is credited to Maurice Binder, a title designer who created the opening titles for 14 Bond films. The look of the sequence was achieved with a pinhole camera shooting through a real gun barrel. Dr. No is the only film to feature the shot at the beginning and the end.
20. The long reign of female voices
Chris Cornell’s opening credits song “You Know My Name” in 2006’s Casino Royale was the first opening Bond song since 1987’s The Living Daylights to feature a male singer.
19. M’s sexy man
For 2006’s Casino Royale, Michael Wilson and director Martin Campbell debated whether or not to show Judi Dench’s M sleeping alone or with someone else. They decided to put someone in the bed with her, and the lucky man selected for the role was the production’s transportation coordinator.
18. Thanks for the tip!
If you didn’t follow the high-stakes game of poker that’s played in 2006’s Casino Royale closely, you may not have noticed that James Bond tips the dealer with a half-million dollar chip after he wins.
17. Airplane on ice
The plane that hurtles down the mountain in Spectre was built on skidoos, so it’s actually being driven. Eight different planes were involved in shooting the sequence. The production team had to battle against unseasonal weather in Austria that forced them to make 400 tonnes of artificial snow to completely cover a section of the mountainside.
16. No blood, no glory.
Things got a little too real during one of Spectre’s fight sequences when Daniel Craig ended up hitting Dave Bautista, giving him a bloody nose.
15. Hop on in…
During the Goldfinger premiere in Paris, a crazed fan climbed into the car Sean Connery was driving and this prompted him to shy away from the Thunderball premiere.
14. Safety First
In Thunderball, The Bell Rocket Belt used in the film’s opening sequence was an actual working jetpack. Filmmakers flew two qualified pilots to France to operate it. Bill Suitor, who flew the jetpack on camera, was asked if he would mind flying without a helmet so that Bond could look cooler, because there’s nothing cooler than leaving your brains splattered all over the streets of London. Suitor refused for safety reasons, which is why Connery wore a helmet in the final film.
There have been some pretty silly gadgets used throughout the films. We all may love Bond, but it’s also fun to look at some of the not-so-awesome gizmos featured in 007. Check out this video of the 5 most ridiculous Bond gadgets:
13. Hello, Olivia
M’s real name is revealed in the film Skyfall. It’s a little difficult to make out, but there’s an inscription at the bottom of the box M sends bond that reads “Olivia Mansfield.”
Other Bond films and books have revealed alternate names, but the series was rebooted with Casino Royale, so this is her official name in the current cinematic series.
12. Shaving like a legend
Sales of straight razors increased by 400% after James Bond was seen using one in Skyfall.
11. “A rag man” is an anagram for “anagram.”
In Skyfall, the antagonists name, Raoul Silva, is an anagram for “A rival soul.”
10. Success at last!
Raoul Silva was the first Bond villain to succeed at his primary objective: in this case, murdering M.
9. More rocket woes
The making of Thunderball wasn’t without it’s mishaps. Stuntman Bob Simmons handled the scene where Fiona Volpe uses rockets launched from a motorcycle to blow up Count Lippe’s car. Bob Simmons was tasked with driving the car, then leaping out after the explosion took place. He jumped out as the car crashed into a ditch, then seemed to disappear. As the crew frantically searched for him, he crept up behind director Terence Young and asked him if he’d done the scene right. Footage from another angle later showed that Simmons had actually tried to stand up in the ditch and fallen backwards into the flaming car before escaping the inferno through the passenger door.
8. Kaboom! Well done, Thunderball stunt crew…
The Thunderball scene where Largo’s yacht crashes into a rock and explodes didn’t go as planned. The resulting explosion was way bigger than anyone expected. They had loaded the yacht with rocket fuel without understanding just how powerful the stuff was. The resulting explosion was so huge that it launched the boat into the air, almost causing it to land on top of the crew. When the crew returned to Nassau after shooting the scene, they discovered the explosion had also shattered windows all along Bay Street. They were 30 miles away from Nassau when the explosion occurred.
7. Phobias, Part I
Despite handling and being around many firearms on set, Roger Moore suffers from hoplophobia, a fear of firearms dating back to a childhood accident in which he was shot in the leg with an air rifle by his brother.
6. Day of the Living
The makers of Spectre went all out when it came to the scene near the beginning of the movie at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City. Some props were up to a whopping 11 metres high. The crowd took 3 hours just to set up for shooting, and over 1500 extras were hired, requiring over 100 makeup artists.
5. Cutting-edge military technology
In Thunderball, Q gives Bond a tiny breathing apparatus that allows him to survive underwater for several minutes, a handy device that Bond puts to good use when trapped in a pool with a bunch of sharks. A member of the Royal Engineers instantly recognized the military applications of this technology and called chief draftsman Peter Lamont to ask how long the apparatus actually worked. “As long as you can hold your breath,” Lamont replied. The engineer countered that Bond was underwater for several minutes. Lamont explained the beauty of video editing, and the engineer eventually hung up.
4. Phobias, Part II
Connery is morbidly afraid of spiders, a slight problem given that one of the stunts in Dr. No involved a giant tarantula. The shot of the spider in Bond’s bed was done with a sheet of glass between him and the spider, which can be seen in one shot in the movie. When it didn’t look realistic enough, additional close-up scenes were re-shot with stuntman Bob Simmons, who later said the tarantula – whose real-life name was “Rosie” — crawling over Bond was the scariest stunt he had ever performed.
3. All in a day’s work
Stuntman Bill Cumming was paid a $450 bonus to jump into Largo’s shark-infested pool in Thunderball. Thankfully, he survived to collect it.
2. More shark woes
The sharks in Thunderball weren’t exactly well-behaved. Sean Connery was wary of swimming unprotected with live sharks, so production designer Ken Adam constructed an underwater partition made of Plexiglas, with one problem: there was a four-foot gap in the partition, and one of the sharks swam through it. Connery said he narrowly escaped the pool.
For the shot where a shark swims toward Bond as he’s exiting the pool, missing him by mere inches, the crew decided to use a dead shark pulled by wires to reduce the danger. Special effects coordinator John Stears got in the pool to control the shark, surrounded by other live sharks. Plot twist: as they began to shoot it became clear the shark wasn’t really dead. It started thrashing, and other sharks took notice. A feeding frenzy erupted, leaving Stears in the middle of a bloodbath. Stears survived and went on to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Thunderball.
1. “We can’t have spies running around here!”
When they found out that scenes for 1999’s The World Is Not Enough would be shot near their headquarters, MI6 moved to stop shooting, citing security concerns. However, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, at the urging of Member of Parliament Janet Anderson, moved to overrule them and allow the shoot. “After all Bond has done for Britain, it was the least we could do for Bond,” he said.