Roger Moore started racing as James Bond in 1973 with Live and Let Die. He would continue to star in seven of the films in total, but after filming five of them, he tried to get away from the role for the first time. He was looking for other opportunities outside the pigeon hole in which he was in 007. It is interesting to note that Sean Connery, the first actor to play Bond, also moved away and was replaced after five films (for come back twice more). Moore planned to leave after Just for your eyes, so Brolin was invited to audition as Bond for the next film, Octopussy. And he actually landed the game.
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Tall and sophisticated, Brolin was a leader who had succeeded in the past Westworld and The Amityville Horror. His lack of English accent doesn’t seem to be a concern for anyone, as you can see in the two screen tests (below). In the first, Brolin shows his prowess in combat against an intruder. In the second, he romances a woman wearing only a towel. These are, of course, the two skills that any actor to play James Bond must have in spades.
Brolin was ready to move to London to start filming when Moore changed his mind and took over James Bond as his own. It came at a time when a rogue James Bond film (that is, a film not directed by Eon Studios, which had produced all of the Bond films) was being produced. The cinematographic rights of Ian Fleming’s book Thunderball belonged to producer Kevin McClory, and he convinced Sean Connery to come back in 007 in a remake (Thunderball had been adapted for cinema in 1965). The remake was the film now known as Never say never, And it was to be released in the same year as Octopussy. Eon Studios didn’t want to risk introducing a new actor in the role of James Bond against Connery, so Moore was courted and Brolin was left in the dust.
He rebounded, however, and even made fun of his potential status from 007 to Pee Wee’s great adventure. So the dream of having an American James Bond play was thwarted. Screen tests of his hearing show that Brolin was more than able to spy. He had the appearance, demeanor and physique to be a compelling Bond. He was also ten years younger than Moore, who was in his mid-fifties when Octopussy came out – and it showed. It is unfortunate that the need to compete with a rival Bond film has deprived fans of the opportunity to see what Brolin thinks James Bond would have been like.
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