To coincide with the release of Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond in No Time to Die, we take a look at some of the fun facts around the James Bond franchise.
The inspiration for Bond included Ian Fleming himself
There was no one real-life inspiration for the character of James Bond, but many people have been listed as influential. Top of the list is Ian Fleming himself, who was a Naval Intelligence Officer and personal assistant to the director of Naval Intelligence.
Sources suggest that Fleming shared a love of women, smoking, and drinking with his most famous character.
James Bond’s name is deliberately dull
While there are numerous real-life inspirations for the character of James Bond, his name has one indisputable source.
The name came from the front of an ornithological book: Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. Speaking to The New Yorker in 1962, Fleming explained: “I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened… When I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.”
The book itself had a brief cameo in the movie Die Another Day in 2002. Bond is carrying it along with his binoculars when he tries to convince Halle Berry’s Jinx that he’s an ornithologist.
The codename ‘007’ could come from a 16th-century polymath, a codebreaker, or a bus
There are various suggestions as to how Fleming came up with the codename “007.”
Most popular is the theory that it relates to the Zimmermann Telegram. This was a coded German document that, once cracked by the British, encouraged the US to enter the First World War. Deciphering the telegram was one of the greatest achievements of the British. Since the document was coded 0075, any future highly classified material was given the 00 grade.
In addition, the 16th-century polymath and spy John Dee signed his letters to Queen Elizabeth I as “007.” This particular signature meant that the letter was personal and for her majesty’s eyes only.
However, some sources suggest that 007 actually came from the bus route that Ian Fleming used, running between Canterbury and London.
M’s real name has had several variations
M is allegedly based on Sir Mansfield Smith-Cunning, another Naval Intelligence Officer. The novel The Man with the Golden Gun reveals that M’s real name is Vice Admiral Sir Miles Messervy. When M was played by Judy Dench in the movies, a continuation novel called The Facts of Death reported that she was named Barbara Mawdsley.
When Ralph Fiennes took over from Judy Dench in Skyfall, his name is given during the film itself as Gareth Mallory.
Three actors portrayed Bond before Sean Connery
While most of the world took notice when Connery’s iconic Bond entered cinemas in the 1962 film Dr. No, there had already been two novel adaptations.
In 1945, an hour-long TV adaptation of Casino Royale was made for Climax! The Mystery Theater, where Barry Nelson played Bond. Then Bob Holness gave Bond a voice for a 1956 radio adaptation.
Finally, the opening sequence of Dr. No has James Bond walking on screen, viewed through the barrel of a gun. In that scene, Bond is played by stuntman Bob Simmons and not Connery. We only see Connery when the movie actually starts to play.
Sean Connery wore a toupee, and Roger Moore wouldn’t run
While Sean Connery is the world’s favorite Bond, the actor actually went bald at 21, so he needed to wear a hairpiece during filming. Joe Robinson, who starred alongside Connery in Diamonds are Forever, pulled it off accidentally.
Roger Moore’s little foible is that he wouldn’t run because he felt that he looked awkward. So all scenes in his movies where Bond is running are carried out by a body double. He also allegedly has hoplophobia (a fear of firearms).
Sean Connery’s salary was a record-breaker
For his appearance in Diamonds are Forever, Sean Connery was paid $1.25 million. It might not sound much today, but back in 1971 it was enough to set a world record. He donated it all to the Scottish International Education Trust.
In fact, there are various world records associated with the Bond films, including the longest speedboat jump in a film (Live and Let Die) and most cannon rolls in a car (Casino Royale, 2006).
The books name Bond’s parents
In the novel You Only Live Twice, Ian Fleming includes an obituary for Bond, which gives details of his past. His father was Andrew Bond and his mother was Monique Delacroix. His father owned a weapons company. They both died in a climbing accident, and 11-year-old James was sent to live with his aunt in England. After studying in Edinburgh, he was recruited by the Royal Navy.
M lives in John Barry’s house
When choosing a location for M’s house in the film Skyfall, a decision was made to use the former home of John Barry – the man responsible for much of the music in the Bond films, including the iconic opening theme.
Ironically, the theme tune wasn’t originally written for the Bond movies. It was to be included in a musical theatre adaptation of A House for Mr. Biswas, based on V.S. Naipaul’s novel. It wasn’t used, so it was reworked and given to the Bond film.
Ian Fleming’s home was called Goldeneye
After visiting Jamaica and falling in love with it, Fleming bought a plot of land there and named it Goldeneye. It was where he wrote his 14 Bond novels.
Fleming was a real “goldfinger”
Author Ian Fleming typed up the Bond novels on a gold-plated Royal typewriter (not pictured here) that he commissioned in 1952. It was subsequently sold at auction in 1995 for over $90,000.
This price was nowhere near the highest paid for Bond memorabilia – that record went to a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 coup used to promote Goldfinger and Thunderball. The car sold for $1.9 million in 2006.
Weirdly, the Guinness Book of World Records holds that UK author John Gardener wrote more novels than Fleming himself. While Fleming’s output was 12 novels and two short story collections, Gardner wrote 14 novels and two screenplay adaptations.
Roald Dahl wrote one of the Bond scripts while Fleming wrote a children’s novel
After Ian Fleming passed away in 1964, the studios sought other writers to transcribe his books into films. The writer they chose for You Only Live Twice was Roald Dahl. Although most famous for his children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl also wrote adult stories.
Fleming tried his hand at writing for children when he penned the novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, published in three volumes starting in 1964. When the book was made into a musical film, the screenplay was co-written by Roald Dahl.
Pierce Brosnan married a Bond girl
Before he was cast as Bond, Pierce Brosnan was married to Cassandra Harris, who was the Bond girl in For Your Eyes Only. Tragically, she died before Brosnan was cast as Bond.
Daniel Craig can drive any Aston Martin he likes
Goldfinger was banned in Israel
Gert Fröbe played the villain Goldfinger in the film of the same name. After he admitted to an English paper that he was a Nazi during the Third Reich, Israel banned the movie.
Fröbe later elaborated on the statement to the Los Angeles Times, saying “that 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.”
When Mario Blumenau came forward to tell the Israel Embassy in Vienna that this was, in fact, true, the ban was lifted.
Daniel Craig once got a round of applause for eating Starburst sweets
In an interview for The Guardian in October 2021 to mark the end of his stint as Bond, Craig responded to a question from director Rian Johnson about his worst horror story from his theater days. Craig responded that when he was 16 or 17 and doing Romeo and Juliet, a load of bored teenagers started throwing Starburst candies onto the stage. Proving that he was a crowd-pleaser even then, he adds: “Eventually I just got so weary of it I started eating them, which got a round of applause.”
In the same interview, Judi Dench put forward the question: “Have you missed me?” Craig’s touching reply was: “Yes. Yes, Judi Dench, I miss you. Every day I miss you, Judi Dench.”
In the books, James Bond had a son, and there’s a cartoon about his nephew
It was probably only a matter of time before his womanizing ways made Bond a father. Although this subplot never appears in the film, in the book You Only Live Twice, Bond’s lover Kissy Suzuki has a son.
This story was elaborated on in Blast from the Past, a story written in 1997 by Raymond Benson where Bond meets his son. Unfortunately, James Bond Jr. doesn’t survive to the end of the book.
His cousin, however, had more luck. In the 1990s, there was a cartoon called James Bond Jr. that featured Bond’s nephew rather than his son following in Bond’s footsteps as a spy. The series ran for 65 episodes and was made with the approval of Ian Fleming’s estate.