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Clint Eastwood Could Have Replaced Sean Connery as James Bond

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Barney112 / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Barney112 / MovieStillsDB

Clint Eastwood is famous for playing tough, masculine characters. These have included the “Man with No Name” in the 1960s Spaghetti Western Dollars Trilogy and San Francisco Police Department Inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry franchise. Many fans don’t know that in the 1970s, he almost took on another famous role – that of the most infamous fictional spy, James Bond

The end of the Sean Connery era

Sean Connery was the first actor to take on the role of 007. First appearing in the film Dr. No in 1962, he would go on to play Bond in several more films before deciding to break away from the franchise. His 1967 film, You Only Live Twice, gave rise to a very unhappy Connery. While filming in Japan, he was reportedly followed into the bathroom by photographers and even had a stalker. 

Sean Connery in a scene from You Only Live Twice
Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice (Photo Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / United Artists / Eon Productions / Zayne MovieStillsDB)

On top of this, he began to feel he wasn’t being paid what he deserved. He was the one and only James Bond, after all. Connery asked for $1 million in addition to a percentage of the next film’s revenue. An agreement was not reached, however, and before filming began on the next Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Connery left the franchise. 

The role was then taken on by George Lazenby, an Australian model who eagerly wanted the role. But while Lazenby wanted to be Bond, he turned down playing 007 for more than that one film. For a second time, one of the most prominent roles in cinema was open. 

Believing it was the only option, Connery was asked back, but this time, money didn’t play an issue. To reprise his role as 007, Connery was paid the then-record amount of $ 1.25 million and the option to choose two future films. However, after making 1971’s Diamonds are Forever, he bowed out, never to play Bond with Eon productions again. 

For a third time, the role of the most recognizable spy depicted on screen was now open for the taking. Producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman began to look for someone who could replace Connery for good. One option was an American star known for westerns and action films: Clint Eastwood

Eastwood, Clint Eastwood

When offered the chance to switch Dirty Harry’s signature Smith & Wesson .44 magnum for James Bond’s Walther PPK, Eastwood said no. Years later, he recalled, “I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role… My lawyer represented the Broccolis and he came and said, ‘They would love to have you.’ But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”

Clint Eastwood, as Dirty Harry, points his Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum in a scene from Dirty Harry.
Dirty Harry (1971). (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Moviefan2 / MovieStills DB)

Eastwood continued, “I thought James Bond should be British. I am of British descent, but by the same token, I thought that it should be more of the culture there, and also, it was not my thing.”

After Eastwood turned down the part, Roger Moore, then known for playing The Saint, said yes. Moore would go on to star in seven James Bond films, the most of any actor to take on the role, from 1973 until 1985. 

A long career

Eastwood didn’t miss out, though. He continued on with the Dirty Harry franchise and took on various other roles, which included cowboys, a US Marine, Secret Service Agent, pilot, and an astronaut, just to name a few. 

Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Yaut / MovieStillsDB)

More from us: Liam Neeson’s Desire to Play James Bond Made Natasha Richardson Give Him an Ultimatum

Eastwood also took on the role of director, producer, and even composer. It’s safe to say that even though he turned down the opportunity to play James Bond, he’s still had an incredible and legendary career.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.