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The James Bond series is one of the most successful movie franchises of all time, and yet not every actor dreams of starring in one. Some have even signed on, only to loathe every minute of making it.
So here are just some of the actors, both male and female, who came to regret their time on that 007 stage…
“I’ve always hated that damn James Bond, I’d like to kill him,” Sean Connery once famously stated. Rarely shy at voicing his exasperation with the character and the series (after meeting Ian Fleming, who had dismissed the actor as 'an over-developed stuntman', Connery labelled him 'a real snob'), things came to a head on his fifth film, 1967's You Only Live Twice. The actor was besieged by paparazzi and fans in Japan and even allegedly being snapped on the loo.
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Announcing he was done with Bond, he sat out On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, before being lured back for 1971’s Diamond Are Forever with a tasty $1.25 million cheque (which he donated to charity) plus 12.5% of the gross profits (which he kept for himself).
"I'd been [messed] about too much on other Bond pictures,” he told The Guardian. “There's so much bulls*** that comes from bad decisions being made at the top."
He returned as 007 one final time in Never Say Never Again — a rival Bond film made by another studio — mainly to get back at producer Albert R Broccoli.
Considering how doggedly he fought for the role of James Bond, anyone would have thought that ex-model and face of Fry’s Chocolate Creme George Lazenby would have been cock-a-hoop while lensing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Except he was, according to many who worked on the film, somewhat difficult on set.
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Moneypenny actor Lois Maxwell revealed 'he wasn't terribly professional' and Lazenby’s relationship with director Peter Hunt deteriorated to the point where Hunt wouldn’t even speak to him. His co-star Diana Rigg, meanwhile, penned an open letter for The Daily Sketch writing, “I agree that by the end of the film most of the crew were hostile, but only because of your extreme behaviour. Why else would your dresser threaten to hand in his notice?
"Why else would three chauffeurs leave you within a week? Why else was one member of the unit restrained from striking you after one inexcusable and crude outburst against one of the girls in the film?”
Lazenby, who walked from the franchise after that single film, believing that the Bond films had had their day, reflected on his experience: "They made me feel like I was mindless. They disregarded everything I suggested, simply because I hadn't been in the film business like them for about a thousand years.”
He may have been just 33 when he essayed the role of drugs kingpin Kananga in Roger Moore’s inaugural Bond film Live And Let Die, but Yaphet Kotto only had bad things to say about the movie and writer Tom Mankiewicz’s script.
“I had to dig deep in my soul and brain and come up with a level of reality that would offset the sea of stereotype crap that Tom Mankiewicz wrote that had nothing to do with the Black experience or culture,” the actor said.
Even the character’s death, which has Kanaga exploding after swallowing a compressed-gas pellet, Krotto lambasted as “a joke”. Roger Moore later wrote that Kotto had “a chip on his shoulder”. Asked in 2007 how he got on with his co-star, Kotto simply replied, “I have nothing to say about Roger Moore.”
Yaphet Kotto wasn’t the only Live And Let Die actor unhappy at finding themselves cast in a James Bond picture. Jane Seymour was just 21 when she landed the role of Kananga’s psychic and Bond squeeze, Solitaire, but, as she recently told EW, it wasn’t quite what she wanted from her nascent acting career: "I was the only woman on the planet that was not trying to be a Bond girl, literally… I was going to go and do Shakespeare and Ibsen and all the classics.”
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She went on to say that, despite her reservations, she took the job incredibly seriously, while for the producers, “they were probably more concerned about how I looked and how my figure was."
Her role in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies may not be a big one, but Teri Hatcher was, at the time, quite a star signing for the Bond series.
The Lois & Clark actor had been inked to play Paris Carver, the wife of dastardly media mogul Elliot Carver and an ex of James Bond, yet Hatcher was no fan of Paris or the film series she’d joined.
“It’s such an artificial kind of character to be playing,” she moaned, “you don’t get any special satisfaction with it.”
The soon-to-be Desperate Housewife was apparently not the best timekeeper, although it later turned out that she was pregnant and was suffering from morning sickness.
Pierce Brosnan told Vanity Fair, "I got very upset with her — she was always keeping me waiting for hours,” adding, “I must admit I let slip a few words which weren't very nice."
“I was 21, I had a student loan, and you know, it was a Bond film," Gemma Arterton told The Sun about her role as Agent Strawberry Fields in 2008’s Quantum Of Solace.
In the years after, however, the actor came to regret her dalliance with the Bond franchise, telling The Daily Telegraph in 2020: "She was funny and she was sweet, but she didn't really have anything to do – or a backstory," Arterton confessed to the paper.
“As I got older I realised there was so much wrong with Bond women, Strawberry should have just said no, really, and worn flat shoes.”
In 2018, Arterton rewrote Fields' part for a book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), via a fictional diary entry for the character. In it, she rebuts Bond’s advances, after noting his ‘smarmy comment’ on meeting him.
“I’m not interested in flirting with you – I’m here to work,” she writes.
Given what Craig-era actor Jesper Christensen said about the Bond franchise in 2010, it’s amazing that Eon welcomed him back for 2015’s Spectre. “Today, I admit that I regard [Casino Royale] and [Quantum Of Solace] as really s***,” the Mr White actor told reporters at the Berlin Film Festival, going to say that he was glad his "interlude as a villain in the James Bond series is over".
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Well, he may have thought that, except seven years later he was asked back for one final outing, and by this point, Christensen seemed to be more at peace with his Bond fame. "I am looking forward to working with Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig,” he said before filming started on Spectre. “It is a truly exciting script and a very capable team, so it'll be fun."
Daniel Craig has never held back in sharing what a miserable time he had working on Spectre. By all accounts, it was a pretty hellish shoot. Not only had the script leaked, but a memo had also gone public that laid out quite how much Sony were grappling with the film’s third act, and how the movie had gone seriously over-budget.
Add to that Craig breaking his leg and there’s little wonder why he was fed up. “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists,” Craig famously told Time Out when asked if he’d ever play 007 again, adding, “If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money.”
He did return, of course, for 2021’s No Time To Die, saying of the previous interview, “I needed a break. A little more skill in the answer might have been better.”
Watch a trailer for 60 years of James Bond