News that New Zealand actor Sam Neill auditioned in the 1980s to succeed the late Roger Moore as James Bond has prompted several other local actors to reveal their flirtations with taking on the 007 role.
This week Neill, whose illustrious career has not yet included winning an Academy Award which would automatically make him Australian, revealed he auditioned for the Bond character at his agent’s behest even though Neill himself was not keen on assuming the role.
The story prompted other actors to tell their own stories about vying to play the famous British secret agent character.
Veteran actor Ray Meagher, who has played Alf Stewart in the Channel 7 soap opera Home and Away since it started in 1988, said he auditioned for the Bond role (main picture) after Pierce Brosnan completed his last film in the franchise, Die Another Day, in 2002.
“Looking back I guess I didn’t get the role because I tried in the audition to deliver a performance that took the Bond character in a new direction,” Meagher said.
“In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have extemporised as much by saying: ‘ Stone the flamin’ crows, my name is Bond, James Bond ya flamin’ mongrel.”
“The writers also didn’t help when they stood their ground and refused to take on board my idea that Bond should lead a double life — a secret agent whose cover story is running a bait shop in a beachside resort town.”
Two other long longstanding Australian soap opera stars have revealed they also failed auditions to succeed Brosnan.
Ryan Moloney (pictured) who has starred in Network 10’s global hit Neighbours said he thought his high profile among British viewers of the show might help clinch the role for him.
“But it didn’t work out that way. I was actually doing well during the audition but the producers started to cool towards me when I began insisting that in the next film Bond should have a nickname.
“I thought it would humanise him more if other characters referred to him as, say, ‘Toadfish’ or ‘Toadie’, and not ‘James’ or ‘Bond’.
“But they didn’t take that on board and I heard very soon after leaving the audition that I didn’t get the role,” Moloney said.
Fellow Neighbours cast member Ian Smith who played Harold Bishop said it was also his own story ideas pitched to producers and writers that caused what he believed to be his otherwise successful audition to end in his failure to secure the role.
“I had the idea that Bond didn’t really have to be around or on screen for the entire film and that he might disappear now and then for various periods leaving all the other characters to get on with it, then reappear at some stage later in the film before disappearing again,” Smith said.
“But they didn’t buy it and I didn’t get the role.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reference in the first paragraph of this story to “the late Roger Moore” should not be read as suggesting the British actor was dead while playing James Bond — an often-cited claim that is yet to be authoritatively proved.