Sam Heughan was an outlier when it came to casting James Bond.
As he reveals in his new memoir, the “Outlander” star auditioned for the role ahead of Daniel Craig’s casting in 2006 film “Casino Royale.” Heughan told Entertainment Weekly that the process to play 007 was “quite an experience,” but ultimately, the timing wasn’t right.
“It was a stage in my life where I probably wasn’t ready for it,” Heughan said. “But I wonder what would have happened if I had got it.”
In upcoming memoir “Waypoints: My Scottish Journey,” available October 25, Heughan wrote that his audition was “cloaked in so much secrecy” that he “felt like a real-life agent,” mirroring the spy story itself.
“It was so hush-hush that nobody ever confirmed that I was being considered for the main role, but I knew,” Heughan penned, via EW. “Of course, it blew my mind to think I might even be in the frame for such an iconic figure. I loved Timothy Dalton in ‘The Living Daylights’; he was darker than the other actors. But the real icon was another Scot, Sir Sean Connery, who had it all: charm, ruthlessness, physical presence and the accent to match. ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond.’ I had to remind myself to relax and let them see what I could do with the character.”
Heughan continued, “So I went along to the Bond HQ and tried out for the casting director. Afterwards, I was invited to head up to the next floor, where producer Barbara Broccoli was waiting for me, like M, sitting in a leather chair across a large table. A replica gold revolver served as a centerpiece in front of her. The director of ‘Casino Royale,’ Martin Campbell, was also there. We spoke a little about Scotland and about Bond, read the scene once, then I left. It was all so quick, the sweat beneath my leather jacket just starting to form. It was all just so cool and crowned by the fact that Barbara was charming and delightful. When I left, I half wondered whether I was about to be tested with a car chase home.”
To note, producer Michael G. Wilson previously shared that every Bond has to audition using a scene from “From Russia With Love,” the 1963 installment starring Sean Connery.
Yet Heughan lacked the “it” factor that Broccoli and fellow Bond producers sought.
“When I learned the role had gone elsewhere, however, the feedback I received boiled down to the fact that I wasn’t edgy enough by nature,” Heughan wrote. “I’m always keen to take on criticism so I can improve as an actor, but the suggestion seemed to be that I lacked this quality in my real character. I could not see what bearing that would have on playing the role, but it was out of my hands, and meant to be….It wasn’t a question of becoming a bad boy. I realized that the edge the Bond team sought could be achieved through self-confidence, which to be fair I was certainly lacking at the time.”
Now, Heughan reflected on the missed opportunity, telling EW that he would “love to see a Scottish Bond” again after Connery, as “every British actor certainly has been talked about for the role.” But Heughan may be out of the running for good.
“Maybe I’m too old now. I know that they’ve been talking about making him younger,” Heughan said. “I feel like that’s where they’re gonna go, but who knows what’s in their mind.”
Heughan added, “But he’s a great character. He’s a dark character. ‘SAS: Red Notice’ that I did was very much my homage to the Bond world. We worked very closely with Andy McNab, who is a highly decorated British Special Forces operator. It’s all based on him, the character, so in a way, it’s a more interesting role than Bond. That was an incredible experience to study him and to learn about his experiences. So, I feel like maybe I’ve had my taste of that world.”
While debates continue over who will next play Bond after the conclusion of Daniel Craig’s turn, Idris Elba shot down rumors he was on the shortlist. Regé-Jean Page, Jacob Elordi, and Tom Hardy have also been rumored as contenders. However, the next Bond film is at least two years away.