Faye dunaway and sybil danning, bond babes

Sybil Danning and Faye Dunaway were both considered for the title character in “Octopussy”. It`s doubtful that Dunaway would`ve seriously considered playing a Bond Girl at that point in her career, but B-Movie Queen Sybil Danning was ready for action. “Would she make love or war to James Bond in OCTOPUSSY?” As it turned out, neither. They both eventually lost out to Maud Adams, who screen tested James Brolin in his attempt to replace Roger Moore.

MeatLoaf should have taken a page from the book of Sybil Danning: never talk about a role you think you`re going to get until you`ve actually gotten it.

For those of you who don`t remember 1982 (yes, it was a real year) or weren`t born yet, you may be asking: “Sybil who?”. Sybil Danning was B-movie queen quietly working her way up the ranks of Hollywood. Octopussy could have become her big break. Instead, it became her big heartbreak.

Incidentally, Octopussy was not the first Bond movie she was up for. Danning was set to be cast in the role that Corrine Clery took in the 1979 film Moonraker, but because of a French cofinancing deal, that role was given to a native actress instead.

She was felt out  in 1981 and 1982 to determine her interest in playing the title role in Octopussy. Before she even had the part, she was posing for fashion photographer Firooz Zahedi in extremely suggestive Bond-like publicity stills, almost all of which involved either some sort of leather get-up or black evening gown complimented with the obligatory handgun. She graced the cover of Prevue Magazine in the summer of 1982 wearing a vulcanized black leather swimsuit with the zipper drawn all the way to the navel to display her, um, ample talents, and holding a gun with a caption that read: “SYBIL DANNING Will she make love or war to James Bond in OCTOPUSSY”?

The hype for Danning had already begun despite the fact that she hadn`t even signed a contract. But she apparently had gotten a look at the first draft.

“Most of the Bond girls are not really interesting”, said Danning. “Octopussy has to be much, much more. She must be unpredictable and dangerous; neither Bond nor the audience must ever know what she`ll do next: betray him or befriend him. That`s what their story is really about”.

“Their story” would be Richard Maibaum`s. Dick had created a treatment far darker than the Octopussy you see today. In his first draft Octopussy was a supervillainess on a quest for vengeance against Blofeld and SPECTRE; a retalation of sorts for a defeat her organization suffered at Blofeld`s hands. She recruits 007 in her revenge scheme knowing that Blofeld had killed Bond`s wife, Tracy, and would most certainly want to help bring Blofeld down (apparently being dropped 1000 feet down a chimney stack isn`t enough to kill off a supervillain these days). Bond and Octopussy were to team up to take on Blofeld and even disarm a super techno-weapon called the OCTO-PC (perhaps some sort of personal computer?). We`ll never know exactly what Maibaum had in mind because George MacDonald Fraser was brought on to steer the story in a different direction; away from Blofeld, SPECTRE, and any legal entanglements using them could bring about.

A thorough search through Maibaum`s archives may one day yield more clues to this interesting premise but it`s worth noting that yesterday’s discarded story treatments are often tomorrows plot lines. Octopussy would be made a bit softer; not quite as ruthless and certainly an admirer of James Bond. The Octopussy of Maibaum`s original draft would become, in perhaps an unconscious way, Elektra King, some 16 years later. In The World Is Not Enough, Elektra, the super villainess, recruits Bond, unknowingly, into her web to destroy her father and avenge her mother`s legacy.

Danning spoke too soon and the role was offered to Maud Adams. The rest is history, including Danning`s career. She was forever stuck in B-grade flicks and softcore erotica. The moral of the story: don`t count your chickens until they`ve hatched.

Persis Khambatta

Persis Khambatta, a former Miss India and Miss Universe winner, was, according to published reports at the time, being considered for the title role in the 1983 Bond flick Octopussy. The then 32 year old actress was eliminated from consideration as being an `obvious choice`. She had previously starred in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as Ilia. She died suddenly in 1998 from a heart attack at her home in Bombay, India.

Hey! my first name is James!

James Brolin, star of “Hotel” and “Pensacola:Wings Of Gold”, wasn`t just rumored to be the next James Bond, he was James Bond; for a day at least. He started off his long, weird odyssey towards 007 by screen-testing with Maud Adams (ex-Andrea Anders), recreating the key seduction scene in From Russia with Love, as well as another small scene with the actress who played Penelope Smallbone.

This occurred after For Your Eyes Only had been released, but before Octopussy began filming. Roger Moore was holding out, having his customary contract wranglings with Cubby Broccoli. This time, Cubby was ready for it, having Brolin lined up and literally waiting to take over the part.

What about Brolin`s American accent? The conventional wisdom was that that part of Bond`s character would just be overlooked. According to several inside sources familiar with what happened at the time, Brolin was in a hotel in London, ready to begin filming at Pinewood the next day when Moore jumped back on board the project.

Brolin then went on to star in the highly successful ABC-TV series Hotel, which later guest starred Maud Adams.

Note the resemblance to another also-ran, Christian Bale.

Shelly Hack

Shelly was under consideration for the role of Holly Goodhead in Moonraker. She may have even been the leading contender at the time. Hack agreed to a screen test but a chance encounter between Lois Chiles and Director Lewis Gilbert took the casting in a different direction, and Chiles won the role.

Hack went on to do a season of Charlies` Angels as well as several film and television features.

Diana Ross for Solitaire

Writer Tom Mankiewicz wanted Diana Ross for the role of Solitaire in Live and Let Die. He thought it was time for a black woman in a leading role in a James Bond film and he lobbied hard for her inclusion. However, the studio declined his suggestion and went with the way the character was written in the book: a white fortune teller.

“One of the things that I wanted very much was for Solitaire to be played by a black woman. When it came time to do it (film LALD), UA was quite frightened of it for legitimate reasons from their point of view: the picture was going to be very expensive and they wondered, outside of cities like New York and London, how well that would go over with a new Bond. They`d had the experience of Her Majesty`s Secret Service. They were real careful.” [Mankiewicz is quoted in Tom Soter`s 1993 tome Bond and Beyond]

Tom Mankiewicz and Guy Hamilton both felt that having a black female lead in the role of Solitaire would “alleviate” the problems the movie would face in having all black villains. A compromise was worked out, where Bond would sleep with a black woman (Rosie Carver-played by Gloria Hendry) but Solitaire would be kept white!

Bond and Beyond Concert

From Dr. No to Spectre there have been 24 Bond films. Hear the best music from them all including songs like “Goldfinger,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Diamonds are Forever,” and scores by some of the greatest movie composers of our generation, including Marvin Hamlisch, John Barry and Thomas Newman.

Visit the concert website

BondFanEvents.com will be presenting at this outstanding concert series on April 21-22 in Jacksonville, Florida. Don’t miss it!

 

Reynolds, Burt Reynolds . . .

Believe it or not, Burt Reynolds was wooed to play 007 after it became clear Sean Connery would not return after Diamonds Are Forever.

MGM kept pushing EON to hire Burt Reynolds to play Bond (he was a hot rising star back then) but EON steadfastly refused such a publicity casting stunt, insisting that Bond be British.

If Burt Reynolds had gotten the role of Bond, maybe Jackie Gleason would`ve ended up playing Sherriff J.W. Pepper!