With 26 films and grossing over $7 billion, James Bond is one of the biggest franchises in box office history. It’s rare to find a person who has never seen a James Bond movie and while some want to date 007, others want to be him.
You might consider yourself a Bond enthusiast, knowing all about the action-packed movies, beautiful Bond girls and the great villains, but we reveal the unknown secrets of the popular films.
Initially, producers had to pay for the Aston Martins
What is a good Bond movie without a thrilling car chase? Aston Martin became the official car of James Bond with all the gadgets a spy could ever need, but the car company wasn’t eager to give the cars to the films at first.
In Goldfinger, producers had to pay for two Aston Martins in the film but after seeing the box office results and a spike in their own sales, Bond productions never had to spend a penny on the sports cars again.
Pierce Brosnan had to give up tuxedos
Pierce Brosnan was one of the favorite Bonds and starred in four James Bond films including GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day from 1995 until 2002.
In all films, Brosnan was regularly seen fighting villains in a tuxedo and this became his signature. From this, while the actor was under contract as Bond, he wasn’t allowed to wear a tuxedo in any other films he starred in during this time.
Skyfall takes all
The highest-grossing James Bond film to date was the 2012 movie Skyfall starring Daniel Craig.When including inflation, it raked in over $1.1 billion ticket sales worldwide, more than any other in the franchise and was Daniel Craig’s first time taking on the role of James Bond.
The process of choosing an actor for the role of Bond is not taken lightly so producers were thrilled when they saw the mass success of their new choice for James Bond.
The boys club
To date, there have only been seven actors playing James Bond over 26 films. Sean Connery starred in seven movies, David Niven only one, Roger Moore took on seven, Timothy Dalton took two, Pierce Brosnan starred in four and Daniel Craig also four with one more in the works.
Interestingly, all of the James Bond actors stand between 6 foot 1 and 6 foot 2 with the exception of Daniel Craig who is shorter at 5 foot 10.
The real MI6
James Bond’s employer as a British spy is the Secret Intelligence Service. Originally, the name was MI6, which stood for Military Intelligence, Section 6 and it wasn’t officially recognized by the British government until 1994.
While a job that mirrors the one of James Bond isn’t exactly listed in their career opportunities section, similar positions in the field include operational data analyst among other security careers. However, you have to be a British citizen to apply for them.
Sean Connery’s accident
While on a press tour, promoting his film The Rock, Sean Connery explained how he got a bad injury whilst playing around on the Bond set. He explained that he was due to star in a movie with Steven Seagal who later became incredibly famous and the two had a training session together.
He added “he was really very, very good and everything, and I got a little cocky because I thought I knew what I was doing… and he broke my wrist.”
Oddjobs odd line
Oddjob is the main henchman in Goldfinger but the character doesn’t really speak at all while doing his dangerous job. The only words he spoke were on the golf course when he muttered “Aha!” and then “Ah” when ordering men to collect Tilly after knocking her out with his tophat.
His other dialogue included a scream when fighting with Bond and a couple of grunts. The Bond novels explains his lack of speech was due to a cleft palate.
Perks of the job
Being cast a James Bond is an honor in itself, but it also comes with some greater perks. Since Aston Martin became the official car of the franchise, lending their DB9, DB10 coupe in Spectre and some vintage models, the car company offered Daniel Craig something he couldn’t refuse.
The actor was given access to any Aston Martin car of his choice to take for a spin at any time he wanted. It was great advertising for the company and great fun for Craig!
License to kill
You know when you sit down to watch a Bond movie, you’re going to get plenty of fights and deaths of the bad guys. Each Bond star killed their fair share of villains but who got the highest numbers?
Pierce Brosnan racked up the largest kill count with a total of 135 with Goldeneye alone having 47 people killed on-screen by James Bond. Nonetheless, Bond has been shot more than 5,000 times throughout his time as 007.
$37 million in car damage
After Aston Martin saw the success their cars were having in the James Bond movies, they wanted to up their game each year and create the most amazing model possible.
In 2015, Aston Martin went all out and designed 10 DB10s for Spectre, customized exactly to the production’s specifications. During filming, seven out of the 10 DB10s were absolutely destroyed in the car chases and crazy stunts put into the movie. It accumulated a total of $37 million in damage.
Bassey busts it out
Shirley Bassey’s hit Goldfinger became one of the most popular songs from the James Bond franchise soundtrack. When she recorded the song, the credits were running on a screen in front of her so that she could match the vocals.
When it came to the belting final note, the titles on the screen kept running and Bassey was forced to hold that note until it ended. She may have almost passed out but it made for a smash hit song.
The real location of Goldfinger
Despite Goldfinger being set in the United States, the entire film was actually shot in London. All of the external scenes were shot on a greenscreen in Pinewood studios just outside of the U.K capital.
The only giveaway for this was when Bond flips a light switch to discover Jill’s golden corpse. When he flicks the switch, he flicks it downwards instead of upwards to turn it on as is done in the states.
The only villain who returned
Bond villains usually last one movie, but the only exception to this was “Jaws” played by Richard Kiel. Standing at 7 foot two, it is evident why they wanted to bring back the intimidating villain. He first starred in The Spy Who Loved Me and later returned in Moonraker.
As for his metal teeth, they were so painful he could only keep them in his mouth for a minute at a time and the chain he bit through in The Spy Who Loved Me was actually made out of licorice.
M’s secret man
M was always seen as a serious boss and never really had a man around her, other than Bond of course. When there was a scene in Casino Royale of M sleeping in bed, Michael Wilson and director Martin Campbell debated for a long time whether to have her sleeping alone or next to a man.
When they decided on having a man in the bed with her, it was the production’s transportation coordinator who got the lucky job. Her husband was later mentioned in Skyfall.
A huge production
In Spectre, the scene where the plane hurtles down the mountain was not created by CGI and was one of the greatest stunts ever pulled off in a James Bond movie.
The plane was built on skidoos so it was actually being driven and eight planes were involved in the sequence. During the filming in Austria, the production team had to go up against unseasonal weather in Austria which forced them to make 400 tonnes of artificial snow to cover a whole section of the mountainside.
Will the real M please stand up
M had been in multiple Bond movies before her name was ever revealed. It wasn’t until Skyfall that M’s real name was revealed and if you blinked, you’d have missed it.
At the bottom of a box that M sends to Bond, there is an inscription at the bottom that read “Olivia Mansfield”. While other Bond novels have given M different names, the current set of Bond movies was rebooted with Casino Royale and Olivia Mansfield was the current one given to her.
A villain succeeds
In all of the James Bond movies, the villains never succeed in their goals, until one did in Skyfall. Instead of Raoul Silva going after Bond, it was actually M that he wanted dead.
Silva was an ex-MI6 agent and wanted revenge on M after being betrayed when she turned him over to the Chinese people during his mission at Hong Kong. In the end of Skyfall, he jeopardized her just before killing her and she died in the arms of James Bond.
While we don’t learn much about Bond’s background in the movies, Ian Fleming’s books have taught us a thing or two. Bond’s parents were Scottish Andrew Bond and Swiss Monique Delacroix and died when James was 11.
He went to live with his aunt in England and studied at ton and Fettes College in Edinburgh. After graduating at 17, he was recruited into the Royal Navy. It turns out that the Bond family motto was “The world is not enough.”
Fleming and Bond similarities
It seems that Ian Fleming based much of James Bond on his own life in the military. Fleming was a commander in the British Navy, preferred drinking coffee to tea, liked his martinis shaken not stirred but unfortunately there were no signs of brand new Aston Martins at his disposal.
When he was recruited into the Naval Intelligence, he became the personal assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey who may have been the inspiration behind M.
No smoking please
In Fleming’s books, Bond is a heavy smoker, just like the author himself. In the earlier films, Bond was frequently seen smoking and in License To Kill in 1989, which even featured a cigarette brand, requiring a Surgeon General’s warning in the credits.
However, 2002’s Die Another Day was the last time we saw Bond smoking a cigar as the dangers of smoking and harm to health became more advertised around this time. Stick to martinis in future!
Connery: Hot or Not?
When Bond producer Cubby Broccoli was casting for the role of Bond, he saw Sean Connery in Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Part of Bond’s whole appeal was the fact he was a very good looking spy and producers needed to make sure that audiences would be attracted and swoon over their chosen Bond.
In order to verify Connery’s looks, Broccoli took his wife to see the movie and get her thoughts on it. Luckily, she approved and the casting decision went ahead.
Tom Ford galore
All of Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall were made by top designer Tom Ford. Each of Tom Ford’s suits cost around $5,000 and Craig was given 85 copies of them.
When you consider that the Skyfall cast went through 200,000 rounds of ammunition while undergoing weapons training, the 85 suits actually became necessary. It’s safe to say that the vast majority of those suits were destroyed during filming all of the huge stunts in the move.
Roger Moore doesn’t run
In Roger Moore’s seven Bond films, he is seen running multiple times, but it turns out it’s never actually him. All of these scenes were performed by a body double as Connery believed he looked awkward when running so a body double was brought in to do it for him.
This is in complete contrast to the current Bond, Daniel Craig, who was very hands on in filming stunts and doing as much as possible during his run as the famous spy.
Roger Moore’s greatest fear
Despite Roger Moore playing Bond and the vast majority of the role involves guns, weapons and fighting, it turns out that he has a massive fear of them.
This fear is called Hoplophobia and is a fear of firearms which he god when he was a child. Moore had a childhood accident where he was shot in the leg by an air rifle by his brother in a freak accident. Since then, Moore has always had a problems with firearms.
A drink or two
When he isn’t fighting the bad guys, Bond is usually seen with a woman or at a cocktail event. In these occasions, up to Casino Royale, Bond is seen consuming 114 drinks, While you may assume that they are all shaken not stirred martinis, they actually are not.
He primarily drinks champagne, 35 glasses to be exact and only ever one beer. Despite drinking all this alcohol, Bond is never seen to be drunk in any of the movies.
The stunt that rewarded $450
Stuntmen will virtually do anything when they are on set. They are highly trained individuals in their craft, but still some things push them too far. In the case of James Bond, stuntman Bill Cumming wasn’t too eager to get into Largo’s shark infested pool in Thunderball.
It took an extra $450 bonus to get the stuntman in the pool to make the scene happen. He probably could have got a higher price for undertaking such a risky stunt.
Accidents happen on set
With so many fighting scenes and stunts in James Bond, it’s pretty much inevitable that someone would end up getting hurt. So when a mistake was made, it was Dave Bautista on the end of it.
In one of Spectre’s intense fight sequences, Daniel Craig was performing his scene with Bautista and he accidentally ended up hitting the actor for real. This resulted in Dave getting a bloody nose and a very unexpected hit from Craig.
The Bond effect
After watching James Bond, every man wants to be him and every woman wants him. For the men, some will try to mirror themselves on 007 and while the vast majority can’t afford a fleet of Aston Martin’s and plenty of Tom Ford suits, there are other ways they can try.
In the scene in Skyfall where Daniel Craig is shaving with a straight razor, sales suddenly shot up by 400% for straight edge razors with men flocking in their thousands to get their hands on one.
Fearless Daniel Craig
In the film Skyfall, the fight on top of the moving train was one of the most thrilling scenes of the movie. It turns out that during the filming of this, the train was in fact moving and Daniel Craig did most of the stunts by himself.
Although there was of course a stuntman on hand to do some of the harder stunts, Daniel Craig opted to do the fight scenes alone. Got to give it to him, it was on top of a moving train too!
The crocodile stunt was real
In Live and Let Die, the infamous crocodile jump performed by James Bond used real crocodiles. There was only one person willing to attempt the incredibly dangerous stunt and that was the owner of the crocodile farm, Ross Kananga.
Luckily, it went off without a hitch and everything was under control. In exchange for his bravery, the writer of the film decided to name the villain after the owner, Kanaga. No surprises that Roger Moore wasn’t down for this stunt.
Sean Connery wore a wig
Sean Connery might be the handsome actor, but he actually began balding at 21-years-old. When he played Bond, he had to wear a wig to show he had a full head of hair.
The hair and makeup team did a great job in keeping it stuck to his head during all of those crazy stunts. In Diamonds Are Forever, Joe Robinson accidentally pulled the wig off during a fight scene which would have been rather embarrassing.
Bond’s age revealed
James Bond’s age is never mentioned in any of the films so we had no indication of his age until Casino Royale. In the movie, it is revealed that his birthday is given as April 13th 1968 making him 47-years-old at that time.
Today, he would be 51-years-old which is pretty impressive considering all of the stunts he does. His birthday mentioned in Casino Royale is the same day that novel was released. It’s probably not a coincidence.
The famous theme tune almost wasn’t meant to be
Bond’s theme tune is known around the world and you simply can’t imagine the films without it, but it almost never made it to the franchise. It was originally intended for a musical theatre adaptation of the V.S Naipaul novel, A House for Mr. Biswas.
In the end, the song didn’t make it into the play so it was recomposed and ended up in the hands of the Bond creators. Sometimes, things are supposed to work out a certain way.
The significance of gold
You may be wondering why the color gold was such a big theme throughout the Bond movies and it turns out that there is a reason for it. Essentially, James Bond was born via a gold-plated typewriter that Ian Fleming was using.
This exact type writer which created some of the best books and film adaptations of all time went on auction and later sold for an incredible $70,000. Everything he touches turns to gold!
This actress would have died if she didn’t become a Bond girl
When producers were casting for You Only Live Twice, they were looking for the perfect Bond girl. Actress Mie Hama was at the Dorchester Hotel in London when she was told her English wasn’t good enough for her to win the coveted role.
Upon hearing the news, Hama threatened to jump out the window if they didn’t give it to her. Just as they were preparing to cast someone else, producers decided to stick with Hama and avoid a potentially fatal incident.
Only one actress was a Bond girl twice
Actress Maud Adams must have seriously impressed producers of James Bond as she is the only actress to play more than one Bond girl. First, she starred as Scaramanga’s girlfriend, Andrea Anders in The Man With the Golden Gun before being cast in Octopussy as a rich smuggler.
She actually got a third part in A View To Kill but only as an extra and you would need a very sharp eye to be able to notice her.
Those female pilots in Goldfinger were men
Arguably one of the best scenes in Goldfinger is Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus with the blonde bombshell female pilots. The beautiful women skilfully flying those planes had everyone in awe during the film, and asking questions who these incredibly talented women were.
It turns out that those ‘ladies’ were actually men with blonde wigs on! Luckily no one’s wig fell off when performing aerial stunts, it would have been a pain to re-shoot!
Goldfinger’s voice was dubbed
You would never have guessed it from his accent in the film, but the villain Goldfinger was played by Gert Frobe and his voice in the whole movie was dubbed.
The German actor’s accent was too strong and he spoke very poor english, so Michael Collins ended up voicing all of Goldfinger’s lines which were later added in post-production. Producers could have got in another actor with less of an accent but they thought his look worked well for the role.
Domino in demand
With so many roles in Bond you would think that they are all equally auditioned for. Think again. It turns out that the role of Bond girl Domino in Thunderball was one of the most auditioned for in James Bond history.
Hundreds of actresses auditioned for the coveted role and it ended up going to Claudine Auger, a former Miss France. Other actresses who were considered for the role were Julie Christie, Raquel Welch, and Faye Dunaway.
Read more: iconic movie secrets you needed to know