Playing James Bond is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many. Why, therefore, did celebrities like Clint Eastwood and Oscar nominee Burt Reynolds decline the prestigious offer? The underlying reason was, in fact, quite similar. It all boiled down to 007’s essence and culture. The two talents differed in the aftermath of their rejection. Late actor Burt Reynolds admitted having regrets about his choice in an interview, whereas Clint Eastwood seemingly has none.
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Eastwood and Reynolds were intrinsic to the popular culture of their generation. Their influence can still be felt today. They could have enjoyed an unforgettable entry in their already impressive filmography if they had taken on the role of Bond in the James Bond film series. However, they realized that the prestigious opportunity wasn’t meant for them. And that too for one specific reason—Bond’s nationality.
Clint Eastwood’s Reason For Rejecting James Bond
In an interview with the LA Times (via Express), Eastwood revealed declining two renowned, potentially life-changing roles: Superman and James Bond. These were and continue to be characters that many actors yearn to play. If the depiction is proper and well-liked by audiences, you remain immortalized through these roles. However, the 93-year-old Hollywood veteran, who frequently dabbled in revisionist Westerns, crime dramas, and war movies, believed these famed parts were not meant for him. Referencing his disinclination to portraying the famous secret agent on-screen, Clint Eastwood said:
“I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. This was after Sean Connery left. My lawyer represented the Broccolis [who produce the Bond franchise], and he came and said, ‘They would love to have you.’ But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”
In the same interview, he had also affirmed his faith in playing “gritty, down-to-earth” characters who are not necessarily “caped crusaders.” Quite an understandable sentiment as such are the roles we associate with the Unforgiven star.
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According to Express, Eastwood added one more significant justification for his indifference to playing James Bond:
“I thought James Bond should be British. I am of British descent, but by that same token, I thought that it should be more of the culture there, and also, it was not my thing.
’70s icon Burt Reynolds had a similar point of view, although he later came to regret passing on the opportunity to step into the 007 shoes. It would’ve solidified his standing in the industry further.
Burt Reynolds Regretted Turning Down James Bond
For 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever and 1973’s Live and Let Die, specifically after George Lazenby quit the series, Burt Reynolds was considered for the highly-revered role of the MI6 secret agent. Appearing on Good Morning America in 2015, the late actor was asked about the projects he allegedly declined and did not participate in. The interviewer naturally brought up James Bond. In his reply, the Boogie Nights star stated:
“Yes, I was [considered for James Bond]. I think I could have done it well, except this is what I said. In my stupidity, I said, ‘An American can’t play James Bond, it has to be an Englishman.’”
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Reynolds declined the opportunity that may have changed his life, and it slipped through his fingers. For Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery came back to reprise his role. Roger Moore was introduced as the new 007 in Live and Let Die. And that was how both Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, in light of Bond’s nationality, passed up on the chance to play the timeless character created by Ian Fleming.
Nevertheless, their respective careers continue to be highly regarded, and even without the role, their perennial influence on Hollywood will always be felt.
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“An American can’t play James Bond”: Just Like Clint Eastwood, Oscar Nominee Rejected License to Kill for Eerily Similar Reason – FandomWire