What it takes to be James Bond – the audition test every 007 has to pass
What skills does a potential 007 have to demonstrate before he gets the part?
If you want to be James Bond, you have to pass a very specific test. Any prospective Bond is sure to be put through the ringer by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to make sure their martini is shaken and not stirred, to make sure he knows the difference between a Walther PPK and a Glock 9MM and most importantly that he can conceivably be the object of lust for every woman on the planet.
The Bond producers have one specific scene with which they test all aspiring 007s and it’s a classic from the second film in the series – 1963's From Russia with Love. Any self-respecting Bond fan knows it well – it’s when Sean Connery’s incarnation of Bond becomes intimately acquainted with Daniela Bianchi’s Tatiana Romanova, a honeytrap to seduce 007.
The scene finds Bond in the aftermath of a dramatic action sequence where he and his ally and MI6’s head in Turkey Kerim kill Soviet assassin Krilencu. Bond then returns to his hotel room where he finds Tatiana, wearing nothing but a black velvet choker.
Bond, such is his style, quickly makes himself comfortable with Miss Romanova and compliments her attractiveness only to be met with the self-deprecating retort: "I think my mouth is too big."
As he leans in for a kiss, Bond comes back with a barb as only he can: "No, it’s the right size. For me, that is."
Wilson talked about the scene during last year’s celebrations at the BFI to commemorate 60 years since the release of the first 007 movie, 1962's Dr. No.
"We always use the same scene and that’s the one in From Russia With Love where Bond comes back to his room after the assassination, and he starts taking off his shirt, goes into the room to bathe," Wilson explained. "Then he hears something, takes his gun, goes in and the girl’s in the bed. That was the test we use. Anyone who can bring that scene off is right for Bond. It’s tough to do.”
Wilson also made a point to mention that they always need a good actress to read the Tatiana part but kept the names of any of the women to have worked the audition process under his hat.
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You can see exactly why the producers use the scene to test the mettle of any potential secret agent. The scene calls for Bond to be sexy, confident and beguiling and rather emphasises his '60s approach to espionage. It’s a bit of acting that really embodies the Bond character and what a performer needs to bring to the role that has always been more than shooting and seducing. Emitting that level of debonair confidence is not easy. Especially with a character as familiar as Bond, it can easily turn to parody and the scene allows an actor to find the right tone as 007.
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It’s also easy to imagine Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig nailing the scene but less so Timothy Dalton who brought less sensuality to the role.
So who are some of the actors that could be auditioning with this scene now Craig has gone off to solve mysteries as Benoit Blanc? Who is the next Bond?
The highly secretive Bond casting process is currently underway with little in the way of rumour as to who is going to follow Craig into the tuxedo.
Wilson has hinted at what they are looking for in a post-Craig world: "We’ve tried looking at younger people in the past. But trying to visualise it doesn’t work. Remember, Bond’s already a veteran. He’s had some experience. He’s a person who has been through the wars, so to speak. He’s probably been in the SAS or something. He isn’t some kid out of high school that you can bring in and start off. That’s why it works for a 30-something.”
The favourite with bookmakers remains Aaron Taylor-Johnson who fits Wilson’s billing as a guy in his early thirties (and will be a couple of years older by the time filming commences) and has experience playing action roles in movies such as Tenet, Godzilla and Bullet Train. The one caveat with Taylor-Johnson is that he is already an A-lister and is set to topline Marvel’s Kraven the Hunter which, if it takes off, could keep him busy for the next few years. Taylor-Johnson is also set to appear in a remake of The Fall Guy and Robert Eggers’ new adaptation of Nosferatu.
Other stars apparently in the running to reenact Connery’s iconic scene include the long-rumoured Henry Cavill, Happy Valley’s James Norton, Bridgerton breakout Regé-Jean Page, Jack Lowden (who is currently playing a very different kind of spy in Slow Horses) and Gangs of London bad-ass Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù.
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