The Academy Award-winning Susan Hayward could have been leading 1967's Casino Royale as 007, it has now been revealed.

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While Hayward was known for her film roles in hits like My Foolish Heart and I Want To Live!, Nicholas Shakespeare has opened up about Hayward's close call with being James Bond in his Ian Fleming biography, Ian Fleming: The Complete Man.

Lashana Lynch became the first woman to hold the title of 007 in 2021's No Time to Die, but the wheels were apparently already in motion long before, thanks to producer Gregory Ratoff.

In Shakespeare's biography, he writes (via IndieWire): "Since the mid-1950s, many well-known actors had been approached [to play Bond]. Gregory Ratoff had the arresting idea of having Bond played by a woman, Susan Hayward.

"Ian had entertained several possibilities, from Richard Burton (‘I think that Richard Burton would be by far the best James Bond’), to James Stewart (‘I wouldn’t at all mind him as Bond if he can slightly anglicise his accent’), to James Mason (‘We might have to settle for him’)."

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Susan Hayward wearing a strapless dress and long black gloves, staring at the camera.
Susan Hayward. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At the time of trying to bring Bond to the screens in the '50s, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr told Variety previously that the films were "unbelievable" and "even kind of stupid".

He said: "So, Gregory thought the solution was to make Bond a woman, 'Jane Bond' if you will, and he even had a plan to cast Susan Hayward in the role."

Fleming was intent on making Richard Burton the first on-screen James Bond - but Burton declined.

It was then a long journey to finding the perfect match for the role, and as Shakespeare reveals in his book, Peter Finch, Cary Grant, Dirk Bogarde, Trevor Howard, Rex Harrison, Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, Patrick McGoohan, Roger Moore - who did eventually play Bond - and Richard Johnson were all considered for the leading part.

Of course, now rumours continue to swirl around the future of the film franchise, after the departure of Daniel Craig as 007.

Currently, all eyes are on Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the next James Bond after a report in The Sun previously claimed he has already been offered the role.

While there has been no confirmation of the fact, Taylor-Johnson has been getting the seal of approval from not one previous Bond but two.

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As well as George Lazenby, Pierce Brosnan said that he thinks Taylor-Johnson "has the chops" to take on Bond.

Speaking on The Ray D'Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio 1, Brosnan said: "I think the man has the chops and the talent and the charisma to play Bond, very much so."

But Brosnan also previously noted that Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy would make a "magnificent" James Bond.

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