Hollywood history is littered with castings that could have been. Will Smith could have been Neo in The Matrix. Kurt Russell could have been Han Solo in Star Wars. John Krasinski could have been Captain America in the MCU. And, as it just so happens, Jurassic Park star Sam Neill at one point screen tested for the role of James Bond. So, in a slightly different universe, he could have succeeded Sir Roger Moore as 007 in the iconic franchise.
As is often the case with these things, the video of Sam Neill’s screen test recently started making the rounds online. The video is brief, but it gives us a decent sense of what the actor could have brought to the table. We see Neill stroll into what appears to be a hotel room, tuxedo shirt unbuttoned with Bond’s signature Walther PPK in hand. He then greets a woman named Tatiana, who is lying naked in bed. She says that her friends call her Tanya, to which, Neill replies, “My friends call me Bond. James Bond.” The two then proceed to get cozy, in true Bond fashion. End scene.
To help set the stage, Roger Moore retired from playing Bond following 1985’s A View to a Kill. The actor had an incredible run, playing the part in seven movies beginning in 1973 with Live and Let Die. The producers were in need of a new actor to take the torch. Ultimately, it would be Timothy Dalton who made his debut in 1987’s The Living Daylights. But before that was settled, Sam Neill had his hat thrown in the ring. As the actor explained at one point in an interview with ABC, it wasn’t exactly his decision.
“My agent shoved me into a really embarrassing test. It was one of the most mortifying times of my life, because I really didn’t want to play James Bond. But I did run across Roger Moore once at a restaurant in the south of France. He passed me and we caught eyes and he said, ‘You should have been Bond.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t want it!’ Anyway, he was gone. It wasn’t a job that I would have enjoyed.”
Ultimately, Timothy Dalton would have a somewhat stinted run as 007. He only appeared in one more movie, 1989’s License to Kill, before the franchise went in a different direction. It was Pierce Brosnan who would reinvigorate the characters for 90s audiences with Goldeneye, which proved to be a massive hit. Brosnan went on to play the part in four movies, concluding his run with 2002’s Die Another Day.
Sam Neill seems to have no regrets. And it’s easy to see why. Aside from playing Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park series, some of his notable credits include The Hunt for Red October, Event Horizon, The Tudors and Peaky Blinders. Neill is also set to reprise his role as Alan Grant in next year’s Jurassic World: Dominion. You can check out his James Bond screen test from the Tyrozaphy YouTube channel.