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James Bond behind the scenes – threesomes, escort ‘tests’ and brutal sackings

Daniel Craig is finally returning to cinemas as James Bond this week – but the long-awaited film may struggle to live up to the incredible story behind its production.

Premiering tonight at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the blockbuster has not only been delayed multiple times due to the pandemic, but also hit by a series of filming problems.

From an on-set explosion to injuries and line-up changes, it became a long, hard struggle to get No Time To Die finished – leading to claims the movie was even “cursed”.

“It p***es me off,” Craig told GQ… shortly before it was pushed back again. “Because I’m just like, ‘Don’t curse our movie.’ And also, we’re doing our best here.”

Reflecting on his final outing as 007, the star will at least know it’s always been a strange job getting the iconic movies to our screens.

From one former Bond learning about the role during a threesome to producers’ bizarre ‘sexuality tests’ and a gruesome accident that led to an amputation, here are some of the most incredible behind the scenes stories from over the decades.

Threesomes, audition fibs and escort sent to star’s room

He only appeared once as the secret agent in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – but George Lazenby’s story of how he got the job takes some beating.

A model with no prior acting experience, the star only found out about the casting call during a threesome with his best pal (it was the Summer of Love after all).



Australian actor George Lazenby as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969
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Image:

Getty Images)




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Turning up to meet casting agent Maggie Abbott, the Australian said he was told: “I think you’re right for James Bond. You’re just very sure of yourself, very arrogant, they’re looking for this.”

To get the look, Lazenby went to Savile Row and borrowed a suit worn by Sean Connery, who was stepping down from the role.

He also went to the actor’s barber for a trim before meeting casting director Dyson Lovell and producer Harry Saltzman – pretending he had worked on films in Russia and China, knowing they wouldn’t be able to check.

Invited back for a screen test, Lazenby’s lies were finally busted by Peter Hunt.

However, the director reportedly said: “What? And you say you can’t act? You’ve fooled two of the most ruthless men I’ve ever met in my life. Stick to your story, and I’ll make you the next James Bond.”









In the documentary Becoming Bond, Lazenby said that was far from the weirdest moment of his auditions.

One night, he said, a man came to his hotel room with an escort, saying she wanted to sleep with him.

Duly obliging, the actor tells the documentary how the man sat in a corner reading a newspaper, before he asked him: “‘Aren’t you going to join in?’ I thought he was going second. I thought he was a bloody pervert.”

Leaving his room, the man allegedly told him the studio had thought he was gay.

“I had no idea it was a test,” Lazenby said. “I just thought I got lucky.”

Freak chopper accident led to grisly amputation

You Only Live Twice featured one of Q’s most impressive gadgets – the Little Nellie.

The tiny helicopter, fitted of course with machine guns, helped Connery fight a fleet of Blofeld’s henchmen in the 1967 hit.



Sean Connery in 1967’s You Only Live Twice
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Unfortunately, it also saw cameraman John Jordan lose his foot.

Hanging precariously from a harness, resting his feet on the chopper’s landing strut to get the shot, Jordan was left in agony when one of the blades sliced into his leg.

In a rare bit of luck, a microsurgery conference was going on in a nearby town and surgeons were able to reattach the foot.

Returning to London, however, Jordan felt it was “not quite right” and opted to have his leg amputated.





The decision didn’t stop him continuing his fine career, filming action sequences for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Tragically, though, in 1969, while filming from a bomber plane for the film Catch 22, Jordan slipped and horrifically fell 2,000ft to his death.

In a cruel twist, the slip was blamed on loose footing from his prosthetic leg.

Famous laser scene nearly gave Connery a vasectomy

Goldfinger is regarded by many as the best Bond film of all time – and its iconic laser scene is certainly one of the most parodied 007 moments.

Tied spread eagle to a table, Connery’s secret agent can only watch in panic as the eponymous villain’s laser beam edges ever closer to his nether-regions.



Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) laughs as James Bond (Sean Connery) lies strapped to a table beneath a laser weapon in Goldfinger, 1964
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According to special effects expert Albert J Luxford, though, the panic was all real.

To get the shot, Luxford was hidden underneath with an acetylene torch, slicing through the table to make it look as though the laser was cutting through from above.

By the end of the scene, Connery was just three inches away from getting an accidental vasectomy.

“The centre of the table, through which I was cutting, was lead and I just worked my way along it, on my back, once I was given the word,” Luxford later explained.





“However, as I couldn’t really see how far up the table I was, I had to be told when to stop. As I got nearer and nearer to his crotch, Sean was sweating a bit. I hate the thought of ever injuring an actor, but ‘there’ would have been awful.”

Much to Connery’s relief, the timing proved to be spot on.

“I followed my cues exactly and was listening to Gert and Sean’s dialogue carefully, too, as I knew it would end, and laser switch off, after Sean mentioned ‘Operation Grandslam’,” he said.

“I was about three inches from his crotch when I stopped.”



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Half-naked Brosnan saved choking Halle Berry

On-set disasters have been a long-running tradition in Bond movies, though none came at quite as bad a time as Halle Berry’s.

Filming a sex scene with Pierce Brosnan in 2002’s Die Another Day, the Bond girl was supposed to be seductively chewing on a fig.



Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan in 2002’s Die Another Day
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Instead, the actress began choking, sparking chaos as a half-naked Brosnan weighed up whether to give her the Heimlich manoeuvre.

“Suddenly, there was no sound coming out,” the Irish star later told Esquire.

“She was waving her arms and I was banging her on the back.

“I was about to put my arms around her and start doing the Heimlich manoeuvre, but the both of us were kind of naked … I was certainly in no position to give the Heimlich to Halle at that moment.”

Thankfully, Halle was OK in the end and at least saw the funny side.

Appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, she told how James Bond had quite literally saved her life.

“I am supposed to be trying to be all sexy with a fig – and then I end up choking on it,” she said.

“And [Pierce] had to get up and do the Heimlich.”

She added: “So not sexy, so not sexy. He was there for me, and he will always be one of my favourite people in the whole world.

‘I was just kicked to the kerb’

Speaking of Brosnan, despite his on-set heroics, the actor was unceremoniously booted from the franchise after Die Another Day’s release.

While producers were desperate to tie Craig down for one final outing, his predecessor revealed he was brutally dumped during a call with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson.

Speaking in the documentary Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films, Brosnan explained he was in the Bahamas filming another movie when his agents called him up to say negotiations had stopped.

“I sat in [actor] Richard Harris’s house in the Bahamas, and Barbara and Michael were on the line,” he said.

“[They said] ‘We’re so sorry.’ She was crying, Michael was stoic and he said, ‘You were a great James Bond. Thank you very much,’ and I said, ‘Thank you very much. Goodbye.’







“That was it. I was utterly shocked and just kicked to the kerb with the way it went down.”

Brosnan said that there were no hard feelings, suspecting they were after a younger actor. Craig was 38 when he eventually took the role.

He added: “It was disappointing. It was surprising. And I accepted the knowledge after 24 hours of being in shock.”

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