James Bond is one of the greatest fictional characters in both books and films. Created in the mid-20th century by Ian Fleming, the MI6 spy has been immortalised on screen by some of the finest actors of all time, starting with Sean Connery and more recently Daniel Craig, whose No Time To Die (2021) was his last outing as Bond. With a legacy so historic and vast, several facts about James Bond might still be unknown to even ardent fans of the character.
The first James Bond film, Dr. No (1961), was produced by Eon Productions with Sean Connery in the lead. A total of 25 Bond films have been made by the production house, with the 25th being Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time to Die.
While being one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time, Bond films are a cultural legacy of sorts with a global fandom drawn to Bond’s death-defying stunts, his pick of the finest cars, flamboyant sartorial choices and preference for vodka martini “shaken, not stirred.”
But beyond these pop cultural associations for Bond fans, there are unique secrets about the films, the actors and the character itself that are sure to amaze anyone who believes in the Bond family motto — ‘The World is Not Enough.’ (Yes, that’s what became the title of the 1999 Bond film!)
Surprising things to know about James Bond
James Bond is beatable
Thanks to his versatile skills and charm, James Bond can overcome tough challenges, accomplish his mission and save the day. Whether it be using any kind of weapon or speaking any language, the 007 aces it.
However, James Bond really is a jack of all trades, which means that he isn’t the best at any of it. British novelist and critic Sir Kingsley Amis pointed this out in his book, The James Bond Dossier, where he said the spy is undoubtedly good at whatever he does, but he easily loses to his instructor.
The most and least deadly Bond
Irish actor Pierce Brosnan is considered to be the deadliest Bond. Why, you ask? In GoldenEye (1995), he killed 47 people. Brosnan went on to play the iconic spy in the James Bond movies Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002).
On the other hand, Roger Moore only took one life in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) — the film has had the lowest Bond kill count since.
James Bond is Scottish
The secret agent has Scottish roots, which became clear in Fleming’s You Only Live Once. In the book, he talks about the agent having a Scottish father and his mother hailing from Switzerland. Moreover, Skyfall shows Bond visiting his old home in Scotland.
Fleming based Bond’s ancestry on Sean Connery, who is Scottish. Connery played the role in the James Bond movies Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
Even though Fleming based his principal character on the people he met — including those he encountered during his time at the Naval Intelligence Division in World War II — a bird ornithologist of the same name was the writer’s inspiration for his iconic protagonist’s name.
The story behind 007
Ian Fleming drew inspiration from various spies, one of them being the 16th-century polymath John Dee, who would sign his letters meant only for Queen Elizabeth I with a ‘007’ glyph.
What about the other 00s?
001 and 005 were never mentioned in the James Bond franchise, whereas 002, 003, 004 and 009 were bumped off in different movies. The presumably dead 006 (played by Sean Bean) made a comeback in the Bond film GoldenEye only to meet his end.
However, 008 has been saved as Bond’s replacement in case of his death, or dismissal from a mission due to insubordination.
The name is Bond, James Bond…and he does not like tea
Bond’s love for martinis, “shaken, not stirred”, is very well known to fans. However, when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages, the one drink he really hates is tea. Such is his dislike for tea that he believes it to be the cause of the British Empire’s undoing.
The secret agent’s favourite non-alcoholic drink is Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee.
His love for Disneyland
The spy’s childlike side was highlighted in John Gardner’s book, Never Send Flowers. The book follows James Bond’s visit to Disneyland Paris (earlier known as EuroDisney Resort) with his girlfriend. What was supposed to be a halt, turned into a week-long stay. Moreover, the final fight takes place at the theme park.
James Bond once had a wife
Bond might have a reputation among the ladies, but the secret agent was married. In the 1969 film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he wed Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo.
However, she was killed by the antagonist Ernst Stavro Blofeld towards the end of the film.
The spy also had a son, James Suzuki, with Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice (1967), who died of natural causes. James Suzuki appeared in Raymond Benson’s Blast From The Past — one of the James Bond short stories — and was published in Playboy magazine in 1997.
What is SPECTRE
SPECTRE is a criminal organisation led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The name is an anagram for ‘Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion’. Many actors in Bond movies have essayed the role of Blofeld, the latest being Christoph Waltz in Spectre and No Time to Die.
Daniel Craig got his 007 status at 38, the same as James Bond in the book
Going by the novels, James Bond became 007 at the age of 38. Coincidentally, Daniel Craig was also 38 when he took on the role of the secret agent.
Sean Connery impressed Cubby and Dana Broccoli with the part
Connery was a relatively fresh face for the role of Bond when Albert R. Broccoli, famously known as Cubby Broccoli, saw his performance in Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959). Though he was impressed, Broccoli sought a second opinion. So, he asked his wife, Dana, to assess Connery’s performance. When asked if Connery had enough sex appeal for the role, Dana said “yes;” in fact, she encouraged Broccoli to pick the actor for the role. Eventually, a meeting with Albert R. Broccoli and fellow producer Harry Saltzman brought Connery on board. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The laser beam in Goldfinger was real
Goldfinger (1964) is believed to be the first film in history to show audiences what a laser beam in a sequence looks like. The scene shows Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe, voice by Michael Collins) torturing Bond (Connery) with a laser beam cutting through a table to which the spy is bound.
Interestingly, the laser had been invented only four years ago. Though the production unit brought in a real laser-emitting machine, it could not cut through the table. So, another person was placed under the table who used a blowtorch to create the effect of the laser slicing through.
Additionally, it was also in Goldfinger that Bond is first seen driving an Aston Martin — precisely an Aston Martin DB5 — and using gadgets against the villains.
Roger Moore preferred non-violence
Though he was one of the most successful James Bond ever, Roger Moore disliked violence. He, in fact, suffered from a fear of firearms because of a childhood incident when he was accidentally shot in the leg by his brother. This probably explains why he is the ‘least deadliest’ Bond actor as well.
Despite his real-life apprehensions, Moore did seven Bond films — the most by any actor for Eon Productions — during which he handled several gun-toting sequences like an ace.
Two Bond films have the same plot
Yes, this is a fact about James Bond that might as well divide the Eon Productions loyalists from the rest. Sean Connery played Bond in Thunderball (1965). It was an Eon Productions film whose story revolved around NATO atomic bombs stolen by SPECTRE.
Twelve years after he last played Bond, Connery returned for Never Say Never Again (1983), which had the same plot with only minor differences. Though successful, Never Say Never Again was not made by Eon Productions and is, therefore, not part of the James Bond canon.
Interestingly, by this time, Moore had already appeared as Bond in six films.
Only five Bond films have won Oscars
Goldfinger was the first to win an Academy Award when it picked the Oscar for Best Sound Effects in 1965. Two years later, Thunderball won the award for Best Special Visual Effects.
No other Bond film won an Oscar for the next 46 years until Skyfall bagged the awards for Best Original Song and Best Sound Editing in 2013. Thus, it became the Bond film with the most Oscars.
Both Spectre and No Time to Die won Oscars for Best Original Song in 2016 and 2022, respectively.
(Main image: Jonathan Olley – © SPECTRE2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved./IMDb; Featured image: © 2015 – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions/IMDb)