Although Roger Moore’s first appearance as James Bond was in the film Live and Let Die, he already donned the 007 suit years before he even debuted as the iconic spy. Created by British writer Ian Fleming in 1953, James Bond became one of the most popular characters in literature, spawning a multi-billion-dollar franchise of novels, films, and video games and paving the way for the modern action genre. Over the last six decades, seven actors portrayed the secret agent on the big screen, the most recent being Daniel Craig. However, long before Craig’s 15-year tenure, another James Bond actor made history by portraying the role even prior to being officially cast.
The third actor to play James Bond in the Eon Productions film series, Moore was cast in 1973. Interestingly, nine years earlier, he appeared as the fictional spy on television. In the sketch show Mainly Millicent, Roger Moore’s first performance as Bond was opposite actress Millicent Martin, the comedy show’s namesake. In the parody scene, Bond’s version of Moore ran into Martin’s Sonia Sekova, a Russian spy and his former love interest, on a well-deserved holiday. As a result of this untimely meeting, the two pulled off a sprightly slapstick routine, where they each attempted to avoid and outdo the other’s hijinks. While far removed from his later turn as the character, Moore’s earlier role nonetheless proves that his association with Bond began earlier than it seems.
Why Did Roger Moore Play Bond In Mainly Millicent
At the time of Mainly Millicent’s airing, Roger Moore starred as the smooth-talking adventurer Simon Templar in the spy thriller television series The Saint. The show’s seven-year run made Moore a household name, establishing his raised eyebrow trademark and showcasing his suave, deadpan quips. Because he was achieving international stardom, it was not surprising that he was invited to guest star in different television shows. Additionally, the popularity of James Bond in films was starting to skyrocket, so it was truly inevitable that the British icon would be the subject of parodies and skits.
Did Moore Know He’d Later Play Bond In Films?
In his 2008 autobiography My Word Is My Bond, Moore debunked the widely-believed rumors that he was Fleming’s first choice as James Bond and he was approached to play the character in the 1962 film Dr. No. In fact, he never even felt that he was considered at the time; he only entertained the possibility of contending for the role when Sean Connery, the first actor to portray Bond, announced his departure in 1966. Afterward, Moore was reportedly offered the coveted part twice, only for him to turn it down to honor his prior commitments with The Saint.
Eventually, George Lazenby was cast in the 1969 installment On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Connery reprised his role in Diamonds Are Forever. But when the spot became vacant once more, Moore was approached again, and he finally accepted the offer in 1972. While he may have turned down becoming James Bond due to The Saint, the show actually set him up for the role. In an interview, he shared that while working on set, he wound up regularly playing cards with the Bond producers, building a friendly connection with them in the process (via Time). Roger Moore would, later on, remain as the well-celebrated Secret Service agent for the next 12 years, starring in seven films and holding the record for the most number of actor appearances in the franchise – something he probably never imagined happening when he first stepped into the shoes of James Bond.