Why Outlander Star Lost James Bond Role To Daniel Craig
Outlander star Sam Heughan reflects on his failed audition for the role of James Bond, revealing why he lost the role of the iconic spy to Daniel Craig. Heughan portrayed Highland warrior Jamie Fraser in the Starz historical drama that began airing in 2014. Craig starred in No Time to Die in 2021, the 25th entry in the franchise that marked the actor’s final appearance as the character after 15 years after his debut in 2006’s Casino Royale.
First appearing in Outlander’s premiere episode in August 2014, Heughan has portrayed Clan Fraser of Lovat’s Highland warrior Jamie across the show’s currently released six seasons. From meeting the time-displaced World War II nurse Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe) at the standing stones of the hill of Craigh na Dun as he faces the English forces in 18th century Scotland, to the pair falling in love as they travel across the globe, the actor has earned praise and award nominations for his take on the character from the novels of Diana Gabaldon. And while Heughan is returning for Outlander season 7, the actor has recently explained how he was rejected after auditioning for another iconic leading man role when he auditioned to play James Bond.
As reported by Variety, Heughan recalled his audition for Casino Royale to Entertainment Weekly, discussing his initial audition with director Martin Campbell and producer Barbara Broccoli. While Heughan was ultimately rejected for the role that would ultimately be portrayed by Craig, the Outlander star revealed that he wasn’t chosen due to him not being « edgy enough by nature » in the eyes of the director and producer to portray their new take on James Bond. Check out Heughan’s full recollection below:
We spoke a little about Scotland and about Bond, read the scene once, then I left. It was all so quick, the sweat beneath my leather jacket just starting to form. It was all just so cool and crowned by the fact that Barbara was charming and delightful. When I left, I half wondered whether I was about to be tested with a car chase home.
When I learned the role had gone elsewhere, however, the feedback I received boiled down to the fact that I wasn’t edgy enough by nature. I’m always keen to take on criticism so I can improve as an actor, but the suggestion seemed to be that I lacked this quality in my real character. I could not see what bearing that would have on playing the role, but it was out of my hands, and meant to be. It wasn’t a question of becoming a bad boy, I realized that the edge the Bond team sought could be achieved through self-confidence, which to be fair I was certainly lacking at the time.
With Craig having left the role of James Bond in No Time to Die, Broccoli and the other producers behind the Bond franchise are in search of a new actor to take on the role of 007. With producers ruling out casting a younger Bond, and popular potential viewer choices for Bond actors including Idris Elba ruling themselves out of the running, it may be a perfect time for Heughan to once more audition for the role of Ian Fleming’s gentleman spy. Throughout his time as Jamie in Outlander, Heughan has proven himself capable of capturing the charming, heroic qualities that the film versions of Bond have become known for, such as his quips and flirtatious nature. Producers may also aim to make the next version of the spy distinct from Craig’s grounded take, meaning Heughan’s lack of edge that cost him the original audition may not be a deciding factor. However, the franchise’s producers are expecting a long-term commitment from the next Bond actor, and with the actor currently involved in Outlander, it may prove difficult to balance both roles.
For many, Craig’s take on James Bond was a welcome shake-up to the franchise despite early controversies upon his casting, with his more human and vulnerable side becoming one of his portrayal’s most celebrated aspects. As such, many viewers of both the Bond franchise and Outlander may wonder how Heughan’s portrayal may have shaped the character’s modern perception. And though Heughan may have lost the role to Craig due to him not being « edgy enough », his acclaimed tenure on Outlander has more than proven him capable of captivating audiences while leading a successful series.