For Your Eyes Only Was Not Supposed to Star Roger Moore

For Your Eyes Solely, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this week, was a transitional James Bond movie. Launched in 1981, this twelfth entry within the long-running sequence, and Roger Moore’s fifth outing as the person within the tuxedo, was intentionally styled as a return to the 007’s roots after he went to house within the over-the-top Moonraker (1979): the one the place sequence producers did their greatest to compete with Star Wars. In contrast Eyes appeared stripped down and in addition marked the debut of John Glen within the director’s chair—a place he would maintain for a series-most 5 entries. He obtained that promotion after engaged on a number of earlier installments as a second unit director.

However Eyes was additionally meant, at one level, to usher in an important change in any Bond film: the introduction of a brand new actor within the position of 007.

Roger Moore’s unique contract was for 3 movies, along with his participation happening a film-by-film foundation beginning with Moonraker. Following the completion of that movie, rumors surfaced that Moore was able to retire from the position, main 007 manufacturing firm Eon Productions and producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli to start the seek for a brand new Bond.

However Moore himself instructed that he wished to proceed within the position, and that the extremely publicized audition course of was all a part of the negotiations to convey him again.

“I perceive that Eon had been holding casting classes the place would-be James Bonds had been examined with a view to changing me,” Moore was quoted as saying in The James Bond Archives. “It didn’t trouble me, as I knew Cubby would by no means discover anybody who would work as cheaply as I did.”

Moore added, “To be trustworthy, I did need to do one other movie. However this was all a part of the bargaining ploy on Eon’s aspect: let it’s recognized that they had been testing others so I’d take the deal on the desk for concern of dropping the half. Truthful sufficient, all of us take pleasure in a sport of poker.”

Ploy or not, Eon and John Glen did proceed with a sequence of display checks that included quite a lot of actors who had been well-known in England (and in some circumstances internationally) however comparatively obscure within the U.S. These included Ian Ogilvy (Witchfinder Basic), Lambert Wilson (the Merovingian within the Matrix sequels), Lewis Collins (The Professionals), David Warbeck (The Past), David Robb (Downton Abbey), Michael Jayston (the 1986 Physician Who arc “The Trial of a Time Lord”), and Nicholas Clay (Excalibur).

“We searched excessive and low,” stated Glen in The James Bond Archives. “I examined no finish of individuals. Roger was within the background with a smile on his face, ready to be referred to as.”

There have been three notable candidates for the job that stand out now. One was Timothy Dalton, who had been thought-about for the position way back to 1968 when Sean Connery first vacated the tux. He allegedly declined a shot at For Your Eyes Solely as a result of he had seen Moonraker and thought the sequence was going for extra of the identical. He would get his chance six years later.

The second was Michael Billington, a British actor who was typically used as a Bond stand-in to display check main women and even had a job in The Spy Who Liked Me because the Russian agent 007 kills within the opening sequence. Billington examined for Bond 5 occasions—he was reportedly on standby for Eyes if a deal couldn’t be closed with Moore—however ended up all the time a bridesmaid.

The third and most fascinating title was James Brolin. It’s a bit unclear when Brolin’s involvement with the 007 franchise started, however he was apparently thought-about for Eyes and was later given a full screen test and even hired for 1983’s Octopussy after Eon and Moore started one other sport of hen about Moore’s return. Brolin—a revered actor, to not point out husband of Barbra Streisand and father of Josh Brolin—was the second American thespian who got here near enjoying the British agent; John Gavin was signed in 1971 earlier than Sean Connery got here again for an encore in Diamonds Are Ceaselessly.

However that’s one other story. Ultimately, Moore did come again for Eyes, though his contract was not accomplished till effectively into manufacturing. Glen for one was glad to have the dapper Moore again.

“Because it occurred, I used to be very happy that Roger did it, as a result of it helped me enormously in the truth that he was a longtime James Bond,” the director stated within the “making-of” documentary on the Eyes Blu-ray. “If I needed to take somebody new and set up them within the position, it might have been fairly tough for me, I believe.”

One leftover from the “will Moore or received’t he” period of Eyes’ pre-production was the opening sequence, through which we see Bond go to the grave of his spouse Teresa “Tracy” Bond, who was murdered by arch-villain Blofeld and his confederate Irma Bunt on the finish of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The sequence initially exhibits Bond from the legs down, putting a bouquet of flowers on Tracy’s grave, earlier than slicing to a shot of his face, which ostensibly would have been the brand new actor.

Eon Productions

The scene was meant to ascertain that this was the identical Bond, even when the face was completely different.

“It was John Glen who got here up with the concept of going to Tracy’s grave,” stated government producer and co-screenwriter Michael G. Wilson on the Eyes Blu-ray. “He wished to point out a continuity of the Bond tales and present that he’s nonetheless the identical character, he’s nonetheless happening, and he has a historical past.”

The remainder of that sequence after that somber opening takes a flip for the ridiculous as Bond is trapped in a remote-controlled helicopter by a bald, wheelchair-bound villain. The dangerous man is clearly meant to be Blofeld in all however title—Eon on the time had misplaced management of the rights to Blofeld and sure story parts involving him and felony group SPECTRE—however that too is an entirely different tale.

Ultimately, everybody concerned appears glad that Roger Moore did actually return in For Your Eyes Solely: the $28 million film earned a wholesome (for 1981) $195 million all over the world. Whereas evaluations for the movie then and now remain mixed, the retro strategy to the plot—extra espionage and practical motion, much less devices—plus Moore’s harder-edged-than-usual efficiency have managed to put it within the higher ranks of Moore’s seven outings, arguably second solely to The Spy Who Loved Me. To coin a phrase, the extra issues had been meant to alter, the extra they stayed the identical.

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