The Catholic Actor Who Turned Down the Role of James Bond
Sean Connery and Roger Moore should thank Catholic actor Patrick McGoohan for their careers.
There's no doubt that the role of James Bond has created many careers including (and originally) Sean Connery's. Most actors would do just about anything to be cast in that role even today. But when the role was first cast, one Catholic actor turned down the role because of its reliance on sex and violence. But this wasn't just any actor. It was Patrick McGoohan whom Orson Welles admitted to feeling "intimidated" by his acting ability.
It was in 1960 when every actor wanted the role of James Bond. “I thought there was too much emphasis on sex and violence,” McGoohan explained a few years after turning down the role. “It has an insidious and powerful influence on children. Would you like your son to grow up like James Bond? Since I hold these views strongly as an individual and parent I didn’t see how I could contribute to the very things to which I objected.”
Ironically, he was reportedly later offered the lead role in the television show "The Saint" but he had the same objections and that role went to Roger Moore who later went on to play Bond.
McGoohan eventually took the role of John Drake in a television show called "Danger Man" but demanded that the show not have him use women sexually and not depend on a gun but rather his wits.
The writer of the show, Ian Stuart Black, reportedly remembers McGoohan being "absolutely furious" when the script called for him to be lying in bed with a young woman while attempting to open a safe. Black said McGoohan didn't like the "dishonest sexual implication.”
As you might imagine, this attitude garnered a great deal of conflict in the world of television but he didn't seem to mind. McGoohan was married to one woman, Joan Drummond, for 57 years. and they had three daughters together. He reportedly wrote love notes to his wife every day until his death in 2009. And it was his love for his daughters which so strongly affected his decisions.
“Call me prissy Pat,” he once reportedly said. “I see TV as the third parent. Every week a different girl? Served up piping hot for tea? With the children and grannies watching?”
Television execs often argue with McGoohan about his strong so called “no guns, no girls” policy but he stood strong and the show became a hit.
Director David Cronenberg said of McGoohan, "He had extreme Catholic views about sexuality, which came onto the set." But he admitted that the actor delivered a great performance in "Scanners."
McGoohan also went on to create and star in the classic miniseries "The Prisoner" which he also wrote and directed a great deal of. He was awarded two Emmys for his work on Columbo. One of his last roles was as King Edward or "Longshanks" in the movie "Braveheart."