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The Real Reason Henry Cavill Wasn’t Cast As James Bond, According To Casino Royale’s Director

Now that the era of Daniel Craig has concluded, a new face is needed to represent the future of James Bond movies.  A popular competitor for the role yet again is actor Henry Cavill, a second timer who’s actually auditioned for the part in 2006’s Casino Royale. Though the Witcher star himself had a story about why he thinks he got passed over, and director Martin Campbell has gone on record with what he feels is the real reason for this missed connection.

Previously, an infamous story about how Cavill was told he was apparently too chubby to play James Bond had made the rounds. While there was no mention of that incident in particular, I did ask Campbell what he’s though of Henry as an actor after their previous meeting. During our interview on the press day for Memory, Martin Campbell told CinemaBlend a different story, which started with the reason why Henry Cavill apparently didn’t make the cut:

I did test him for Bond, as you know. He did a very good test, [but] he was too young, and also he wasn’t as experienced as Daniel … Daniel just fitted the part from being a superb actor, and probably the best actor amongst them all.

Reading what Martin Campbell said above, it sounds like he was on the same wavelength as producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson when it came to casting the sixth James Bond. The producers at EON Productions who oversee the Bond legacy, their thoughts were that Daniel Craig was a leading man just waiting for the right opportunity. Even with initial reticence, Casino Royale’s helmer saw the sense, and Craig’s era had officially began with the bang it needed.

The director of both Goldeneye and Casino Royale, Campbell has without question established himself as a trusted participant in the 007 franchise. Constantly invited to return through Pierce Brosnan’s era, his instincts were to reject such a notion until Daniel Craig’s first outing. When we previously spoke in an interview, Martin Campbell gave very specific reasons for why he skipped the rest of the Brosnan movies, which only further highlighted his instincts. 

Daniel Craig adjusts his tuxedo cuffs in the mirror in Casino Royale.

(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

No matter if either or both stories given for Henry Cavill’s failure to snag Casino Royale’s lead are true, the methodology at work is solid. Martin Campbell is a James Bond fan, with From Russia with Love being his favorite film in the franchise. Tending to favor the more serious and action-packed Bond over, as he once put it, films that continued to “blow up another control room,” it’s that attitude that made Daniel Craig’s 2006 introduction in the role all the more memorable.

Admittedly with Casino Royale celebrating its 15th anniversary last year, some time has passed between Henry Cavill’s fateful audition among seven other hopefuls. Though the search for the new James Bond happening in its own time, the actor continues to show a strong presence in the betting odds. Martin Campbell’s further praise of Cavill, both in his audition and his current career, might just boost those odds even more, as he said the following:

He’s better, with age and his experience. I loved him in [Mission: Impossible - Fallout], I thought he worked great with Tom Cruise. He’s always good with the physical stuff too. I remember on the [Casino Royale] test being very impressed with his ripping out phones and belting people. He was excellent at all of that, and he gave a very good performance too.

The world of 007 fans are currently in the dark as to when and where James Bond will return, and who will be playing the part. In recent remarks it sounds like that search isn’t as near as we previously thought, thanks to Barbara Broccoli stating that “it’s going to take some time.” While there’s always a chance he might return in the director’s chair, Martin Campbell might be the person to consult on who should be the next Bond. Reintroducing Ian Fleming’s literary superspy to the world twice, and with impressive results each time, has only proven that very few know Bond better than Campbell himself.

For now, if you happen to be a fan of Martin Campbell and/or Liam Neeson, those two forces have collided in the form of their latest film, Memory. You can currently catch that film in a theater near you, should you be curious. However, there’s plenty of other upcoming movies you’re probably interested in checking out, so don’t forget to do your research before heading out into the field. Last, but not least, you can revisit Daniel Craig's Casino Royale, as at the time of this writing the film is available to stream on Netflix. 

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.