Fan-Cast: James Bond, part 5: Felix Leiter

“Just what the hell are you trying to do, 007? Start World War III? ” — Felix Leiter (John Terry) in The Living Daylights

Last week I fan-cast “Q”, and I think I did a pretty good job. Now, let’s see if I can propose a few candidates to portray another of James Bond’s sometime-associates, Felix Leiter….

Felix Leiter

The 7 (Major) Leiters

Felix Leiter, as 007 fans know, is an American CIA (later DEA) agent who occasionally works with Bond on certain missions. They are written as friends and peers, though Bond, of course, always takes the lead, whether authorized to or not. Leiter’s role is often fairly small, typically assisting with technology, hardware, muscle, and/or money. After all, it’s the British agent who is the star.

The name originates from a combination of two of Ian Fleming’s friends: Ivar Felix C. Bryce and their mutual friend Thomas Leiter. The Leiter character has been portrayed on-screen by nine different actors, if you include the two versions from non-Eon productions (i.e, Bernie Casey inĀ  Never Say Never Again (1983) and Michael Pate’s British agent, Clarence Leiter, in the first Casino Royale (1954)). But, those in the official Bond films were Jack Lord (1962), Cec Linder (1964), Rik Van Nutter (1965), Norman Burton (1971), David Hedison (1973 & 1989), John Terry (1987), and Jeffrey Wright (2006-2008).

Felix Leiter by George Almond

The Casino Royale novel introduces Leiter as a former U.S. Marine working with NATO’s Joint Intelligence Staff. He is tall, thin, and roughly 35 — so, about the same age as Bond. Also, “a mop of straw-coloured hair lent his face a boyish look which closer examination contradicted”. (Note: The sketch by George Almond appears to be of Leiter after he lost a hand and half a leg in a shark attack and joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The incident occurred in the Live and Let Die novel but was delayed until the License to Kill movie. We’ve never seen a post-amputation Leiter on-screen.) Most of the actors to play Leiter have been at least 6′ tall, but the ages have ranged a bit — especially Linder, who was nearly a decade older than Connery in Goldfinger, and Hedison, who was 19 years older than Dalton in License to Kill — as have builds and ethnicities. The better portrayals are described by experts as “swaggering” (Lord), “relaxed and charming” (Van Nutter), and Hedison lent the role an “understated charm” and “genuine chemistry” with Bond.

Given the variety of looks for Leiter in the past, along with the fact that many of the particulars really are inconsequential for this supporting character, I decided not to try to adhere to Fleming’s description of a tall, thin, boyish-looking blonde. However, I did opt to keep him roughly the same age as Bond (i.e., mid-30s to 40ish). I like Ben Foster (5’9″,b.1980) for it, and I think he may be the only actual blonde that I looked at for the role. He’s the right age and general build, but ultimately I decided he was a tad too short and didn’t have quite the right look. Jai Courtney (6’1″,b.1986) has the acting and action chops, but I decided he was a little too young. Similarly, Corey Hawkins (6’3″,b.1988) might have been an interesting choice, plus he’s tall and thin, but he is even younger than Courtney. So, he’s out, too.

My choices?

Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (5’9.25″,b.1981) is my youngest candidate, and he still has a fairly boyish look to him, which certainly works in his favor. On the other hand, he is barely taller than Foster. Still, I think he could do a bang-up job as Leiter. His genre credits include “3rd Rock from the Sun”, “The Outer Limits”, Mysterious Skin, The Lookout, Stop-Loss, Killshot, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. I don’t think playing Bond’s CIA counterpart would be too tough for him. Not at all.

Prinze

My oldest candidate, and what some might consider a surprise pick, is Freddie Prinze, Jr. (6′,b.1976). Prinze’s genre roles were in things like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Wing Commander, Scooby-Doo, No Heroics, “24”, “Bones”, et al. He has also done a lot of voice work over the years, including Delgo, a couple “Mass Effect” games, a couple “Dragon Age” games, “Star Wars: Rebels”, and “Robot Chicken”. He’d probably need to dye his graying hair, but playing Leiter in a Bond film or three might be a great way to get the talented Prinze back into movies.

 

Bomer

Possibly my favorite (at least, at the moment) is Matt Bomer (5’11.5″,b.1977). He even played a superspy in a few episodes of “Chuck”. Other genre credits include “Tru Calling”, Flightplan, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, “Traveler”, “White Collar”, In Time, Space Station 76, “American Horror Story”, and The Magnificent Seven remake. He might need to give the role a harder edge than others he has done, but Bomer has the looks, build, and talent to make a great Bond-ish secret agent. Felix Leiter could be right up his alley.

The best choice of the three would probably depend on who is cast as Bond and the potential similarities, differences, and acting chemistry between them.

That’s it for 007 and associates. Maybe someday I’ll try fan-casting some old Bond villains….

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2017.

Advertisements

Fan-Cast: Bionic Reboot, part 4: Oscar Goldman

Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman

Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman

OK, having detoured into monster country, now we’re back to fan-casting the series regulars for our proposed Bionic Reboot. First up is the part of “Oscar Goldman”, Director of the O.S.I., a division of the U.S. State Department. [Fun fact: The acronym stood for “Office of Scientific Intelligence” in the series, as evidenced by ID cards and Oscar’s office door, but a couple of anomalous episodes have it as the “Office of Scientific Investigation” or “Office of Strategic Investigation” — likely production errors. It appeared to have officially changed to “Office of Scientific Information” in the reunion movies.] In the first TSMDM movie, the character was named “Oliver Spencer” and was played by Darren McGavin, just prior to his “Kolchak: The Night Stalker days”. I think this was consistent with the Cyborg novel, but don’t quote me on that.

I liked Richard Anderson (6’3″,b.1926) a lot in this role in the original “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” series. He was one part spymaster, two parts bureaucrat. But, he wasn’t too stuffy or unapproachable. And, while he had his share of arguments with his operatives, his compassion and concern for his people shown through, and he backed them up whenever and however he could. He was also, as I mentioned before, a sort of mentor — perhaps father-figure or “big brother” — to both Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers, the latter having lost both of her parents. Again, I would love to see this sort of relationship return in a reboot. (Maybe not at first, but developing as the characters work together and get to know each other.) A little more character development for Oscar would be nice, too.

Anderson had a trim physique and was in his late 40s when “The Six Million Dollar Man” began. That would work for my reboot idea, but I actually pictured Goldman being a little older — 50s, maybe pushing 60. The height is less important, but I think around 6′ or so is good.

I considered Jack Coleman (6’2″,b.1958) of “Heroes”; Laurence Fishburne (6’0.5″,b.1961) of “C.S.I.” and The Matrix movies; Henry Czerny (5’10”,b.1959) of “Revenge”; Jonathan Frakes (6’4″,b.1952) of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”; and Jon Tenney (6’1″,b.1961) of “The Closer”. I also really liked Bruce Thomas of “Kyle XY”, who once portrayed a quasi-retired Batman in an episode of the short-lived “Birds of Prey” series and has done genre voice-work, including “Commissioner Jim Gordon” in the upcoming “Son of Batman”. But, I think I’ve narrowed it down to these two finalists:

John Terry - closeup black jacket

John Terry

John Terry (6’2″,b.1950)

I realize he’s already over 60, so he falls outside my preferred age parameters. But, Terry is the first one I thought of who I really liked for the part. (I guess I was thinking of him from “24”, which was 10+ years ago. He was also on “Lost”.) He just seems like he would really fit the bill, and I think he has the talent to do a great job! Plus, in some pictures, he even looks a little like Richard Anderson.

 

 

 

 

Peter Woodward - portfolio shot, casual blue shirt

Peter Woodward

Peter Woodward (5’11”,b.1956)

A classically-trained British actor, Woodward has done a lot of genre work — e.g., “Brimstone”, “Charmed”, “Stargate: Atlantis”, “Babylon 5” spinoff “Crusade”, “Fringe”, the voice of Ra’s al Ghul in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”, and he can currently be seen in “Dracula”. I think I’d prefer the character with hair, but the bald head with chin-whiskers looks really good on him. I imagine Woodward could do a believable American accent, but having him be a Brit — maybe former MI-5 or MI-6? — might be an interesting twist.

 

 

 

 

Honorable mentions go to a couple guys I would love to see in regular roles again: First, Richard Dean Anderson (6’1.5″,b.1950) of “MacGuyver”, “Legend” (co-starring John “Q” de Lancie), and “Stargate SG-1” (w/ appearances in the spin-offs) fame. He is roughly the same age as Terry and has put on a little weight but still looks good. He played a colonel/general for several years, so he has the “authority figure” bit down. I think Anderson — no relation to the original “Oscar”, despite the old rumors — could make a great Oscar Goldman. Second is Kent McCord (6’2″,b.1942), best known (by those of us old enough to remember) from “Adam-12”, but also from genre fare like “Galactica 1980”, “SeaQuest 2032”, & “Farscape”. He hasn’t been in anything since 2005, and he is over 70, so I’m not sure about his health or desire to act anymore. But, he also might make a fine Oscar Goldman.

So,… who do you see as “Oscar”?

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.