7th July 2023
The Australian model-turned-actor finally tells his James Bond casting story
By MI6 Staff
It's the mid-1980s and Roger Moore is completing his seventh and final outing as 007 in 'A View To A Kill' at the age of 57. Producer Cubby Broccoli and director John Glen are on the hunt for their next James Bond. Whilst Michael G. Wilson is pitching a 'Bond Begins' pitch to his step-father (which Cubby rejects), Barbara Broccoli is sent to Australia to meet with potential candidates. She had performed Assistant Director duties on Moore's final two outings and would be elevated to Assistant Producer on the next adventure that needed the new 007.
For decades, the Australian model turned-actor Finlay Light has been linked to the role that would go to Pierce Brosnan in 1986 before he had to be replaced by Timothy Dalton at short notice. Light later became a professional builder and turned away from the entertainment industry, and there are not many accounts of his brush with Bond... until now.
The blog The Venetian Vase tracked down Finlay Light recently and interviewed him about this period of his career. Light reveals some stunning detail about the process that has long been buried by official accounts. According to Light, he had a contract in hand and would have been the fourth official big-screen James Bond had it not been for a change of ownership at United Artists.
"Barbara Broccoli came to Australia. It wasn’t so much a screentest, it was more like sitting in a video room and talking to the camera. Her asking questions and me responding, but not any form of performance," Light recounted. "Anyway, she took that video back to Los Angeles and John Glen, who was then the director, he flew out to Australia, saw me, and interviewed me and we spent a couple of hours together. The Broccoli family and him decided to bring me to Los Angeles for a few months and sign a contract which was the size of a Tolstoy novel. I was doing stunt training, voice coaching, etc, etc. Anyway, they were absolutely firm that they wanted me to be in the film."
"The original fee was about $250,000," Light recalled. "My agent said, there’s a whole lot of other things you’ll be paid for. You’ll travel all around the world, and if the film is a success, you can demand what you want."
Lost in the public domain, but perhaps somewhere in an old tape archive at NBC, Light was announced as the new Bond on The Tonight Show. "So, I actually had the role and now I had helicopters landing in my back [yard] and photographers up trees," he said. "United Artists had just been purchased and… I did a screentest with a full soundstage, I think it was $500,000 US for the cost of it, and they loved it, the Broccoli family loved it. I was fighting and making love and all that bullshit. But this fella who bought United Artists said ‘Look, this guy can act, he can fight but I don’t want to go with an unknown.’"
Light recalls being given the letdown. "Barbara Broccoli, she lay across my bed and said ‘The thing that you’ve got is exactly the same enigmatic charisma as Sean Connery. We’ve never seen that with anyone else we’ve tried to cast in the role.’ She was being candid, and of course, it was very flattering but, at the end of the day, it went down to a business decision."
He has since moved on from building but finds happiness making furniture.