Italian actress Ornella Muti turned down the lead role in 'For Your Eyes Only' and later admitted her regret
Had his first choice accepted, producer Cubby Broccoli would have pulled off quite the raid on the cast of 1980 sci-fi extravaganza "Flash Gordon" for the twelfth entry in the 007 series: "For Your Eyes Only" in 1981.
With Roger Moore still to renew his contract to play 007 for the fifth time, future James Bond actor Timothy Dalton had just played Prince Barin opposite Topol's Dr. Hans Zarkov. The latter would be cast as Bond's warmly remembered ally Milos Columbo.
But top of Broccoli's target list was Italian actress Ornella Muti, who played Ming's daughter and set the hearts racing of many a "Flash Gordon" fan. Born in Rome in 1955, then 26 year-old Muti had worked exclusively in Italian cinema before her big break as Princess Aura.
In a 2007 interview, Muti explained that turning down the offer to play the lead Bond girl role in "For Your Eyes Only" was a mistake. She explained that "for love, for my family and friends, I returned to Europe" after filming "Flash", and claimed that the part of Melina was "written specially for me."
It was second time lucky for Carole Bouquet. She had auditioned for the part of Holly Goodhead in "Moonraker", only to lose out to model-turned-actress Lois Chiles. This time she was offered the part of the vengeful Melina Havelock, tracking down her parents killers armed with a crossbow.
Muti went on to star in a dozen English language films, but her career remained mostly in Italian cinema, making over 100 appearances in movies and television. In 1994 she was voted "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World" by a worldwide poll of readers of the magazine Class and reportedly insured her breasts for $350,000.