Sean Connery as James Bond, Dick Van Dyke in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' (Photo: Everett Collection)
When you think of a suave English super spy who is quick with his fists and has a way with the ladies, is Dick Van Dyke the face you see? It might seem like strange casting, but it almost happened.
One of Hollywood's most beloved comedy stars and a well-respected character actor, Dick Van Dyke is most famous for his work on the iconic situation comedy "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and his roles in classic family-friendly musicals such as "Mary Poppins," "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." But Van Dyke recently revealed that he was offered the chance to play James Bond by Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, the producer who first brought 007 to the screen.
Van Dyke recently appeared on "The Kevin Pollock Chat Show," and in the course of a two-hour conversation, Van Dyke mentioned Broccoli making the surprising offer in 1968.
"I was doing 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' and Sean Connery had spoken about leaving the Bond pictures, you know," Van Dyke said. "He had done several at the time. And Cubby Broccoli actually called me in [to his office] and asked me if I wanted to be Bond!"
Pollack immediately replied, "No, he didn't," but Van Dyke cheerfully shot back, "Yes, he did!"
"He loved your English accent!" Pollock said, jokingly referring to the over-the-top Cockney accent Van Dyke used in "Mary Poppins," a subject that been a source of embarrassment to the actor for years.
"I said, 'Have you heard [my British accent]?" Van Dyke said. "And [Broccoli] said, 'Oh, that's right! Forget it!'"
If Van Dyke had really wanted the role, he was in the right place at the right time. Broccoli produced "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," and Ian Fleming, who created James Bond in a series of novels, wrote the story that was the basis for "Chitty Chitty." But instead of the American funnyman, Broccoli cast Australian model George Lazenby as Bond in 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Sean Connery returned to the role for 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever" before handing the role over to Roger Moore.
While on the subject on James Bond, Van Dyke weighed in on Daniel Craig, and it turns out he isn't a fan. While Van Dyke praised Craig as a "wonderful actor" with "great physicality," he said, "For some reason, he lacks the panache to be Bond for me."
Craig is already committed to the next two James Bond movies, the first arriving in 2015. But after he's done, perhaps the current producers of the Bond might consider giving Van Dyke another chance. Judging from his recent work, at 87 years of age he's still sharp, he has great timing, and he can dance. And he's even nimble enough to escape from a burning car. Now if he can just work on that accent.
Watch Dick Van Dyke in the trailer for 'Mary Poppins' on Blu-ray:
- Dick Van Dyke
- James Bond
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- Cubby Broccoli