Robin Hawdon, 81, went to drama school with who's who of Brit acting and once was in running for James Bond role plus went on to become a successful playwright and novelist. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Robin Hawdon, 81, went to drama school with who's who of Brit acting and once was in running for James Bond role plus went on to become a successful playwright and novelist. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Not shaken or stirred by missing out on 007 role

Being “killed off” by Roger Moore while he was in the running to play Hollywood’s most famous spy – 007 – was the best thing that ever happened to former struggling actor turned acclaimed playwright Robin Hawdon.

The 81-year-old Brit, who these days is as much at home at his Sunshine Beach apartment as his native England, has recently published his memoirs wryly titled Almost Famous.

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Born in Newcastle on Tyne, Mr Hawdon attended the famous Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London but his 25-years or so acting in film and television never really reached the heights of his fellow drama students like Albert Finney and Peter O’ Toole.

A poster from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – a cult movie classic.
A poster from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – a cult movie classic.

“I played innumerable small parts in films and then I was a very minor film star for a short while with a film called When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth,” Mr Hawdon said.

“It was a follow up to one million One Million Years BC – the film that made Raquel Welch a star.

“It’s become a sort of cult film and yes it’s still shown on television sometimes,” he said.

After Australia’s George Lazenby did not set the world alight as Sean Connory’s 007 replacement, Mr Hawdon’s agent put his name forward as part of a long list of dashing hopefuls to be the actor with a licence to thrill.

By that stage he had already penned a screenplay, The Battle of Trafalgar for the Bond producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman which eventually fell through.

Could this face have been the next James Bond way back when?
Could this face have been the next James Bond way back when?

However during a meeting with them they offered him a film test for the part of James Bond.

“I waited for a couple of weeks for word, but then opened up the paper to see that Roger Moore would be the next Bond,” Mr Hawdon said.

“It was a lucky break, I would never have lived up to Sean Connery … I went on to a much healthier and happier career as a writer.

“Acting is great fun when you’re young and your fancy free, but when your older and got a family it’s very insecure,” he said.

Mr Hawdon did have a brush with Bond of sorts.

“My second starring role was in a very bad James Bond spoof called Zeta One,” he said.

“I played a character called James Word and I had to go around introducing myself – ‘Word, James Word my word is my bond’ – which the writer thought was frightfully witty.

“I had my own television series with Michael Crawford – we co-starred in a comedy series called Chalk and Cheese,” Mr Hawdon said.

Having written his first plays for fringe theatres in his early 20s his first big hit was The Mating Game, then Don’t Dress for Dinner which have played all over world.

Mr Hawdon has a novel out titled Number Ten – a political thriller he’s hoping will be picked up by a major livestreaming film producer.

Mr Hawdon started holidaying in Sunshine Beach and fell in love with the place where he met fellow playwright, neighbour and frequent dinner guest David Williamson.

Among Mr Hawdon’s career highlights was running the Theatre Royale in Bath where he met many Hollywood stars including Charlton Heston and Lauren Bacall, who were keen for a stint on the stage in the Old Blighty.

Having been immersed in all these tales from Mr Hawdon’s colourful memoir, the insightful writer of Don’s Party shot back: “You’ve met much more famous people than I have!”