In 1983 there were few men on God’s green Earth to compare with Lewis Collins. He was a real man. Not a namby-pamby, simpering wimp of a man like you or me, no. A real man. Women wanted to be with him, men were beaten up by him. Furniture doubtlessly orgasmed by having been sat on by him and many a mirror sighed with delight and having hosted his visage.
Collins had been tearing up British TV for six years at this point. As Bodie in The Professionals Collins had beaten up more men than The Sweeney had hot dinners, and along with Doyle (his rock hard partner) they stopped many a bad-bastard with gun play, martial arts and witty one-liners. This was a time when men were men, women were women, and sexual equality was something you put on T-shirts. The Professionals was the brainchild of Brian Clemens – the man behind The Avengers, and was every bit as silly. Rather than having an eccentric man and a glamorous woman who could beat people up, The Professionals gave you two glamorous men who could beat people up, but with added shouting and Ford Capris.
Lewis Collins didn’t only restrict his action to the television, he was also a double-hard bastard off screen. He enjoyed parachuting as a hobby, was a black belt in Ju-Jitsu and was highly trained in karate. After six years of The Professionals Bodie and Doyle both decided to call it a day and It wouldn’t be too long before Collins ended up on the big screen. In 1982 he starred in Who Dares Wins as an SAS officer who goes undercover to infiltrate a terrorist group, a film inspired by the 1980 SAS siege of the Iranian Embassy in London. Legend has it that Collins was so fit and well trained that he impressed the SAS instructor brought in to train the actors on Who Dares Wins. Having at one point aspired to join the S.A.S. himself, Lewis was keen to do the unit justice. “The S.A.S. are my heroes” Collins said in an interview. “They are men who have proved themselves physically fit in the extreme, they are intelligent and they’re very discreet. If I were to choose the army as a career, I would certainly want to be in the S.A.S.” He had started preparing for his new role almost immediately, and by the time of the press announcement in August 1981 he was looking lean and fit. “I’ve lost 25lb., I’ve stopped drinking and smoking and my wild days and Hellraising are over – for the duration of the film at least. The way I look at it is that this film is such a great launching pad and there is such a great team of film-makers behind me that if I do well, there’s got to be something wrong if it doesn’t open doors for me.”
The film itself is rather bloated and forgettable, but the end sequence in which Collins and his SAS colleagues mount an assault on the sieged embassy is a work of macho art.
Collins was right. The film did open doors for him. For a start the producers of Who Dares Wins signed Collins up for two more films (Wild Geese 2 was one of them) and with Roger Moore only committing to one Bond film at a time, Cubby Broccoli was also making eyes at Collins. At the time of promoting Who Dares Wins, Collins was asked about Bond, “I think it is time for a change, although no one has approached me. What I would be interested in is a new character, starting from scratch – an Eighties version of Bond, getting away from the gadgets a bit. When Connery started you really believed he could kill someone with his bare hands. He was an animal, but a smooth one. Since then, Bond has been watered down”.
Eventually Collins was asked to come in for a meeting with Broccoli, but things didn’t go too well according to Collins “I was in his (Broccoli’s) office for five minutes, but it was really over for me in seconds. I have heard since that he doesn’t like me. That’s unfair. He’s expecting another Connery to walk through the door and there are few of them around. I think he’s really shut the door on me. He found me too aggressive. I knew it all, that kind of attitude. Two or three years ago that would be the case, purely because I was nervous and defensive. I felt they were playing the producer bit with fat cigars. When someone walks into their office for the most popular film job in the world, a little actor is bound to put on a few airs. If Cubby couldn’t see I was being self-protective I don’t have faith in his judgement“.
So Lewis Collins missed out and they gave Roger Moore the gig once again (despite his clearly advancing years), but it would have been very interesting if Collins had got the job. This would no doubt have been a hard edged Bond quite a few years before Dalton tried (and failed) as clearly no one was ready for it (stupid people from the past).
Well, I don’t know about you, but I think he would have been bloody great.
Originally posted 2014-02-07 22:40:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter