In any case, Bond movies represent a phenomenon that is successful all over the world. But did you know that the legendary Czech actor Jan Werich was supposed to play the role of Bond’s archenemy in one of the films?
It was a film called You Only Live Twice, which was filmed from July 1966 to March 1967. Werich was supposed to portray a character named Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the main villain and arch-rival of Agent 007. He even started filming, but was eventually replaced by an English by actor Donald Pleasence.
In correspondence, Werich revealed the reason for the exchange to his friend and partner Jiří Voskovac. But let’s start by remembering how it all began.
“That is it. Mr. Salzmann’s voice came out of the blue (actually his name is Salzman, Harry Saltzman – editor’s note)a Brit, recently the producer of James Bond, if I’m free, he would absolutely need me for six weeks in a movie alongside his friend 007. And now and now and immediately,” Werich wrote to Voskovec on October 1, 1966.
“However, there is a catch. As you know, James Bond is not good with DEATH BY A SPY (smersh) and that is a complication. I decided that if the role was a) nice, b) not actively against Our Brother – the hell with him, c) well-founded, then I’d give it a shot. I would be happy to be one of the characters in the fairy tales of Ian Božena Němce Flemming.”
In the end, his wish came true and he flew to London in October 1966. At the end of November, Werich returned to Czechoslovakia. “I didn’t get along with the production because they wanted me to make a monster. So they married another, but paid what they signed,” he wrote to Voskovec.
Apparently, Jan Werich seemed too “human” to the crew, so they finally went for another actor. At the same time, the Czech star remained in the film at least partially, namely her hair, which can be seen in one shot.
Voskovec supported his friend, as befits. “Whoever was against you doing the part was an ox. Your concept had logic and fishtron. I saw a lovely photo of you in the role, reproduced along with your clever interview in the Daily Mail. He looked great. I swear to you, fan of James Bond’s fairy tales, as you rightly call them,” he wrote to Werich.
„Donald Plaisance (correctly Pleasence – note ed.), whom I know, is a very good actor – but in this case, a somewhat obvious part for the role. Casting her with you was a far more imaginative idea. He knows who made it common. The most absurd thing is that you didn’t apply for it, that they came to you!” he added.
The question is whether Werich would actually be able to film the role, he had certain health problems at the time. In any case, Jan Werich’s (non)participation in the Bond movie is an interesting curiosity today.