We’re used to multiple actors playing the same role in the James Bond movies. Beyond Bond himself, multiple people have played M, his boss or Moneypenny, his secretary. Allies like CIA agent Felix Leiter have been played by multiple actors as well as similar supporting characters. But what’s more interesting, to me anyway, is finding actors that play one role and then come back in a sequel playing a completely different character. It’s happened 8 times (although one you’d never know unless you check the credits). Here they are, with images of the different roles for comparison.
It’s easy to overlook Anthony Dawson in this list without knowing about the movies. He was in the first Bond film, Dr. No, as Professor Dent. But he was also the first actor to portray ongoing enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. The reason you won’t recognize him is that for the movies From Russia with Love and Thunderball, you only saw Blofeld from behind or a tight shot on his arms at his desk or holding his Angora cat. Meanwhile, Eric Pohlman provided Blofeld’s voice in those two appearances.
Actress Martine Beswick played one of the two gypsy girls that has a catfight in From Russia with Love, Zora. They incorrectly credited her as “Martin Beswick” in the opening credits. Then she showed up two years later in Thunderball as another Bond girl, Paula Caplan, Bond’s assistant while he’s in the Caribbean. She’s quickly kidnapped by the villain, Emilio Largo and kills herself rather than give up any info on Bond. Thanks, Paula!
Walter Gotell has a pretty good role as the main henchman, Morzeny, in From Russia with Love. But he’s best known to Bond fans as Russian General Gogol who appeared in six consecutive Bond movies: The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and The Living Daylights. The Russians were kind of a big deal throughout the Cold War.
Actress Tsai Chin has the biggest gap between roles. She appears as Ling, an undercover MI6 agent who assists Bond in the cold open of You Only Live Twice, back in 1967. She appeared almost 50 years later in 2006’s Casino Royale as Madame Wu, one of the professional poker players Bond goes up against.
Charles Gray first appeared as Australian intelligence agent Richard “Dikko” Henderson in You Only Live Twice, a brief ally of Bond. But then he appeared as Blofeld in Connery’s last official Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever. For fans of the movies, this is a big disconnect as the actor looks the exact same in both movies and bizarrely has a full head of hair even though Blofeld is bald in every other movie he appears in.
Maud Adams is the only actress to play two main Bond Girls. She played Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun and then 5 movies later played the titular character in Octopussy.
Robert Brown first appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me as Admiral Hargreaves. After Bernard Lee passed away, he took over as M for four movies: Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, and License to Kill. Some fans argue that it’s the same character and that Admiral Hargreaves was simply promoted to M. However, there’s never any dialog to that effect and everyone seems to M the same. M seems to have the same personality. But ultimately, that’s up to you.
Joe Don Baker did the opposite of what Charles Gray did. First he appeared as a bad guy, then a good guy. He first plays crazy arms dealer Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights. He later returns to the Bond franchise 2 movies later as CIA agent Jack Wade and appears in both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.