Hi friends -
To make a very long story very short, I recently had the good fortune of meeting a prominent member of the Bond creative 'family'. This person was overwhelmingly nice, kind enough to give me a bit of their time, and also provided what I'd consider the definitive answer to a question that I know has popped up in the past (and been answered with various different rumour-ings each time).
It's a person you all know. I'm going to maintain their anonymity here just because I'm not sure if relaying what they told me could have any repercussions. I sincerely doubt it (we're talking about 'ancient' history at this point) - but the last thing I'd want to do is cause any problems.
We were talking about the challenge of casting Bond and I asked them who the true list of contenders were for 007 back in 2005. They confirmed for me that the choice did, in fact, come down to Daniel Craig, Henry Cavill, and Sam Worthington.
Craig was Barbara's choice from the beginning and a runaway favourite throughout the testing process - apparently, for everyone who saw the tests, there was never any doubt he was the candidate to beat. Cavill's age at the time was definitely his limiting factor: they loved him, but questioned how believable it was that this iteration of Bond could have already ranked as a Commander in the Royal Navy and graduated to the Secret Service by his mid 20s - they were also extremely keen on delivering the authentic 'Fleming spirit' in Casino Royale and Bond's slightly weathered character, even in that first book, is a key part of the equation. Worthington's test was apparently quite impressive (obviously, no one who made it to the final three wasn't), but there was an edge to his look and (specifically) his voice that made his interpretation seem even rougher around the edges than what we'd eventually see in Craig's portrayal.
So, there you have it. The next time someone suggests to you Clive Owen made the shortlist, you can tell them otherwise.