Lookalikes are a familiar sight to most fans of 007. From the latex-masked Bond imposter who dies at the hands of Red Grant in the pre-title sequence of From Russia with Love, to the surgically-enhanced doppelgängers employed by Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever (not to mention the animatronic replica of Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die, and the wax effigy of Roger Moore in The Man with the Golden Gun), lookalikes of all shapes and sizes have appeared throughout the film series.
With that in mind, I interviewed four professional Bond impersonators about their real-life careers portraying the iconic secret agent. Available to host parties, corporate events, trade shows and television commercials, these uncanny doubles are as close as many of us will ever come to meeting a genuine Bond leading man.
This article features two of the most popular Bond lookalikes in the business – one who portrays Daniel Craig, the other Pierce Brosnan. A followup piece concentrating on two remarkable Sean Connery impersonators will post sometime next week.
James Taggart is an international performer whose striking resemblance to Daniel Craig has made him one of the busiest lookalikes in the industry. In addition to working numerous conventions, events and parties around the world, James recently shot a 007-themed Kane’s Furniture commercial that looks almost exactly like an outtake from Quantum of Solace. Bond fans will undoubtedly enjoy it! Follow him on Twitter at @bestdancraigdbl for more info.
Matthew Chernov: Which particular 007 movie introduced you to the series?
James Taggart: I’ve been a lifelong fan of Bond. Going back as a kid, I think the one that really stuck out the most for me was Live and Let Die. Although Roger Moore isn’t near the top of my Bonds, I thought that Live and Let Die was just an exceptional film in a lot of ways. That movie left a lasting impression on me.
MC: Can you describe the moment when you first realized that resembling Daniel Craig could become an actual job?
James: Well honestly, this whole thing is either destiny or fate. No one ever came up to me and said I looked like Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But I started hearing it when Casino Royal came out. Keep in mind, I’d never been an actor, and had never had any professional photographs taken, so I’d only seen my face straight on when I was shaving. But that’s not really where you get the Bond resemblance. It’s more apparent in my profile and rear profile. The rear profile still freaks me out to this day. There are scenes in Skyfall where, if I had amnesia, I’d swear that it was me! When Quantum of Solace came out, even more people told me I looked like him. Then one day, in the span of ninety minutes, I had three people come up to me and say “Anyone ever tell you that you look like James Bond?”
MC: That must’ve felt kind of surreal.
James: It was a very frustrating moment. But I thought there has to be an opportunity here, because there’s enough outside validation that I look like this guy, whether I think that I do or not. So I called my old college roommate who’s a very successful actor, and he suggested that I get some pictures taken. So I got some photos done and sent them to an agency that handled lookalike work, and they hired me for a gig. Funny thing is, people just can’t seem to get over the fact that James is my legal name. At events, when I introduce myself, they laugh and say “But what’s your real name?”
MC: How did you teach yourself Bond’s British accent?
James: When I started in this business, I literally played Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace on DVD over and over again. Not to watch the movies, but to listen to Bond’s voice. I’m a much quicker speaker than he is. He tends to slow everything down, and rarely speaks in long paragraphs or monologues. He has a very deliberate cadence, with a lot of unusual pauses.
MC: Do clients request specific versions of Bond when they hire you? Like the black tuxedo or the white dinner jacket?
James: Well, Craig’s white dinner jacket just came about since Spectre. I actually had a client last year, before Spectre, and they requested a white jacket. I said, you’re really doing your guests a disservice if you want me to wear that. I told them to just Google Daniel Craig in a white dinner jacket. It didn’t exist at the time! You’re asking your guests to recognize something they’ve never seen before. But if you put me in my black tux, you’ll get some serious bang for your buck. Otherwise, you’re just wasting money. But now that everyone’s seen Spectre, they have a choice. I just worked an event in Dallas two days ago and they wanted me in the white jacket. So at this point, I bring both jackets whenever I’m hired, no matter what.
MC: You must get some very excited reactions when attendees see you as Bond.
James: Sometimes it almost crosses the line from excitement to… you gotta keep an eye on that person. I’ve had several bizarre things happen. I was working an event in Miami, and a woman came up to me and got all these pictures taken, and then she just stood there looking at me like I was Jesus or something. And for the rest of the night, she proceeded to stand in one spot, just staring at me. Without moving. I’m talking hours! At other events women have started crying. It gives me great respect for true celebrities. They’ve got their hands full in dealing with the public.
MC: That sounds like it could be difficult.
James: Sure, but there are so many other benefits to being Bond. I’ve worked in Lucern, Switzerland, which is probably the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in my life. I worked at the Ocean Club in the Bahamas, where they filmed several scenes in Casino Royale. I’m just incredibly fortunate to be leading this lifestyle, and I thank my lucky stars every day.
Watch James Taggart’s Kane’s Furniture commercial below
Glenn Reichle has appeared as 007 at some of the most elegant parties in the world. From promotional events at Saks Fifth Avenue to Donald Trump’s Bond-themed 60th birthday bash, Glenn’s eye-catching resemblance to Pierce Brosnan has opened doors that few of us will ever enter. In 2008, he reached the pinnacle of his lookalike profession when he was hired to work as Pierce Brosnan’s principle double in a stylish Brazilian car commercial. I spoke with him about that unforgettable experience, and about what made Brosnan’s Bond so special.
Matthew Chernov: When did people first start noticing that you looked like Brosnan?
Glenn Reichle: When I was in high school during the mid ‘80s, Pierce Brosnan was on the show Remington Steele. So people called me Remington Steele long before they called me James Bond. Then in 2003, a company I was working for sent pictures of our office to a sister office in Houston. And a lady there immediately called me up and said that I looked just like Pierce Brosnan. She suggested that I should do some lookalike work, so I did some research and learned that there’s an entire industry built around people who resemble film stars. Hence, I began a second career, part time. It’s been one of the most fun side jobs I’ve done in my life. An absolute hoot!
MC: Have Bond events gained in popularity since you began your lookalike work?
Glenn: The biggest year I’ve had so far was in 2007. You can probably imagine, 2000 and 007! James Bond themed events were everywhere that year. I was being booked for gigs up to three times a month, flying here, flying there. Doing this and that. Lots of corporate events, mostly MC work. I was basically the host of the party! That’s how I view my role as this character. It’s up to me to make sure that everyone is enjoying themselves, all in the guise of James Bond. I’ve worked parties where there are only 50 people and other parties where there are 3000 people, and the goal is to entertain every one of them.
MC: What type of reactions do you get when you walk into an event as Bond?
Glenn: The reactions are pretty incredible. Some people just freak out! They tell me stories about how they’ve watched Bond movies since they were kids. Happens all the time. My family and I just returned from Budapest, and even just walking down the street dressed in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts, people will yell out “Bond!” So I’ll wave at them and take a few pictures. It kind of gives you an inside view of what that celebrity lifestyle must feel like.
MC: You worked with Brosnan himself on a lavish foreign car commercial a few years ago. What was that experience like?
Glenn: When Brosnan walked onto the set, it was electrifying. Even though he’s as normal as you and I, his persona precedes him. There’s just this confident air about him. The way it happened was that one of my agents called me and said “Hey Glenn, you’ve got an opportunity to do a commercial down in Sao Paulo, Brazil.” So I asked him what it was for, and he said it was a car commercial and that I was going to be Pierce Brosnan’s principle double. Now this call was on April 1st, mind you. So I thought it was an April Fool’s joke! But he said “No, it’s really happening.” So I got all my passport and paperwork stuff figured out and flew down to Sao Paulo.
MC: What happened when you got there?
Glenn: They took me to the location for the shoot and I met the director. We shook hands and I looked him in the eye and he was like “Oh, yeah, this is good.” He said I’d have to cut my hair a little bit, and that Brosnan might have a few more pounds than me, but that I looked awesome. So they cut my hair and I showed up on set the next day.
MC: Is that when you met Brosnan?
Glenn: He was actually down in Brazil ahead of time promoting the car. He came with his stylist and his agent and a few other people. So while I was in position waiting for him to arrive on set, I noticed all of his staff looking at me, and every one of them gave me a big thumbs up, like “Holy cow!” In fact, his assistant walked up to me twice from behind and thought I was him!
MC: What was he like in person?
Glenn: When we first made eye contact and shook hands, I said “Mr. Brosnan, my name is Glenn Reichle. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” So he shakes my hand and says “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well.” Then he stepped back and looked me over and said “It’s a pleasure to meet me!” I didn’t realize that everyone had sort of been holding their breath around us, waiting to see what he’d think when he saw me. So when he said that, the director and everyone else broke out in a big round of applause and the ice was instantly broken. For the rest of the week he told me stories about filming Mamma Mia in Greece, and all the different actors he’d worked with on it. It was amazing. He was just the friendliest guy. I was really impressed.
MC: What is it about Brosnan’s version of Bond that audiences responded to so strongly?
Glenn: Well he was People Magazine’s sexiest man of the year, for one thing. So obviously there’s this huge sex appeal about him. Physically, he has a big presence. But there’s a sense of vulnerability about him, too. He showed emotion as Bond, and I think that resonated when people saw it on screen. Daniel Craig’s version seems like he’s made of steel. He doesn’t have the same kind of emotion. So to be able to represent Brosnan’s Bond and have an effect on people is quite an honor. I love it. I’m a pretty outgoing person and you can’t do this job without being that. I’m just very grateful for every opportunity I have.
Watch Glenn Reichle’s Vectra Elite TV commercial with Pierce Brosnan below
Article by Matthew Chernov
About the Author:
Matthew Chernov is a journalist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. His work can be read at Variety, and his films have premiered on NBC, the SyFy Channel, the Lifetime Network, Spike TV and the Hallmark Channel. His favorite Bond is Sir Roger Moore. Follow him on Twitter at @MatthewChernov.