James Mason was once considered to play James Bond in a 1958 TV adaptation of From Russia with Love, which was ultimately never produced. Despite being in his fifties, he was still under consideration to play Bond in Dr. No before Sean Connery was cast. He was also approached to appear as Bond villain Hugo Drax in Moonraker, however, he turned this down despite his renowned tendency to take any job offered him.
Mason’s distinctive voice enabled him to play a menacing villain as greatly as his good looks assisted him as a leading man. His roles include the declining actor in the 1954 version of A Star Is Born, a mortally wounded Irish revolutionary in Odd Man Out, Brutus in Julius Caesar, General Erwin Rommel twice—in The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel, and in The Desert Rats—Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a small town school teacher driven insane by the effects of Cortisone in Bigger Than Life, a suave master spy in North by Northwest, a determined explorer in Journey to the Center of the Earth, Humbert Humbert in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita, a hired assassin sent to kill Peter O’Toole’s character in Lord Jim, the vampire’s servant, Richard Straker, in Salem’s Lot, and a surreal pirate captain in Yellowbeard. One of his last roles, that of corrupt lawyer Ed Concannon in The Verdict, earned him his third and final Oscar nomination.