Sam Heughan may not have landed the James Bond role in 2006’s Casino Royale, but SAS: Red Notice let him flex his action hero muscles. When it was confirmed Pierce Brosnan wouldn’t be returning as Bond for Casino Royale, various names such as Clive Owen or Henry Cavill were suggested. While Daniel Craig was a well-regarded character actor, it came as a big surprise when he was confirmed to take on the role. He was, however, the top choice of the producers, and after five hugely successful James Bond movies and Craig being considered one of the best actors to play 007, it’s fair to say their gamble paid off.
Another performer who auditioned for Casino Royale is Scottish actor Sam Heughan (Outlander). In his memoirs Waypoints: My Scottish Journey he revealed he had a secret audition for the film, but after Craig landed the part, Heughan was told he “wasn’t edgy enough” for Bond. With 2021’s SAS: Red Notice (AKA Rise Of The Black Swan) he got to play a charming but lethal SAS operator who has to take down terrorists in the Channel Tunnel. The film itself is lacking, but an older Heughan proved he had both the humor and “edge” to play such a role, especially with his ending fight against Ruby Rose’s villain.
SAS: Red Notice Is A Failed Franchise Starter
Heughan – who also starred in The Spy Who Dumped Me – does a great job with the action heroics of SAS: Red Notice, though the cocky smarminess of the character as written is a problem. The film was based on a book by Andy McNab, and can best be described as “Die Hard on a train.” The film was pitched as a uniquely British blockbuster and has an impressive supporting cast, including Tom Wilkinson, Hannah John-Kamen and Andy Serkis. While SAS has a lot going for it on the surface, sadly it’s a bland action thriller that lacks memorable setpieces or interesting characters.
SAS: Red Notice ended with a major sequel tease, where Heughan’s character Buckingham was set to chase down best friend turned traitor Declan (The Umbrella Academy’s Tom Hopper). The film debuted to bad reviews, however, so talk of a follow-up quickly faded away. In some territories, producers decided to swap the Red Notice subtitle for Rise Of The Black Swan, to avoid confusion with Netflix’s Red Notice starring Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. If nothing else, the film serves as a showcase for future action movies for Heughan, who is linked to an adaptation of video game Days Gone.
Heughan Thinks He’s “Too Old” For Bond Now
With Craig having departed the Bond role following No Time To Die, there’s always the chance the character could swing back around to Heughan. He admitted he “…probably wasn’t ready for it” during his Casino Royale audition, but with more experience under his belt – including SAS: Red Notice – he could handle the requirement now. However, the actor also told EW that “Maybe I’m too old now. I know that they’ve been talking about making him younger” and thinks he’s unlikely to be approached. The actor turned 42 in 2022, but it’s worth noting Dalton – who is Christopher Nolan’s favorite Bond – Brosnan and Moore were all in their 40s when they started playing the part too.
Next: James Bond: How Old Every 007 Actor Was In Each Movie