DESMOND LLEWELYN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn                                                           
Born: 12 September 1914 Newport, Wales                                                     
Died: 19 December 1999 Firle, East Sussex, England                                         
Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn (12 September 1914 — 19 December 1999)                         
was a Welsh actor, famous for playing the fictional character of Q in the                   
James Bond series of films.                                                                 
Llewelyn was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales, the son of Mia and Ivor                 
Llewelyn, a coal mining engineer. He originally wanted to be a minister but                 
during his education at Radley public school he worked as a stagehand in the               
school's productions and then picked up sporadic small parts.                               
The outbreak of World War II in September 1939 halted his acting career, and               
Llewelyn was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British army, serving               
with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. In 1940, he was captured by the German army in             
France, and was held as a POW for five years. During this period he appeared in             
a number of theatrical productions as well as taking part in attempted escape               
Starting with the second film in the James Bond series, From Russia with Love (1963),       
Llewelyn appeared as Q (the quartermaster of the MI6 gadget lab known as Q-branch)         
in every Bond film, except Live and Let Die (1973), until The World Is Not                 
Enough (1999). He had originally been chosen for the role as he had previously             
worked with the director Terence Young on the 1950 war film They Were Not                   
Divided. In the 2002 film Die Another Day, John Cleese, who played the character           
R, the assistant to Q in The World Is Not Enough, was promoted to the head of Q-branch,     
thus taking on the title of Q. In all, Llewelyn appeared in 17 Bond films, more             
than any other actor, and worked with the first five James Bond actors. He also             
portrayed Q in a 1967 made-for-television special (produced by EON Productions)             
entitled, Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond which was included in the 2006 special                 
edition DVD release of You Only Live Twice.                                                 
Llewelyn appeared in other films such as the 1981 PBS production of Doctor                 
Jekyll and Mister Hyde and also a small appearance in the famous musical Chitty             
Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and in the Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob (1951).             
He acted on stage and appeared in the British television series Follyfoot - his             
commitments filming that series was one of the reasons why he did not appear in             
Live and Let Die.                                                                           
Llewelyn's final Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, had been released only a               
few weeks before his death, and in his final scene in the picture he is shown               
being lowered into the ground beside a BMW Z8 at the Scotland headquarters while           
saying the line, "Always have an escape plan". Although the film had alluded to             
Q's retirement, which Bond hoped wouldn't be anytime soon, and introduced John             
Cleese's character as heir presumptive, Llewelyn had stated not long before his             
death that he had no plans to retire and that he would continue playing Q "as               
long as the producers want me and the Almighty doesn't."                                   
Although one of British cinema's most recognisable characters and an important             
and long-standing element in the 'Bond' franchise, 'Q' did not make Desmond                 
Llewelyn rich: the actor was merely paid 'by the day' for his few hours of work             
on-set, and did not share in the money made by the films. Nonetheless, being               
considered one of the institutions and immensely popular with Bond fans,                   
Llewelyn starred in several commercials, most recently promoted the videogames             
Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.                                                         
Contrary to his gadget-expert character in the Bond films, Llewelyn always                 
maintained that he was totally lost in the world of technology, a trait that               
also plagued his successor, John Cleese.                                                   
Llewelyn was killed in a road accident on December 19, 1999 after returning home           
from a friend's house. Driving alone, his Renault Megane car collided head-on               
with a 35-year-old man driving a Fiat Bravo car on the A27 road near the village           
of Berwick, East Sussex. He died shortly afterwards at the age of 85. The other             
driver was seriously injured. On Monday, Llewelyn was due to sign copies of Q,             
The Biography of Desmond Llewelyn, at Forbidden Planet in New Oxford Street,               
central London. Roger Moore, who had appeared with Llewelyn in six Bond movies,             
spoke at his funeral.