Desmond Llewelyn Biography
Desmond Llewelyn was a Welsh actor born in 1914 to a family of coal mining engineers. Despite his family’s efforts to steer him away from a career in acting, Llewelyn pursued his passion and went on to study at the Royal Academy for the Dramatic Arts.
His acting career was put on hold during World War II, when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British army and was eventually taken as a prisoner of war for five years.
After the war, Llewelyn returned to London and resumed his acting career, eventually being cast as Major Boothroyd (Q) in the James Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963). He went on to play Q in every Eon Productions Bond film except Live and Let Die (1973), where he was omitted due to producers’ decision to downplay the gadgets. Llewelyn was soon brought back in the next Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), as fans missed his character.
Desmond Llewelyn went on to star in every other bond film until he retired from the position after The World is Not Enough (1999). In the movie, there’s a hint to Q’s retirement, to which Bond expresses his hope it won’t be happening anytime soon. Llewelyn did retire and he was taken over by Monty Python legend John Cleese.
In addition to his work as Q, Llewelyn had a prolific career outside of the Bond franchise especially before the franchise started, appearing in numerous other films and TV shows over the course of his long career. He appeared in various films such as The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), Cleopatra (1963), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1981).
Desmond Llewelyn also acted in stage productions with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and appeared as The Colonel in the TV series Follyfoot from 1971 to 1973.
Llewelyn passed away in 1999 after a head on car crash when he was driving to a book signing event, but his legacy as Q lives on. He remains one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the Bond franchise, and his contribution to the series has earned him a place in the hearts of Bond fans around the world. His wife, Pamela Mary Llewelyn, died in 2001, also aged 85, and their son, Justin Llewelyn, died in 2012, aged 59.