You Only Live Twice Cast
Sean Connery as James Bond
Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki
Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki
Tetsurō Tamba as Tiger Tanaka
Karin Dor as Helga Brandt
Bernard Lee as M
Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
Teru Shimada as Mr. Osato
Charles Gray as Dikko Henderson
Tsai Chin as Ling
Burt Kwouk as Spectre 3
You Only Live Twice Cast
The 1967 James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, brought together an extraordinary cast of actors, each contributing their unique talent to create memorable characters.
From Sean Connery’s iconic portrayal of the suave British spy, James Bond, to Donald Pleasence’s chilling turn as the villainous Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the film’s cast remains unforgettable.
In this article, we delve into the casting process, the actors’ backgrounds, and the challenges faced by the production team to bring these characters to life.
Sean Connery had previously announced that he would not play Bond again after the 1965 film Thunderball, but producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, managed to persuade him by increasing his fee. However, they were aware that they might need to find a replacement soon.
Nevertheless, despite his perceived lack of enthusiasm, Connery took possession of the Walther PPK again, and played the role to perfection, showcasing his signature suave charm and debonair demeanor.
The role of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the megalomaniacal head of SPECTRE, was initially given to Jan Werich. However, after a few days of filming, both Gilbert and Broccoli decided that Werich’s appearance wasn’t menacing enough, and recast the role with Donald Pleasence.
Pleasence’s ideas for Blofeld’s appearance included a hump, a limp, a beard, and a lame hand, before settling on the now-iconic facial scar, and the rest, as they say, has gone down in history.
Watch The Story of You Only Live twice Documentary
Akiko Wakabayashi played Aki, a Japanese SIS agent who assists Bond in his mission. Initially cast as Tanaka’s assistant, she switched roles with Mie Hama due to Hama’s difficulty with the English language. Hama then took on the role of Kissy Suzuki, an ama girl who marries Bond as part of an undercover ploy. Nikki van der Zyl provided the uncredited voice for Kissy Suzuki’s character.
Tetsurō Tamba portrayed Tiger Tanaka, the head of the Japanese secret service, with his voice dubbed by Robert Rietty. Tamba was chosen by director Lewis Gilbert after they worked together on The 7th Dawn.
Teru Shimada played the role of Mr. Osato, a Japanese businessman secretly affiliated with the terrorist organization SPECTRE. Francesca Tu, although uncredited, appeared as Mr. Osato’s secretary.
German actress Karin Dor was cast as Helga Brandt, SPECTRE assassin (Number 11). After testing several European models for the role, Dor was chosen and even performed her own stunts, including diving into a pool for Helga’s demise scene. Ironically, for the German release, her voice was dubbed by another actress.
Bernard Lee reprised his role as M, the head of MI6, while Lois Maxwell returned as Miss Moneypenny, M’s secretary. Desmond Llewelyn continued to play Q, the head of MI6’s technical department.
Charles Gray appeared as Dikko Henderson, a British contact living in Japan. Gray would later play Blofeld himself in Diamonds Are Forever, opposite Sean Connery. Tsai Chin portrayed Ling, an undercover MI6 agent known as Chinese Girl (Hong Kong), and Burt Kwouk starred in his second Bond movie after being cast as Blofeld’s assistant SPECTRE 3.
Problems With the Cast of You Only Live Twice
The casting process for You Only Live Twice was not without its challenges. Toshiro Mifune was approached to play Tiger Tanaka, but due to his prior commitment to appear in Grand Prix, he had to decline.
The roles of the two Japanese female leads, Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama, were difficult to cast as well, as many of the actresses tested had limited English proficiency. Both actresses, who were stars at Toho Studios, were eventually selected and were sent for English classes in the UK.
The filming of You Only Live Twice took place between July 1966 and March 1967. Unlike most James Bond films, which are known for featuring various locations around the world, almost the entire film is set in one country, Japan.
This choice was in line with Ian Fleming’s original novel, which also devoted a significant portion of its pages to discussing Japanese culture, and is the reason much of it included Japanese tradition.
The casting decisions made for You Only Live Twice resulted in a diverse ensemble that brought the characters to life in a captivating way. The collaboration between both experienced and emerging actors, as well as the challenges faced and overcome during the casting process, have contributed to the film’s enduring legacy.
As a result, You Only Live Twice cast delivered a unique and memorable entry in the James Bond franchise.
Watch the official trailer
The Rest of You Only Live Twice Cast and Crew
Michael Chow as Spectre Number 4
Ronald Rich as Hans, Blofeld’s bodyguard
Peter Fanene Maivia as Car Driver
David Toguri as henchman
John Stone as Submarine Captain
Norman Jones as Astronaut
Paul Carson as Astronaut
Laurence Herder as Cosmonaut
Richard Graydon as Cosmonaut
Bill Mitchell as Astronaut
George Roubicek as Astronaut
Alexander Knox as the US President
Ed Bishop as NASA technician
Frazer Hines as Spectre Number 4
Shane Rimmer as NASA technician
Richard Marner as Soviet Controller
Anthony Ainley as Hong Kong Policeman
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay by Roald Dahl
Additional story material by Harold Jack Bloom
Based on You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming
Cinematography by Freddie Young
Edited by Peter R. Hunt
Music by John Barry
You Only Live Twice theme sung by Nancy Sinatra
Production company: Eon Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates: 12 June 1967 (London, premiere), 13 June 1967 (UK and USA)
Budget $9.5 million
Box office $111.6 million