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Jacqueline Bisset Almost Lost Her Eyesight on the Set of Casino Royale (1967)

1967’s Casino Royale is a James Bond spoof that had a decidedly disastrous production. The film starred comedic performer Peter Sellers in the role of Ian Fleming’s famous superspy, and Peter took the role incredibly seriously. Peter took the role so seriously, in fact, that he ended up feuding with one of his costars and blinding the other! The costar that Peter feuded with over the course of Casino Royale’s production was Golden Age legend Orson Welles, whom Peter had actually recommended himself to play the part of the film’s villain, Le Chiffre. Meanwhile, the costar that Peter nearly blinded while playing the part of James Bond was Jacqueline Bisset, who played the part of Miss Goodthighs. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Jacqueline Bisset almost lost her eyesight on the set of Casino Royale (1967).

Casino Royale Wasn’t a Legitimate James Bond Film

Actress Jacqueline Bisset was very early into her career when she found herself given the chance to appear in a James Bond film. It was the mid-1960s, so the popularity of the character was at an all-time high. Jacqueline was offered the chance to star in a theatrical adaptation of the very first novel to feature the character, which diehard fans may know as Casino Royale. Though Casino Royale was the first James Bond novel to be published, the first theatrical film featuring the character had been 1962’s Dr. No. In Dr. No, Sean Connery played the character of James Bond to universal acclaim. Though Sean was a relatively unknown performer at the time, the role would turn him into an icon, and vice versa. At first, when Jacqueline was offered the chance to appear in an adaption of Casino Royale, she likely thought that she was going to be appearing on the screen alongside Sean Connery. However, this wasn’t the case.

Most of the people that signed on for 1967’s Casino Royale did so under the presumption that they were going to be performing in a legitimate James Bond film. While Casino Royale did feature the character of James Bond and was technically based upon the first book in Ian Fleming’s classic series of novels, the 1967 feature is not technically part of the franchise proper. Instead, the film is a parody that just so happens to have been afforded the opportunity to carry the authentic James Bond branding due to rights issues. The producers of the James Bond film franchise proper didn’t own the rights to make a film adaptation of the Casino Royale film novel until around the new millennium.

Before the rights to Casino Royale were brought into the James Bond franchise proper, they were owned by an entirely different set of producers by pure happenstance. When these producers saw how popular the character of James Bond was becoming, they decided to capitalize on the success by adapting the James Bond novel that they had the rights to. Thus, 1967’s Casino Royale was born. Not knowing exactly what to do with the property, the film ended up being a comedy. Peter Sellers was cast in the role of James Bond, and the film was meant to parody the proper entries in the James Bond franchise up until that point.

Nobody Knew that Casino Royale Was a Comedy

Jacqueline Bisset didn’t realize that the James Bond film that she had signed on for was a parody until late in the game. This revelation inarguably came as a disappointment for the burgeoning star, as she was undeniably looking forward to the opportunity to appear on screen alongside Sean Connery. Still, Jacqueline likely found solace in the fact that she was at least going to be able to appear alongside notable comedic performer Peter Sellers, not to mention the fact that the film was also going to feature Golden Age icon Orson Welles. However, the surprise of realizing that 1967’s Casino Royale wasn’t a legitimate James Bond film was neither the last nor the nastiest surprise that Jacqueline received after signing on for the role of Miss Goodthighs.

When it came time for Jacqueline to film her first scene with Peter Sellers, she was understandably nervous. Peter was a pretty big star at that time thanks to his roles in such films as 1963’s The Pink Panther. Meanwhile, Jacqueline was essentially an unknown that was receiving a pretty big break via her role in Casino Royale. Jacqueline came onto the set with a good deal of enthusiasm despite having been lied to about the part. Sadly, the actress was in for a nasty surprise that still haunts her to this day. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

Peter Sellers Added Injury to Insult for Jacqueline Bisset

During the first scene that Jacqueline Bisset filmed with Peter Sellers for 1967’s Casino Royale, the comedic performer decided he was going to fire a surprise blank in the actress’s face in order to get a spontaneous reaction. Peter did this to Jacqueline just as soon as the actress stepped through the door of the stage after the cameras started rolling, and Jacqueline’s reaction was spontaneous, indeed! However, it certainly wasn’t as comedic as Peter had been intending. Peter had drastically miscalculated with his comedic whim, and his firing of the blank in Jacqueline’s face caused severe burns when gun powder escaped from the gun into the actress’s face. Jacqueline has claimed that her first thought was that she had actually been shot in the face with a real bullet due to the extreme amount of pain that she felt. She soon realized that what was actually happening was that her face was simply burning from gunpowder.

Jacqueline Bisset feared that she was going to come out of this event blind, but she thankfully retained her sight. She was able to heal enough to resume filming, and her character of Miss Goodthighs can be seen in the final product that is 1967’s Casino Royale. Sadly, the legacy of the film isn’t quite strong enough to make Jacqueline feel as if the burns were worth it. Following her painful appearance in Casino Royale, Jacqueline went on to appear alongside Frank Sinatra in 1968’s The Detective. That same year, she also appeared alongside Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Getting to star alongside such big-name male stars certainly made up for the fact that the actress had missed out on appearing alongside Sean Connery in the role of James Bond.

Though Jacqueline Bisset is seemingly the only person that Peter Sellers burned during the production of Casino Royale, she certainly isn’t the only person that the comedic performer got on the wrong side of. Another costar that Peter Sellers ended up having a decidedly disastrous relationship with was Golden Age legend Orson Welles. This is made all the more ironic by the fact that Orson Welles had actually been given the role at Peter’s insistence. Orson was cast in the role of Le Chiffre, who is Casino Royale’s main villain.

Peter Formed a Big Grudge Against Orson Welles

When it came time for Peter Sellers and Orson Welles to film James Bond and Le Chiffre’s would-be iconic scenes at the poker table, the two actors were getting along so poorly that stand-ins were required. Apparently, the start of Peter and Orson’s poor relationship was an incident involving an on-set visit from Princess Margaret, who was the sister of Queen Elizabeth II. Given that Peter Sellers came from the United Kingdom, a visit from Princess Margaret was a much bigger deal to him than it would have been to the American-born Orson Welles. Peter made special care to be as courteous to the visiting royal figure as possible, but it ended up being Golden Age icon Orson who received all of her affection.

Even if it wasn’t Orson Welles’ fault that Princess Margaret preferred his company to that of Peter Sellers, Peter still decided that he was going to hold a grudge against the Golden Age icon for the rest of his life. From that moment forward, Peter decided that he was never going to speak to or work with Orson again. This came in spite of the fact that the two had plenty of scenes left to film together, as well as the fact that Peter was the one who had asked for Orson to be given his part in the movie! It has also been suggested that Peter got mad at Orson for the latter figure’s insistence that his character be displayed performing magic tricks.

Casino Royale Somehow Ended Up Making Money

By all accounts, Peter Sellers was an all-around disaster to work with on the set of 1967’s Casino Royale. A big part of this likely came from the fact that the film’s producers had duped the comedic performer more than anyone. Peter was another of the many performers that had been brought onto the film under the pretense that it was going to be a legitimate production to rival such James Bond blockbusters as Goldfinger and Thunderball. When it was revealed that the film was intended by the producers to be nothing more than a mere spoof, Peter was devastated. This certainly played a role in the actor’s subsequent erratic behavior.

Peter Sellers was also rumored to have punched Casino Royale’s director, and some even suggest that the comedic performer was fired from the film before it’s ending. It’s a fact that a stand-in was in Peter’s place for a variety of scenes towards the end of the film, though it has never been confirmed that this occurred specifically because the actor was fired. The film was a critical disaster and was one of the most expensive comedies of it’s day, but it somehow managed to escape becoming a box-office bomb. It made $40 million on a budget of only $6. Decades later, the rights to the forgotten film were purchased by the producers of the James Bond franchise proper for $10 million so that a proper adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel could be made.

Though 1967’s Casino Royale is rarely thought of nowadays outside of certain circles, it’s production remains unforgettable to Jacqueline Bisset for all the wrong reasons. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Jacqueline Bisset was nearly blinded on the set of 1967’s Casino Royale, and that many of the stars of the James Bond spoof were talked into signing on under the false pretense that it was going to be an entry in the franchise proper? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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