Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(October 27, 1939–     ): Tall British character actor and former member of the fabled Monty Python comedy troupe who assisted Desmond Llewelyn as “R” in The World Is Not Enough and took over for him as as Q in Die Another Day. Though Cleese’s appearance in The World Is Not Enough seemed like an attempt to pass the torch to him from Llewelyn, who died in a car crash just a month after the movie’s release, in 2002 Cleese denied that he and his late costar had any such understanding. “He was such fabulous company, that Desmond, and [we] had struck a deal. I was 60 when I started and Desmond was 80. So we agreed to go on together until he was 100, at which point I would have had enough experience to take over.”[1]

A native of Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England, Cleese made his motion picture debut in director Kevin Billington’s romantic drama Interlude (1968). Having honed his comedy skills on BBC Radio (I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again) and such television programs as The Frost Report (1966–1967) and Marty (1968–1969), starring Marty Feldman, Cleese cocreated Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969–1973), which debuted on British television and led to his involvement in a series of internationally successful Monty Python films, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979). Cleese also performed in such films as Time Bandits (1981), with Sean Connery; the comedy classic A Fish Called Wanda (1988); Rat Race (2001); and the first two Harry Potter movies, as Nearly Headless Nick.

[1] William Keck, “John Cleese Steps in as Bond’s Beloved Q,” Entertainment Weekly, June 7, 2002,


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