Wilkinson Llewelyn was born in South
Wales on September 12, 1914, the son of a Welsh coal mining engineer.
Although interested in acting at an early age, he first studied accounting
and law enforcement before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Arts at
age 20. After joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the onset of World
War II, he fought in France as a 2nd Lieutenant and fell into enemy
hands after a two-day battle with a German panzer division. He spent
the next five years in German POW camps at Rottenburg, Laufen, and Warburg.
He once tried to tunnel his way to freedom, but failed.
returned to acting and began his film career in 1950 with a part in
‘They Were Not Divided’, then went on to appear in 31 other films, including
of course, the Bond films. He was in a number of mainstream films such
as Cleopatra (1963), Silent Playground (1964), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
(1968), Merlin (1992), and Taboo (1997).
Bond’ would have been nothing without 'Llewelyn…Desmond Llewelyn'. His
original character was named Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, but no one in
the Bond movies called him that, instead, they called him "Q,"
short for 'quartermaster'. Like an army quartermaster who equips troops,
Q equipped all the Bonds with the supplies of the espionage trade.
1963 and the year of his death, 1999, he played in all but two of the
Bond films, more than any of the actors who starred as James Bond,
including Connery, Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce
Brosnan. As Q, Llewelyn was always irascible and cranky in response
to 007's carefree nonchalance. Like a professor with a flippant student,
he scolded Bond to pay attention and tutored his charge in the use of
'Q toys' as his booby-trapped marvels came to be known. Still, Q was
a master of mischief, a gray-haired boy who concocted an endless variety
of spy paraphernalia and bizarre weapons. These ranged from the Rolex
watch that could alter the path of a speeding bullet, the pen grenade
that, with three clicks of a button, could be set to detonate in four
seconds and that Lotus sports car that doubled as a submarine, complete
with torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles.