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Thursday, October 21, 2021

The surreal, high-flying life of a James Bond lookalike

“I would bet you any amount of money,” Dennis Keogh from Phoenix, Arizona tells me over the phone, his volume rising with certainty. “If I did a DNA test and he did a DNA test, they’d find there’s a relation.” Keogh is pretty sure he is related to the late Sean Connery. A distant cousin, he guesses, having found that his and Connery’s families are part of the same Irish clan. 

Despite being nearly two decades younger, the similarities are indeed striking. He has the signature smize down to a T. The slight eyebrow raise, the wispy silver facial hair. Now aged 70, Keogh has been playing Connery for 20 years, mostly at corporate events and in Vegas, where companies and conferences want the original, iconic James Bond to lead proceedings. He is one of many “Bond-alikes” operating across the UK and America, each one bearing a resemblance to a 007 of the past or present. 

And their beginnings in the industry tend to match with Keogh’s – succumbing to friends and strangers always telling them they look just like a particular British spy. With No Time To Die marking the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure in the role, I spoke to three impersonators on the incredible highs of being a Bond lookalike, and how quickly their stock plummets after they pass the baton to the next in the line.

“The Pierce Brosnan gent is a really nice guy – he lives in Florida,” Keogh explains. Due to his popularity on the circuit, he claims he knows all of the Bond lookalikes. He starts reeling them off. “There’s two Brosnans, two Daniel Craigs and another Sean Connery. They all live in Florida. It’s crazy.” While there clearly isn’t a huge demand for the one-film-wonder George Lazenby or a Timothy Dalton these days, notably there’s no longer any Roger Moore doppelgangers on the circuit. Surprising, considering he was Bond for seven films – more than any other actor in the EON-produced films.

You’d assume the Daniel Craig doubles are having a field day right now – the most relevant and modern Bond. You’d be surprised. Keogh, retired at 52 to become a full-time Bond after responding to a local Phoenix advert’s search for a Connery lookalike. He’s probably one of the busier 007s out there, managing two or three gigs a month pre-Covid. While David Lyons – the aforementioned Florida-based Brosnan Bond – saw huge success in the early 2000s but only does stunt gigs now.

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