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Felix Leiter

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Leiter (Generic) Profile
Character information
Name(s): Felix Leiter
Hair/eye color:
Height/weight:
Nationality: American
Occupation: CIA Agent
Affiliation: CIA, DEA
Status: Active
Behind the scenes
Portrayed By: Jack Lord
Cec Linder
Rik Van Nutter
Norman Burton
David Hedison
John Terry
Jeffrey Wright
Michael Pate
Bernie Casey
First Appearance: Casino Royale (Novel)
Dr. No (Film)
Last Appearance: Quantum of Solace (Film)
007 Legends (Other)
James Bond: "I owe it to Leiter. He's put his life on the line for me many times before."
M: "Oh, spare me this sentimental rubbish! He knew the risks."
―James Bond and M[src]

Felix Leiter is a fictional character invented by Ian Fleming in the James Bond books, who also appears in the Bond movies and various other media portrayals. In the films, Leiter works for the CIA, and assists Bond in his various adventures, although in Licence to Kill, Leiter had transferred to the DEA. In the novels, Leiter initially works for the CIA, then later becomes a private detective after suffering a catastrophic injury.

The name "Felix" comes from the middle name of Fleming's friend Ivor Bryce, while the name "Leiter" was the surname of Fleming's friend Marion Oates Leiter Charles, then wife of Thomas Leiter.

Leiter also appeared in novels by continuation authors, as well as ten films and one television programme, Casino Royale, where the character became a British agent, Clarence Leiter, played by Michael Pate. In the Eon Productions series of films, Leiter has been portrayed by Jack Lord, Cec Linder, Rik Van Nutter, Norman Burton, David Hedison, John Terry and Jeffrey Wright; in the independent production Never Say Never Again, the part was played by Bernie Casey.

Novel

Felix Leiter, James Bond's CIA ally and friend, played a part in six of the Fleming novels; he is introduced in Casino Royale as being thin, tall, about thirty-five years old and a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps who was working with the Joint Intelligence Staff of NATO. Fleming named the character after two of his American friends: "Felix" was Ivar Bryce's middle name, whilst Tommy Leiter was a mutual friend. Academic Kerstin Jütting describes Leiter as "a cool and quiet no-nonsense character who knows 007's strengths and weaknesses well". Physically, Fleming describes Leiter in Casino Royale: "a mop of straw-coloured hair lent his face a boyish look which closer examination contradicted".

Leiter is Bond's saviour in Casino Royale, providing him with 32 million francs when Bond has been cleaned out by SMERSH paymaster Le Chiffre, calling it "Marshall Aid". Media historian James Chapman notes that Bond's relationship with Leiter represented the Special Relationship between Britain and America, although the American Leiter is in the subordinate position to the British Bond. Academic Jeremy Black agrees, although points out that the Bond and Leiter relationship suggested "a far smoother working of the Anglo-American alliance than was in fact the case."

Academic and writer Kingsley Amis, in his exploration of Bond in The James Bond Dossier, considered that this view of Leiter was partly because of Fleming's writing, noting that "Leiter, such a nonentity as a piece of characterization ... he, the American, takes orders from Bond, the Britisher, and that Bond is constantly doing better than he". Bond scholars Bennett and Woollacott note that although the two men share adventures, it is Bond who leads, not Leiter. Leiter's role is to "suppl[y] Bond with technical support and hardware, add ... muscle where needed and money".

Fleming's second novel, Live and Let Die shows that in his early twenties, Leiter wrote a few pieces on Dixieland jazz for the New York Amsterdam News. Bond scholar John Griswold notes that in the original draft of the story, Fleming killed Leiter off in the shark attack; when Naomi Burton, Fleming's US agent with Curtis Brown protested about the death of the character, Fleming relented and Leiter lived, albeit missing an arm and half a leg. Espionage scholar Rupert Allason, writing as Nigel West, noted that Leiter's involvement in a domestic US matter was a breach of the CIA's charter, as laid out in the National Security Act of 1947.

After the shark attack, Leiter returned in Diamonds Are Forever with a hook for his missing hand and a prosthetic leg; as he had lost his gun hand, he was no longer with the CIA, but employed as a private detective by Pinkertons Detective Agency, although he was on the reserve of the CIA and was recalled for Thunderball and The Man with the Golden Gun. Fleming had flown to the US in August 1954 to research the background to Diamonds Are Forever; his friend Ernest Cuneo introduced him to a rich socialite, William Woodward, Jr., who drove a Studillac—a Studebaker with a powerful Cadillac engine. According to Bond scholar Henry Chancellor, "the speed and comfort of it impressed Ian, and he shamelessly appropriated this car" for Leiter to drive in the novel.

For the post-Fleming continuation Bond authors, Leiter has also appeared on a periodic basis. After John Gardner took over writing the James Bond novel series, Leiter made an occasional appearance and the novel For Special Services introduces his daughter, Cedar Leiter, who is also a CIA officer (and briefly Bond's romantic conquest). Raymond Benson also included Leiter's character in some of his novels, including The Facts of Death and Doubleshot. Similarly the more recent continuation Bond novels—the 2008 Sebastian Faulks novel, Devil May Care, and the 2011 novel Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver both contained the character.

Films

In the movies, Leiter is a CIA agent in all appearances except in Licence to Kill in which he now works for the DEA. A number of the movies feature Leiter, but the character is frequently recast and as a result has not achieved the memorable status that other characters such as M, Q and Miss Moneypenny have achieved. In fact, Leiter appears in a total of eight movies, played by seven different actors, widely varying in age and physical characteristics.

Portrayals


Video Game appearence

Felix appears in 007 Legends, but instead of Jeffrey Wright's likeness and voice, he was given the likeness and voice of Canadian-American actor Demetri Goritsas. He is first mentioned by Bond while attempting to call him about Goldfinger's plan to attack Fort Knox, but was interrupted by Goldfinger and Oddjob's arrival. Pussy Galore later called him and told him about the nerve gas and helped switch it with oxygen to fool them. Later, he appears telling Goldfinger's men to surrender, but fail and helps Bond by giving him a gun and they move on.

Felix 007L

Felix as he appears in 007 Legends

After they took the power out, they head off to the vault and split up, but as Bond got in an elevator, he sees Oddjob throwing Leiter into the elevator and Bond tries to tend to him, Felix tells him to just go after the bomb. After Bond kills Oddjob and disables the bomb, Felix arranges a flight to take Bond to Washington to have lunch with the president.

In the Licence to Kill level, he doesn't lose his leg and is instead either shot or stabbed when Bond manages to kill the attackers and unhappily told Felix that Della is dead. Felix hands Bond a lighter with Pam Bouvier's number in it before the cops arrived and had no choice but to leave his best friend.

Holly Goodhead mentions his name to Bill Tanner in the Moonraker level to call the Marines.

Gallery

See also

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