It seems as if the character of James Bond is so outlandish, and so badass that he must be a complete work of fiction, right? I mean sure, who can be that tough, that seductive and not have died thousands of times over from a toxic combination of cirrhosis, STI’s and bullet holes? The truth, however, is even more farfetched than the concept of an immortal agent who changes his face every 6 films or so. There were some real James Bond’s in history.
Author Ian Fleming has remarked on several occasions that his literary creation is a pastiche of people he’s worked with during the war, and spies he’s read about, including Sidney Reilly; The Ace of Spies. Reilly was considered one of the greatest spies of the 20th century, credited with saving British interests countless times over. He also was a certifiable badass, who was ruthless, dangerous and was ultimately only looking after himself.