James Bond has used every imaginable gadget to get him out of all manner of jams, but he would be nothing without his technologically-inclined aide. The secret agent’s contraptions are given to him by a man known as Q, which is short for quartermaster. Q is the department head of the experimental research and development division of MI6. Despite never appearing in any of author Ian Fleming’s original texts, Q and his laboratory of engineers have been a constant presence throughout the Bond franchise and have supplied the super spy with gizmos aplenty in all but a few of the films. The armorer’s first appearance was in 1962’s “Dr. No” where he played a character by the name of Major Boothroyd who equipped Sean Connery’s James Bond with the secret agent’s signature Walther PPK handgun for the first time.
Across Eon Productions’ 25 Bond films, Q has been portrayed by only four different actors. Peter Burton was the first to inhabit the role and had a part of only one film, but would make several cameo appearances in later franchise entries. The second actor, Desmond Llewelyn, is perhaps best known for having played the role of Q for the longest amount of time. Over 17 films, Llewelyn has supplied a loadout of high tech weaponry for every actor who’s played James Bond except for Daniel Craig. After his death in 1999, the role and title of Q was passed on to the assistant of Llewelyn’s character, played by John Cleese. Most recently, Ben Whishaw’s Q has developed a more grounded cache of instruments for Daniel Craig’s version of the super spy. Prior to recent Bond films, Q’s inventions rarely seemed to consider matters of practicality, manufacturing everything from parking meters that release tear gas to fake manta ray disguises to use while scuba diving.