- 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. In the films, Leiter works for the CIA, and assists Bond in his various adventures. He was portrayed by the late David Hedison in the 1973 film Live and Let Die and the 1989 film Licence to Kill.
Felix is in New York investigating dictator Mr. Big, James Bond's new target. The pair travel to one of Big's fronts, the Fillet of Soul restaurant in Harlem, where Felix steps out for a moment, leaving Bond on his own. Meanwhile Bond was captured by Mr. Big leaving Leiter to return wondering where he was. A barkeep at the club said that he had left without him, leaving Leiter puzzled.
Leiter, later returns to assist Bond after a crisis in Louisiana, dealing with Sheriff J.W. Pepper clearing up Bond's encounter with the local police.
Felix, now working for the DEA, and James Bond arrest a drug runner before parachuting into Leiter's wedding. On his honeymoon, fellow DEA agent Ed Killifer assisted in breaking Franz Sanchez out after accepting $2,000,000 from the drug dealer, Felix is kidnapped and maimed by Sanchez by being lowered into a shark tank while his wife Della was raped and murdered. After being maimed, they threw his body back into his house and left a note saying "He disagreed with something that ate him".
James, who was heading home had heard Sanchez's escape from an airport employee and went over and found Della dead, Leiter's office ransacked of his files and a bloodied Leiter. 007 soon answered a call intended for Felix but soon informed him to call an ambulance. Bond, in the process was fired from MI6 and went rogue to take his revenge on Sanchez in this film for these actions. Near the end of the film after 007 killed Sanchez with Leiter's best man present, Leiter had almost recovered and while talking to James, he said he'll be out of the hospital and James recommend some fishing and Felix said M tried to get to Bond and said he is rehiring him into MI6.
Leiter mentions that he knew James was once married 'but it was a long time ago', despite never having met Tracy Bond.
Behind the scenes
To play the part of Leiter in 1973 David Hedison was chosen for the part. He was actually hired for the part before Roger Moore was cast. The two were already friends and Pfeiffer and Worrall consider that this friendship comes though, with "genuine chemistry" between the two on screen. Hedison played the role with an understated charm, although the script did not give Leiter much to do. Author Raymond Benson thought him miscast, but acknowledged that "he's the best Leiter next to Rik Van Nutter."
Hedison returned to play Leiter sixteen years later and after another actor, John Terry, had played the role. Hedison did not expect to return to the role, saying "I was sure that Live and Let Die would be my first – and last" and director John Glen was reluctant to cast the 61-year old actor, since the role even had a scene parachuting. He was dropped on the set of the shark tank by a crane operator, but was not seriously injured. After the film he offered to return in future stating "It would be nice to play Felix [again] with one leg."
Hedison was the only actor to play Leiter twice, until Jeffrey Wright appeared in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. He remains the only Leiter actor to star alongside two Bonds (Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton).
- Felix's address in Licence to Kill was 707 South Street, Key West, Florida.