At 85 years old, Desmond Llewelyn has this physical status:
Llewelyn was chosen for the role of Q because of his work with director Terence Young in the 1950 war film They Were Not Divided, in which he played a tank gunner. Beginning with From Russia with Love in 1963, Llewelyn appeared as Q, the quartermaster of the MI6 gadget Lab (also known as Q Branch), in every EON Bond film until his death, with the exception of Live and Let Die in 1973, in which the character Q did not appear. Llewelyn was the only actor in the original Bond series to have worked alongside five of the actors who played the spy, who were Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan in 17 films, more than any other actor in the series.
His last appearance as Q prior to his death was in The World Is Not Enough in 1999. During his briefing of 007 in the film, Q introduces John Cleese's character, R, as his heir presumptive, and the film alludes to Q's retirement, to which Bond, after seeing Q, expresses his hope that it will not be any time soon. Q's response is to admonish Bond to "always have an escape plan", after which he lowers himself through the floor of his lab. Llewelyn had stated not long before his death that he had no plans to retire and that he would continue playing Q "as long as the producers want me and the Almighty doesn't."
In the follow-up 2002 film Die Another Day, John Cleese's character is now the head of Q branch, having inherited the title of quartermaster from his predecessor.
In 1967, Llewelyn also portrayed Q in an EON produced television documentary entitled Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond. This promotional film was included in the 2006 Special Edition DVD release of You Only Live Twice.
Although one of British cinema's most recognisable characters and an important and long-standing element in the 'Bond' franchise, 'Q' did not make Llewelyn rich—the actor was merely paid 'by the day' for his few hours of work on-set and did not share in the money made by the films. Nevertheless, because Llewelyn was considered one of the franchise's major institutions and also immensely popular among Bond fans, Llewelyn starred in several commercials, including ones to promote the video games GoldenEye 007 and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Llewelyn made a brief appearance in "Little Mother", an episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood. He also appeared in other films such as the Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), the 1963 film Cleopatra (as a Roman senator), and the 1981 PBS production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and he had a small role in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), which was itself based on a children's book by Bond author Ian Fleming. In 1961 he made an uncredited cameo appearance early on as one of the Marques's servants in the Hammer Film Productions of The Curse of the Werewolf. He also acted on stage with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (appearing as an extra in Olivier's 1948 film Hamlet) and appeared as Geoffrey Maddocks ('The Colonel') in the British television series Follyfoot from 1971 to 1973. The Bond film Live and Let Die was filmed during the third series of Follyfoot, and Llewelyn was written out of the series for three episodes to appear in the film. However, the Bond producers ultimately decided to leave the character out of the film anyway, much to Llewelyn's annoyance.
He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1995 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel at London's Hyde Park Hotel, during a press launch for the new Bond film, GoldenEye.