PASADENA, Calif. — Fleming – Ian Fleming – gave the world it’s most famous secret agent when he authored the series of books starring the man with a license to kill, James Bond. A new four-part BBC America series reveals that everything from Bond’s way with women to his famous shaken-not-stirred drink could be rooted in the author’s own life.

“Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” tells the story of how Fleming (Dominic Cooper) went from playboy to war hero. Partly as a way to escape from the shadow of his more popular brother, Peter (Rupert Evans), and to win favor with his formidable mother Eve (Lesley Manville), Fleming becomes part of Britain’s Naval Intelligence. He soon finds that he has a knack for working in the cloak-and-dagger world.

Cooper – a longtime fan of the Bond movies didn’t know a lot about Fleming before taking on the role. He quickly caught up on the author’s life by reading two biographies and then relied on the script to fill in the other pieces.

The series, which aired Wednesday night, looks at Fleming’s military service from the opulence of high-society London to the dangers behind enemy lines. In each adventure, Fleming battles his own personal demons while facing life-threatening assignments.

Fleming died in 1964 at the age of 56.