Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bond, James Connery Moore Dalton Lazenby Bond

I sat down today to watch On Her Majesty's Secret Service and it occurred to me that I could write a whole post just on the re-casting of the role of James Bond without even touching on the movie itself. As you may recall from my post on You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery announced he was leaving the role before that film had finished shooting. That left the producers looking for a replacement.

What happened next is rather chaotic and hard to research adequately over the internet, but what is clear is that several people were almost cast in the role.

Roger Moore
Bond producer Harry Saltzman wanted to develop The Man with the Golden Gun as the next film and shoot it in Cambodia with Roger Moore in the role. Moore, however, signed on to do another series of The Saint for TV, Cambodia became politically unstable, and the idea fell through. While Moore may have been in consideration to play Bond originally back when first film was being developed, this was the first time he was aware of being up for the part. Moore, incidentally, is three years older than Sean Connery. Connery began playing the role at age 31. Moore would have been 41 had he replaced Connery at that time. Moore eventually gets the role in 1972 at age 45. What makes all this interesting is that if we ignore OHMSS, from the beginning of the franchise until Moore leaves in 1985, the character of James Bond ages linearly for about 23 years from his 30s to his 50s.

Timothy Dalton
 Bond producers also offered the role to young welsh actor Timothy Dalton, who was just 22 (or possibly 24 -- the internet isn't sure when he was born). While he was born in Whales, his father was English and his mother an American of Irish descent. Dalton turned the role down because he felt he was too young for the part. He would have been nearly 10 years younger then Connery when he started and 15 years younger than Connery at the time (meaning the character would have gotten 15 years younger instantly). Dalton was also something of a SERIOUS ACTOR, so it's possible he turned the role down for that reason as well. Dalton eventually gets the role in 1986 (when Pierce Brosnan couldn't get out of this TV deal for Remmington Steele) at the age of 40 (or 42).

By now you've picked up on a theme: Bond producers offer the part to an actor, who can't take it because of TV obligations or because they just turn it down, then they give the part to the guy who turned it down the last time. Three of the six actors to play Bond took the role at their second opportunity. 

George Lazenby
George Lazenby has always been something of a mystery. He actively campaigned to get the part, by getting his hair cut at Connery's barber, wearing a suit that Connery had bought at a Savile Row tailor but never picked up. The producers spotted him in a Fry's Chocolate Cream advertisement. He was a 29 year old Australian model with very little acting experience at all. Yet somehow the producers liked him and offered him a six movie deal. He remains the youngest actor to play the part and the only non-European. He's also the only actor to play Bond in just one film. I had always assumed that was because he bombed in his portrayal, but no. Lazenby announced before OHMSS was even released that he would not be returning to the role. He apparently hated the experience, and his agent thought the Bond franchise wouldn't survive the culture shift from the 60s to the 70s.

So there you go. Now you have some context for the new 007 in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.