On this day in 1986, Welsh actor Timothy Dalton
was officially announced as the fourth James Bond.
MI6 looks back at his 007 era...
The Timothy Dalton Era
6th August 2006
On this day in 1986, Welsh actor Timothy
Dalton was officially announced as the fourth James Bond 007.
The Road To Bond
After Roger Moore retired from
the role following "A View
To Kill" in 1985, and a record breaking stint of seven
consecutive 007 films, producer Albert R, Broccoli had to begin
again the arduous task of choosing a new James Bond for the big
Dalton was approached for the part first, but he was
committed to several London theatre productions and to star
in film production "Brenda Starr" with Brooke
Shields. Broccoli next settled on the then 33-year-old Pierce
Brosnan, an Irish actor who he had first met on the
set of "For Your Eyes
Only" (1981) when he joined his wife Cassandra
Harris (playing Countess
Lisl) and Broccoli for lunch. As luck would have it,
NBC had just cancelled Remington Steele as its audience
figures began to decline and Brosnan looked set to step
into Moore's shoes. But as word broke of Eon's interest
in the young Irishman, NBC suddenly decided to renew Remington
Steele. Brosnan was still under contract and had no choice
but to press on with a final series of the show. Brosnan
was devastated - he was losing the chance to play the biggest
role of his career.
Broccoli was forced to look harder for his new Bond. Sam
Neill was briefly considered as was the unknown Australian
actor Finlay Light, but at the 11th hour Dalton was approached
again. Broccoli told Dalton that he was prepared to wait
the six weeks until he became available. At first Dalton
did not want to be tested for the part of Bond, he thought
that his track record as an actor was sufficient, in the
end Michael Wilson explained to him that "Look, nobody
doubts your talents. But we have to see you as Bond, just
to get an idea of what we're dealing with, what we have
on camera." Dalton was reluctant, but finally agreed
and he was tested on a couple of scenes from "On
Her Majesty’s Secret Service" as a lover
and as a killer and all his years of training and experience
Above: Timothy Dalton in the classic
James Bond gun-barrel pose. The iconic image would feature
in "The Living Daylights" promotional campaign.
On 6 August 1986, Eon announced that they had their new Bond - Welshman
Timothy Dalton. Dalton won the approval of Sean
, who wished him well and gave his endorsement of the
Above: A promotional shot of Dalton
for "The Living Daylights"
Brushes With Bond
Dalton had had a distinguished stage, television and screen
career stretching back two decades. In 1968, he had auditioned
for the role when Connery left, hoping to make his debut
appearance as 007 in "On
Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969).
In a 1987 interview on "Good Morning America",
Dalton said he turned down the role in 1971 because he was
"too young" for it, and because of the imposing
legacy of Sean Connery. Dalton had been approached by Broccoli
again in 1982, when it looked like Moore was going to resist
playing Bond again in "Octopussy"
Dalton later said of his Bond screentests, "There
was a time when Sean Connery gave up the role. I guess I,
alongside quite a few other actors, was approached about
the possibility of playing the part. That was for "On
Her Majesty's Secret Service". I was very flattered,
but I think anybody would have been off their head to have
taken over from Connery. I was also too young, Bond should
be a man in his mid-thirties, at least - a mature adult
who has been around."
"I was not approached for "Live
And Let Die
", but there was a time in the late 1970s, when
Roger may not have done another one, for whatever reason. They were
looking around then, and I went to see Mr. Broccoli in Los Angeles.
At that time, they didn't have a script finished and also, the way
the Bond movies had gone - although they were fun and entertaining
- weren't my idea of Bond movies. They had become a completely different
entity. I know Roger, and think he does a fantastic job, but they
were different kinds of movies. Roger is one of the only people
in the world who can be fun in the midst of all that gadgetry. But
in truth my favourite Bond movies were always "Dr.
", "From Russia With
", and "Goldfinger
The Living Daylights
In keeping with the changing pace of public morals, the
new Bond was going to be less of a womaniser than he had
been in the past. That didn't, however, mean that there
wouldn't be the obligatory Bond girls, just that Bond would
largely keep his hands to himself this time round.
With his tough approach to the James Bond character, Dalton
radically reversed the on-screen image of Bond and returned
the character to the 007 Ian
Fleming wrote about. Clearly, this came as a shock to
Roger Moore fans who were quite at ease with Moore's laid-back
approach to the character. Dalton publicly announced a desire
to get back to "Fleming's Bond" and was quite
successful at it.
Dalton's debut Bond outing "The
Living Daylights" had its premiere on 29 June 1987
at the usual venue, the Odeon Leicester Square in London.
MGM/UA had ambitious plans for the film, striking an unprecedented
250 prints for its nationwide release on 10 July. In the
States the film opened on the 31 July and didn't do as well
as Eon or MGM/UA might have hoped - the downward slide in
admissions that had marred the progress of the series through
the 80s continued, US cinemas admitting just 14.2 million
punters, the lowest number since "The
Man With The Golden Gun" (1974). Worldwide gross
was encouraging, but lower than was expected. The grand
overhaul seemed to have failed.
Above: Dalton in "The Living Daylights"
Licence To Kill
With "The Living Daylights"
still on general release and doing less well than anyone might
have hoped, Eon set about preparing the next Bond adventure. "Licence
To Kill" was going to break with the Bond tradition in
a number of ways.
It was at this point that the series took a dramatic turn by
changing the mission from saving the world to a personal vendetta:
avenging the brutal attack on Bond's longtime CIA friend, Felix
Leiter. It became the first Bond film to receive an PG-13
rating because of the level of onscreen violence and realism.
Above: Dalton poses with Bond girl Carey
Lowell for a "Licence To Kill" promotion shot
The British and world premiere on Tuesday 13 June 1989
was a predictable enough affair - it was held at the Odeon
Leicester Square. Though the premiere was also attended
by former Bond girls Jane
Seymour and Britt Ekland,
there was a noticeable lack of interest in the media and
the crowds that gathered outside the Odeon were noticeably
smaller than was usual for such events.
The film opened in the States on 14 July and found itself
going head to head with a summer full of blockbuster action
movies, including "Lethal Weapon 2", "Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Batman".
Despite Eon's best efforts to endear the film to the American
market by setting it on their doorstep and filling the supporting
cast with American actors, "Licence
To Kill" came of worst in the summer box office
battle. With admissions dropping to 11.7 million, the all-important
Stateside gross of $34,667,015 didn't even manage to cover
the negative costs of $35 million.
The worldwide gross for the film was also worryingly low
[just $156,200,000] and MGM/UA were starting to get nervous.
Broccoli too was beginning to wonder if the fizz was going
out of his 27-year old franchise. Not long after "Licence
To Kill" was released, Broccoli put Eon's parent
company, Danjaq, up for sale. MGM/UA were still interested
enough in Bond to make preliminary advances on Danjaq but
were put off when Broccoli announced his asking price -
a hefty £200 million.
What happened next was to keep Bond off the screens for another
six years. During this
period, Broccoli attempted to kickstart the 17th
James Bond adventure a number of times, but ultimately, the
legal wranglings stalled attempts at production until 1994. The
various treatments and scripts developed for Dalton's third outing
were all scrapped when writer Michael France was brought in to
develop what would eventually become "GoldenEye".
Dalton was candid in a 1989 magazine interview on the
state of affairs: "My feeling is this will be the last
one. I don`t mean my last one. I mean the end of the whole
lot. I don`t speak with any real authority, but it`s sort
of a feeling I have. Sorry!". Ultimately, Dalton would
be proved partially correct, as he never returned to the
With Dalton's contract officially expired in 1993 (which
was originally planned to be the year of his fourth film),
the actor bowed out from the role gracefully in 1994. Dalton
had read France's screenplay for Bond
17 whilst filming "Scarlett". It was there
that Dalton made, and subsequently announced, his decision
to walk way. On 12 April 1994, the bombshell was dropped
- Timothy Dalton was refusing to come back to the fold.
He'd signed up for three films, but it was now five years
since his last outing as Bond and he felt the time had come
to move on. This saved Broccoli, who was reportedly under
pressure from MGM, from having to "fire" the actor.
Eon opted not to stand in his way and set about searching
for his replacement.
Dalton said at the time, "Even though the (producers)
have always made it clear to me that they want me to resume
my role in their next James Bond feature, I have now made
this difficult decision. As an actor, I believe it is now
time to leave that wonderful image behind and accept the
challenge of new one’s." When Dalton was interviewed
on Tom Snyder’s programme he added that "He had
been Bond to the world for 8 years and that it was time
to move on or he would be wearing the mantle for the rest
of his life."
Above: It was planned for Timothy Dalton
to return to the role for a third 007 film, but legal wranglings
with the studio caused a five year delay that ultimately caused
him to call time on his tenure as James Bond.
The onscreen portrayal of Bond by Dalton was dark, gritty and
more realistic than anything that had been seen before, and his
return to the roots of Ian Fleming's character proved to be a
double-edged sword. Critics and fans of Fleming's original novels
welcomed a more serious interpretation, however, the reaction
of Moore aficionados and those who had grown up with Bond in the
70's and 80's were mixed, as most of them were generally unfamiliar
with Fleming's original novels. Looking back at Dalton's two 007
films today, both "The Living
Daylights" and "Licence
To Kill" hold up well, the latter more so, especially
when compared some of Moore's outings. The debate on whether Dalton's
tenure as 007 was a success or failure still rages on.
Timothy Dalton - James Bond