George Lazenby speaks more about his James Bond history
41 years on from playing James Bond, George Lazenby has a sense of humor about it. He goes out to autograph signings and he attended an American Cinematheque showing of On Her Majestyâs at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. After conflicting stories on DVD extras and books and articles, Lazenby told the audience what really happened on his Bond movie, reports Screen Junkies
1) The truth about Lazenby leaving Bond:
Some stories say that Lazenby quit because they were trying to make him imitate Sean Connery. Other stories say the producers wanted to get rid of him. Now Lazenby tells the truth.
âThe truth of the matter is I was a dumb shit,â he said. âOn the other hand, I wasnât because I couldâve had four, five or 15 houses in Beverly Hills with different wives living in them and a drug addict, or me now who missed out on everything and had to survive. What happened was this: After I did the James Bond film I had not signed a contract. Iâd finished the film and because of [acting coach] Ronan [OâRahilly] and me never being an actor and having a real estate lawyer for my lawyer, the contract went backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Iâd done the film, Iâd never signed it. They were in the shit. Harry [Saltzman] and Cubby [Broccoli] were in the poo because United Artists was saying, âYou finished the film and the guy hasnât signed the contract, how could that be?â Not only that, I was a guy who had never been an actor so they couldnât hold me to anything because I never knew what was in the contract. Iâd never signed one of these contracts before. Legally, they had a whole privy counsel thing and they came out that I would win the case. So United Artists called me over to their office. They said, âSee all those books up there? We own them. You can pick any one you like and weâll make it into a movie for you in between every Bond film youâll do if you sign the contract.â Ronan said, âWeâll think about it.â I go out of the office and Harry said, âIâll give you a million dollars anywhere you want in the world.â Ronan says, âIâll tell you, Bond is over, finished. Itâs Sean Conneryâs gig. You cannot match that guy. Bondâs over, I can get you 500 grand a movie in Italy, one after the other, youâll make two-three million a year if you want to make money. Or you just go along and we select shows for you and do them.â And I listened.â
2) Lazenby on the best Bond:
âRealistically speaking, itâs gotta be Sean Connery, right?â Lazenby admitted. "If I was allowed to be who I am now at that age, I think I couldâve given him a run for his money. I didnât know. Simple as that.â
It turns out he did get Conneryâs stamp of approval back in the day though. âI heard from a pretty good source that he said I couldâve made a good James Bond. I met him a couple times and he and I were very respectful to one another, although the first time I met him, I had a paper clipping where it said that I was a better James Bond than him in my pocket. I was in a restaurant here in L.A. and I went over and sat next to him and showed it to him. Then when he was leaving the restaurant he came over and said hi so he took it with a grain of salt.â
3) How Lazenby faked his way to 007 in the first place:
If an obscure Australian model seems like a weird choice to play James Bond, thatâs because it was. Lazenby kind of conned his way into the audition. He snuck into the casting office when the receptionist wasnât looking and it spiraled from there.
âI went and got an English suit and got my hair cut where Connery got his haircut, bought a Rolex watch and his around the corner, waited until this woman stepped away from the desk for something. Up the stairs I went and walked right into Dyson Lovellâs office. Heâs on the phone and he said, âWho are you?â I said, âI heard youâre looking for James Bond.â He was talking to Harry Salzman on the phone. He sad, âHarry Iâve got someone hereâ and he said, âBring him over.â If Dyson wasnât on the phone and had talked to me for five minutes, he would have realized I was a fake. Weâre walking across the road to Harry Salzmanâs office and he said, âTell me your life story.â Iâd never heard a question like that in my life so I made it up and said, âWell, Iâve been making movies in Russia, in Germany, in Hong Kong.â Just spinning off these lines. I couldnât remember what I said because when I got into Harryâs office, he says, âTell me your life storyâ and I was like, âF*ck, I canât remember what I said.â I just told him, âLet him tell you.â He said, âOh, heâs played roles in Russia and Germanyâ¦â Anyway, he said, âI want him to meet the director. Bring him back here. Four oâclock tomorrow.â By this time I was shitting myself. Iâm way over my head. That night I went looking for an acting coach and I found one. His name was Ronan OâReilly. He made Radio Caroline, the pirate radio ship. I go in the next day and I don't know what made me do it but Peter said, âTell me about yourself.â I said, âWell, the first thing is Iâve never been an actor before.â Heâs just come from Switzerland, heâs pissed off. All of a sudden he just falls on the floor laughing. He says, âThey brought me back from Switzerland to see you!â I said, âWell, Iâm not an actor. Iâve never spoken in front of a camera in my life.â He said, âStick to your story and Iâll make you the next James Bond. You fooled two of the most ruthless guys Iâve ever met in my life. Youâre an actor.ââ
4) Why James Bond moved back home with his mom:
Needless to say, those lucrative film roles his agents promised him didnât work out. âMoney was short after Bond. It got so short that I went back to live with my mother in Queanbeyan. No one believed that I was just James Bond and I had no money. Iâd sailed for 15 months trying to get away from publicity and what not which I didnât know how to handle. I went and bought a catamaran in Malta, never sailed before in my life, had a three hour lesson and took off for Sicily with a girl.â
5) George Lazenby today:
âItâs beautiful. Iâve got these three kids. Iâm in love with them. If I hated them, itâd be all right but the little buggers come up and go, âDad,â and I just melt. Iâm sure if I was 40-50 I wouldnât have, but now at 71 I go, âYou little bastard, what do you want? Youâve got me by the nuts.â Iâve got an ex who wants to kill me. Sheâs getting even for all those other ones. It all comes back to you, guys, watch out. Here I am doing some stuff that women do every day and donât complain. Iâm doing it now and Iâm not complaining because I love them. Thatâs my life are these three kids.â
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