MI6 looks back to 1994 and the day that Timothy Dalton announced his retirement from the James Bond role...

Time Tunnel: Bailing On Bond
13th February 2010

The year was 1994 and the world was awaiting the 17th installment in the James Bond series. Every Bond fan had endured a long wait since the last outing, "Licence to Kill", in 1989.

Rumour and speculation were at an all time high, but instead of a script ready to shoot - the press and public alike were shaken and stirred by the latest news.

On Tuesday the 12th of April, Timothy Dalton revealed to Variety, the movie trade newspaper, that he would be standing down from the role of James Bond.

Dalton, who had held the mantel of 007 for eight years but only starred in two films ("The Living Daylights" and "Licence To Kill"), told the press:

"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."

Left: Dalton as Bond gets caught in the action on his way to his friend, Felix Leiter's wedding in the pre-titles sequence of "Licence To Kill".

Dalton, who at the time of announcing his decision was on the set of the CBS mini series "Scarlett", expressed that there were no hard feelings between himself and the Bond producers, the Broccoli family.

"The Broccoli's have been good to me as producers. They have been more special as friends," he said.

Meanwhile, the wheels of the Bond production were running at full speed - but their activities were, as often the case, operating away from the public eye.

However, in his final speech as 007, Dalton mentioned that a screenwriter was in place but no supporting cast had been decided on. Indeed at the time of speaking, Michael France was working on the script for a still unnamed "Bond 17" with Dalton in mind.

Right: Dalton and co-star Joanne Whalley-Kilmer on the set of "Scarlett".

The EON executives, thrust in to action on the news that Dalton would be hanging up his tuxedo prior to "Bond 17", also spoke out on this day.

Events at a Glance
  • 1989 - Worldwide release of "Licence To Kill"
  • 1990 - United Artists is sold, new owners not interested in Bond
  • 1992 - MGM/UA keen to reboot Bond, but with a new leading man
  • 1993 - Dalton's 3 picture contract with EON expires
  • 1994 - "Bond 17", still not in production, Dalton stands down
  • 1995 - Brosnan, an early Bond contender, beats 10 others to the role of 007

"We have never thought of anyone but Timothy as the star of the 17th James Bond film," EON representatives said. "We understand his reasons and we will honor his decision."

Yet all this while the team at EON remained positive, assuring the world that Dalton's resignation was not detrimental to their morale and the production was still on schedule for a 1995 release.

Before the day was out rumours of the next 007 actor were spreading fast. The two top candidates on this day were two Irish actors, Liam Neeson (age 42) and Pierce Brosnan (age 41), yet at that time, EON denied any links to these possibilities.

All in all, the predictions and rumours proved remarkably accurate. The 17th James Bond film, "GoldenEye", made a worldwide debut on the 24th of November, 1995 - as predicted by EON productions' press release and Pierce Brosnan, as rumoured by numerous media organisations, was announced as the 5th James Bond that same year.

Above: Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan, top media candidates for the role of 007.

Related Articles
Bond 17 - History
GoldenEye - The Road To Production
Timothy Dalton - Bond Era