Saturday, March 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Timothy Dalton! ….Day 80 of Bond 365

It’s Saturday and it’s Timothy Dalton’s birthday today! He was the fourth actor to portray James Bond, if you don’t count the 1967 comedic version of Casino Royale. What do you think of Dalton as James Bond? 

Dalton in Jane Eyre

Timothy Dalton

Born this day in 1944 or 1946
James Bond in The Living Daylights and License to Kill

Timothy Dalton is under appreciated as James Bond. There, I put it out on the table. I think however that the timing was against Dalton in three ways when he put on the tuxedo. 

First, when Dalton was initially approached to play Bond was when Eon Productions was looking for a replacement for Sean Connery for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Dalton had been working in theatre and films, starring opposite Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Marcello Mastroianni, and Virna Lisi. Eon Productions approached Dalton and he tested for the role, but he felt he was too young (he would have been around 25 at the time) so he turned down the role. A 25-year-old Bond does seem young; George Lazenby who did play Bond in OHMSS was just around 30 at the time. However, I think that his serious portrayal would have fit very well with the OHMSS storyline.

Secondly, when Dalton did come on board as Bond, it was right after Roger Moore’s more lighthearted interpretation of the British secret agent. While I think we can all agree that sometimes things went just a little too light (for example, sound effect noises that accompanied stunts), asking audiences to move from fun to deep, dark serious was too much to ask of Bond audiences at that time. Following up after Connery rather than Moore would have been better for Dalton. Obviously audiences like serious Bond – Craig’s era – which I think was more palpable as a follow up to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond.

Third, the long wait between License to Kill and Goldeneye (6 years) was unfortunate especially since there has been criticism regarding the strength of the Bond stories that Dalton starred in. If filming could have started sooner so that Dalton would have portrayed Bond for the third of three films he signed up for, I think Goldeneye would have provided audiences the opportunity to nod and agree that Dalton was made for the tuxedo. It was sad that Dalton made the decision to walk away, but you have to respect him for deciding to move on. And, it’s not like Dalton could not find work. He has been one very prolific and successful actor over the years!

I am glad that he got his shot at James Bond, even if timing wasn’t on his side. We got to see another side to Bond and Dalton did pave the way for Brosnan, who blended into a middle-of-the-road Bond (which really would have eased audiences in a post Moore era), and later Craig, who brought serious Bond back in a huge way.

Timothy Dalton and Bond Girl alum Eva Green in Penny Dreadful

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