Timothy Dalton

Former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton celebrated his 75th birthday on 21st March, and many happy returns were offered by his numerous fans across the globe. He made two James Bond movies, The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence To Kill (1989), and then eventually handed over to Pierce Brosnan.

Since leaving the role of James Bond, Tim has remained very busy, taking roles on the stage, in film and on TV. On the small-screen, for example, he recently played the African explorer Sir Malcolm in three seasons of Penny Dreadful, penned by Bond screenwriter John Logan. Dalton has also remained very close to the Broccoli family, and has watched the recent evolution of the 007 franchise with keen interest, praising Daniel Craig’s Bond.

To mark the fourth James Bond actor’s special birthday on the 21st, the JBIFC offers (00)7 brief facts about Tim’s contribution to the big screen version of Ian Fleming’s famous and iconic creation.

007 and Counting…

001: Tim Dalton had previously been approached by Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli to play 007 at least twice in his early career before officially taking the role in 1986. Dalton had told Broccoli that he felt he was too young, and also that he felt no actor could follow Sean Connery in the role. Broccoli, however, kept a close eye on Tim’s career

002: Ironically, Broccoli tried Tim again after Pierce Brosnan, who had been selected to take over from Roger Moore, suddenly found the makers of Remington Steele, his TV detective series, wanted to reactivate the show and would not release Pierce from his NBC contract. This time, Dalton felt more than ready for the role. Moreover, as a surprise choice for the part (although he had considerable experience in the theatre and film, he was still a relative unknown to the wider public), Dalton also knew he now had a unique opportunity to take the character in a fresh and more serious (as he saw it) direction.

003: Dalton’s vision of Bond, supported by Cubby Broccoli and director John Glen, was to very much go back to Fleming’s source material, in a kind of ‘Back to Basics’ approach. As part of his preparations for the role of James Bond, Dalton once revealed that he went back to Ian Fleming’s book Casino Royale in particular, which Dalton said was a ‘splendid’ thriller, adding: ‘It’s an amazing first novel’.

004: A key early sequence in Dalton’s debut Bond movie, and which marked Dalton’s interpretation of 007 as a very ‘Fleming-esque’ version, was taken from Ian Fleming’s 1962 short story The Living Daylights, in which Bond (much to his unease) discovers that the live target he is about to assassinate in Berlin is a woman. In the movie (which altered the location for the sequence), the woman deliberately missed by Bond is Czech cellist Kara Milovy, who was played by relative newcomer Maryam d’Abo.

005: The original title for Tim’s second James Bond adventure Licence To Kill was Licence Revoked, and this remained the case all through the main filming (even advanced publicity hoardings at the Cannes Film Festival had featured the film’s original title!). However, at the last moment, the main studio marketing people insisted that the title be changed, as they claimed that American audiences would not know what the word ‘Revoked’ meant. Director John Glen was very disappointed about this, but had to accept the change.

006: Dalton was all set to make his third 007 film in 1991. A screenplay had been written and completed in May, 1990, with the working title of ‘Bond 17’. It featured microchips, some advanced robotic technology and locations in Hong Kong, Japan and mainland China as backdrop to the story. The main villain was to be the urbane but demented Sir Henry Lee Ching.

007: Sadly, when complex legal wrangles and a standoff between EON and the main studio delayed production for a long period of time, this third Dalton film became the ‘Bond movie that never was’. After waiting patiently, in the spring of 1994 Dalton announced (with a heavy heart) that he had made a very ‘difficult’ decision and was leaving the role.

Did You Know?

When Timothy Dalton was announced as the new 007 to a surprised world in the summer of 1986, he received endorsement from none other than the first big-screen actor to play James Bond, Sean Connery. Connery was cited in the UK’s Daily Express as commenting: ‘I think they have made a very good choice. I haven’t worked with Tim but I know him and I think he will be good’.

Publicity still from the set of Dalton’s ‘The Living Daylights’ (1987)