Bond, James Bond PT 9 Timothy Dalton

24 Apr

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“I was supposed to make one more but it was cancelled because MGM and the film’s producers got into a lawsuit which lasted for five years. After that, I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

 

Timothy Peter Dalton born 21 March 1944 or 1946, depending on who you ask, is a British actor of film and television.

Dalton is known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989), as well as Rhett Butler in the television miniseries Scarlett (1994), an original sequel to Gone with the Wind. In addition, he is known for his roles as Philip II of France in The Lion In Winter; Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1970); Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre (1983); Prince Barin in Flash Gordon (1980); and various roles in Shakespearean films and plays such as Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Henry V, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2. Recently, he had a voice acting part in Toy Story 3 as Mr. Pricklepants, he has also appeared as Skinner in the mystery comedy film Hot Fuzz; portrayed the recurring character of Alexei Volkoff in the US TV series Chuck; and Rassilon in the Doctor Who two-part episode “The End of Time”.

Dalton had been considered for the role of James Bond several times. According to the documentary Inside The Living Daylights, the producers first approached Dalton in 1968 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service although Dalton himself in this same documentary claims the approach occurred when he was either 24 or 25 and had already done the film Mary, Queen of Scots (1971). Dalton told the producers that he was too young for the role. In a 1987 interview, Dalton said, “Originally I did not want to take over from Sean Connery. He was far too good, he was wonderful. I was about 24 or 25, which is too young. But when you’ve seen Bond from the beginning, you don’t take over from Sean Connery.” In either 1979 or 1980, he was approached again, but did not favor the direction the films were taking, nor did he think the producers were seriously looking for a new 007. As he explained, his idea of Bond was different.  In a 1979 episode of the television series Charlie’s Angels, Dalton played the role of Damien Roth, a millionaire playboy described by David Doyle’s character as “almost James Bond-ian”.

In 1986, Dalton was approached to play Bond after Roger Moore had retired, and Pierce Brosnan could not get out of contractual commitments to the television series Remington Steele. However, Dalton would soon begin filming Brenda Starr and could do The Living Daylights only if the Bond producers waited six weeks.

Dalton’s first appearance as 007, The Living Daylights (1987) was critically successful, and grossed more than the previous two Bond films with Moore, as well as contemporary box-office rivals such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. However, his second film, Licence to Kill (1989), although almost as successful as its predecessor in most markets, did not perform as well at the U.S. box office, in large part due to a lackluster marketing campaign, after the title of the film was abruptly changed from License Revoked. The main factor for the lack of success in the U.S. was that it was released at the same time as the hugely successful Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Lethal Weapon 2, during the summer blockbuster season. In the United Kingdom – one of its critical markets, the film was also hampered by receiving a 15 certificate from the British Board of Film Classification which severely affected its commercial success. Future Bond films, following the resolution of legal and other issues, were all released between 31 October and mid-December, in order to avoid the risk of a summer failure, as had happened to Licence To Kill.

With a worldwide gross of $191 million, The Living Daylights became the fourth most successful Bond film at the time of its release. In 1998 the second Deluxe Edition of Bond’s Soundtracks was released. The Living Daylights was one of the first soundtracks to receive Deluxe treatment. The booklet/poster of this CD contains MGM’s quote about The Living Daylights being the fourth most successful Bond film.

Since Dalton was contracted for three Bond films, the pre-production of his third film began in 1990, in order to be released in 1991. What was confirmed is that the story would deal with the destruction of a chemical weapons laboratory in Scotland, and the events would take place in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. However, the film was cancelled due to legal issues between UA/MGM and Eon Productions, which lasted for four years.

The legal battle ended in 1993, and Dalton was expected to return as James Bond in the next Bond film, which later became GoldenEye. Despite his contract having expired, negotiations with him to renew it took place. In an interview with the Daily Mail in August 1993, Dalton indicated that Michael France was writing the screenplay for the new film, and the production was to begin in January or February 1994. When the deadline was not met, Dalton surprised everyone on 12 April 1994 with the announcement that he would not return as James Bond. At this time, he was shooting the mini-series Scarlett. The announcement for the new Bond came two months later, with Pierce Brosnan playing the role. Unlike Moore, who had played Bond as more of a light-hearted playboy, Dalton’s portrayal of Bond was darker and more serious. Dalton pushed for renewed emphasis on the gritty realism of Ian Fleming’s novels instead of fantasy plots and humor, Dalton stated in a 1989 interview:

“I think Roger was fine as Bond, but the films had become too much techno-pop and had lost track of their sense of story. I mean, every film seemed to have a villain who had to rule or destroy the world. If you want to believe in the fantasy on screen, then you have to believe in the characters and use them as a stepping-stone to lead you into this fantasy world. That’s a demand I made, and Albert Broccoli agreed with me.”

A fan of the literary character, often seen re-reading and referencing the novels on set, Dalton determined to approach the role and play truer to the original character described by Fleming. His 007, therefore, came across as a reluctant agent who did not always enjoy the assignments he was given, something seen on screen before, albeit obliquely, only in George Lazenby’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In The Living Daylights, for example, Bond tells a critical colleague, “Stuff my orders! … Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.” In Licence to Kill, he resigns from the Secret Service in order to pursue his own agenda of revenge. Steven Jay Rubin writes in The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopaedia (1995):

“Unlike Moore, who always seems to be in command, Dalton’s Bond sometimes looks like a candidate for the psychiatrist’s couch – a burned-out killer who may have just enough energy left for one final mission. That was Fleming’s Bond – a man who drank to diminish the poison in his system, the poison of a violent world with impossible demands…. His is the suffering Bond.”

This approach proved to be a double-edged sword. Film critics and fans of Fleming’s original novels welcomed a more serious interpretation after more than a decade of Moore’s approach However, Dalton’s films were also criticized for their comparative lack of humour. Dalton’s serious interpretation was not only in portraying the character, but also in performing most of the stunts of the action scenes.

After his Bond films, Dalton divided his work between stage, television and films, and diversified the characters he played. This helped him eliminate the 007 typecasting that followed him during the previous period. Dalton was nevertheless for a certain period considered to act in the Bond film GoldenEye. Instead, he played the villainous matinee idol-cum-Nazi spy Neville Sinclair in 1991’s The Rocketeer, and Rhett Butler in Scarlett, the television miniseries sequel to Gone with the Wind. He also appeared as criminal informant Eddie Myers in the acclaimed 1992 British TV film Framed.

During the second half of the 1990s he starred in several cable films, most notably the Irish Republican Army drama, The Informant, and the action thriller Made Men. In the 1999 TV film Cleopatra he played Julius Caesar.

In 2003, he played a parody of James Bond named Damian Drake in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. At the end of that year and the beginning of 2004, he returned to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials. In 2007, Dalton played Simon Skinner in the action/comedy film Hot Fuzz.

Dalton returned once again to British television in a guest role for the Doctor Who 2009–10 two-part special The End of Time, playing Rassilon. He was first heard in the role narrating a preview clip shown at the 2009 Comic Convention. In 2010 and 2011, he starred in several episodes of the fourth season of the American spy comedy Chuck as Alexei Volkoff.

Dalton voiced the character Mr. Pricklepants in Toy Story 3, which was released on 18 June 2010.

I saw Dalton as the beginning of a new Bond, he was coming out of the 60’s swing icon and going back to the source.  In both films Dalton certainly left his mark on the Bond franchise.

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