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Bond, James Bond PT 11 Daniel Craig

26 Apr

Daniel Craig - New James Bond movie Casino Royale

“I’d never copy somebody else. I would never do an impression of anybody else or try and improve on what they did. That would be a pointless exercise for me.”

Daniel Wroughton Craig (born 2 March 1968) is an English actor, best known for playing British secret agent James Bond since 2006.

Craig achieved international fame when chosen as the seventh actor to play the role of James Bond, replacing Pierce Brosnan. Though he was initially greeted with scepticism, his debut in Casino Royale was highly acclaimed and earned him a BAFTA award nomination, with the film becoming the highest-grossing in the series at the time. Quantum of Solace followed two years later. His third Bond film, Skyfall, premiered in 2012 and is now the highest-grossing film in the series.

In 2006, Craig joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Since taking the role of Bond, he has continued to appear in other films, most recently starring in the English language adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Craig made a guest appearance as Bond in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, alongside Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2005, Craig was contracted by Eon Productions to portray James Bond. He stated he “was aware of the challenges” of the Bond franchise which he considered “a big machine” that “makes a lot of money”. He aimed at bringing more “emotional depth” to the character. Born in 1968, Craig is the first actor to portray James Bond to have been born after the Bond series started, and Ian Fleming, the novels’ writer, had died. Significant controversy followed the decision, as it was doubted if the producers had made the right choice. Throughout the entire production period Internet campaigns expressed their dissatisfaction and threatened to boycott the film in protest.

The 5-foot-10-inch (178 cm) blond Craig was not considered by some protesters to fit the tall, dark Bond portrayed by the previous Bond actors, and to which viewers had apparently become accustomed. The Daily Mirror ran a front page news story critical of Craig, with the headline, “The Name’s Bland – James Bland”. Although the choice of Craig was controversial, numerous actors publicly voiced their support, most notably, four of the five actors who had previously portrayed Bond, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Sean Connery and Roger Moore, called his casting a good decision. George Lazenby has since voiced his approval of Craig also Clive Owen, who had been linked to the role, also spoke in defence of Craig.

The first film, Casino Royale, premiered 14 November 2006, and grossed a total of US$594,239,066 worldwide, which made it the highest-grossing Bond film to date. After the film was released, Craig’s performance was highly acclaimed. As production of Casino Royale reached its conclusion, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced that pre-production work had already begun on the 22nd Bond film. After several months of speculation as to the release date, Wilson and Broccoli officially announced on 20 July 2006, that the follow-up film, Quantum of Solace, was to be released on 7 November 2008, and that Craig plays Bond with an option for a third film. On 25 October 2007, MGM CEO Harry Sloan revealed at the Forbes Meet II Conference that Craig had signed on to make four more Bond films, through to Bond 25.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended a membership invitation to Craig in 2006 . Craig sliced off the top of one of his fingers 12 June 2008, while filming Quantum of Solace. The accident was one of a string of incidents surrounding the shoot, including a fire at one of the sets in Pinewood Studios, a car crash that left the stunt driver in a serious condition, and an Aston Martin skidding off the road and plunging into Lake Garda while being transported to the set in Italy. I don’t think it should be confusing by the end of the film, but during the film you should be questioning who he is.”Craig has stated his own favourite previous Bond actor was Sean Connery, but says, “I’d never copy somebody else. I would never do an impression of anybody else or try and improve on what they did. That would be a pointless exercise for me.”

His own favourite Bond film is From Russia with Love. On a James Bond-centric episode of The South Bank Show, Connery divulged his thoughts on Craig’s casting as Bond, whom he described as “fantastic, marvelous in the part”. When told that Craig had taken particular note of his performances, Connery said that he was “flattered” and that Craig really gets the “danger element” to Bond’s character

Craig describes his portrayal of Bond as an anti-hero: “The question I keep asking myself while playing the role is, ‘Am I the good guy or just a bad guy who works for the good side?’ Bond’s role, after all, is that of an assassin when you come down to it. I have never played a role in which someone’s dark side shouldn’t be explored

I am of the opinion that Craig has left an inevitable but permanent change in the Bond character. The film Skyfall, I consider one of the best in the series. Here is a link to my review: https://cinemacommentary.com/2012/11/09/skyfall/

 

Here, also, is a link for the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kw1UVovByw

 

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Bond, James Bond PT 10: Pierce Brosnan

24 Apr

f Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (007) in GoldenEye.

 

“I’d like to do another, sure. Connery did six. Six would be a number, then never come back.”

Pierce Brendan Brosnan (born 16 May 1953) is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years. Following a stage acting career he rose to popularity in the television series Remington Steele (1982–87).

After Remington Steele, Brosnan appeared in films such as The Fourth Protocol and Mrs. Doubtfire. In 1995, he became the fifth actor to portray secret agent James Bond in the Eon Productions film series, starring in four films between 1995 and 2002. He also provided his voice and likeness to Bond in the 2004 video game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. During this period, he also took the lead in other films such as Dante’s Peak and the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. After leaving the role of Bond, he has starred in such successes as The Matador (nominated for a Golden Globe, 2005), Mamma Mia! (National Movie Award, 2008), and The Ghost Writer (2010).

Brosnan first met James Bond films producer Albert R. Broccoli on the sets of For Your Eyes Only because his first wife, Cassandra Harris, was in the film. Broccoli said, “if he can act … he’s my guy” to inherit the role of Bond from Roger Moore. It was reported by both Entertainment Tonight and the National Enquirer, that Brosnan was going to inherit another role of Moore’s, that of Simon Templar in The Saint. Brosnan denied the rumors in July 1993 but added, “it’s still languishing there on someone’s desk in Hollywood.”

In 1986, NBC cancelled Remington Steele, so Brosnan was offered the role, but the publicity revived Remington Steele and Brosnan had to decline the role, owing to his contract The producers instead hired Timothy Dalton for The Living Daylights (1987), and License to Kill (1989). Legal squabbles between the Bond producers and the studio over distribution rights resulted in the cancellation of a proposed third Dalton film in 1991 and put the series on a hiatus for several years. On 7 June 1994, Brosnan was announced as the fifth actor to play Bond.

Brosnan was signed for a three-film Bond deal with the option of a fourth. The first, 1995’s GoldenEye, grossed US $350 million worldwide, the fourth highest worldwide gross of any film in 1995, making it the most successful Bond film since Moonraker, adjusted for inflation. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, and said Brosnan’s Bond was “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete” than the previous ones, also commenting on Bond’s “loss of innocence” since previous films. James Berardinelli described Brosnan as “a decided improvement over his immediate predecessor” with a “flair for wit to go along with his natural charm”, but added that “fully one-quarter of Goldeneye is momentum-killing padding.”

In 1996, Brosnan formed a film production company entitled “Irish DreamTime” along with producing partner and long time friend Beau St. Clair. Three years later the company’s first studio project, The Thomas Crown Affair, was released and met both critical and box office success.

Brosnan returned in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies and 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, which were also successful. In 2002, Brosnan appeared for his fourth time as Bond in Die Another Day, receiving mixed reviews but was a success at the box office. Brosnan himself subsequently criticized many aspects of his fourth Bond movie. During the promotion, he mentioned that he would like to continue his role as James Bond: “I’d like to do another, sure. Connery did six. Six would be a number, then never come back.” Brosnan asked Eon Productions, when accepting the role, to be allowed to work on other projects between Bond films. The request was granted, and for every Bond film, Brosnan appeared in at least two other mainstream films, including several he produced, playing a wide range of roles, ranging from a scientist in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!, to the title role in Grey Owl which documents the life of Englishman Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, one of Canada’s first conservationists.

Shortly after the release of Die Another Day, the media began questioning whether or not Brosnan would reprise the role for a fifth time. Brosnan kept in mind that both fans and critics were unhappy with Roger Moore playing the role until he was 58, but he was receiving popular support from both critics and the franchise fan base for a fifth installment. For this reason, he remained enthusiastic about reprising his role. Throughout 2004, it was rumored that negotiations had broken down between Brosnan and the producers to make way for a new and younger actor This was denied by MGM and Eon Productions. In July 2004, Brosnan announced that he was quitting the role, stating “Bond is another lifetime, behind me”. In October 2004, Brosnan said he considered himself dismissed from the role. Although Brosnan had been rumored frequently as still in the running to play 007, he had denied it several times, and in February 2005 he posted on his website that he was finished with the role. Daniel Craig took over the role on 14 October 2005. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Brosnan was asked what he thought of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. He replied, “I’m looking forward to it like we’re all looking forward to it. Daniel Craig is a great actor and he’s going to do a fantastic job”. He reaffirmed this support in an interview to the International Herald Tribune, stating that “[Craig’s] on his way to becoming a memorable Bond.”

During his tenure on the James Bond films, Brosnan also took part in James Bond video games. In 2002, Brosnan’s likeness was used as the face of Bond in the James Bond video game Nightfire (voiced by Maxwell Caulfield). In 2004, Brosnan starred in the Bond game Everything or Nothing, contracting for his likeness to be used as well as doing the voice-work for the character. He also starred along with Jamie Lee Curtis and Geoffrey Rush in The Tailor of Panama in 2001, and lent his voice to The Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror XII”, as a machine with Pierce Brosnan’s voice.

Brosnan’s Bond seemed to set the tone for what was to come, a grittier, more human Bond, named Daniel Craig.

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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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Bond, James Bond PT8: Roger Moore

21 Apr

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“When ever a Bond film I was in opened, I never read my bad reviews.”

Sir Roger George Moore was on October 14, 1927, in a bourough of London. He is an English actor, perhaps best known for playing British secret agent James Bond in the official film series for seven films between 1973 and 1985, and Simon Templar in The Saint from 1962 to 1969. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the children’s charity UNICEF.

Worldwide fame arrived after Lew Grade cast Moore as Simon Templar in a new adaptation of The Saint, based on the novels by Leslie Charteris. Moore said in an interview, during 1963, that he wanted to buy the rights of Leslie Charteris’s character and the trademarks. He also joked that the role was supposed to have been meant for Sean Connery who was unavailable. The television series was made in the UK with an eye on the American market, and its success there (and in other countries) made Moore a household name – and in spring 1967 he eventually had reached the level of an international top star. It also established his suave, quipping style which he would carry forward to James Bond. Moore would also go on to direct several episodes of the later series, which moved into colour in 1967.

The Saint ran from 1962 for six seasons and 118 episodes, making it (in a tie with The Avengers) the longest-running series of its kind on British television. However, Moore grew increasingly tired of the role, and was keen to branch out. He made two films immediately after the series had ended: Crossplot, a lightweight ‘spy caper’ movie, and the more challenging The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). Directed by Basil Dearden, it gave Moore the opportunity to demonstrate a wider versatility than the role of Simon Templar had allowed, although reviews at the time were lukewarm, and both did little business at the box office.

Because of his commitment to several television shows, in particular the long-lasting series The Saint, Roger Moore was unavailable for the James Bond franchise for a considerable time. His participation in The Saint was not only as actor, but also as a producer and director, and he also became involved in developing the series The Persuaders!. Moore stated in his autobiography My Word Is My Bond (2008) that he had neither been approached to play James Bond in Dr. No, nor does he feel that he had ever been considered. It was only after Sean Connery had declared in 1966 that he would not play Bond any longer that Moore became aware that he might be a contender for the role. But after George Lazenby was cast in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and then Connery played Bond again in Diamonds Are Forever, Moore didn’t consider the possibility until it seemed abundantly clear that Connery had in fact stepped down as Bond for good. At that point Moore was approached, and he accepted producer Albert Broccoli’s offer in August 1972. Moore says in his autobiography that he had to cut his hair and lose weight, but although he resented that, he was finally cast as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973).

Moore played Bond in Live and Let Die (1973); The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); The Spy Who Loved Me (1977); Moonraker (1979); For Your Eyes Only (1981); Octopussy (1983); and A View to a Kill (1985).

Moore is the longest-serving James Bond actor, having spent 12 years in the role (from his debut in 1973, to his retirement from the role in 1985), and having made seven official films in a row. Moore is the oldest actor to have played Bond – he was 45 in Live and Let Die (1973), and 58 when he announced his retirement on 3 December 1985.

Moore’s Bond was very different than the character created by Ian Fleming. Screenwriters like George MacDonald Fraser provided scenarios in which 007 was a kind of seasoned, debonair playboy who would always have a trick or gadget in stock when he needed it. This was designed to serve the contemporary taste in the 1970s.

In 2004 Moore was voted ‘Best Bond’ in an Academy Awards poll, and he won with 62% of votes in another poll in 2008. In 1987 he hosted Happy Anniversary 007: 25 Years of James Bond.

During Moore’s Bond period he starred in 13 other films, including the thriller Gold (1974), an unorthodox action film The Wild Geese, and played a millionaire so obsessed with Roger Moore that he had had plastic surgery to look like his hero in Cannonball Run (1981). He even made a cameo as Chief Inspector Clouseau, posing as a famous movie star, in Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) (for which he was credited as “Turk Thrust II”). However, most of these films were not critically acclaimed or commercially successful. Moore was widely criticised for making three movies in South Africa under the Apartheid regime during the 1970s. Moore was shocked by the poverty he saw when filming Octopussy, his sixth film as James Bond, in India in 1983. His friend Audrey Hepburn had impressed him with her work for UNICEF, and consequently he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991. He was the voice of ‘Santa’ in the 2004 UNICEF cartoon The Fly Who Loved Me.

Moore was involved in the production of a video for PETA that protests against the production and wholesale of foie gras. Moore narrates the video. His assistance in this situation, and being a strong spokesman against foie gras, has led to the department store Selfridges agreeing to remove foie gras from their shelves.

In 1999, Moore was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on 14 June 2003. The citation on the knighthood was for Moore’s charity work, which has dominated his public life for more than a decade. Moore said that the citation “meant far more to me than if I had got it for acting… I was proud because I received it on behalf of UNICEF as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years”.

On 11 October 2007, three days before he turned 80, Moore was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work on television and in film. Attending the ceremony were family, friends, and Richard Kiel, with whom he had acted in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Moore’s star was the 2,350th star installed, and is appropriately located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.

In 2008, the French government appointed Moore a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

On 21 November 2012, Moore was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from the University of Hertfordshire, for his outstanding contribution to the UK film and television industry for over 50 years, in particular film and television production in the County of Hertfordshire.

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Bond, James Bond PT 7: George Lazenby

20 Apr

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“Lazenby’s singular portrayal of the iconic Bond character, and his lack of standing as a favourite in the series, has resulted in his name being used as a metaphor for forgettable, non-iconic acting efforts in other entertainment franchises.”

 

George Robert Lazenby , born 5 September 1939, is an Australian actor and former model, best known for portraying James Bond in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Sadly Lazenby had to follow Bond Icon Sean Connery, he dryly refers to this experience as being, “Pope Paul II to Connery’s Pope Paul I.” Although the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was not bad overall, Lazenby had big shoes to fill.

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As a young man became a used car salesman and eventually moved to Park Lane, Australia to sell new cars. It was here he was spotted by a talent scout who persuaded Lazenby to become a model. He was best remember for a commercial for Big Fry Chocolate.

In 1968, after Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, producer Albert R. Broccoli first met Lazenby when getting their hair cut at the same barber. He later saw him in the Big Fry commercial and felt he could be a possible Bond, calling him in for a screen test.

Lazenby dressed for the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (ordered, but uncollected, by Connery). Broccoli offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression. Lazenby won the role based on a screen-test fight scene, the strength of his interviews, fight skills and audition footage. Director Peter R. Hunt later claimed:

We wanted someone who oozed sexual assurance, and we think this fellow has that. Just wait til the women see him on screen … I am not saying he is an actor. There is a great deal of difference between an actor and a film star. Didn’t they find Gary Cooper when he was an electrician?

During the production of the film, Lazenby’s voice was dubbed over with George Baker’s in scenes in which Bond impersonated Sir Hilary Bray (Baker’s character), something not traditionally done with a leading actor whose original language is English. According to an interview, Lazenby experienced difficulties on the set stemming from director Hunt’s refusal to speak directly with him, and Hunt’s brusqueness in asking Lazenby’s friends to clear the set before filming.

In November 1969, prior to the release of the film, Lazenby announced that he no longer wished to play the role of James Bond due to his conflict with the film’s producers, about whom he said, “They made me feel like I was mindless. They disregarded everything I suggested simply because I hadn’t been in the film business like them for about a thousand years.”

His co-star Diana Rigg was among many who commented on this decision:

The role made Sean Connery a millionaire. It made Sean Connery … I truly don’t know what’s happening in George’s mind so I can only speak of my reaction. I think it’s a pretty foolish move. I think if he can bear to do an apprenticeship, which everybody in this business has to do – has to do – then he should do it quietly and with humility. Everybody has to do it. There are few instant successes in the film business. And the instant successes one usually associates with somebody who is willing to learn anyway.

Lazenby grew a beard and long hair. “Bond is a brute,” he announced. “I’ve already put him behind me. I will never play him again. Peace – that’s the message now.”

He later elaborated:

Fantasy doesn’t interest me. Reality does. Anyone who’s in touch with the kids knows what’s happening, knows the mood. Watch pop music and learn what’s going to happen. Most filmmakers don’t watch and aren’t in touch. People aren’t going to films because filmmakers are putting out films people don’t want to see. As for the so-called “Tomorrow movies” they are only tomorrow movies with yesterday directors … Actors aren’t all that important. Directors are. I’m terribly impressed with Dennis Hopper. I’d like to work for him. I also like Arthur Penn, John Schlesinger and Peter Yates … What I’m going to do is look for a great director first, a good screenplay second. Meanwhile, no more Bond. I make better money doing commercials.

At the time of the release of OHMSS, Lazenby’s performance received mixed reviews. Some felt that, while he was physically convincing, some of his costumes were inappropriate (“too loud” according to some) and that he delivered his lines poorly. Others, however, have developed differing views in the decades since the film. In the 1998 book The Essential James Bond, Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrell write: “Although OHMSS was routinely dismissed by critics who cited Lazenby as a brave but disappointing successor to Connery, the intervening years have been notably kinder to both the film and its star. Indeed, due in no small part to Peter Hunt’s inspired direction, OHMSS generally ranks among the top films with fans. Likewise, Lazenby has emerged as a very popular contributor to the series and has enjoyed large enthusiastic audiences during his appearances at Bond related events. In summary, OHMSS is a brilliant thriller in its own right and justifiably ranks amongst the best Bond films ever made”.

In Roger Moore’s commentary for a 2007 DVD release of The Man with the Golden Gun, he referenced George Lazenby as follows : “I have a great deal of e-mail contact with George Lazenby; he’s sort of on the joke circuit … that we simply send jokes to each other. OHMSS – very well made film – Peter Hunt – excellent, excellent, excellent fight stuff, excellent snow effects … but I think the end result for George was that it was one of the better Bonds”.

Although Lazenby had been offered a contract for seven movies, his agent, Ronan O’Rahilly, convinced him that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.  After this role Lazenby began to study drama at Durham University’s College of the Venerable Bede.

Lazenby has portrayed James Bond several times over the years in numerous parodies and unofficial 007 roles, most notably the 1983 television movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and an episode of The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, entitled “Diamonds Aren’t Forever”. In 2012 Lazenby made a guest appearance on the Canadian sketch comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, spoofing the 007 series in a skit called Help, I’ve Skyfallen and I Can’t Get Up.

Although Eon Productions attempted on several occasions to cast Americans as Bond (most notably signing John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever before the services of Sean Connery were obtained. Lazenby remains the only actor from outside the British Isles to portray Bond in a Bond feature film.

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Bond, James Bond PT 6: Sean Connery

11 Apr

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“Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred.”

For many Bond fans there is only one James Bond,  Sir Thomas Sean Connery, Kt, (born August 25th, 1930). Although the first Bond,Connery set the standard for the Bond actors that followed. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Connery was the son of a cleaning woman and factory worker. After a stint as milkman he joined the Royal Navy. By the time he was 23 he had been discharged on medical grounds. Although he was a body builder and loved Football, he decided to become an actor. He felt his football career would be over at 30 and he wanted to have a life long career.

Looking to pick up some extra money, Connery helped out backstage at the King’s Theater in late 1951. He became interested in the proceedings, and a career was launched.

In 1957, Connery played Spike, a minor gangster with a speech impediment in Montgomery Tully’s No Road Back alongside Skip Homeier, Paul Carpenter, Patricia Dainton and Norman Wooland. He then played a rogue lorry driver Johnny Yates in Cy Endfield’s Hell Drivers (1957) alongside Stanley Baker, Herbert Lom, Peggy Cummins and Patrick McGoohan. Later in 1957 Connery appeared in Terence Young’s poorly received MGM action picture Action of the Tiger opposite Van Johnson, Martine Carol, Herbert Lom and Gustavo Rojo; the film was shot on location in southern Spain. He also had a minor role in Gerald Thomas’s thriller Time Lock (1957) as a welder, appearing alongside Robert Beatty, Lee Patterson, Betty McDowall and Vincent Winter, which commenced filming on 1 December 1956 at Beaconsfield Studios.

In 1958 he had a major role in the melodrama Another Time, Another Place (1958) as a British reporter named Mark Trevor, caught in a love affair opposite Lana Turner and Barry Sullivan. During filming, star Lana Turner’s possessive gangster boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, who was visiting from Los Angeles, believed she was having an affair with Connery. He stormed onto the set and pointed a gun at Connery, only to have Connery disarm him and knock him flat on his back. Stompanato was banned from the set. Connery later recounted that he had to lie low for a while after receiving threats from men linked to Stompanato’s boss, Mickey Cohen.

In 1959, Connery landed a leading role in Robert Stevenson’s Walt Disney Productions film Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) alongside Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, and Jimmy O’Dea. The film is a tale about a wily Irishman and his battle of wits with leprechauns. Upon the film’s initial release, A. H. Weiler of the New York Times praised the cast (save Connery whom he described as “merely tall, dark, and handsome”) and thought the film an “overpoweringly charming concoction of standard Gaelic tall stories, fantasy and romance.”. In his book The Disney Films, film critic and historian Leonard Maltin stated that, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People is not only one of Disney’s best films, but is certainly one of the best fantasies ever put on film.”

He also had a prominent television role in Rudolph Cartier’s 1961 production of Anna Karenina for BBC Television, in which he co-starred with Claire Bloom.

Connery’s breakthrough came in the role of secret agent James Bond. He was reluctant to commit to a film series, but understood that if the films succeeded his career would greatly benefit. He played the character in the first five Bond films: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thundeball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967) then appeared again as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983). All seven films were commercially successful.

Sean Connery’s selection as James Bond owed a lot to Dana Broccoli, wife of Cubby Broccoli, who is reputed to have been instrumental in persuading Cubby that Sean Connery was the right man. James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, originally doubted Connery’s casting, saying, “He’s not what I envisioned of James Bond looks” and “I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man,” adding that Connery (muscular, 6′ 2″, and a Scot) was unrefined. Fleming’s girlfriend told him Connery had the requisite sexual charisma. Fleming changed his mind after the successful Dr. No première; he was so impressed, he created a half-Scottish, half-Swiss heritage for James Bond in the later novels.

Connery’s portrayal of Bond owes much to stylistic tutelage from director Terence Young, polishing the actor while using his physical grace and presence for the action. Lois Maxwell (the first Miss Moneypenny) claimed that, “Terence took Sean under his wing. He took him to dinner, showed him how to walk, how to talk, even how to eat.” The tutoring was successful; Connery received thousands of fan letters a week, and the actor became one of the great male sex symbols of film.

In 2005, From Russia with Love was adapted by Electronic Arts into a video game, titled James Bond 007: From Russia with Love, which featured all-new voice work by Connery as well as his likeness, and those of several of the film’s supporting cast.

Although Bond had made him a star, Connery eventually tired of the role and the pressure the franchise put on him, saying that he was “fed up to here with the whole Bond bit” While making the Bond films, Connery also starred in other acclaimed films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Apart from The Man Who Would Be King and The Wind and the Lion, both released in 1975, most of Connery’s successes in the next decade were as part of ensemble casts in films such as Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with Vanessa Redgrave and John Gielgud and A Bridge Too Far (1977) co-starring Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Olivier.

In 1981, Connery appeared in the film Time Bandits as Agamemnon. The casting choice derives from a joke Michael Palin included in the script, in which he describes the character removing his mask as being “Sean Connery — or someone of equal but cheaper stature”. When shown the script, Connery was happy to play the supporting role. In 1982, Connery narrated G’olé!, the official film of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

After his experience with Never Say Never Again in 1983 and the following court case, Connery became unhappy with the major studios and for two years did not make any films. Following the successful European production The Name of the Rose (1986), for which he won a BAFTA award, Connery’s interest in more commercial material was revived. That same year, a supporting role in Highlander showcased his ability to play older mentors to younger leads, which would become a recurring role in many of his later films. The following year, his acclaimed performance as a hard-nosed Irish-American cop in The Untouchables (1987) earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, his sole nomination throughout his career. His subsequent box-office hits included Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), in which he played Henry Jones Sr., the title character’s father, The Hunt for Red October (1990) (where he was reportedly called in at two weeks’ notice), The Russia House (1990), The Rock (1996), and Entrapment (1999). In 1996, he voiced the role of Draco the dragon in the film Dragonheart. In 1998, Sean Connery received a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

In recent years, Connery’s films have included several box office and critical disappointments such as First Knight (1995), The Avengers (1998), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), but he also received positive reviews, including his performance in Finding Forrester (2000). He also later received a Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.

Bond, James Bond PT 5: M Bernard Lee, Robert Brown, Dame Judi Dench

9 Apr

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“He turned me into that unsavory character, M.”

 

M is a fictional character in Ian Fleming’s Bond books  and film franchise; the character is the Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service also known as MI6. Fleming based the character on a number of people he knew who commanded sections of British intelligence. M has appeared in the novels by Fleming and seven continuation authors, as well as appearing in twenty-four films.

In the EON Productions, Albert R. Broccoli produced, Bond films, M has been portrayed by four actors: Bernard Lee, Robert Brown, dame Judi Dench and Ralph Finnes, who is the current incumbent; in two independent productions, M has been played by John Huston and Edward Fox.

Fleming based much of M’s character on Rear Admiral, John Godfrey, who was Fleming’s superior at the Naval Intelligence Division during WWII. After Fleming’s death, Godfrey complained “He turned me into that unsavory character, M.”

Fleming’s third Bond novel, Moonraker, establishes M’s initials as “M**** M*******” and his first name is subsequently revealed to be Miles. In the final novel of the series, The Man with The Golden Gun, M’s full identity is revealed as Vice Admiral Sir Miles Messervy KCMG;Messervy had been appointed to head of MI6 after his predecessor had been assassinated at his desk.

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Bernard Lee: 1962–79

M was played by Bernard Lee from the first Bond film, Dr. No, until Moonraker, (1979). In Dr. No, M refers to his record of reducing the number of operative casualties since taking the job, implying someone else held the job recently before him. The film also saw M refer to himself as head of MI7; Lee had originally said MI6, but was overdubbed with the name MI7 prior to the film’s release. Earlier in the film, the department had been referred to as MI6 by a radio operator.

A number of Bond scholars have noted the Lee’s interpretation of the character was in line with the original literary representation; John Cork and Collin Stutz observed that Lee was “very close to Fleming’s version of the character”, whilst Steven Jay Rubin commented on the serious, efficient, no-nonsense authority figure. Smith and Lavington, meanwhile, remarked that Lee was “the very incarnation of Fleming’s crusty admiral.”

Lee died of cancer in January 1981, four months into the filming of For Your eyes Only and before any of his scene s could be filmed. Out of respect, no new actor was hired to assume the role and, instead, the script was re-written so that the character is said to be on leave, with his lines given to either his Chief of Staff Bill Tanner or the Minister of Defence, Sir Fredrick Gray. Later films referred to Lee’s tenure as head of the service, with a painting of him as M in MI6’s Scottish headquarters during the 1999 installment, The World Is Not Enough.

 

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Robert Brown: 1983–89

After Lee’s death in 1981, the producers hired actor Robert Brown to play M in Octopussy. Brown had previously played Admiral Hargreaves, in the 1977 film, The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond scholars Rubin,  Cork, and  Stutz all consider Admiral Hargreaves would have been promoted to the role of M, rather than Brown playing a different character as M.

Pfeiffer and Worrall considered that whilst Brown looks perfect, the role had been softened from that of Lee; they also considered him “far too avuncular”, although in License to Kill they remarked that he came across as being very effective as he removed Bond’s double o license. Bond book series continuation author Raymond Benson agrees, noting that the M role was “once again under written, and Brown is not allowed the opportunity to explore and reveal his character traits”; Benson also considered the character to be “too nice”.

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Dame Judi Dench: 1995–2012

After the long period between Licence to Kill and Goldeneye, the producers brought in Dame Judi Dench to take over as the new M. The character is based on Stella Rimington, the real-life head of MI5 between 1992 and 1996. For GoldenEye, M is cold, blunt and unabashedly dislikes Bond, whom she calls a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War.” Tanner, her Chief of Staff, refers to her during the film as “the Evil Queen of Numbers”, given her reputation at that stage for relying on statistics and analysis rather than impulse and initiative.

Dench continued playing M for the 2006 film Casino Royale, which rebooted the series with Daniel Craig playing Bond. In this new continuity, M has worked for MI6 for some time, at one point muttering, “Christ, I miss the Cold War”. Her ability to run the Secret Service has been questioned several times; in Casino Royale, she was the subject of a review when Bond was caught shooting an unarmed prisoner on camera; in Quantum of Solace, the Foreign Secretary ordered her to personally withdraw Bond from the field in Bolivia and to stop any investigations into Dominic Greene, the villain of the film; and in Skyfall, she is the subject of a public inquiry when MI6 loses a computer hard drive containing the identities of undercover agents around the world. Skyfall marks Dench’s final appearance as M. Her character becomes the target of the film’s villain, Raoul Silva, over a perceived betrayal. She is shot and killed during the climax of the film, making Judi Dench’s M the only M to be killed in the Eon Bond films.

There have also been brief references to M’s family: in GoldenEye, she responds to Tanner’s “Evil Queen of Numbers” jibe by telling him that when she wants to hear sarcasm she will listen to her children. Quantum of Solace director Marc Forter suggested that Dench’s casting gave the character maternal overtones in her relationship with Bond, overtones made overt in Skyfall, in which Silva repeatedly refers to her as “Mother” and “Mommy”. In Skyfall she is also revealed to be a widow.

Unlike the other actors to play M, Dench’s character was never referred to by name on-screen. However, a prop from the final scene of Skyfall, where M bequeaths some of her possessions to Bond following her death, revealed that her character was given the name “Olivia Mansfield”. As the character was never directly referred to by this name, it still may be a mystery.