James Bond actors have come and gone a lot over the decades. Once the iconic Roger Moore brought his journey as 007 to an end in 1985’s A View to a Kill, the hunt was on once again for the next 007 actor to appear in The Living Daylights – which hits TV screens today, Saturday, July 23, 2022, at 8pm on ITV.
Bond bosses wanted to change things up, however. Until that point, almost every actor to play Bond had been British with the exception of one man.
The iconic Scot Sean Connery obviously paved the way for Bond in cinema – and he is still to this day the most memorable star who wore the tuxedo.
British actor Roger Moore made his own mark on the series, and was the most prolific 007 star, releasing seven films as the super spy.
Australian actor George Lazenby had one film in the middle of Connery and Moore – but Bond bosses weren’t a fan of his gung-ho ways. He only lasted one film.
But that didn’t put them off of actors from down under. While they were working on bringing Timothy Dalton on board, they started speaking with Sam Neill.
Neill would go on to work with Steven Spielberg in 1993 romp Jurassic Park.
Before that, however, he was a relatively unknown actor.
So then, this opportunity to break into the role of James Bond in the 1980s was a boon for the star. That is, it would have been if he actually wanted it.
He explained: “I did [the audition] with extreme reluctance. I think that was the last thing I allowed my then agent to bully me into.”
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Neill added that he found the experience of auditioning to play James Bond “mortifying”.
He said: “Luckily, I never heard from them again.”
As fans now know, Dalton was deemed the better choice and was hired for The Living Daylights which was released in 1987.
He played the suave killer once again two years later, in 1989, in the film Licence to Kill.
His time as Bond didn’t last very long, however.
A lawsuit between EON Productions and MGM stopped all ongoing Bond movie plans to a halt.
Dalton recalled: “Because of the lawsuit, I was free of the contract.” Shortly thereafter, in 1994, the legal issues had been resolved, so the production of a new Bond movie could begin.
But Dalton just wanted to return for one movie. He remembered: “[Producer Albert Broccoli] said, quite rightly: ‘Look, Tim. You can’t do one. There’s no way, after a five-year gap between movies that you can come back and just do one. You’d have to plan on four or five.'”
Dalton went on: “I thought: ‘Oh, no, that would be the rest of my life. Too much. Too long.’ So I respectfully declined.”