At a consistently lean 6' 2", green-eyed Timothy Dalton may very well be one of the last of the dying breed of swashbuckling, classically trained Shakespearean actors who have forged simultaneous successful careers in theater, television and film. He has been comparison-shopped roundly for stepping into roles played by other actors, first following Sir Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights (1970), then as "James Bond" in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989), and even more brutally, recently, as "Rhett Butler" in "Scarlett" (1994).
Undaunted and good-natured, he has always stated that he likes the risk of challenges. The oldest of five children, he was born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, where his father was stationed during WWII, and is a mixture of Italian, Irish and English. His father moved the family to Manchester in the late 1940s, where he worked in advertising and raised the growing Dalton family in an upper-class neighborhood outside of Belper, Derbyshire. Timothy was enrolled in a school for bright children, where he excelled in sports and was interested in the sciences. He was fascinated with acting from a young age, perhaps due to the fact that both his grandfathers were vaudevillians, but it was when he saw a performance of "Macbeth" at age 16 that his destiny was clinched.
After leaving Herbert Strutt Grammar School at the age of sixteen, he toured as a leading member of Michael Croft's National Youth Theater. Between 1964-66, he studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Just before completing his two years, he quit and joined the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, playing the lead in many productions under the direction of Peter Dews while at the same time turning professional. Dalton later said of RADA in an interview with "Seventeen" Magazine (December 1970), "It took a year to undo the psychological damage that was caused by the oppressive teachers".
His talent and classic good looks immediately landed him professional work in television, guest-starring on an episode of the short-lived TV series, "Judge Dee" (1969), and as a regular on the 14-episode series "Sat'day While Sunday" (1967) with the young Malcolm McDowell. In late 1967 Peter O'Toole recommended him for the role of the young "King Philip of France" in The Lion in Winter (1968) (coincidentally, this was also Anthony Hopkins' big break). The following year, he starred in the Italian film The Voyeur (1970) with Marcello Mastroianni and Virna Lisi, although his voice was dubbed into Italian by another actor. Dalton also mixed in a healthy dose of BBC work during this time, including The Three Princes (1968) (TV), _BBC Play of the Month: Five Finger Exercise (1970) (TV)_ and Candida (1973) (TV). Also during this time, he was approached and tested for the role of "James Bond" in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) but turned it down, feeling he was too young for the part. His next film was another costume drama, Cromwell (1970), working with director Ken Hughes, with whom he later made his first American film, Sextette (1978). He followed Cromwell (1970) with Wuthering Heights (1970) and Mary, Queen of Scots (1971).
He was already developing a pattern in his films that would follow him throughout his career: costume dramas where he played royalty, which he had done in three of his first four films (and ridden horses in three, and raised a sword in two). In 1972, he was contracted to play a part in Lady Caroline Lamb (1973). However, at the last moment he was replaced. Dalton sued the company and won, but the film went on without him. From the early to mid-1970s, he decided to further hone his skills by going back into the theater full time. He signed on with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the Prospect Theatre Company (PTC), and toured the world with both, playing the leads in "Romeo and Juliet", "King Lear", "Henry V", "Love's Labours Lost", and "Henry IV" - parts 1 and 2.
In 1975, he returned to movies in the British/Austrian production of The Executioner (1975). It was followed in 1976 by the Spanish religious historical film about the inquisition, The Man Who Knew Love (1978), which was never widely released. After this, he took another break from film, mixing in a healthy dose of theater, returning for his first American film, Sextette (1978), and the lengthy miniseries "Centennial" (1978), his first American television appearance, in which Lynn Redgrave played his wife. Because of his broad exposure to American audiences in this series, he began to get more frequent film and television work in the US, including the episode "Fallen Angel" of "Charlie's Angels" (1976) -- which, ironically, had several references to his character being like "James Bond" -- and the TV movie The Flame Is Love (1979) (TV). Although he did a few features, including playing Vanessa Redgrave's husband in Agatha (1979), most of his work until 1985 consisted of TV movies and miniseries. He played royalty again in the very campy Flash Gordon (1980). He followed this with a small film, Chanel Solitaire (1981) and, in 1981, also filmed a staged production of Antony and Cleopatra (1983) (TV) opposite Lynn Redgrave, with Anthony Geary, as well as Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig of the original TV series, "Star Trek" (1966).
The years 1983-1987 have so far been the most prolific of his career. In 1983, he starred as "Rochester" in what he considers one of his best works, the BBC's very popular "Jane Eyre" (1983). Also, during this time, Roger Moore was considering leaving Bond, and Dalton was again approached, but due to his full schedule, he had to decline. In 1984, he did one of his many narrations in the "Faerie Tale Theatre" (1982) production of The Emperor's New Clothes (1987). That same year also saw him in the Hallmark Hall of Fame piece The Master of Ballantrae (1984) (TV) opposite Michael York and Richard Thomas, and another miniseries, "Mistral's Daughter" (1984), opposite Stefanie Powers and Stacy Keach. The next year was also a very busy one. He starred in another miniseries, "Sins" (1986), playing the brother of Joan Collins, and also starred in and narrated the four-hour TV movie Florence Nightingale (1985) (TV), opposite Jaclyn Smith. He also starred in The Doctor and the Devils (1985) as "Dr. Thomas Rock", with Stephen Rea, Jonathan Pryce, and Patrick Stewart.
In the mid-to-late 1980s, Dalton narrated many nature documentaries, most notably several episodes of the UK series "Wildlife Chronicles" (1987) (called "Wildlife Chronicles" in the US). In the spring of 1986, he teamed with Vanessa Redgrave for another revival of a Shakespeare production, The Taming of the Shrew (1988) (TV) and his interpretation of "Petrucchio" received uniformly high praise. Simultaneously, the world was playing a guessing game as to who would succeed Roger Moore as "James Bond". Dalton was approached but was committed to the theater, and so Pierce Brosnan was offered the part. When Brosnan was unable to get out of his "Remington Steele" (1982) contract at the last minute, Dalton was again approached. Able now to work it into his tight schedule, he agreed. Although his first outing as Bond, The Living Daylights (1987), did reasonably well at the box-office, Licence to Kill (1989) suffered from a lack of marketing that appeared to harm its chances of big box-office success. However, Dalton's interpretation of "Bond" in this film received critical acclaim in some quarters as being the closest to author Ian Fleming's literary "Bond". Back in the theater, he teamed again with Vanessa Redgrave for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's seldom performed play, "A Touch of the Poet", which is considered by some to be his and Redgrave's finest professional collaboration. Although there were talks of bringing the play to Broadway, this never materialized.
Following Licence to Kill (1989), he immediately returned to one of his strengths, costume drama, in The King's Whore (1990). It was followed by his excellent performance in Disney's The Rocketeer (1991), where he played a swashbuckling, Errol Flynn type. In August 1991, he teamed with Whoopi Goldberg for the first bi-racial interpretation of "Love Letters" for the final sold-out performances of the play in Los Angeles.
When he had signed on to do "Bond" it was for three pictures, but the rights to the "Bond" films became entangled in lengthy litigation, delaying production of the third. During this wait, he was set to star in the title role of another historical epic, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992). From the start, however, the film was doomed due to the competition with the Gérard Depardieu "Columbus" picture, which was racked with its own problems. When the director was replaced, Dalton backed out and was followed by his co-star, Isabella Rossellini.
In 1992, he starred in the A&E production "Framed" (1992), which won a bronze medal in the 1993 New York Film Festival. The next year, he journeyed to northern Alaska and Minnesota to make a documentary on one of his favorite subjects, wolves. In the Company of Whales (1991) (TV) went on to win a silver medal in the 1994 New York Film Festival.
He kept busy in television through 1993 and 1994. He made Red Eagle (1994) (TV), "Scarlett" (1994) and managed to squeeze in a guest appearance on "Tales from the Crypt" (1989) in the episode "Werewolf Concerto". In 1994, he took on the role of "Rhett Butler" in the eight-hour mini-series "Scarlett" (1994), produced by Robert Halmi Sr. for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. In April of that year, believing he needed to move on to fresh challenges, he officially resigned the role of "James Bond", a move which was much regretted by the producers, though they understood his reasons. After two months of negotiations, the role went to Pierce Brosnan.
In September 1994, Dalton was called upon for two readings of "Peter and the Wolf" at the Hollywood Bowl. He played to full-capacity crowds. In November, "Scarlett" (1994) premiered and, though given only a lukewarm response by critics, it was a ratings success not only in the US but all over the world, breaking records in many European countries. As always after a major work, Dalton again withdrew quietly and without fanfare to search for his next project, a small, personal film. In the summer of 1995, he journeyed to Canada to shoot Salt Water Moose (1996). The film was made by Canada's Norstar Entertainment and was sold to Halmi to be the first video release in his new line of Hallmark family films. It premiered on Showtime in June 1996.
During the spring of 1996, he made the IRA drama The Informant (1997) in Ireland and, in May, he traveled to Prague to shoot Passion's Way (1999), opposite Sela Ward. On February 7, 1997, the comedy The Beautician and the Beast (1997) co-starring Fran Drescher opened in the US. He also gleefully parodied his swashbuckling/James Bond image in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) as a spy playing an actor playing a spy.
In 1995, Dalton began a relationship with Oksana Grigorieva which produced a child in 1997, Dalton's son Alexander. Over the following years, Dalton has been a caring and loving father of his son. Very much a private man, Dalton's pastimes include fishing, reading, jazz, opera, antique fairs and auctions and, of course, movies.
Frequently plays dark, brooding characters
Deep authoritative voice
Deep smooth voice
Bold green eyes
Intense acting style
In the "Fallen Angel" episode of "Charlie's Angels" (1976), Dalton's character, Damien Roth, is referred to as being like James Bond, which was 8 years before Dalton's first Bond outing.
Loves fishing, especially in the Pacific Ocean.
In 1986, he and Sylvester McCoy were performing together with Vanessa Redgrave in a season of Shakespeare at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Dalton and McCoy sympathized with each other about the difficulty in finding good long-term acting jobs. A year later, McCoy was cast as the Seventh Doctor in "Doctor Who" (1963) and Dalton was cast as James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987).
According to the James Bond film tailors in London, at 6' 2" he is the tallest of all the Bond actors. The tailors who have fitted and measured each of the 5 Bonds over the years claim the following heights for each of the other Bond actors: Sean Connery 6' 1 1/2" without shoes, George Lazenby 6' 1 1/2" without shoes, Roger Moore 6' 1" without shoes and Pierce Brosnan 6' 1" without shoes.
His partner, Oksana Grigorieva, gave birth in London to a boy, Alexander, on 7 August 1997.
His colder, grittier portrayal of James Bond is considered by many fans of the franchise to be the closest to the characterization of Bond from the original novels by Ian Fleming, but was greeted with a mixed reaction from the general public following twelve years of Roger Moore's much more lighthearted portrayal.
Dalton's Bond was the last to smoke cigarettes.
Companion of Vanessa Redgrave. [1980-1994]
Played Lord Asrail in a London stage adaptation of the His Dark Materials trilogy. In the film The Golden Compass (2007), this role is played by Daniel Craig, who also succeeded him in the role of James Bond.
Initially agreed to play James Bond for a third time in GoldenEye (1995), but after a lengthy series of lawsuits between the studio and producers concerning the ownership of the James Bond character, and further script delays, he resigned from the role, believing that too much time had passed since Licence to Kill (1989).
On playing a character: "You can't relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who in times of crisis draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs but only after a struggle. Real courage is knowing what faces you and knowing how to face it." (source: "The Making of LICENCE TO KILL" by Sally Hibbin. Eon Productions Ltd. and Glidrose Publications Ltd., 1979.)
"I don't think I've drunk one since I've left the Bond movies. Every bar you go in, there's always some wisecrack, 'Oh, yours will be a Martini, shaken, not stirred!' You get sick and tired of that." - talking about all of the vodka martinis he would get whenever he walked into a bar, while he was playing Bond.
"I felt as free as a bird" - describing driving down Sunset Boulevard and seeing a billboard that had Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan on it, but no Timothy Dalton.
"It's very important to make the man believable so that you can stretch the fantasy. Whether people like this kind of Bond is another question." (on his approach to the role of James Bond)
"When I saw those posters of Pierce standing there, I suddenly thought to myself, Jesus, I don't have to stand there with a gun to the side of my head anymore! I suddenly found the most tremendous sense of liberation, and I started to feel more like myself than I'd felt in years! I suddenly felt free!" (describing his feelings on whether or not in retrospect he made the right decision not to make the James Bond film GoldenEye)
I don't think that Bond is a role model or that he should be a role model. He's only part of a particular kind of story. I don't think anyone should grow up wanting to go around killing people. I don't think anyone should grow up wanting to be a secret agent.
Roger Moore was brilliant but the movies had gone a long way from their roots; they had drifted in a way that was chalk and cheese to Sean. And I think Daniel Craig will work well. I think he's going to be terrific, he's got danger and vulnerability.
I think most people thought it was a pity I wasn't allowed to grapple so much with the ladies. And he wasn't allowed to smoke; I think I managed to get a few puffs in, which they then cut out.
He's terrific. I think Casino Royale (2006) is a huge step forward - a leap forward. It's great and Daniel's great. He got a lot of stick when he was doing it. There was a lot of negative press. He was criticized by people who didn't have a clue what was in the script or what he was going to look like in the film, which was deeply unfair. I said how wrong everyone was at the time because he's a very gifted actor. I'm pleased that the movie turned out as well as it did.
That's something I think about constantly because it has to be for a purpose, it's not just self-indulgence. People often say, "Well, it's just the way I express myself." That's no good, that's narcissistic, juvenile. You work to express the piece because you believe the piece has value and that can be communicated to other people who will see something new of life because of it. You must believe that it will in some small or big way make a difference to their lives.
There was a time when Sean Connery gave up the role. I guess I, alongside quite a few other actors, was approached about the possibility of playing the part. That was for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). I was very flattered, but I think anybody would have been off their head to have taken over from Connery. I was also too young. Bond should be a man in his mid-thirties, at least - a mature adult who has been around. I was not approached for Live and Let Die (1973), but there was a time in the late 1970s, when Roger may not have done another one, for whatever reason. They were looking around then, and I went to see Mr. Broccoli in Los Angeles. At that time, they didn't have a script finished and also, the way the Bond movies had gone - although they were fun and entertaining - weren't my idea of Bond movies. They had become a completely different entity. I know Roger, and think he does a fantastic job, but they were different kinds of movies. Roger is one of the only people in the world who can be fun in the midst of all that gadgetry. But in truth my favorite Bond movies were always Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), and Goldfinger (1964).
[on GoldenEye (1995)] 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.
|The Living Daylights (1987)||$3,000,000|
|Licence to Kill (1989)||$5,000,000|
(January 2004) Playing "Lord Asriel" in the National Theatre production of 'Phillip Pullman''s novels "His Dark Materials".
(November 2004) Lives in London, UK.
(October 2005) Lives in Los Angeles, USA.
(April 2006) Lives in West Hollywood with his wife and son.
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