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"Stuff my orders! I only kill professionals."
― James Bond to Saunders — Gnome-speakernotesListen (file info)[src]

Commander James Bond is a Senior Operational Officer of the 'Double-O' ('00') Branch, an ultra-covert Black Ops unit within the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). As an agent of MI6, Bond holds code number "007." The 'double-O' prefix indicates his discretionary licence to kill in the performance of his duties.

British actor Timothy Dalton took over the role from Roger Moore in 1987.[2] He appeared in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989). While Dalton performed many of his own stunts, the character was also doubled by stuntmen Paul Weston, Simon Crane, BJ Worth, and Rémy Julienne.[3][4] Legal issues between the Bond producers and the studio over distribution rights resulted in the cancellation of a proposed third Dalton film scheduled for release in 1991[5] and put the series on a hiatus for several years.

Film biography

Shared background

Although very little of Bond's past is directly addressed in Timothy Dalton's films, it is assumed that his Bond continues to share the common background laid out by the Ian Fleming novels and preceding Bond films.

In the novels, James' parents (Andrew Bond of Scotland and Monique Delacroix Bond of Switzerland) were tragically killed during a climbing accident in the French Alps when he was eleven. He had acquired a first-class command of the French and German languages during his early education, which he received entirely abroad. After the death of his parents, Bond goes to live with his aunt, Miss Charmain Bond, where he completes his early education. Later, he briefly attends Eton College at "12 or thereabouts," but is removed after two halves because of girl trouble with a maid. After being sent down from Eton, Bond was sent to Fettes College in Scotland, his father's school.[6]

After leaving Fettes, earlier EON films note that Bond studied at Cambridge University.[7][8] There, he achieved a first in Oriental languages.[9] In Fleming's novels, Bond alluded to briefly attending the University of Geneva (as did Fleming), before being taught to ski in Kitzbühel.[10] Following his graduation, Bond joined the Ministry of Defence and became a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves, rising through the ranks to commander. Bond applied to M for a position within the "Secret Service," part of the Civil Service, and rose to the rank of principal officer.

The Living Daylights (1987)

James Bond is assigned to aid the defection of KGB officer, General Koskov, covering his escape from a concert hall in Bratislava during the orchestra's intermission. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov's escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. Disobeying his orders to kill the sniper, he instead shoots the rifle from her hands, then uses the Trans-Siberian Pipeline to smuggle Koskov across the border into Austria and then on to Britain.

Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy. He determines that Koskov's entire defection was staged and that Kara is actually Koskov's girlfriend. Bond convinces Kara that he is a friend of Koskov's and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is canceling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.

During his brief tryst with Kara in Vienna, Bond meets up with his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by assassin Necros, who leaves the message "Smiert Spionam."


Bond with his gun on Pushkin.

Bond and Milovy promptly leave for Tangier, where Bond confronts General Pushkin. Pushkin disavows any knowledge of "Smiert Spionam," and reveals that Koskov is evading arrest for the misusing of state funds. Bond and Pushkin then join forces and Bond fakes Pushkin's assassination, inducing Whitaker and Koskov to progress with their scheme. Meanwhile, Kara contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is actually a KGB agent and convinces her to drug him so he can be captured.

Koskov, Necros, Kara, and the captive Bond fly to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan (part of the Soviet war in Afghanistan) where Koskov betrays Kara and imprisons her along with Bond. The pair escape and in doing so free a condemned prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Afghan resistance, the Mujahideen. Bond and Kara discover that Koskov is using Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of opium from the Mujahideen, intending to keep the profits with enough left over to supply the Soviets with their arms.

With the Mujahideen's help, Bond plants a bomb aboard the cargo plane carrying the opium, but is spotted and has no choice but to barricade himself in the plane. Meanwhile, the Mujahideen attack the air base on horseback and engage the Soviets in a gun battle. Kara drives a jeep into the back of the plane as Bond takes off, and Necros also leaps aboard at the last second. After a struggle, Bond throws Necros to his death and deactivates the bomb. Bond then notices Shah and his men being pursued by Soviet forces. He re-activates the bomb and drops it out of the plane and onto a bridge, blowing it up and helping Shah and his men gain an important victory over the Soviets. Bond returns to Tangier to kill Whitaker, as Pushkin arrests Koskov, sending him back to Moscow.

Bond is later waiting in Kara's dressing room after she performed at a concert in front of M and General Gogol.

Licence to Kill (1989)

DEA agents collect Bond and Felix Leiter, on their way to Leiter's wedding, to assist in capturing drug lord Franz Sanchez. Bond and Leiter capture Sanchez by attaching a hook and cord to Sanchez's plane in flight near The Bahamas and pulling it out of the air with a Coast Guard helicopter. Afterward, Bond and Leiter parachute down to the church in time for the ceremony.

When Bond learns Sanchez has escaped, he returns to Leiter's house to find his wife Della dead and Felix alive, but seriously wounded; Bond swears to take his revenge on Sanchez. As the DEA refuses to help because Sanchez is out of their jurisdiction, Bond, with Felix's friend Sharkey, start their own investigation into what happened to Felix. The pair discovers a marine research center run by Milton Krest, one of Sanchez's associates.

After Bond kills Ed Killifer by pushing him into the tank with the shark that maimed Leiter, M meets Bond in Key West's Hemingway House and orders him to an assignment in Istanbul, Turkey. Bond resigns after turning down the assignment, but M suspends Bond instead and immediately revokes his licence to kill. Bond flees from MI6 custody and becomes a rogue agent, bereft of official backing but later surreptitiously helped by Miss Moneypenny and MI6 armourer Q.

Bond boards the Wavekrest—a ship run by Milton Krest— and foils Sanchez's latest drug shipment, stealing five million dollars in the process, but later discovers that Sharkey had been killed by Sanchez's henchmen. Bond recruits Pam Bouvier, an ex-CIA agent and pilot whom he rescues from Dario at a Bimini bar, and journeys with her to the Republic of Isthmus. In Isthmus City, Bond is met by Q. He finds his way into Sanchez's employment by posing as an assassin looking for work. Two Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau officers foil Bond's attempt to assassinate Sanchez and take him to an abandoned warehouse. They are joined by Fallon, an MI6 agent who was sent by M to apprehend Bond either dead or alive. Bond is about to be sedated via injection and sent back to the United Kingdom in disgrace when Sanchez's men rescue Bond and kill the officers, believing them to be the assassins.

Tim Dalton License to Kill

Bond before his attempted shooting of Sanchez.

Later, with the aid of Bouvier, Q and Sanchez's girlfriend Lupe Lamora, Bond frames Krest by placing the five million dollars he had stolen into the hyperbaric chamber on board the Wavekrest. An angry Sanchez traps Krest in the chamber and then rapidly depressurises it, killing him; meanwhile, for Bond's perceived loyalty, Sanchez admits him into his inner circle.

Sanchez takes Bond to his base, which is disguised as a meditation retreat. Bond learns that Sanchez's scientists can dissolve cocaine in petrol and then sell it disguised as fuel to Asian drug dealers. During Sanchez's presentation to potential Asian customers, Dario discovers Bond and reveals him to Sanchez. Bond starts a fire in the laboratory and attempts to flee, but is captured again and placed on the conveyor belt that drops the brick-cocaine into a giant shredder. Bouvier arrives and distracts Dario, allowing Bond to pull Dario into the shredder, killing him.

Sanchez flees as fire consumes his base, taking with him four articulated tankers full of the cocaine and petrol mixture. Bond pursues them by plane, with Bouvier at the controls. During the course of a stunt-filled chase through the desert, three of the four tankers are destroyed and Bond kills many of Sanchez's men. Sanchez attacks Bond with a machete aboard the final remaining tanker, which loses control and crashes down a hillside. Soaked in petrol from the leaking tanker, Sanchez attempts to kill Bond with his machete. Bond then reveals his cigarette lighter – the Leiters' gift for being the best man at their wedding – and sets fire to Sanchez, taking revenge for Felix and Della. Sanchez stumbles into the wrecked tanker, blowing it up and killing himself. Bouvier, driving the tractor from one of the destroyed tankers, rescues Bond.

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Bond and Bouvier reconciling.

Later, a party is held at Sanchez's former residence. Bond speaks to Leiter on a telephone informing him of his now stable condition and telling him that he had heard from M, who is offering him his job at MI6 back. He then hangs up and is prompted by his hostess for a one on one chat where she kisses him. Seeing this, Pam runs off which Bond notices. He rejects Lupe's advances and sets her up with Hector Lopez, President of Isthmus. He opts to romance Pam instead, jumping off the balcony into the pool below, pulling her in as well.

On-Screen Kills

Behind the scenes

Timothy Dalton had been approached to play Bond several times before finally signing a three-film contract on 30 July 1986 following Roger Moore's retirement from the role. Dalton took the Bond character away from the light-hearted playboy of Moore, harking back to the gritty realism of Ian Fleming's novels instead of fantasy plots and humour. 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."
Timothy Dalton.

Dalton approached the role closer to the original character described by Ian Fleming and was often seen reading the books on set. His 007 was a more reluctant and questioning hero who did not always enjoy the assignments he was given, something only seen on screen before, albeit obliquely, 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.... [H]is is the suffering Bond."
― Steven Jay Rubin.[src]

Dalton was contracted for three Bond films, and the pre-production of his third film, produced under the working title Bond 17, began in 1990, with a projected release date in 1991. Early screenplays reveal a story which would deal with the destruction of a chemical weapons laboratory in Scotland, robotics, and events which would take place in London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. However, the film was cancelled due to legal issues between UA/MGM and EON Productions.

Upon legalities ending in 1993, Dalton was expected to return as Bond for 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. Notably, an early first draft of GoldenEye by France dated January 1994 confirms close continuity with Dalton's tenure as 007, re-introducing characters such as the Minister of Defence, and KGB head General Leonid Pushkin, both last seen in The Living Daylights.[11] When the deadline was not met, Dalton surprised everyone on 12 April 1994 with the announcement that he declined to return as Bond. The announcement for the new Bond came two months later, with Pierce Brosnan inheriting the role.

In the mid-1990's, Kevin McClory announced he intended to yet again remake Thunderball using his ownership of the screenplay. The film was to be titled Warhead 2000 and Dalton was eyed to reprise the character of Bond. However, the film failed to materialise.

In 2007 Dalton reflected,

"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 any more."
Timothy Dalton


See also


  • Bond's passport lists his birthplace as London, England, lists his height as 6'3" (making him the tallest Bond), and gives him a birthdate of November 10, 1948, making him 38 or 39 in The Living Daylights and 40 or 41 in Licence to Kill.
  • Dalton's Bond is the only Bond to have played all his appearances alongside Felix Leiter while as Daniel Craig's version of Bond has only twice with Leiter out of his 5 planned appearances.
  • Timothy Dalton's likeness was used for Bond for the final time in the 1993 video game The Duel, (both on the box art and the in-game menu screen) four years after his last film as Bond.
  • Dalton's Bond is the last Bond to smoke cigarettes on screen, lighting two on each film. However, he is not the last to smoke overall since Brosnan's Bond briefly smoked a cigar in Die Another Day


  1. Gardner, John (2012). Licence to Kill. Orion. ISBN 978-1409135760.
  2. James Brady (columnist). "In step with Timothy Dalton", 13 November 1994, p. 24. 
  3. Double-0 Stuntmen. The Man With the Golden Gun (Blu-Ray Edition): MGM Home Entertainment.
  4. English Commentary. The Living Daylights: Blu-ray Edition: MGM Home Entertainment.
  5. Chapman, James (2000). Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films. New York City: Columbia University Press, 247. ISBN 9780231120487. 
  6. (2004) You Only Live Twice. Kent, England: Penguin Books, pp.200-202. ISBN 978-0-1411-8754-9. 
  7. (1967). You Only Live Twice [Motion Picture]. United Artists.
  8. (1977). The Spy Who Loved Me [Motion Picture]. United Artists.
  9. (1967). You Only Live Twice [Motion Picture]. United Artists.
  10. (2006) Octopussy and The Living Daylights. Kent, England: Penguin Books, p.35. ISBN 978-0-1411-8874-4. 
  11. (1994) GOLDENEYE: 1-94 FIRST DRAFT, pp.25, 34.