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"First and foremost, I wanted to make him human. He's not a "Superman"; you can't identify with a "Superman""
― Timothy Dalton

Timothy Peter Dalton (born March 21, 1946) is a British actor of stage and screen, famous for being chosen as the fourth Eon James Bond.

James Bond[]


Timothy Dalton's gunbarrel

In 1986, after Roger Moore's retirement from the James Bond role, Dalton was approached to replace him but obligations to the film Brenda Starr kept him from accepting the role. Sam Neill was then screentested for the part of Bond but was ultimately rejected by "Cubby" Broccoli. Pierce Brosnan was then approached for the role, but rescinded because of his commitment to the television revival of Remington Steele. In the ensuing time, Dalton had completed the filming of Brenda Starr and was now able to accept the role of Bond.

Previously, Dalton had been offered the role in 1969 to replace Sean Connery after You Only Live Twice, but turned it down feeling he was too young for the role and because of what he felt was an imposing legacy left behind by Connery. He was approached again following Connery's second departure after Diamonds Are Forever but again declined, citing the same reasons. He was offered the part a third time in 1981 when Roger Moore decided to retire from the character prior to For Your Eyes Only; Dalton was apparently all but signed to the role when Moore decided to continue at the last moment. Had Dalton appeared in that film, he would have reunited with his Wuthering Heights co-star Julian Glover and Flash Gordon co-star Chaim Topol. Work commitments made him again refuse the role in 1986, but when asked again, he finally agreed to appear in three James Bond films. The first, The Living Daylights (1987) was successful and grossed more than the previous two Roger Moore Bond films as well as contemporary box office rivals such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

The second film, Licence to Kill (1989) did not perform as well at the U.S. box office, partly due to a lacklustre marketing campaign, after the title of the film was abruptly changed from Licence Revoked, and partly because it was released in competition with other action blockbusters Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (which stars Sean Connery), Lethal Weapon 2, Ghost Busters II, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and The Karate Kid Part III over the summer of 1989. As a direct result of the latter, no Bond movie since has been released over the summer months. However, MGM reported a net profit of $28.2 million for the film.

Bond 17

Teaser poster for the unproduced third Dalton film.

Dalton's third Bond film (rumoured title: The Property of A Lady) was due for a 1991 release but its production was scuttled by internecine corporate litigation between Danjaq, LLC, the copyright holder of James Bond on screen and MGM/United Artists (Giancarlo Parretti), the financier and distributor of the series. In 1994, tired of waiting for a film that seemed as though it would never happen, Dalton officially dropped the James Bond role, re-opening the door for Pierce Brosnan.

Dalton's portrayal of Bond - darker, more grittily realistic and truer to the original character as portrayed in Fleming's novels - proved something of a double-edged sword. Critics welcomed a more serious interpretation, after more than a decade of Roger Moore's lighthearted approach, but the reaction of Moore aficionados and those who had grown up with Moore as their Bond during his fifteen year tenure and were generally unfamiliar with Ian Fleming's original novels was mixed. Despite the contemporary criticism, rumours persist to this day that Dalton had always been high on "Cubby" Broccoli's list of ideal Bond actors. More recent evaluation has warmed somewhat to Dalton's brief tenure, with some critics noting the similarities between his gritty performance and that of Daniel Craig.


  • Dalton was approached in 1969 to replace Sean Connery in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but turned it down because he felt he was too young to play Bond at the time. He was offered the role again for 1973's Live and Let Die, but the role was given to Roger Moore. Dalton was suggested again for the role in Octopussy, but due to the possible box-office threat of the non-Eon film, Never Say Never Again, Moore remained Bond until Dalton's first outing as Bond in The Living Daylights.
  • Dalton's likeness was used for Bond for the final time in the 1993 video game James Bond 007: The Duel, (both on the box art and the in-game menu screen) four years after his last film as Bond.
  • 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.
  • Out of the six James Bond actors, Dalton is the only one that has never married.
  • Dalton's Bond films are noted to feature classical pieces. In The Living Daylights, portions of works by Mozart, Borodin, Dvořák and Tchaikovsky could be heard. Bond is in fact seen together with Kara Milovy watching a scene from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro opera at the Schönbrunn Theatre while both are in Vienna. In Licence to Kill, a slower pace of Beethoven's Für Elise could be briefly heard when Professor Joe Butcher escorts Pam Bouvier into his own "private sanctuary".
  • Dalton played Lord Asriel in a London stage adaptation of the His Dark Materials trilogy. In the film The Golden Compass (2007), this role was played by Daniel Craig, who also succeeded him in the role of James Bond.

Bond Filmography[]

External links[]

Preceded by:
Roger Moore
James Bond actor
Succeeded by:
Pierce Brosnan