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Timothy Dalton

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Title: Timothy Dalton  
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Subject: List of James Bond films, The Living Daylights, The Rocketeer (film), Licence to Kill, The Doctor and the Devils
Collection: 1940S Births, 20Th-Century British Male Actors, 21St-Century British Male Actors, Alumni of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, British Male Film Actors, British Male Stage Actors, British Male Television Actors, British People of American Descent, British People of Irish Descent, British People of Italian Descent, James Bond, Living People, Male Shakespearean Actors, National Youth Theatre Members, People from Belper, People from Colwyn Bay, Raf Cadets, Royal Shakespeare Company Members
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Timothy Dalton

Timothy Dalton
Dalton in 1987
Born (1944-03-21) 21 March 1944
or (1946-03-21) 21 March 1946 (disputed)
Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Occupation Actor
Years active 1967–present
Partner(s) Vanessa Redgrave (1971–1986)
Children 1

Timothy Peter Dalton (born 21 March 1944 or 1946)[1] is a British actor. He 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).


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • James Bond (1987–94) 2.1
      • Initial offers 2.1.1
      • Films 2.1.2
      • Dalton as Bond 2.1.3
    • Post-Bond career 2.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography and other works 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Dalton was born in Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, North Wales, to an English father, who was a captain in the Special Operations Executive during World War II and was an advertising executive at the time of his son's birth.[2][3][4] Before his fourth birthday, the family moved back to England to Belper in Derbyshire. While in Belper, he attended the Herbert Strutt Grammar School. As a teenager, he was a member of the Air Training Corps at LXX (Croft & Culcheth) Squadron. He decided to become an actor at 16 after seeing a production of Macbeth and got a role in a production of the play at The Old Vic.[5] He left school in 1964 to enrol in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and tour with the National Youth Theatre. Dalton did not complete his RADA studies, leaving the academy in 1966 to join the ensemble of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.[6]


Dalton quickly moved to television, working mainly with the BBC, and in 1968 made his film debut as Philip II of France in The Lion in Winter. This was the first of several period dramas, which included a remake of Wuthering Heights in 1970 in which he portrayed Heathcliff. After a few more films, Dalton took a break in 1971 to concentrate on the theatre, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and other troupes throughout the world. In 1975, Dalton and Vivien Merchant headed the cast of a revival of Noël Coward's The Vortex.[7]

With two notable exceptions, the films Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) and Permission to Kill (1975), he remained a theatre actor until 1978. That year he starred in Sextette as the husband of 85-year-old Mae West, hailing his return to cinema and the beginning of his American career. While in the United States, Dalton worked mainly in television, although he starred in several films. During this time, he played Prince Barin in the 1980 cult science fiction classic Flash Gordon and played Mr. Rochester in the 1983 BBC serial of Jane Eyre. Dalton starred alongside Jonathan Pryce in the 1985 film The Doctor and the Devils. He also co-starred with Joan Collins in the miniseries, Sins (1986).

Dalton was also replaced in two films in which he'd been signed to appear. He was offered the role of real-life British Prime Minister William Lamb in the film Lady Caroline Lamb. However, the filmmakers replaced him with Jon Finch at the last moment. Dalton sued for breach of contract and won an out-of-court settlement.[8] In 1985, Dalton was set to play Don Alfonso de la Torré in Roman Polanski's film Pirates. However, the two men did not get along, so Polanski replaced Dalton with Damien Thomas.[9]

James Bond (1987–94)

Initial offers

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."[10] In either 1979 or 1980,[11] he was approached again, but did not favour the direction the films were taking, nor did he think the producers were seriously looking for a new 007.[11] As he explained, his idea of Bond was different.[12] 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.[13]


Dalton's first appearance as 007, The Living Daylights (1987) was critically successful, and grossed more than either of 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 lacklustre marketing campaign, after the title of the film was abruptly changed from Licence 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,[14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] 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. Dalton reflected in 2007, "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."[18]

Dalton as Bond

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 humour.[19] 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."[19]

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 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."[19]

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.[20] However, Dalton's films were also criticised for their comparative lack of humour.[19] Dalton's serious interpretation was not only in portraying the character, but also in performing most of the stunts of the action scenes himself.[21]

Post-Bond career

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.[22] 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.[23]

Dalton voiced the character Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014).

Since 2014 Dalton has portrayed the character Sir Malcolm Murray on the Showtime original television series Penny Dreadful [24]

Personal life

Dalton was in a relationship with English actress Vanessa Redgrave (with whom he appeared in the 1971 film Mary, Queen of Scots and the 1979 film Agatha) between 1971 and 1986.[25] He has one son, born 1997, by Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva.[26] Dalton remains unmarried.[26]

Dalton is a Manchester City F.C. supporter, and is often seen at the City of Manchester Stadium to watch the team play.[27]

Filmography and other works


  1. ^ Sources disagree, with some giving his year of birth as 1944:
    • LuKanic, Steven A. (1991). Film Actors Guide. Los Angeles: Lone Eagle. p. 123.  
    • whilst others state 1946:  
    • Gareffa, Peter M.; Evory, Ann (1988). Newsmakers. Detroit:  
    • Rubin, Steven Jay (2003). The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). Contemporary Books. p. 97.  
    • Barnes, Alan; Hearn, Marcus (2001). Kiss Kiss Bang! Bang!: the Unofficial James Bond Film Companion.  
  2. ^ "Timothy Dalton Biography (1944-)". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Williams, Martin (11 January 2010). "The Bond of Colwyn Bay".  
  5. ^ Blackwell, Earl (1 January 1990). Earl Blackwell's Celebrity Register, 1990. Gale Research Incorporated. p. 107.  
  6. ^ Lloyd, Ann; Fuller, Graham; Desser, Arnold (1 January 1983). The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema. Orbis Publishing. p. 108.  
  7. ^ (1975–1976)"The Vortex", Timothy Dalton - Shakespearean James Bond. Retrieved 28 June 2012
  8. ^ Current Biography Yearbook 49.  
  9. ^ Sandford, Christopher (2007). Polanski: A Biography.  
  10. ^ Good Morning America – interview with Timothy Dalton – 1987!. 
  11. ^ a b Broccoli & Zec 1998, p. 281.
  12. ^ Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa (1992). The Incredible World of 007: An Authorised Celebration of James Bond.  
  13. ^ Broccoli & Zec 1998, pp. 280-281.
  14. ^ "60 Seconds: Timothy Dalton". An interview in Metro Newspaper by Andrew Williams. 15 February 2007. 
  15. ^ The third outing of Timothy Dalton as James Bond
  16. ^ Goldeneye – The Road to production
  17. ^ "Interview with Dalton". Daily Mail (UK). 6 August 1993. 
  18. ^ "Timothy Dalton Reflects On 007". MI6 – The Home of James Bond. 19 February 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 
  19. ^ a b c d Rubin, Steven Jay (1995). The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia (Revised ed.). McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books.  
  20. ^ "The Bond of Colwyn Bay by Peredur Glyn". How is Timothy Dalton considered the best actor who portrayed Bond as it appeared in Ian Fleming's novels?. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  21. ^ "Several Interviews with Timothy Dalton on his 007 portrayal". Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. 
  22. ^ BBC – Doctor Who – New Years Day
  23. ^ Abrams, Natalie (26 August 2010). "Timothy Dalton to Bond with Chuck".  
  24. ^ "Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm in Penny Dreadful". Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  25. ^ "Excerpts from Vanessa Redgrave's Autobiography:". Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Hardy, Rebecca (24 February 2007). "Daniel Craig doesn't know what he's in for".  
  27. ^ "Former James Bond Actor Timothy Dalton – Photo". 26 December 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 



External links

Preceded by
Nigel Bruce
Prince Rupert Actor
Succeeded by
John McKelvey
Preceded by
Robert Ridgely
Prince Barin Actor
(from Flash Gordon)

Succeeded by
Steve Bacic
Preceded by
Norman Snow
Mark Antony Actor
Succeeded by
Christopher Neame
Preceded by
Roger Moore
Eon Productions James Bond actor
Succeeded by
Pierce Brosnan
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