George Lazenby has revisited the circumstances that saw him turn down the chance to reprise his role as James Bond, a decision he has been left to rue for several decades since.
Lazenby had barely acted when he was cast as Sean Connery’s replace in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – a 007 outing that has garnered something of a newfound appreciation in the time since the film’s initial release.
Prior to that, Lazenby was largely known for his work as a model, with the Australian arguably best remembered for starring in a series of chocolate commercials.
All of which makes the story of his decision to say no to another Bond movie all the more baffling.
Lazenby offered up his version of events to The Guardian’s Luke Buckmaster ahead of the release of a documentary focusing on his experiences as 007.
The story goes that Lazenby rejected the chance to appear in six more Bond movies as part of a contract woth around $1 million, before essentially being blacklisted by the industry after earning a reputation for being difficult.
“I had advice that James Bond was over anyway. It was Sean Connery’s gig and, being in the 60s, it was love, not war. You know, hippy time. And I bought into that,” Lazenby explained to Buckmaster.
“They also said there’s a guy called Clint Eastwood doing movies in Italy, getting 500 grand for a month, for doing a western. They said, you could do that. So I didn’t feel like I was losing the million dollars.”
Alas no more offers were forthcoming, with Lazenby’s career ultimately petering out, with the model-turned-actor moving into business and real-estate before a late career renaissance of sorts that included several appearances in the soft porn erotic Emmanuelle movies.
Lazenby, for his part, refutes any suggestion he was difficult, highlight one area, in particular, where he proved far easier going than the Bond before him.
“I did my own stunts – except the skiing, because the insurance company said no skiing, although I did some anyway, in close-up – and I’m the only Bond who ever did that,” he says. “Sean Connery wouldn’t step down a step without saying ‘stunt man!’”
Now a lot older and wiser, Lazenby will be hoping the upcoming documentary, Becoming Bond, sets the record straight once and for all.