I’ve collected media ever since I was a kid. Comic books. Books. LPs. Cassettes. Beta and VHS. CDs. DVDs. Blu Rays. Except for watching a few things on my Mac on Hulu and YouTube, I’ve never streamed a thing. My Mac does not talk with my TV. I must admit, I like having the physical media in hand. Unless the electricity goes out, no one can stop me from watching the films and TV shows I own. The content I own does not live on some distant server. The price of my DVDs and Blu Rays cannot be jacked up. I do not need to rely on the kindness of Comcast and Netflix and all those other sweet, gentle mega media corporations.
Which is a rather long-winded way of saying that I was at a Best Buy last week, picking up Blu Rays of my favorite James Bond films. I hadn’t intended to buy On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), but finally the mystery of George Lazenby drew me in. He was the Aussie actor who came on board after Sean Connery’s fifth Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. Lazenby appeared just in the one Bond film.
Cubby Broccoli, the producer of the Bond films, had spotted Lazenby in a barber shop, and thought he looked the role of the world’s most famous secret agent. He had already acted in commercials. After a series of auditions, he got the part. But he apparently had a bad time on set, not getting on with the director and resenting the way he was treated. Of course, he was a neophyte, but he thought he deserved more input in the process. He quit Bond after OHMSS came out, even though he had received a seven-film contract!
His co-star Diana Rigg said: “The role made Sean Connery a millionaire … I truly don’t know what’s happening in George’s mind so I can only speak of my reaction. I think it’s a pretty foolish move. I think if he can bear to do an apprenticeship, which everybody in this business has to do – has to do – then he should do it quietly and with humility. Everybody has to do it. There are few instant successes in the film business. And the instant successes one usually associates with somebody who is willing to learn anyway.”
And though Lazenby went on to have a solid career acting in lesser roles in the decades since OHMSS, apparently he came to regret his early bravado: “Without any doubt I should have gone back to do at least one more, just to dispel any rumours that they fired me. Anybody that knows me and has been around me knows that I walked away from it, which wasn’t a smart thing to do from a career stand-point.”
Oh, yah think?
But don’t feel too sorry for the guy. He is still acting today and apparently was a very smart businessman, besides. According to IMDb, he is the wealthiest actor to have played Bond. (Take that, Sean Connery.) And even if he can’t hold a candle to Connery in the being-Bond department–who can?–his performance, if a little stiff, was solid and full of potential. If he had done his six additional Bond films, who knows how beloved George Lazenby might be?
And IMO, preempting a Roger Moore Bond would not have been a bad thing.