In a recent interview with British news magazine ‘The Week’, actor Timothy Dalton revealed the story behind his departure from Bond after just two films.
Dalton waves away the idea that the fear of stagnation was a part of his relatively short tenure as 007. “That was my worry going into the James Bond franchise, certainly,” he explains. “But it wasn’t why I left.” That doesn’t mean he didn’t have some concerns about the franchise: “On Licence to Kill, I think I saw the script about two weeks before we started shooting. You know, that’s not great, is it?”
Licence to Kill wasn’t supposed to be his final James Bond movie; a third 007 movie, which would have starred Dalton, entered preproduction in 1990. “We had the script. They were interviewing directors. We were really rolling forward, ready to start. It was actually quite a good story, I thought,” says Dalton. But a lengthy legal dispute between Eon Productions and MGM delayed the film indefinitely — and gave Dalton an out. “Because of the lawsuit, I was free of the contract,” Dalton explains. “And Mr. Broccoli, who I really respected as a producer and as a friend, asked me what I was going to do when it was resolved. I said, ‘Look, in all honesty, I don’t think that I will continue.’ He asked me for my support during that time, which of course, I gave him.”
But when the lawsuit was resolved several years later, Dalton had a change of heart. “When [the next movie] did come about, it was probably four or five years later,” he explains. “Broccoli asked if I would come back, and I said, ‘Well, I’ve actually changed my mind a little bit. I think that I’d love to do one. Try and take the best of the two that I have done, and consolidate them into a third.’ And he said, quite rightly, ‘Look, Tim. You can’t do one. There’s no way, after a five-year gap between movies that you can come back and just do one. You’d have to plan on four or five.’ And I thought, oh, no, that would be the rest of my life. Too much. Too long. So I respectfully declined.” When Goldeneye hit theaters in 1995, it was Pierce Brosnan in the starring role.