I look back and think, ‘How did that happen?’ I had no idea where I was going when I got into the Bond film. When I became famous I didn’t know how to handle it, so it almost drove me crazy. In retrospect you can only blame yourself. I’d loved to have had that time over again and done another one or two [Bond films], it would have worked out great for me.”
Full Name: George Robert Lazenby
Date of Birth: 5th September 1939
Place of Birth: Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Height: 6′ 2″ (1.88m)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Born September 5th, 1939 in Goulburn, Australia. A model turned actor who will forever be a question mark in the James Bond series, a trivia answer on Jeopardy! and an enigma and controversial topic of conversation for diehard Bond fans.
To be fair to Lazenby, it wasn`t easy being the first actor to try and replace Sean Connery. Nor could it have been easy jumping into the material he was given to start off with (the love and death of Bond`s wife, Tracy). But Lazenby also made it harder for himself than was necessary.
I don’t know where my life would have gone if I hadn’t have done it. Had I been so-called ‘successful’ and continued on I would probably have had three or four Hollywood wives and a drug addition. That was me at the time. I just went where the flavour was at the time. I didn’t have a mind of my own, which was sad. I would liked to have had the mind I have now at twenty nine.”
At the time the Bond talent hunt was underway in 1968, Lazenby was working as a male model and car salesman in London. On the advice of his agent, he made solid plans to challenge each and every eligible male actor for the role. Considering the lengths Lazenby went to to get the role, one has to wonder why he became so cavalier about returning to it. He spent his last pound on acquiring a tailor-made suit from Sean Connery`s clothier, along with a very Bondish Rolex watch. A chance encounter with series producer Cubby Broccoli in a hair salon gave Lazenby his first shot at getting the role. Broccoli made a mental note to remember Lazenby as a possible candidate.
Lazenby was up against John Richardson, Anthony Rogers, Robert Campbell and Hans de Vries, but Lazenby won the role based on a screen-test fight scene.Several months went by while hundreds of other men auditioned for the role. On the strength of his interviews, fight skills, audition footage and lack of substantial competition, Lazenby got the role. From there the situation went downhill.
After the Bond fiasco nobody would touch me. Harry Saltzman had always said, ‘If you don’t do another Bond you’ll wind up doing spaghetti Westerns in Italy. But I couldn’t even get one of those. My agent couldn’t believe it. But the word was out – I was ‘difficult’.”
Lazenby`s ego went to his head. Instant success spoiled him before filming even began. He told Life magazine, which had been given exclusive access to the search for a new 007, this much about his attitude of taking on the role: “I’m looking forward to being Bond for the broads and the bread.” The situation became tense and bitter during the filming, with tabloid reports exaggerating some elements of the filming, while other rumours ran rampant that Diana Rigg disliked Lazenby so much that she ate garlic before each scene in which they kissed.
Lazenby received some bad advice that led him to believe that one outing as Bond would be enough to make him an international superstar; a man that didn`t need Bond to get acting roles. Before On Her Majesty`s Secret Service premiere, Lazenby announced to the world that this would be his first and last turn as James Bond. Broccoli cautioned Lazenby to rethink his position; that if he chose this path, Lazenby would never amount to anything of an actor and never get offers beyond “Spaghetti Westerns”. Cubby was right.
Fame is short-lived and you’re the last to know when you are no longer hot. I used to be able to stroll into London clubs like Tramp. But one day I turned up and the doorman blocked my way. Suddenly I was no longer Bond, I was just plain old George Lazenby, and that didn’t even give me license to get into a club.”
Lazenby took a year-long cruise around the world after `Majesty` debuted, refreshed and ready to get back to work. The only problem was that Lazenby was a cold commodity, and the scripts were definitely not piling up on his agent`s desk.
In his post-Bond career, Lazenby acted in a few TV movies, softcore porn, and B-grade films. During the early 1970s, Lazenby worked in Hong Kong and was going to make a film with Bruce Lee right before the actor`s death. He took several years off from show business to race cars and tend to his sick son, who died of brain cancer at 19 years of age. He often attends 007 conventions and has recently moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles to resume his acting career. His most recent notable credits have included a guest appearance on Diagnosis: Murder, and The Pretender, as Jarrod`s father.
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