How close did Dalton come to doing Goldeneye?

For many years I was under the impression that Timothy Dalton was never seriously offered an opportunity to star in Goldeneye. I know the producers said they wanted him back but I thought I had read that offer was really just a way of giving him an opportunity to exit gracefully. However, I recently read the linked interview with Dalton which certainly makes it sound like he could have come back if he were prepared to sign a multi-film deal. Does anyone know more? I like Brosnan a lot but I have long been a big fan of Dalton.

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I think, over 20 years after the fact, that will be hard to judge. There have long been tales about MGM supposedly refusing to fund GOLDENEYE if Dalton should return. And there also seems to have been a fondness for the perceptions and preferences of the American tv audiences. But how much of that folklore was actually grounded on factual evidence?

Dalton after all was already an established Bond - his first film was quite successful for replacing Roger Moore. By increasing the budget by ten million (40 million $ vs. A VIEW TO A KILL’s 30 million $) Dalton’s first made roughly 40 million $ more at the box office (191 million $ vs 152 million $). So those claims Dalton supposedly wasn’t popular, with the ladies or otherwise, don’t seem to be backed by the facts. What wasn’t too popular was LICENCE TO KILL.

Brosnan meanwhile was reasonably well-known - but his films and tv fodder were for the most part tv staple and direct-to-video stuff that wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity of a Bond production. Going with Brosnan, while from our perspective a no-brainer, was actually still a risk at the time. You had to see whether the small screen charmer really had what it takes to make people think ‘That’s James Bond!’

So overall, without having anything else to go by than my recollection of the time itself and what we know of Eon’s m.o., I’d say it’s entirely possible Eon and MGM made an offer on the condition Dalton would at least consider a longer commitment.

Would that really have prevented him? I don’t think so - if it hadn’t been Dalton. While actors usually have very detailed contracts that allow them to walk from a production for a variety of reasons, Dalton doesn’t strike one as the guy who‘d say ‘yes, yes’ and all the while mean no and walk away. And it’s reasonable to assume Broccoli was entirely aware of this.

Perhaps the longer commitment was what both sides needed to keep their face in this situation…


I believe it was written with him in mind - theres a script floating around from this time with Trevelyan as a sort of Antony Hopkins type and some nuclear waste disposal that may have been reworked in TWINE. So id say he was definitely in mind up til 93ish, and when the script was ready MGM may have demanded or Dalton might have felt like passing on the baton as too much time had passed

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The outline that was recently released sounded like an early outline for what became Goldeneye.

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I agree it always struck me as both sides saving face, offering a contract you know will be refused.
I also think that if you look at the serious Bond movies 25 counting NSNA , one can mine data of what the minimum a Bond film should theoretically make which in today’s money is a minimum 400 million dollars worldwide.
His Bond captured the Bond core audience and LTK disastrously lost a quarter of that audience.
This decline started with AVTAK, new Bond coming in for TLD gave it a spike back to the base level of 400 million in today’s money.
Moore’s audience were losing interest in the early 80s and as discussed on another thread ,the bravest decision to make would perhaps have been to replace him after Moonraker. But who could blame them for not doing so.
Brosnan was the right person to take the franchise forward in 1994, EON knew it and I think they weren’t particularly serious about Dalton returning


Remember there was another stoush of MGM legal issues around this time afaik - if they were able to get a third Dalton film out around 91/92 i dont doubt they would have. Its pretty clear LTKs underperformance had as much to do with Batman, Indiana Jones and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids given theyve never chanced the same release slot since. By 93/94, they needed a new Bond unfortunately


For sure , Dalton in 91/ 92 would have been a completely different proposition

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There were various things going on back then: the industry was starting to feel the impact of home entertainment, video/computer games put their mark on the youngsters, McClory was making noises again, Sony floated ideas of a Bond tv series. Together with the diminishing returns there must have been some pressure on Eon to react - but because of the situation they couldn’t.


I’ve come across quite a bit on this recently. From what I’ve heard Moore was ready to retire after Moonraker but was persuaded to come back for For Your Eyes Only because John Glen didn’t want to make his directorial debut with an untested Bond (wouldn’t see that happening today). He was then persuaded to return for Octopussy as they didn’t want a new Bond going up against Connery in Never Say Never Again. Not sure why he did A View To A Kill but the experience made him realise that it was time to call it quits.

As for Dalton. My impression was that both Cubby Broccoli and Dalton were interested in doing a third but the production was help up by legal issues as will as Licence To Kill’s under-performance after which too much time had passed. Dalton was willing to come back for one but only one while Broccoli wanted him for more and it led to an amicable split.
I’d say it was for the best. The long gap and the end of the Cold War meant that the series was better off making GoldenEye a fresh start of sorts. But in an ideal world Dalton would have stepped into the role earlier (as in 1981) as I would have loved to have seen more from him.

But I’d also say that even when he was willing to do a third it wouldn’t have been GoldenEye. Dalton proposed third outing was to be Property of a Lady.


Yes, I agree there: that’s what I’ve always thought. I doubt the studio wanted him back as a new Bond sends out a message to the public that this is a new, reinvigorated series. Never mind that he kind of had the reputation as a slightly failed 007. And they’re curious to see a new Bond too: it brings in the punters.


I mean Brosnan was all but signed up, and i imagine the Remington Steele contract issues were in the press a bit - so, many people were already primed for Brosnan as Bond and were disappointed they got Dalton instead - I think a lot of ppl were sort of already thinking of him has the second choice so never gave him a real chance

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I agree with Dustin we’ll never know for sure, but some theories work better for me than others. For instance, I can see Dalton balking at the idea of a multi-picture deal after having been in the role (albeit inactive) for something like 8 years already. For an actor who seems to have always sought out variety in his roles, it must have been the worst of both worlds to be “typecast” as a character he hardly ever got a chance to actually play! But on the other hand, I’m not so sure I can picture the studio offering a multi-picture deal based on the lackluster performance of LTK and the general “still deciding if we like him” attitude most of the public seemed to have back then. So if the deal was made at all, it might have been with the full expectation – even hope – that he’d turn it down.

I’ve also heard the story that the studio wanted to let Dalton go, but the Broccolis fought hard to keep him, until Dalton, in the most gentlemanly way possible, removed himself from contention and allowed progress to resume. That’s a great story and I like it a lot, but something about it is just too flattering to the folks telling it, so I have my doubts.

I think it mostly came down to marketing. After an extended hiatus with no Bond films at all, which in turn came on the heels of a Bond film that many simply ignored and others found off-putting, the studio really needed to make a major PR push to sell GE. That’s a lot easier when you have a new guy in the tux (the media is always willing to give you LOTS of free press whenever that happens), and if the “new guy” is one that was already pre-sold like Brosnan, so much the better. New Bond Film With New Bond for A New Decade is a lot easier for the press team to work with than Another Bond Film With That Guy You Might Remember from 6 Years Ago. Goldeneye was pitched as a “reinvention of Bond” (thought it wasn’t at all) and that would not have worked with a Bond who already had two entries behind him, any more than the CR “re-invention” would have worked with Brosnan still on board.


Agree. Everything David_M says about marketing is spot on, I think. It was simply time for a change and that change paid off. It can be fashionable to bash the guy but I’m glad Brosnan had his era. As a 90s kid I had the time of my life with him in the role. My most nostalgic period of being a Bond fan.


Well, the outline for Dalton’s third reads like an early version of Goldeneye. It wouldn’t have been the same film and I also firmly believe that had Dalton gotten a third film in 1991 or 1992, we wouldn’t have gotten Goldeneye. Brosnan’s first film would’ve been something different.

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A 1991 Bond film would have been very interesting, due to the historical context. The Soviet Union was still extant, but just barely. Would the producers have done the same as in LTK and banned all mention of Russia for fear of making an instantly obsolete film?

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That is my recollection of 1987 when TLD came out. I was 19 at the time and I was seriously saddened that we had not gotten Brosnan and had no idea who Dalton was. Then I saw the film and fell in love with Dalton’s Bond who was my favourite Bond prior to Craig. While I really, really wanted Dalton to return for more films, I do think he was perceived as a failed Bond by the movie going audience. Brosnan deserves credit for making Bond cool again and not just “my Dad’s movies” which I think is what the perception of Bond had become towards the end of Moore era.

Dalton was one of the worst things to happen to the franchise.

Well, that seems a bit harsh. I quite liked him, though I felt he was let down by LTK (which others rate quite highly) and the ensuing but unrelated hiatus that created the false but enduring myth that his films had “nearly killed” the franchise.

I think TLD was a tremendously strong debut. It was overly complicated and felt a bit long, but that’s not on Dalton. LTK wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was a bold experiment. If that second outing didn’t resonate with a big audience, it wasn’t alone. TMWTGG and QOS were equally wobbly sophomore efforts, but unlike Moore and Craig, Dalton didn’t get that charmed “third time” to recover. One wonders how Roger would be remembered now if the hiatus before TSWLM had extended further and he 'd been replaced two films in. Maybe history would remember him as someone who’d had a promising debut as Bond before the job ultimately proved too big for him. Sometimes it just takes a while for things to come together, and with Dalton that process was never completed. Now we can only guess at what a “Dalton era” would have added up to, and odds are whatever we guess would be wrong. Imagine trying to guess the “big picture” view of the Moore era with nothing to go on but LALD and Golden Gun.


LTK is easier to like if, like me, you haven’t watched any other US-based thrillers from the late 1980s.

Right after THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS I don’t think that was a common sentiment in the audience. The pts even got applause at the premiere. The villains were weak but the film itself was solid enough.

The troubles of that era for Bond started before Dalton and didn’t actually end with him.