How close did Dalton come to doing Goldeneye?

I’m reminded of the sequence in one of the Gardner books (they’re all the same to me) where Bond is traveling by plane and the in-flight movie is “The Untouchables.” He decides he likes the actor who plays the Irish cop. :slight_smile:

Indeed. Even as critics and some audiences took shots at the films for being repetitive and formulaic, the fact was that whenever Eon veered even slightly out of their usual zone, they took stick for it. To a certain extent, they were the victims of their own success. Though I’d have to categorize myself as largely indifferent to the Craig era, I still marvel at how boldly CR reinvented the formula; in some ways, it was like the other films had never existed and someone bought the rights to the novel to attempt, in the 21st century, the first book-to-screen adaption of Bond, ever. (After that, though, I though they tried to have it both ways, and it never “clicked” for me again).

My grandfather escaped Bond fandom until I showed him TWSLM, MR and OP, all of which he loved. I remember when he saw TLD, he said, “That’s a pitiful excuse for a James Bond.” Although to be fair, he was also a huge fan of Benny Hill, which is why I showed him the Rog entries in the first place. LOL

This is a good point. At the time, Dalton was very much perceived as a fill-in for the guy Eon “really wanted.” Sure, Cubby claimed they wanted Dalton in the first place and only went to Pierce because they couldn’t get Tim, but Cubby was always saying stuff like that (“Fleming wanted Roger,” “I discovered Brit Ekland and Jane Semour,” “This Bond girl is no bimbo,” yadda yadda). Producers are gonna spin.

I’d go even further and say Dalton had to bear some ill will from folks who thought Brosnan was wronged. This attitude was perpetuated by various celebrity magazines, at least here in the States. “Look at poor Pierce, he missed the chance of a lifetime.” I never read an article that blamed Dalton, but I think it’s inevitable some folks would view him as “the guy who took Pierce’s job away.” In fact, if I’m going to be honest, I was at least a half hour into TLD before I stopped thinking, “I wonder how Brosnan would have said that line” or “Brosnan would have looked better in that suit.”

Probably not now, either. There will always be more people who’ve seen the movies than read the books, and the more time passes – and older fans pass on – the more true that will be. Even when people do say, “Oh, this one’s very Flemingesque,” I have to think, “What Fleming books did YOU read?” Especially when they say it about Craig.

I was quite enamored of Dalton after TLD as he was such a revelation to me (even though I’d seen him a few years before in “Flash Gordon,” I never made the connection. That might say something about “star power,” too). But after watching him in a lot of other things, I realized he had his own set of stock mannerisms, quirky facial expressions, calculated deliveries, etc that he applied to multiple roles. Maybe he didn’t lean as hard into them as Roger, and he didn’t seem to be using them to construct a “Timothy Dalton” persona on screen, but they were there. Maybe that undercuts my argument that he always buried himself in his roles?

Well, it certainly is more of a “fill in the blanks” job. In retrospect, we can see that Connery and Young created a lot of what folks think James Bond is “supposed to be.” It turned out well for them, and their successors, but it could just as easily have gone wrong, with a few different choices.


About Dalton I knew next to nothing back in the day. I had seen him in FLASH GORDON - but didn’t remember - and there also was only limited coverage following the production of TLD. Even the poster was drawn so Dalton was in the background and you didn’t see much of his face. That had worked with Moore’s silhouette for FYEO, but here it was odd to see the new star almost taking the backseat.

In contrast, Pierce Brosnan was already much better known for his tv series and I even remember being briefly sorry for him to have lost out. But I didn’t think it was a huge loss. Truth be told I considered Brosnan looking too young. Even Dalton struck me as relatively youthful for the line about M hopefully sacking him. Evidently I was very used to Moore.

What convinced me of Dalton was the strong impression during the pts, something that seemed hardly possible with Moore. But Dalton, as @plankattack and @David_M already mentioned, was also something missing in spite of all the supposed Fleming-lore: the cinematic OTT dimension of Bond was largely absent.

Others have called this lack of screen presence, but I’m not sure that’s getting to the core of it. When Dalton turns around in the pts and we see his face for the first time there is a powerful moment where the audience knows ‘That’s 007!’ But there is no trace of the irony that’s supposed to break the seriousness for us.

In Bond films we are used to be thrilled and excited and enjoy it all because the hero is raising his eyebrow or winking at us. A quality nearly entirely absent from Fleming and consequently hardly used by Dalton’s depiction. And maybe that ironic distance, even amidst the most outrageous spectacle, is what turns a hammy action flick into a thrilling, entertaining experience. Not solely a matter of injecting the right kind of humour into the script - though that’s evidently important too - but also of keeping a particular bearing, an inner willingness to stoop to the absurd, to farce even if necessary. Not outright slapstick but also never exclusively dour.

Maybe this is where Dalton, who strove for authenticity, necessarily collided with the cinematic role. The script tried to keep up with traditional recipes, but the elements didn’t gel well with a Bond interpretation from the page. And when LTK tried to go the whole distance the audience was even less convinced this was what they wanted from their Bond.

Bond himself, as many have noted before me - amongst them even his creator - is not a very substantial character. There is little actual life outside what we see in his adventures. Bond might as well spend his time between books/films in the closet, it would make little difference character-wise.

The two times he decides to marry he does so practically out of thin air, with hardly any reasonable basis for a relationship, let alone a marriage. It’s practically the equivalent to young people meeting on Twitter and declaring love after a week of exchanging nonsense.

The BIG events in Bond’s life, the ones having actual impact on his character, are the losses of Vesper and Tracy. One suspects this is also the reason why Craig’s Bond to some large extent revolves around this theme of loss - because there is only a limited spectrum of other alternatives that could interest Craig from an actor’s perspective.

To come back to the original theme of the thread: if Dalton really had been offered just a single third Bond film - GOLDENEYE or PROPERTY or whatever - the question is whether he’d have accepted to adjust his own idea of Bond to the demands of the market of that time.

This is where I think the hypothesis comes to its natural end.


I remember watching Remington Steele and thinking, “This guy could do Bond.” Then when he was cast, I was like, “Well, duh.” When Dalton stepped in, I thought, “Oooookay…” but at some point there was an article in some film magazine or other with a huge photo of Dalton in his leather jacket, sitting in the Aston and looking off camera with this flinty gaze, and suddenly I thought, “You know what, this could work…” In the long run, I realized just trying to perpetuate the Moore era without the age spots (which is what I’m convinced '87 Brosnan would have done) would have been a mistake. The franchise needed something new beyond a slimmer waistline and less wrinkles.

It was cool when Dalton held the gun on Pushkin, and when he popped that “Smiert Spionom” balloon with a smoldering grimace, but ultimately I felt the producers put too much stock in those strong moments, because LTK took the “Dalton does menace well” and ran too far with it, giving us two straight hours of “angry Bond” to the exclusion of all else. There are actually some good comedy moments in TLD that Dalton handles quite well – in particular the bit where he steadfastly refuses to go back for Kara’s cello, but then we cut to him sitting in the car, waiting for her to fetch it after all. To me, this not only proved comedy could be made to work with Dalton, but that it could be done in a way that didn’t sacrifice Fleming’s character: he was cranky and all-business, but in the end, a sucker for a pretty face. Of course, he seemed much less comfortable with the “bon mots”, tossing away the “he got the boot” line with the attitude, “I’m James Bond, so I’m contractually obligated to say something stupid after a kill, and here it is. Now, let’s move on.”

I would agree with that. Connery and Young saw the Dr No script and thought, “If we don’t inject some ironic humor here, people will be laughing at us instead of with us.” Roger likewise thought, “This is obviously insane, so why not acknowledge it?” Dalton said, “Hey, I know, let’s play it straight.” Even the most serious entries in the series have some utterly daft elements to them, and to play them completely straight just makes you look like the only one in the room who doesn’t get the joke.

Then again, one of my favorite interviews with Dalton was the one where he reflects, without mentioning names, that the nature of the film dictates the approach you should take, saying, “When you’re flying a mini-jet out of a horse’s backside, you kind of have to play it with a raised eyebrow!” It’s just that he seems to have a concept of TLD that may or may not have been the same as Glen’s, or Cubby’s. It’s got one foot in the Moore era and the other in something more straight. For LTK, everyone seemed in total agreement of the direction: dark and darker. Whether that was a good call is a matter of continuing debate.


The tone of Bond at that time is too often overlooked when discussing TD. The simplistic argument is always “TD failed, wasn’t popular” etc. And yet ultimately is the discussion that TD’s “Bond” or “Bond” film the real issue. If Brozza (or any other actor) been in exactly the same movie, would we be in any other place?

LTK, for all it’s wannabe 80s action licks, its “darker” tone, is (as the esteemed Jim always points out), has its fair share of the silly stuff. It just doesn’t work - and that’s not because of TD. Sure, the tone works in GE, primarily because the audience was ready for Bond, the Bond they had the warmest memories of (which generationally was MR, not FRWL). Brozza in 95 was perfect, but I’d offer that anyone would have struggled in '87 - ultimately it was Bond that the audience was no longer interested in warming too, not necessarily the guy playing him.


Arguably GE was the biggest “reboot” in the series, not artistically but in terms of audience.

After the 6-year hiatus, which in turn followed a largely ignored entry at the tail end of a decade of diminishing audiences, GE seems to have been, for a certain generation, a second genesis for the series. I mean, every Bond film is somebody’s first, but I’m always amazed at how many online posters cite it as their entry point. Maybe that’s because of the video game, maybe because enough time had passed that they could pitch GE as a whole new thing and not just entry #17 in a decades-long franchise , I don’t know. Anyway Brosnan seems to have benefited from the whole, “Oh look, they’re bringing Bond movies back” as opposed to, “Well, it’s been two years so here’s another one, only with a new guy, again.”

I wonder if Dalton would have benefited from a similar set-up. What if AVTAK had been followed by a 6-year break, giving everyone a chance to say Rog had “run it into the ground” or Eon had milked the cow dry, then one day here comes Bond again, only now audiences have had time to let go of their expectations, move beyond Moore and say, “Oh I remember Bond movies. They’re coming back, but with a new spin. Cool.”


I was a young kid at the time, but do generally remember the mystique surrounding Goldeneye, that it was a BOND movie, and it was something to celebrate. I got the idea it was important - these were big movies with a long past. I recall this kind of conversation when I saw the VHS inside a rental store. People liked Brosnan and the return of the ‘classic’ tropes from the Connery/Moore outings, in comparison to LTK. It really was a slam dunk revival.

The marketing for Goldeneye was excellent and I always thought the trailer was among the best trailers I had ever seen. If I’m not mistaken, I believe it won a few awards:


I have always been a bond fan; my dad started taking me to the theater for double features as early as 2nd grade and I saw OHMSS first run in the theater as well. However, I became a Bond fanatic during the gap between LTK and GE. It was during that gap that I started renting the series on VHS ad infinitum and TBS started doing their Bond broadcasts in order every Wednesday night. I recorded them all and re-watched them incessantly. Then I got a laserdisc player and was able to collect the films in letterbox. I was in heaven!

I remember Entertainment tonight debuted the GE teaser trailer and I recorded it onto VHS. I considered it the greatest trailer I’d ever seen and just about wore the tape out watching it back-to-back for long stretches. I still consider it perfect marketing. It stoked an excitement in me that the film itself never fully satisfied, though I am a fan of the finished movie. It’s my favorite of the Brosnan era.

1 Like

A LOT of the fondness for Goldeneye as a movie from my generation at least, comes from the game. Not that its a bad film, id argue its certainly the best Bros by far and top 10 of them all but it is also something that might be a lot of people’s only interaction with 007 of that time given it was so highly rated and ubiquitous in the game world (ie: they may never have even seen the film Goldeneye, or may never have seen another Bond film before or after)


In terms of star power/charisma, I will agree that Dalton did not have it to the degree that others did (especially Connery). I recall Dalton once mentioning that Connery looked cool in even the most ridiculous outfit. (see below)

That said, I don’t think a Bond actor needs to have that quality. Keanu Reeves certainly has some cool moments but to me he is just good at what he does. Christian Bale in the Batman movies to me again is a good actor and I don’t really see that “star” quality there.

My recollection of TLD was that fans were excited for a new Bond. I think LTK’s teaser poster (He’s bad side is a dangerous place to be) was among the cooler ones of the series. That said there were some reasons the movie did not do well:

  1. There was Bond fatigue as Bond had been around forever and was really Dad’s hero.
  2. I think as well a perception that Bond movies were silly and not without cause. I am glad some people on here love TSWLM. But here’s the plot - I like fishies - let’s trigger global nuclear war and start Atlantis. Moonraker - I got so much money, I’m going to kill everyone and build a master race. I loved both of these as a kid but it was and is all too silly for me as an adult (I still watch them as there are always great scenes). I believe that perceived silliness increased the Bond fatigue. (If you love these films - I am happy you do. I’m not wanting to start a fight.)
  3. I know some people love LTK and I am glad. I used to but I think that script needed a lot more polishing. If I recall correctly, there was a writer’s strike and Michael Wilson had to do the last few drafts on his own. That hurt things.
  4. Going up against Batman, Indiana Jones and Lethal Weapon 2 was challenging and I think the movie should have been delayed until Christmas.

Anyway those are my thoughts.


I would also note that Roger Ebert gave Licence to Kill three and a half stars out of four. Not sure what Siskel thought, but Ebert was regarded as the better critic.

As for the issue of executive resistance to Dalton…
United Artists president John Calley and vice president Jeff Kleeman were both opposed to Dalton appearing in a third film. Kleeman gave an interview in MI6 #44 confirming this:

“Cubby, Barbara and Michael Wilson initially said, ‘Yeah we’re excited about making another Bond movie, Timothy is ready to go, let’s do it.’ That was a difficult moment for everybody because EON really believed in Timothy and loved Timothy, and I understand why. He is a great actor, but he wasn’t the version of Bond that John [Calley] and I had in mind. We all had to talk it through and come to that consensus … Cubby put his hand around the walking stick and we all quieted and turned to him. He said, ‘All right, we’ll go with a new Bond.’”

Dalton’s feelings on the subject were beside the point after UA played hardball. Interestingly, years later, before production on Quantum of Solace, Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal asked Barbara Broccoli to describe traits she liked and disliked in studio executives. She replied “We generally like studio executives, but we don’t like a**holes like John Calley.”


I think that trailer had a huge impact on the way that GE ending up becoming the event that it ultimately became. I’ve told this a few times before, but I remember sitting with my dad in a theater for some other film (can’t for the life of me remember what it was) at the age of 9 or 10 or whatever I was, with little to no knowledge of Bond, and when that trailer came on, there were loud cheers and many in the audience gave it a standing ovation. That, naturally, piqued my interest and we talked about Bond the whole way home (I still to this day have no idea what movie we actually saw that day) and I remember picking up a couple of the Bond films on VHS at blockbuster a couple of days later.


I remember that teaser landing - our first glimpse of Brossa… The ‘flash-cutting’ to a rock version of the theme is truly bloody sensational!

Edit :slight_smile:

I know Pushkin only just posted this, but come on, it’s so good it needs be twice :sunglasses:

I just welled up a wee bit with excitement watching that. The editing is genius. The ‘expecting someone else’ line is genius (Brossa’s version of ‘this never happened to the other guy’ 4th wall moment). Putting that into the marketing is, what’s the word? GENIUS!

That Roman bath scene with famke is, for me, by farrrr Brossa’s best Bond scene.


My favorite trailer is still the one for the James Bond 007 collection from the mid-90s vhs releases. The one that starts: Looking for a little peace and quiet…Didn’t think so. Unfortunately I can’t find the correct one anywhere on YouTube.

This article discusses it (and I suspect pilfered material from one of our members book…) - basically, in regards to doing Goldeneye, Dalton was never really likely to do it. He showed support to his friend Cubby through the legal troubles, but, as he said to Cubby himself, once his contract had expired (92 as I recall), he didnt really have any desire to continue.

At this point, the typical filmmaking bullshit happens of everyman and his dog who ever heard the film was happening now claims the acclaimed item was their idea. For this, everyone, including a maybe director for a 92 Bond 17, say they wanted rid of Dalton and to hire Brosnan. Modern equivalent is how many writers claim they were the ones who said “you have to lean into them all dying!” in Rogue One.