Date of Birth : Mar 21st 1944
Welsh actor of stage and screen, best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989) and in his roles in Shakespearean related films and plays.
After a few more films, Dalton took a break in 1971 to concentrate on the theatre, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and other troupes throughout the world. With the exception of the 1975 film Permission to Kill, he remained a theatre actor until 1978. That year he starred in Sextette as the husband of 85-year-old Mae West, hailing his return to cinema and the beginning of his American career. While in the United States, Dalton worked mainly in television, although he starred in several films (including the cult classic Flash Gordon, in which he played the role of Prince Barin) and gave notable performances for the BBC, particularly as Mr. Rochester in the 1983 miniseries adaptation of Jane Eyre.
Since Dalton was contracted to do three Bond movies, the pre-production of his third film began in 1990, in order to be released in 1991. It was rumored that he would make The Property of a Lady (which is one of Ian Fleming’s short stories and elements of which had been included in Octopussy), but this was never confirmed. What was confirmed is that the story would deal with the destruction of a chemical weapons laboratory in Scotland, and the events would take place in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. However, the film was cancelled due to legal issues between UA/MGM and EON that ran for around 4 years.
Unlike Moore, who had played Bond as more of a lighthearted playboy and admitted that he had read very little Fleming and found the books lacking in humour, Dalton’s portrayal of Bond was darker and more grittily realistic. A fan of the literary character, often seen re-reading and referencing the novels on set, Dalton determined to approach the role and play truer to the original character as described by Fleming. So, his 007 came across as a reluctant agent who did not always enjoy the assignments he was given, something only seen on screen before, albeit obliquely, in George Lazenby’s OHMSS. In The Living Daylights, for example, Bond tells a critical colleague: “Stuff my orders! Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.” And in Licence to Kill, he resigns the secret service in order to pursue his own agenda of revenge.
This approach proved to be a double-edged sword. Film critics and fans of Fleming’s original novels welcomed a more serious interpretation after more than a decade of Moore’s approach. However, the reaction of Moore aficionados and those who had been introduced to Bond during Moore’s 12-year tenure (as well as Sean Connery before) was mixed, as most of them were generally unfamiliar with Fleming’s novels, while Desmond Llewelyn, who played gadget master Q, stated that he favored Dalton’s performance as being truer to Fleming’s stories. Dalton’s serious interpretation was not only in portraying the character, but also in performing most of the stunts of the action scenes himself, with the assistance of stunt coordinator Jonas Carp. This is noticeable, for example, in Licence to Kill (Ultimate Edition with the film restored to director John Glen’s uncut version), where it is clearly Dalton who sets fire to the villain and flees the ensuing explosion at the climax.
It may be observed that this return to Fleming’s grittiness is a direction attempted by EON Productions periodically for its James Bond film series, for example with For Your Eyes Only, rather than just during Dalton’s era as Bond and now with Craig in the role.
After his Bond films, Dalton divided his work between stage, television and films, and diversified the characters he played. This helped him eliminate the 007 typecasting that followed him during the previous period. He played the villainous matinee idol Neville Sinclair in 1991’s The Rocketeer, and Rhett Butler in Scarlett, the television mini-series sequel to Gone with the Wind. He also appeared as criminal informant Eddie Myers in the acclaimed 1992 British miniseries Framed.