Outside Bond

Sean Connery

Sean Connery has been the most successful of all the James Bond actors outside of Bond. Largely unknown when he made Dr No, Connery mixed his James Bond days with notable appearances in films like Alfred Hitchcock's stylish Marnie. The Hill and  western Shalako saw Connery show he could play other characters - if anything Connery seemed happy and liberated to play against his Bond persona. The Anderson Tapes showed that Connery wasn't afraid to look his age and explore new roles. The Offence and Zardoz, which both followed Diamonds Are Forever, were ample proof that Connery was tired of Bond and prepared to go away from that image.

The rest of the seventies was a mixed bag for the now 007 free Connery. The Man Who Would Be King was his high point, paired with good friend Michael Caine. Robin and Marian was an interesting if not completely successful new spin on the Robin Hood legend and Meteor, one of his biggest duds and return to the mainstream, was a complete disaster, if you'll pardon the pun.

In 1981 Connery agreed to take a small role in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits. The film became a cult hit and restored a little of Connery's star. Time Bandits reminded everyone that Connery still had great screen presence. The High Noon inspired Outland gave Connery another solid role in the same year. After Wrong Is Right and Five Days One Summer Connery returned as James Bond in Irvin Kershner's Never Say Never Again. The film was beaten by Octopussy at the box-office and received a mixed reception but the resulting publicity and the aura of Bond put Connery firmly back on the map.

The interesting The Name Of The Rose and the flashy but hollow Highlander continued the comeback and then Connery won an oscar for his part in Brian De Palma's flamboyant The Untouchables. The Untouchables sealed Connery's legacy as one of his era's major film stars. Like old fashioned stars he was more or less the same in many films. Accents were never a Connery strength!

His longevity as an actor confirmed, Connery had shown great skill in moving beyond James Bond. His iconic status was evident when Steven Spielberg had to cast someone as Indiana Jones' father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There was only one man for the job. The original James Bond!

The nineties was a so-so decade for Connery in terms of quality. Family business and Just Cause gave him meaty roles but neither film was memorable. Medicine Man and The Hunt For Red October were solid team-ups with director John Mctiernan but nothing amazing and First Knight and Dragonheart were ho-hum child friendly fodder. The Avengers bombed and the terrible Finding Forrester saw Connery giving a familiar performance as a slightly cranky mentor. The Rock was fun though.

It's a shame that the artless mauling of Alan Moore's graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, may well be Connery's last film though it must be said, even older, Connery makes for a commanding and charismatic presence in the film. He is the most respected out of all the previous Bond actors for his body of work.

George Lazenby

Lazenby was up a certain creek without a paddle when he quit James Bond in 1969. Wrongly advised that James Bond was finished, Lazenby sought to build a new career but quickly realised that without a CV good acting jobs are elusive. Without a back ground as an actor, and without the trump card of being James Bond, his career quickly slipped down the plughole. A future making Hong Kong action movies with Golden Harvest briefly beckoned after Lazenby starred in The Shrine Of Ultimate Bliss and The Man From Hong Kong. Lazenby planned to make several films with Bruce Lee and become a seventies action icon but Lee's premature death ended these plans and the Hong Kong action boom.

Lazenby, who became independently wealthy through real estate ventures, continued to pick up small parts here and there. Hawaii Five-O, General Hospital. He made a cheeky appearance as a 'James Bond type' spy in a Man From Uncle tv movie and made films with titles like Master Ninja II. Television work in the eighties included that timeless classic Baywatch, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Freddy’s Nightmares. In 1990 he played Jor-el in Superboy.

A neverending series of Emmanuelle films engaged Lazenby for much of the early nineties. Other bits and pieces included Team Knight Rider(!) and supplying a voiceover for the Batman Beyond animated series. Perhaps Lazenby's finest post-Bond moment came when he starred with the sleuthing Van Dyke family in the mighty  comedy/detective/hospital show Diagnosis Murder!

Lazenby, more than any other ex-Bond, has cashed in on his Bond image for cameos and appearances. It's ironic that he was the quickest to abandon the part.

Roger Moore

Roger Moore was a widely known and popular actor when he became James Bond, largely for his television work in The Saint. a team-up with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders was fun but the series didn't last. His first non-Bond film after taking the role saw him play a typically suave Roger Moore type character in Peter Hunt's adventure film Gold. Rather than seek out different roles seemed to spend most of his time outside of Bond in the seventies making some other sort of adventure film, usually with an all star cast of friends. Shout At The Devil, Escape To Athena and The Wild Geese. In The Wild Geese Moore was required to play a tougher character than usual. His character's ruthlessness in a few scenes was a contrast against his lighter Bond persona. Moore also managed to play another iconic hero when he starred with Patrick Macnee in a Sherlock Holmes television film.

After yet another war/adventure film, The Sea Wolves, Moore had one of his more fun roles in North Sea Hijack, playing an eccentric, cat loving, counter-terrorism expert called Rufus Excalibur ffolkes. With a woollen hat and beard Moore finally began to play against his Bond image before sending it up with a cameo in the all star car chase farce The Cannonball Run.

As his Bond days drew to an end, and his work for UNICEF increased, Roger Moore appearances in films became more infrequent. He had an ill advised cameo in The Curse Of The Pink Panther and his post-Bond team up with Michael Caine in Bullseye! was notoriously bad. Films like SpiceWorld are best forgotten but Moore got a half-decent role as a caddish adventurer and conman in The Quest alongside the legend that is Jean Claude Van Damme.

Bed and Breakfast, finally released in 1992, gave Moore one of his very best roles alongside Collen Dewhurst and Talia Shire. The pretty Maine seascapes gave the film an interesting backdrop and Moore showed that his charm was still there in one of his most assured performances.

Timothy Dalton

Timothy Dalton wasn't widely known when he took the part of James Bond. His cv was littered with tv-mini series parts and appearances in television shows. More than anything he was a stage actor and seemed to prefer and enjoy more varied work in that area. His West End schedule led him to decline the James Bond offer when it first arrived.

He was best known for playing the dashing Prince Barin in 1981's campy cult favourite Flash Gordon. Dalton's moody good looks had led him to be cast in a number of undemanding playboy/romantic/period/ roles. Sins with Joan Collins, Florence Nightingale and Jane Eyre. The Doctor and the Devils saw Dalton forced to don period clobber yet again.

Dalton's first film (released) outside of Bond was the well meaning but slight Hawks with Anthony Edwards. Dalton fared well in his part as a terminally ill patient who steals an ambulance and heads for Amsterdam, determined to make the best of his situation. Brenda Starr, which Dalton shot before The Living Daylights, was a complete bomb, Dalton again playing an old fashioned romantic hero character.

The King’s Whore showed that Dalton was unafraid to move away from the Bond persona and image, and Rocketeer, released in 1991, gave Dalton the chance to show that he could actually be funny. Playing Neville Sinclair, a Nazi spy, Dalton had great fun and patterned his villain on Errol Flynn in this underrated and enjoyable film. A number of Bond fans noted that Dalton was engagingly dashing, funny and relaxed - traits that some had lamented as absent in Licence To Kill!

The interesting British tv mini-series Framed saw Dalton play against Bond again with another morally dubious character, here alongside a young David Morrissey. Whereupon Dalton's career seemed to lose a bit of fizz. An appearance in the television series Tales From The Crypt in 1994 suggested that Dalton was treading water post-Bond and Children's fare Saltwater Moose and The Beautician and The Beast confirmed that Dalton's film career was not exactly flourishing, or going anywhere interesting. More tv work would follow including Rhett Butler in Scarlett and Julius Caesar in the 1999 TV movie Cleopatra.

In 2003 Dalton finally sent up his James Bond image in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. He also returned to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials to great acclaim, back to where he had been most successful and fulfilled before James Bond. He had come full circle.

In 2007 Dalton returned to the mainstream in Simon Pegg's Hot Fuzz. Dalton's Bond status and cult roles in films like Flash Gordon and Rocketeer still remembered and enjoyed by a younger generation.

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan's career was flagging when he landed James Bond. Big screen opportunities had slowed and he seemed mostly embroiled in making Alistair MacLean tv movies as UN agent Mike Graham. Graham was like James Bond without the budget and seemed to sum up where Brosnan was and simultaneously remind us that Brosnan was most famous for nearly becoming 007 once. Brosnan needed Bond big-time to jumpstart his stalled career. In 1994 he finally got the nod.

When he got the part Brosnan used his clout as Bond to carve out one of the more successful and varied careers of the ex-Bond actors. Soon he would be working with some of the famous directors going and with his production company to choose projects that interested him.

After GoldenEye in 1995 Brosnan worked with Tim Burton on Mars Attacks! and played the lead in disaster film Dante's Peak. He wasted no time in moving from the small screen back into film. John Mctiernan's The Thomas Crown Affair gave Brosnan one of his better roles and cemented the fact that he was finally a star. He followed The World Is Not Enough with John Boorman's The Tailor of Panama, a film in which he happily played against his James Bond image. Evelyn, a pet project, followed. Brosnan, like Connery before him, was able to use Bond to get films he wanted to do made.

After Die Another Day, Brosnan continued with romantic comedy Laws of Attraction with Julianne Moore and After the Sunset with Woody Harrelson. The Matador continued his move away from Bond and with the official confirmation that his services were no longer required by Eon, Brosnan had entered a less lucrative but perhaps more satisfying phase of his career.

Seraphim Falls illustrated that Brosnan was now old enough to attempt character roles. His career has been marked by troughs and ups and downs but Brosnan has undoubtedly emerged from Bond in a much stronger position than when he went in.

Greg Haugen


c 2007 Alternative 007