Welcome to Michael’s Bond Article - 1 Page
ORIGINALLY FOR PHILIPE LOMBARD OF “ARCHIVES 007”
First of all I have to say, and this may surprise you, that I was never really a great fan of
007. The kind of films I grew up on were French and Italian films like The Wages Of
Fear; Rififi; and Bicycle Thieves but I recognise just how influential Bond films have
been in popular culture.
I liked American films such as On The Waterfront, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and
Paths Of Glory and for all out enjoyment musicals like An American In Paris and Singing
In The Rain. I especially love A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, an early work of Elia Kazan.
So you see I am a bit of a misfit.
I did like Goldfinger very much, however, and also From Russia With Love and Dr No;
so when I learned that the Producers had me in mind to replace Sean Connery I had
very mixed feelings.
Needless to say, that as a Young Actor; deep inside I felt excited at the prospects of
becoming, even for a short time a ‘Film Star’ but I was also aware that it could have
‘backfired’ and I could have become unemployable once my prospective tenure as Bond
had come to an end. I still had ambition to have a long career in films; and I could not
foresee the ‘Bond Thing’ lasting much longer once Sean Connery; by far the Best Bond
I think I have to emphasise the power of Connery’s impact. It was formidable. I really
didn’t want to be a ‘Quasi Bond’. Even though I think I could have played it well I feared
I would always seem ‘Second Best’. However I imagined that any publicity about my
connection to the role might enhance my chance of being cast in ‘Good Film Roles’
without actually playing Bond. It was a difficult career choice. But it also seemed at the
time that every young actor, and even some old one’s were being tipped as ‘The Next
Bond’ but most of these predictions to me seemed quite absurd. Clearly a publicity ruse
so even that career choice, for me, was not without its ‘perils’.
Now I know that I shouldn’t have been concerned; had I indeed got the role and played it
even a couple of times I could have moved on to other films because the mood of the
audience was changing. At the time I could not detect that and I was fearful of making
the wrong choice, so it constantly nagged at me. There were two camps of current
thought of advice for young actors at the time. Be ‘selective’ or ‘take any job you are
offered’. I was firmly in the former group.
At the time, everyone seemed to have an ‘Insider’ in the Bond Production Company.
Bond was the hottest thing in British Films then; so all agents cultivated a relationship
with Secretaries and Minor ‘Runners’ to pick up the latest news about who was ‘In or Out’.
I even heard of Unit Drivers being asked to keep their ears open when driving Directors
and Executives from the Production Offices to the Studio.
My Agent at the time had an ‘Insider’
I suppose my involvement began in the mid sixties when Bud Ornstein, then Head of
Production at United Artists in Europe, saw me in late night theatre and asked me to
meet with him at the U.A. Offices. He told me that he would get some photographs done
and show them to Harry Saltzman.
Some weeks later I was called in for a Meeting by Dyson Lovell to meet with Peter Hunt
for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; but I believed from my ‘insider’ that they already
had George Lazenby under contract yet clearly hoped Connery would capitulate.
When I saw a photograph of Lazenby I thought he had the perfect look for the role, so
subsequently I put it out of my mind.
I didn’t hear anything again until about the time of Diamonds Are Forever, which was just
opening I recall. I was filming a television series called U.F.O. when Harry Saltzman came
to see some footage from the filming, as he was planning to do Moonraker next and he
was looking for some expertise with Special Effects. The Producer Sylvia Anderson, an
accomplished casting director herself, suggested I might be right to play Bond if it went
ahead and I have to say that there was some evidence that the role of ‘Foster’ that I
played might, with a little grooming, have served the part well.