THE SENSITIVE OO7
Even before I meet 42-year old TIMOTHY DALTON, ALIAS JAMES BOND 007, in 1988, I know I have a battle on my hands to interview the Wales-born English actor for Hello Magazine, as he is some force to be reckoned with.
Featured Image(above): In ‘Hawks’
It’s an image as far removed as could be from the sensitive 007 he portrays in the 1987 ‘THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS’ and his forthcoming 1989 Bond film ‘LICENCE To KILL.’ The atmosphere on the film set of his latest movie, the black comedy ‘HAWKS’, where the director allows me just three minute increments of interview time in between takes, is electric and makes it almost impossible to establish a rapport or have continuity.
The poignant comedy of ‘Hawks’ tells the story of two terminally ill hospital patients, who decide to steal an ambulance, to have one last fling in Amsterdam, living life to the fullest with a sexy weekend of “five floors of paradise.” Dalton’s maroon velour dressing gown resembles a Persian carpet – a ludicrous mismatch to the striped pyjamas, sloppy slippers and black woollen cap, hooked tightly over his ears, as he ambles across the shiny floor at London’s Charing Cross Hospital.
With life long friend Vanessa Redgrave
After waiting for six hours in the crowded hospital corridor, this revelation sounds like the start and end of my interview, as Dalton rushes off for yet another take on scene 327. It’s a long, tiring day, standing, watching, praying hour after hour that Dalton would finally come to talk. He strides over to me, his long, lean 6’2” frame, with its strong classical features, exuding both an air of menace and a mantle of privacy you can’t unravel. “Why?” he demands, reiterating from a previous three minute discussion, “Why should Bond have changed my lifestyle? I was living like I liked to live before.
In the black comedy ‘Hawks’
I was happy as I was. I just want to earn money to be able to do the things in my life I want to do. “But it has never been a goal of mine to have flashy women, cars, clothes and the rest. I like my tatty jeans and t-shirts. I love my old Toyota. So why should it change me? But it has given me more choice. I can now reject films I don’t want to do and get others like ‘Hawks’ started because of Bond. I can now do more of the badly paid theatre work I love. Bond has increased my commercial viability.
I can choose films like ‘Hawks,’ one of the best scripts ever written, where I can stay at home instead of working abroad. Bond has certainly given me freedom.” He lets out the most raucous of roars, a natural laugh that comes from so deep inside his belly, that it confirms him to be refreshingly free of personal vanity. Although Dalton was initially criticized for the lack of lighthearted playboy humour in The ‘Living Daylights,’ his sophisticated Bond, where he performs most stunts himself, grosses $191.2 million, considerably more than the previous last two Roger Moore Bonds.
Dalton achieves a much darker, more serious and gritty realism, closer to Ian Fleming’s original Bond – the prototype for 21st century’s Daniel Craig’s Bond. Over the decades, Dalton’s greatest love – the theatre – has seen him star in innumerable productions for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Old Vic, the National Youth Theatre etc, enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, aged 18. His memorable movie debut as the weak King of France in 1968’s ‘THE LION IN WINTER’ and co-starring with Katharine Hepburn, Peter O’Toole and Anthony Hopkins, was followed by films like ‘MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS,’ 1971, and right into the 21st century, with ‘THE TOURIST’ 2010 and ‘DOCTOR WHO’ 2010. But getting back to ‘Hawks’ in 1988.
As James Bond in With life long friend Vanessa Redgrave ‘The Living Daylights’
Dalton has warmed up to me now and the words flow easily. He enjoys talking at last. But surprisingly my mentioning his 17-year relationship with Vanessa Redgrave does not erupt into the expected volcano. Dalton is actually trying to please, but genuinely finds the mention of his personal life so hard to take, that his voice becomes hoarse and finally breaks as he concludes. “I’ve known Vanessa since we worked together on ‘MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.’ But that does not make any difference when we’re acting together. I admire her resolve and courage. She has a tremendous depth of care.
But you must not make any presumptions about the nature of any specific relationship. We work well together. How we are in the street afterwards has nothing to do with it. “I never have and never will speak about my private life. So whatever you have heard is fabrication. I am a very private person and yet have nothing to hide. But I have learnt a long, long time ago, particularly in this business, that if you start talking about your private life, you lose it. If you make it public, it’s gone. It’s as simple as that.”