Timothy Dalton

 

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Tall, dark and improbably handsome, Dalton is one of the last classically trained actors to make the departure from stage to screen and back to stage. He has excelled in roles calling for both panache and psychological complexity. At a consistently lean 6' 2", green-eyed Timothy Dalton may very well be one of the last of the dying breed of swashbuckling Shakespearean actors who have simultaneously forged successful careers in theatre, television and film. He was born on March 21, 1946 in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, where his father was stationed during WWII, and is the oldest of five children. Although born in Wales, he is quick to point out that he is mixture of Italian, Irish and English. His father moved the family to Manchester in the late 40's.

Interested in acting from a young age, it was when he saw a performance of Macbeth in 1962 at age 16 that his destiny was clinched. He left school to study at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1964-66). Just before completing two years, he quit RADA and joined the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and played the lead in many productions while at the same time turning professional. Dalton later said of RADA,

‘It took a year to undo the psychological damage that was caused by the oppressive teachers.’

Dalton's extensive work in the classics with the Royal Shakespeare Company led to his being cast as King Philip of France in the film The Lion in Winter (1968). In 1971, Dalton appeared in ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’, simultaneously launching a lengthy romantic involvement with that film's star, Vanessa Redgrave. During the seventies he mixed some film roles with tours in the RSC. He played the forest friendly prince in the camp (not literally) version of Flash Gordon along with a very on form Brian Blessed. Great movie, well worth seeing if only for lines from Mariangela Melato like:

‘What do you mean, Flash Gordon approaching?’

‘Dispatch War Rocket Ajax’

 

When Roger Moore quit the James Bond film series in 1986, it looked for a while as though his successor would be television star Pierce Brosnan; instead, the Bond producers made the eleventh-hour decision to cast Dalton as secret agent 007 in ‘The Living Daylights’ (1987). Willing to perform his own stunts and dashing in a tuxedo Dalton adapted to the role well.

'The Living Daylights' involved the double-double cross of a KGB agent defecting to Britain played brilliantly by Jeroen Krabbe, and Bond's attempts to find him. He hooks up with Krabbes girlfriend, a beautiful cello (Maryam D'abo) and the action moves from the London countryside, to the ferris wheels of Vienna and eventually to Afghanistan. Great soundtrack with AHA providing the main music.

Two years later, in Licence to Kill (1989), the series took a dramatic turn by changing the mission from saving the world to avenging the brutal attack on Bond's long-time CIA friend, Felix Leiter. The movie was the first Bond film to receive a PG-13 rating because of violent shark attack scene, villains being burned alive, forklifts impaling the errant henchman and a cocaine shredder making quick work of a would-be assailant. Sadly, Licence to Kill was crippled by a weak marketing campaign and stiff competition, so it performed poorly at the box office.












 

 

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