James Bond: Why did George Lazenby only play 007 once?

James Bond has been played by a number of actors from all over the world – including Australian actor George Lazenby. Lazenby had little acting experience when he took on the role but performed better than many would have expected. Despite this, he only performed once in the role – but why was this?

George Lazenby, born September 5, 1939 in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, was a model when he was chosen to be 007.

According to film site Screen Rant, the producers first spotted Lazenby in a chocolate commercial, and he jumped at the chance to audition.

Needless to say, he got the part and starred as the popular British spy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The movie did not receive the best reception, however, given Lazenby was taking on the role from its originator, Sean Connery.

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Variety’s Peter Debruge has called the film “an abomination” of a Bond movie, though since its release the film has gained far kinder reviews in retrospect.

However, at the time, many thought the slightly negative reviews may have scared Lazenby off, especially given he was replaced by his predecessor, Connery, who returned to the franchise to appear in Diamonds Are Forever.

It turns out, however, Lazenby himself did not fancy another outing as James Bond.

In the 2017 documentary Becoming Bond, Lazenby described his reasons for quitting the franchise and even claimed he was offered a contract for six more James Bond adventures.

Lazenby said he was advised by his agent, Ronan O’Rahilly, to turn the deal down, apparently due to the franchise not being relevant to the culture.

At the time of Lazenby’s portrayal, the hippy culture of the 1960s and 1970s was growing fast, and according to Lazenby, O’Rahilly believed the action heroes of the past, and even James Bond, would soon be outdated and unloved.

Lazenby turned down the contract and instead hoped he might break into spaghetti westerns, becoming a new Clint Eastwood.

However, according to Lazenby’s claims in the documentary, he was blacklisted for turning down the role and he struggled to win further parts after reports of his being difficult on-set damaged his reputation.

Sadly, this would become a regret for Lazenby, who told the documentary he was “badly advised” and would have taken the role had he received some better advice.

In the end, however, the role went back to Connery as a placeholder before Roger Moore became the third James Bond.

Of course, after Moore’s turn, reports have suggested producers wanted to hire Pierce Brosnan, who was at the time contracted to work in American detective drama Remington Steele.

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Instead, Timothy Dalton was hired in the role, but a legal dispute meant Dalton’s third Bond movie was cancelled for a time.

By the time producers were ready to go ahead with the third film, Dalton decided against rejoining the franchise after its hiatus and instead Brosnan finally won the role he had been hoping for.

The current James Bond is Daniel Craig, though rumours abound on who will replace him after the hotly-anticipated No Time To Die finally hits the big screen.

Currently, names such as Sam Heughan, Tom Hardy, Idris Elba and James Norton are in the running.

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