Timothy Dalton was born on March 21, 1946, in Colwyn Bay, Wales. He first got started in acting while studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Soon after, Dalton landed his first major role at the age of 21 when he played King Philip in the successful stage production of The Lion in Winter. However, it wasn’t until he was cast as James Bond that he attained mainstream success in the film industry.
Despite only portraying the iconic British spy for two films, Dalton left a lasting mark on the franchise. He brought a darker, more brooding edge to Bond, returning the character closer to how the original author, Ian Fleming, had envisioned him. Dalton’s portrayal is still highly regarded amongst Bond fans and is often credited with paving the way for the grittier Bond films that came after. However, there is more to Dalton’s career than playing the modern day casanova, Bond. So, here’s a journey through Timothy Dalton’s career in TV and film.
The Living Daylights (1987)
Released in 1987, The Living Daylights marked a new era for the James Bond franchise. Timothy Dalton took on the role of Bond for the first time, following a successful career in British television and stage plays. The plot sees Bond sent to protect a defecting Russian general, only to discover a complex web of deceit and betrayal that takes him from Vienna to Afghanistan.
The film was praised for its more serious tone, which eschewed the gadgetry and camp of earlier Bond films. This darker approach was a reflection of the political climate of the late 1980s. Furthermore, it came from Dalton’s desire to play Bond as a more “realistic” character. Despite some mixed reviews, The Living Daylights was a commercial success and helped to establish Dalton as a credible 007.
Licence To Kill (1989)
Licence To Kill centers around Bond seeking revenge for the brutal attack on his friend Felix Leiter, and the murder of Leiter’s wife by drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). The film takes a darker and more violent turn compared to previous Bond films. As a result, it marks the first time the franchise waded into R-rated territory.
With a gritty revenge theme looming over the movie, viewers witness Bond going rogue from MI6 in pursuit of Sanchez. Alongside the violence, there is an underlying theme of loyalty and friendship between Bond and Leiter, showcasing a more emotional side to the usually detached Bond. Licence To Kill is a notable entry in the James Bond series for its departure from the typical formula and its attempt to make the character more complex and human. Dalton delivered a thrilling rendition in his second and final outing as Bond.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Edgar Wright‘s follow-up to the cult hit Shaun of the Dead was the action-packed buddy cop movie, Hot Fuzz. The film follows by-the-book cop Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), as he’s reassigned from the bustling streets of London to the quiet village of Sandford. Despite the lack of action, Angel begins to uncover a dark conspiracy involving the town’s seemingly innocent residents.
Hot Fuzz brilliantly pokes fun at classic action movies while also paying homage to their tropes and clichés. The film’s ensemble is also a standout, featuring talented actors like Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, and Paddy Considine. However, Timothy Dalton steals the show with his deliciously villainous performance as Simon Skinner, the charming and charismatic leader of a supermarket. Embracing the absurdity of the film’s premise, Wright masterfully blends action, comedy, and suspense to create a uniquely entertaining cinematic experience. Furthermore, Hot Fuzz reignited the career of Dalton after a slight dip in the late 90s.
Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)
Penny Dreadful is a captivating fantasy series that follows the story of Vanessa Ives, a medium who partners with a group of unlikely allies from Victorian-era London to battle a series of supernatural evils. The stellar cast includes the likes of Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, and Rory Kinnear. However, Timothy Dalton plays a pivotal role in the series as Sir Malcolm Murray, a man torn between his loyalty to his family and his desire for revenge. As the group faces off against vampires, witches, and demons, they quickly learn that they must rely on one another if they hope to succeed in their dangerous mission. With its stunning visuals, engaging storyline, and exceptional performances from its cast, Penny Dreadful is a show that captures audiences from the very first episode and hooks like a vice throughout.
Taylor Sheridan‘s spin-off show, 1923, has been met with glaring success as it expands the Yellowstone universe. The show’s plot follows the early days of the Dutton family, specifically exploring the life and struggles of patriarch John Dutton’s great-grandfather (played by Harrison Ford). The show is set in the year 1923 and has been praised for its riveting storytelling and attention to detail in capturing the historical era. Alongside impressive scriptwriting, the cast of the show has also been widely celebrated, including the notable casting of Timothy Dalton as Donald Whitfield, a wealthy Englishman who establishes a new town in Montana. With Sheridan at the helm, the show’s success seems set to continue, further expanding the already engrossing world he has created.