Sean Connery was a tough act to follow: although George Lazenby was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year — Actor for his performance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, critical opinion was split.
Some thought Lazenby was “humourless,” “a little stiff,” “annoying and smug” and “dull,” but others thought he rose to the occasion.
It was not critique that stifled Lazenby’s growth in the franchise, but rather, negotiations dragged on throughout the production of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Lazenby never signed a contract, despite being offered one for seven films — his agent, Ronan O’Rahilly, convinced Lazenby that the secret agent image would be seen as archaic as the liberated 1970s approached, and Lazenby dropped out of the role before the film was even released.
He did portray Bond numerous times over the years in unofficial and parody 007 roles, though by 1973, Lazenby said he was “flat broke” and had become an alcoholic and suffered two nervous breakdowns.
“After the Bond fiasco nobody would touch me”, Lazenby told The Los Angeles Times. “Harry Saltzman had always said, ‘If you don’t do another Bond you’ll wind up doing spaghetti westerns in Italy.’ But I couldn’t even get one of those. My agent couldn’t believe it. But the word was out — I was ‘difficult.'”
Lazenby went to Europe to pursue his career, and was actually in Hong Kong to meet with Bruce Lee about Game of Death the day Lee died. He ventured back Down Under to model as well as star in a few local commercials and an episode of Matlock Police, before going back to Hollywood to take acting lessons in an effort to revitalise his career.
Albert R. Broccoli said casting Lazenby was his “biggest mistake in 16 years” as Lazenby was “arrogant” and “couldn’t deal with the success.” Broccoli also said that Lazenby didn’t get along with fellow castmates and crew members.
Despite Lazenby saying he had only met Sean Connery briefly once, Connery actually came to his defence.
“I have known George for many years and arrogance is not in his character,” Connery told The Los Angeles Times in 1978. “Alas I cannot say the same for Cubby [Albert R.] Broccoli.”
That same year, Lazenby took out an ad in Variety, offering his acting services.
“If I could get a TV series or a good movie, I swear I’d do it for nothing”, Lazenby told a journalist at the publication.
“People ask me if the Bond movie wasn’t worth it if it got me into acting. It’s true that it got me in, but it wasn’t worth the ten years it cost me.”
Between the years of 1969 and 2003, Lazenby held various roles in many television productions, documentaries and films, though none quite so publicised as Bond. In 2014, however, he did make an acting comeback, and his latest film In the Blink of An Eye is currently in post-production.
Lazenby has been married and divorced twice, and he had five children with his ex-wives. Unfortunately, however, his son, Zachary, whom Lazenby had with his first wife Chrissie Townson, passed away at the age of 19 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 11.
Lazenby now resides in Los Angeles.