James Bond star George Lazenby says “age is just a number” when it comes to playing 007

"The main thing you need is attitude and swagger," says On Her Majesty's Secret Service star

No Time to Die

Should the traditional conception of James Bond, secret agent 007 be changed to reinvigorate the franchise? Bond has been white, male and almost exclusively played by actors in their 30s and 40s… so is it time for a change?

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It’s a debate that’s been raging for a while and will doubtless crop up again once Daniel Craig departs the film series following the release of next year’s No Time to Die.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com, George Lazenby – who played Bond in 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – suggested that age in particular shouldn’t be a qualifier for who plays Ian Fleming’s spy.

“Age is just a number,” Lazenby said. “To play Bond the main thing you need is attitude and swagger and you need to be believable as a deadly killer. Taron Egerton was only 25 – and looked 18 – when he made the first Kingsman film which obviously was inspired by 007.

He added: “I recall many people couldn’t accept the idea of Daniel Craig as a blonde Bond, but that evaporated when they saw him in action.”

Back in 2005, Henry Cavill was a serious candidate to play Bond in Casino Royale, but lost out to Daniel Craig, with producers allegedly feeling that Cavill – then in his early 20s – was just too young to play Bond.

George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Diana Rigg and George Lazenby on the set of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Lazenby remains the youngest actor to have portrayed Bond in the movies, aged just 29 when he filmed his sole Bond outing.

He is also the only 007 actor to have been born outside of Britain or Ireland – and suggested that it might be wise to again look further afield for Craig’s replacement.

“Why not? It worked for me!” Lazenby said. “You’ve had a Scot, a Welshman, and Irishman, a couple of Englishmen and me, an Australian. I guess anyone can play the guy from now on.”

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George Lazenby was speaking to RadioTimes.com to promote his return to the spy genre in new audio drama Passport to Oblivion.

Passport To Oblivion was released as a two-disc CD and downloadable audio set on November 29. For more on George Lazenby, visit georgelazenbyofficial.com