James Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams has suggested that Timothy Dalton, the fourth actor to portray 007 on the big screen, never "felt quite comfortable" in the role.


McWilliams – who has cast every Bond film since 1981's For Your Eyes Only – described Dalton's casting as a "very sudden event" at the BFI's In conversation: 60 years of James Bond event.

"To be honest with you, I don't think he ever felt quite comfortable," she said. "It was so different from anything he'd ever done."

Pierce Brosnan, who would go on to play Bond in four films between 1995 and 2002, was originally set to replace Roger Moore in 1987's The Living Daylights, but had to relinquish the part of Ian Fleming's spy when NBC optioned his contract for another season of TV crime drama Remington Steele.

Dalton, who had also auditioned for the part, was then selected as the new Bond.

"The way he was cast was a very sudden event, because we had Pierce Brosnan lined up," McWilliams recalled. "I mean, obviously, you always have to have somebody up your sleeve, whatever happened. So he [Dalton] was kind of standing by in the wings.

"Quite literally over the weekend he was cast and I think it was all a bit of a shock for him."

Dalton – who had previously worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in the 1980 film Flash Gordon – would ultimately star in two Bond films, following The Living Daylights with 1989's Licence to Kill.

Timothy Dalton as James Bond
Timothy Dalton as James Bond. Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

At the BFI event, Bond producer Michael G Wilson recalled how a famous sequence in Dalton's debut – which sees Bond and Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo) escape the KGB amid a snowy landscape by using Kara's cello case as a sled – was not present in the original script. Instead, the scene was an invention of the film's director, John Glen.

"Dick Maibaum and I were credited with writing the script, but that was not in the script," Wilson said. "That was pure John Glen. That's him all the way in that one – it's the type of sense of humour he has."

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