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 About Her Majesty’s Secret Servicecritical opinion was divided.
Some thought Lazenby was ‘humorless’, ‘a little stiff’, ‘annoying and smug’ and ‘boring’, but others thought he seized the opportunity.
It wasn’t criticism that stifled Lazenby’s growth in the franchise, but negotiations dragged on throughout production. About 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’s image would be considered archaic as the liberated 1970s approached, and Lazenby quit with the role before the film was even released.
He played Bond several times over the years in unofficial and parody 007 roles, although by 1973 Lazenby said he was “flat broke” and had become an alcoholic and had 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 make another Bond, you’ll get spaghetti westerns in Italy.’ But I couldn’t even get one. My agent couldn’t believe it. But the word was out – I was ‘difficult’.”
Lazenby went to Europe to continue his career, and was actually in Hong Kong to meet Bruce Lee about game of death the day Lee died. He returned to Down Under to model and star in a few local commercials and an episode of Matlock Policebefore returning to Hollywood to take acting classes in an attempt to relaunch his career.
Albert R. Broccoli said casting Lazenby was his “biggest mistake in 16 years” because Lazenby was “arrogant” and “couldn’t handle the success.” Broccoli also said that Lazenby did not get along with fellow castmates and crew members.
Despite Lazenby saying that he only met Sean Connery once briefly, Connery really came to his rescue.
“I’ve known George for many years and arrogance is not in his character,” Connery said The Los Angeles Times in 1978. “Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Cubby [Albert R.] Broccoli.”
That same year, Lazenby placed an ad in Varietyoffering his acting services.
“If I could get a TV series or a good movie, I would do it for free,” Lazenby told a reporter at the publication.
“People ask me if the Bond movie wasn’t worth it if it got me into acting. It’s true it got me going, but it wasn’t worth the ten years it took me.”
Between 1969 and 2003, Lazenby played a variety of roles in many television productions, documentaries and films, but none were as well known 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. Sadly, his son, Zachary, who Lazenby had with his first wife Chrissie Townson, died at age 19 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 11.
Lazenby now lives in Los Angeles.