George Lazenby responds to his James Bond film being named the best ever (exclusive)
George Lazenby, the actor who played James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, says he was pleased to learn that his 007 film had been named the best Bond film ever in a recent Yahoo poll.
"Over the years, it's aged like a fine wine," Lazenby exclusively tells Yahoo, "a bit like me."
The 1969 film, made after Sean Connery had quit the role, was last week named the best Bond film ever in a poll of over 30 007 experts – including a Bond villain, a Bond girl, and stunt drivers, costume designers, and VFX artists on the films themselves – beating perennial favourite Goldfinger to the top spot.
Read more: The best Bond film ever, according to experts
"When we made the film over 50 years ago, it was a hit and it was pretty successful but when I quit, they wouldn't promote me in the press so obviously things went sour."
Watch: The top 5 Bond films, according to experts and fans
Lazenby declined the chance to make a second Bond film after it was released in 1969, with Sean Connery being tempted back by the producers for 1971's Diamonds Are Forever.
While Connery's last Bond film (before the unofficial 1983 film Never Say Never Again) didn't feature highly in our poll, the stature of OHMSS has only grown since its release and was a clear winner with the experts we polled. It has many famous fans too, according to the 81-year-old actor.
"I've been told directors like Steven Soderbergh and Christopher Nolan figure my Bond movie to be the best one," Lazenby says.
Read more: Actors who could be the next James Bond
"When I was in London a couple of years back, they showed my Bond movie at the British Film Institute. It was sold out and I got a standing ovation. I met guys like the director Edgar Wright who told me he dug my movie. One of the guys behind Dracula and Sherlock, Mark Gatiss, was also pretty hot on my Bond. My film has some high-end fans. So I guess these experts are right."
Based on Ian Fleming's 1963 novel of the same name, the film is largely faithful adaptation of the book, and features the series' most emotional climax, with 007 finally marrying before Telly Savalas' Blofeld assassinates his wife Tracy (played by Diana Rigg) in the final scene. Lazenby credits the source material for the film's longevity.
"I think the movie still has an effect because it was the best of the Ian Fleming books. I read it when I got the role and the script, what we had was pretty close to it."
"When I was cast as Bond in 1968, people around me felt 007 seemed to be out of vogue, not current – part of the 'establishment'," Lazenby, who is very active on social media, adds. "Fantasy spies fascinate us but it's really BS.
"Real spies are pretty boring and anonymous, but I guess are a necessary evil. I was a hippie. I wasn’t a dedicated actor – I just wanted to have a good time: make love, not war.
"I still have that spirit. I guess my passion and honesty is what has made it last. It helped working alongside great actors like Telly [Savalas] and Diana [Rigg], who we sadly lost recently. Dear Diana, miss her."
Having pipped Sean Connery to the top spot in our poll of experts, Lazenby was keen to credit the late Scot for the ongoing success of the near 60-year-old film franchise, citing his predecessor as the best 007 overall.
"I guess the whole Bond thing has lasted because of what Sean Connery laid down. The all-time greatest Bond was obviously him.
Read more: Connery's lost screen performance as Bond revealed
"Sean, for me, was always the man, the guy who inspired me to go for the part. I met him a couple of times in LA and he told me to my face I'd been good. I've seen him say that in the papers too. I was sad to hear that he passed last year. It was the end of an era.
"We all follow where Sean led," he concludes.
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