After the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery bowed out of the 007 franchise. The producers behind the series went on the hunt to find a fresh new actor to take on the role of the international man of mystery, eventually settling on Australian actor George Lazenby for the next film, a star without any real previous acting work. He starred in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, before quitting the role. Lazenby did not just walk into the role, however, and was tasked with a number of things to prove his worth.
In the Hulu documentary Becoming Bond, Lazenby recalled in his own words getting the iconic Bond role.
During the casting process, the star underwent four months of testing to prove he was right for the job. During this time he was made to ride a horse bareback and swim laps in a pool in front of 007 bosses Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli.
The star, who was just 30-years-old at the time, was also made to put a match in his mouth to help him speak with a British accent, masking his natural Aussie twang.
Perhaps the most drastic “test” given to Lazenby involved a young woman coming to his hotel room.
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Lazenby recalled a man came to his hotel room with a young woman before he was told that “she wanted to have sex with him”.
He said in the documentary: “She stripped her gear off,” and he obliged the request. Meanwhile, the man was “sitting in a chair right next to me” reading a newspaper.
Lazenby recalled asking: “Aren’t you going to join in?” before adding: “I thought he was going second. I thought he was a b****y pervert.”
After, as the man and woman left Lazenby’s room, the star was reportedly told: “They said you were a male model, the studio thought you were gay, and you’re not.”
When Lazenby accidentally punched the stunt man, giving him a bloody nose, Saltzman was convinced this was the actor destined to play Bond next.
Long before he had even been cast as 007, Lazenby made sure he looked the part.
The bearded, long-haired Aussie actor went to Connery’s barber to get a James Bond makeover.
After that, he ventured to Connery’s tailor, where he picked up a Savile Row suit, before tracking down a Rolex. Then, already looking like Bond, he walked into the casting director’s office and staked his claim for the role.
On set, Lazenby made quite the connection with the Bond girl for the picture, Diana Rigg.
Although he praised the time he spent working on the film, he refused to sign a $1 million contract to do six more 007 films.
He said it was a “slave contract” which dictated what he could wear and how he ought to wear his hair in public – essentially looking like James Bond 24/7, contractually.
A year later, production started on Connery’s sixth Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, which was released in 1971.
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