Recently, I decided to watch all the James Bond movies. I know, an impossible and tedious effort. Besides the films made with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, I was almost completely unaware of any previous films in particular in the 50+ year franchise. That led me to start at "Dr. No" and go all the way to an actor that stunned me right a way...because I found his interpretation of Bond so much more fascinating. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I found actor Timothy Dalton to be the best of the James Bond incarnations. Perhaps it was his more grounded portrayal, his more realistic take on the spy's charm, or his willingness to do his own action stunts, but Dalton breathed a sense of belief into the spy I hadn't seen before.
Throughout the years, I've seen Dalton all around whether it was as Neville Sinclair in "The Rocketeer", a very strange villain in "Hot Fuzz", or recently taking a permanent place on our TV's with Sir Malcolm Murray on the show "Penny Dreadful". It was only watching his version of Bond I truly came to appreciate his more gritty, powerful work as an actor. Now I'm young folks. Turning 26 in September, I claim to be a cinema buff but it is moments like this, witnessing an actor's abilities when I never really focused on him, that makes me realize how out of depth I am. Cause that's Dalton. Like Michael Keaton of the American brand of actor, Dalton prides himself on being part of a great team and not always the star of the show. But whatever role he has...he delivers. A charisma disguised as grit and sharp wit, Dalton is one of those actors you realize you want to see more of once you've seen what they've got.
The fact of the matter is that Dalton is responsible for bringing Bond into the new millennium. Many praise Brosnan for his work in the 90's that reignited the character's popularity post-Cold War, yet if you look at Dalton's darker interpretation you see hints of what Brosnan would carry on. More grounded stories of terrorism mixed with a more sensitive and emotional lead who uses his charm as both a defense mechanism against being psychologically probed while using it to push himself forward. In a lot of ways, Dalton may be the most undervalued of the Bond interpretations. He personally went into the role demanding that Bond be closer to Fleming's books, something that Daniel Craig reiterated indirectly when he took over the role almost 20 years later. Bottom line, Dalton was ahead of the curve that audiences would end up demanding later on.
Dalton's praise here is short-lived as I can only write so much about a man who, like I said, seems to be okay being in the supporting category. Outside of Bond, he's never really been the star. He has however, been a driven and determined actor who has done television, stage work, and movies of all kinds over a period of almost 50 years. For crying out loud, the man voiced the character Mr. Pricklepants in "Toy Story 3" AND he was in "Doctor Who" in David Tennant's final movie as the character "End of Time" . He's the kind of actor you want in your corner and in the stuff you watch. I look forward to seeing the man hopefully for a little longer and maybe keep educating myself on actors like him who show you don't need the spotlight on you (At least not for long), to shine eternally. His name is Dalton, Timothy Dalton. And don't you forget it.