GOULBURN’s own James Bond, George Lazenby said growing up in the town helped make him ready to take on anything – even playing the toughest spy in the world – James Bond.
He was back in Goulburn as the special guest for the city’s second annual Spyfest.
Lazenby is a natural storyteller. He is very confident and charming. He told the press conference today how growing up in Goulburn helped make him tough and ready to take on anything.
“I grew up here bringing the cows in at four-years of age in the middle of a Goulburn winter. I used to cry because the milkman would kick me in the butt if I was late with them. It was a different world then – it was tough,” Mr Lazenby said.
“We went to school in shorts the whole year round. It was an English thing and I remember freezing - then the Goulburn summers were so hot you could throw eggs on the pavement and they would fry.
“I played rugby as a kid. I was tough. I was over-confident. I could jump a six-foot fence and most guys could not – so I thought I was better than everybody else – and I always got the girl.
“That’s why I went to London in 1963 - my girlfriend had stopped writing to me. So I went there and got her back and flattened the guy that she was with.”
While in London, he also became a top male model and he told the press conference that his agent suggested he try out for the role of James Bond, which they were casting for at the time (in 1968) because Sean Connery had just quit the role.
The trouble is – he could not get into the screen test because he was not in the union. Relying on his wits, Lazenby went to the barbers where he knew Sean Connery had his haircut and while there he was spotted by producer Albert R. Broccoli, who called him in for a screen test.
Lazenby dressed for the part by sporting a Rolex watch and a Savile Row suit, which Connery had ordered, but not collected. He got the job over about 300 others who had tested for the part, despite never acting before, apart from some television commercials.
“When I finally met the director, I told him I had never acted a day in my life,” Lazenby said.
“He started laughing and said well you fooled some of the most ruthless men in the film industry, so stick to your story and I’ll make you the next James Bond.”
Lazenby went on to make On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with Diana Rigg. He is the only Bond actor to receive Golden Globe recognition for his performance, earning a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor.
He said in that film he tried to give Bond an emotional side, which he thought Bond had been lacking to that point.
“I thought the film was ok. Towards the end of it I was able to act. I was making Bond emotional I had tears in my eyes when I discovered the girl is dead in the car at the end, but I was told James Bond does not cry. Nowadays the new guy (Daniel Craig) is doing that emotional stuff - he is copying me and he is getting offered $200m a movie for it,” he laughed.
On the advice of his agent, Lazenby then famously decided not to play Bond again, and despite being initially offered many other film roles he turned most of them down to go sailing on a yacht with his girlfriend.
“I just told them I wasn't doing another Bond film and they kept raising the money – even to a $1m – but my agent advised me not to do any more Bond films - so I grew my hair,” he said.
“From that point on, I found I couldn’t get on another movie - I was blacklisted. I started working in real estate and I bought a boat with the last bit of Bond money I had and then I sailed around the Mediterranean for 15 months with a wonderful girl and we went on to have kids and I married her and 24 years later we separated.”
Lazenby said last year’s Spyfest was fun.
“I had a good time and it brought back a lot of memories - good and bad. I have family and friends out here - nephews and nieces and a sister - so I get to combine this and see them as well – and I get a free airfare out here too,” he said.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is now recognised as one the greatest Bond films and even Sir Roger Moore has hailed Lazenby as one of the truly great Bond stars.
George Lazenby – the Goulburn Post salutes you as a true legend.