Whatever Happened to George Lazenby, Who Played James Bond in Only One Film?

George Lazenby as James Bond in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'
Everett Collection

With multiple sources reporting that 33-year-old British actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson is expected to take over for Daniel Craig in the iconic role of James Bond, we’re reminded of the first time producers had to choose a new 007.

Sean Connery, who played Bond in five films, had grown tired of the role by the time You Only Live Twice was released in 1967. Enter Australian model/actor George Lazenby, who was signed to play bond for 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Lazenby was primarily a model at the time and had acted in commercials, so his casting as the star in a franchise was a bold gamble. He lamented that producers didn’t take him or his ideas seriously because he was inexperienced in the business. His costars found him difficult to work with. “I can no longer cater for his obsession with himself. He is utterly, unbelievably … bloody impossible,” said Diana Rigg.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service received mixed reviews at the time of its release, and Lazenby failed to impress. He decided not to continue as Bond, calling the character a “brute” whose style of masculinity was outdated in the changing times of the late 1960s. He also claimed he made more money doing commercials, anyway.

Lazenby struggled as an actor in the following years, and by 1973 he revealed he was broke, an alcoholic and struggling with mental health problems. He went to Hong Kong and made a series of martial arts films before moving to Hollywood. He would continue to act in TV movies and bit roles in series through the next few decades, often parodying his fame as the one-off Bond.

He’s also appeared in several documentaries about the Bond films and has openly discussed his place in the franchise’s history. He was the subject of Hulu’s 2018 documentary Becoming Bond.

Lazenby, now age 84, has become a cult hero and his work on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has received new appreciation nearly 55 years later.

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Sixties Super Spies

September 2022

Mission Impossible? Hardly! Check out all the great super spies of the sixties & more!

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