George Lazenby has spent four decades as an enigma. An Australian actor who was plucked from nowhere to play James Bond, Lazenby famously rejected an offer to continue starring as the secret agent following On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He never reached the same level of fame he briefly touched in 1969. Lazenby provides his version of events and sheds light on why he walked away from the iconic 007 role in the Hulu documentary Becoming Bond.
Lazenby is the sole voice in the colorful Becoming Bond. The actor sat in front of a camera at the age of 76 and gave some wildly entertaining stories as he described his accidental ascendancy into becoming James Bond. The movie flashes from Lazenby’s interview to actors playing out his narrative. Jeff Garlin, Dana Carvey, and former Bond Girl Jane Seymour are among the cast who act out his anecdotes.
The tales Lazenby spins in Becoming Bond reach such moments of ridiculousness that the interviewer asks him if the stories are real. Lazenby simply replies, “How could I remember it if it wasn’t true?”
From being born with half of a kidney to bringing a bag of bats to school, Lazenby paints the picture of a rambunctious youth. After working his way from being an auto mechanic to a car salesman, the Australian chased the daughter of the Governor General of New South Wales to the U.K. He eventually found work as a male model. Lazenby details exploits and acid trips during the Sexual Revolution that are more Austin Powers than James Bond.
Replacing Sean Connery As Bond
By 2017 we have become accustomed to the idea of a new Bond, but at the time of his casting Lazenby was replacing the Bond – Sean Connery. How Lazenby was chosen for the role even involved chicanery. He swiped a suit belonging to Connery and lied about his acting experience (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was his first film). After filming On Her Majesty’s Secret Service without a contract, he turned down a multi-picture deal and a one-million dollar bonus.
Passing on that deal cemented his place as an anomaly. Who in their right mind would pass on a chance at this type success?
The film provides Lazenby with the appropriate forum to explain his decision to abscond from the role of 007 within the context of his life story. He describes it as being instinctual. Acting as James Bond was never his end goal. Lazenby acknowledges the financial security more films would have provided, but a greater moment of truth comes as he offers advice to his audience. As the film concludes the Australian looks at the camera and says “Defy what is expected of you and write your own story.”
Becoming Bond allowed Lazenby to do just that. He built up a renegade image that went far beyond the norm. Lazenby’s confidence allowed him to finagle his way into being Bond, but it also played a role in him leaving the franchise after just one flick.