By 1967 Sean Connery had grown tired of playing James Bond – and the public scrutiny that went with the role. He quit the series during the production of You Only Live Twice in 1967. Faced with the loss of their star, producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli went in search of a new actor to continue the franchise. After an extensive search, Australian model George Lazenby was hired to strap on the Walther PPK for 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The film took a much more grounded approach to the series, and it is often seen by many to be one of the best films in the franchise (the finale Christopher Nolan’s Inception is heavily inspired by it). The weighty plot of the film would have been made all the better if it had been Connery’s swan song (as had been originally planned) but alas that was not to be.
Lazenby believed that the popularity of James Bond would die with the end of the ’60s and that audiences of the 1970s would seek their entertainment elsewhere. He quit after the film’s production, vacating the iconic role and leaving producers with the problem of finding yet another 007.
It’s a shame, because George Lazenby never got the opportunity to grow into the role of Bond. He faced the difficult position of playing a hugely popular character made great by an iconic star. He did and excellent job and he could have went on to make it his own. Sadly, we’ll never know and he’s now often known as ‘the forgotten Bond’.