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Great Dalton interview

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#1 the_tangier



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Posted 09 July 2007 - 11:03 AM

I don't know if this has been posted before but is a great interview from Dalton in a British newspaper, I thought some here might be interested.

Daily Mail (London)

February 24, 2007 Saturday

Daniel Craig doesn't know what he's in for;
TIMOTHY DALTON might have given up his licence to kill as James Bond, but he has finally found the joys of fatherhood. Here, he tells REBECCA HARDY why he feels sorry for the new 007, Daniel Craig

Timothy Dalton is talking fatherhood. His son, Alexander, was born when he was 50, and, during the ten years since, he has resolutely refused to say anything publicly about the joys, or otherwise, of being a dad. There are few published photographs of him, no gushing words from the proud parent, and even Alexander's mother, Dalton's Russian-born partner Oksana Grigorieva, has kept a low profile on the subject.

For Dalton is a fiercely private man. After 40 years in the movie business, including nine as James Bond, all he has ever said about his personal life is, 'I never talk about it - ever.' He explains, 'It is partly because that's the way I am, but also because, if a stranger down the pub or in my street started asking me questions, I'd say, "Mind your own business", so why would I tell the public at large?' Today, though, he's more forthcoming. 'A kid really completes you and makes you far more tolerant of humankind in general, because you realise everyone started out with this deeply precious, wonderful energy and innocence,' he says.

'Alexander's a real individual. He's great.

It's strange, you realise when it's too late that when they were six, seven and eight they still had all these fantastic qualities, but they were children; they were dependent on you. Now you say, "We're going to do this", and they say, "No, I don't want to. I want to do that".

'All of a sudden there's that wonderful change into their own beginnings of independence and you treasure those moments when they were still your little boy. Now he comes back from school and says, "Dad, what's the difference between a metaphor and a simile?"

How do you explain the difference between "stuck in the mud" and "stubborn as a pig" so a nine-year-old understands?

'Of course, it's a challenge being a parent, but it's a wonderful challenge.' Until Oksana's pregnancy, Dalton, a self-confessed workaholic who flitted between homes in Chiswick, west London, and Los Angeles, seemed determined not to settle down. He had numerous girlfriends, including a 14-year on-off relationship with Vanessa Redgrave, who was nine years his senior and remains a close friend, so why wait so long to decide to become a father?

'Who said I did decide?' he says. 'These things happen. What would you do if you accidentally got pregnant with someone? Would you go and get an abortion?

I'd have been completely happy to have had eight kids, but it didn't happen.'

There won't be any more, though? 'No,' he says. 'I wouldn't want to die while they were still small. A kid deserves an active parent for a decent amount of time.' Dalton is coming up to his 61st birthday on March 21 - born on the cusp between Pisces and Aries. He says Aries accounts for his love of a challenge. 'Pisceans can be tricky,' he continues. 'Deep waters.' Does he mean Piscean men or Piscean women? 'I've known women to be tricky in my life.' Lots of women? 'Yes, lots who are very tricky. I've hardly met a woman who isn't.' Despite reports to the contrary, Dalton remains unmarried.

I meet him in a swish London hotel, fresh from a screening of his latest film Hot Fuzz. Set in Wells, Somerset, the action-comedy stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in a cast that includes appearances by Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy and Edward Woodward. Hot Fuzz is already being talked about as the funniest British film in decades. Dalton himself is brilliant as saturnine-looking baddie, supermarket manager Simon Skinner.

Dalton, in the flesh, doesn't look a day over 50. There's no paunch, no receding hairline, no jowliness and not a hint of Botox or the plastic surgeon's knife.

'It's bad living that does it,' he says. ' Enjoying myself and bad living. I don't do any exercise. I don't do drugs - well, not now. I enjoy life.' Hang on. Rewind. Drugs? He won't elucidate. Tricky, flirtatious, faintly reckless, Dalton is also refreshingly forthright.

Take, for example, when I mention Daniel Craig's huffiness at the Baftas following the jokes about his shorts in the latest Bond film, Casino Royale.

Instead of making supportive noises, he literally rolls about laughing on the sofa. 'I shouldn't laugh,' he says. 'But he's going to get all kinds of [censored].

The attention with Bond is huge - overwhelming. You can be told what's going to happen, but the only people who can understand it are Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, myself, George Lazenby, Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

'I was still able to walk down the street and go to the pub, but there are awful moments like when you're waiting for a plane and a bunch of people decide to descend on you. They become blathering idiots when they ask you about Bond. It's as if you came out of a zoo. You've got to talk about the body, the workout, the Aston Martin, the girls. It's a weird thing.

People were cross that I didn't really drive an Aston Martin or a sports car.' Dalton immortalised himself as the fourth Bond in Living Daylights and Licence To Kill.

Credited with saving 007 from the self-parody of the Roger Moore years, he took the decision to quit after the preproduction of his third Bond film was halted for five years by litigation. 'I only wanted to do one Bond movie in the first place, but they insisted that I sign for three. By the time the lawsuit was resolved, I'd been Bond for nine years. They asked if I'd stay and do another.

'Part of me, having done two which had good and bad things about them, wanted to do a third to see if I could do one that brought everything together. But they wanted me to sign for more than one so I said, "No". I knew I'd made the right decision, but there was this little feeling of territoriality, until I was driving one day in Los Angeles.

'I turned onto Sunset Boulevard and there was this massive poster with Pierce standing there holding a gun - the pose that every single Bond actor has had to do. It was an advert for the latest Bond. I had no idea how I was going to feel, but suddenly I felt liberated, free.

I felt, "Now I don't have to be me and that - 007", which you've got to be when you're in the Bond movies. The minute someone else did it I could move on. I can't think of anything worse than being in the same thing for the rest of my life. I've turned down every series I've been offered, because I can't do the same thing on and on and on. Sometimes, I think I'd have made a lot more money if I had, but it comes back to needing a challenge. It's just me.

It's exciting. It's dangerous. It's something to do with that.' Dalton, the oldest son of an advertising executive born in north Wales and brought up in Manchester, says he's always lusted for something more, for something colourful. 'I was born in the 1940s and can remember rationing,' he says.

'Manchester was black in those days. I remember the smog and the blackness of the buildings, the chimneys, everything.

'We had to wear handkerchiefs on our faces to go to school. I've always liked that grittiness, but there's really nothing to like about it at all.

It's ugly. It's poverty-stricken. It's disgusting that people lived like that. I remember that harshness. We used to go to the Saturday morning flicks and, for me, that was definitely escapism. I saw things happening in the world that were not happening in the suburbs of Manchester - pirates sailing ships across distant oceans, people flying planes, fighting with swords, people kissing, telling each other jokes and having an adult life that was fascinating. I wanted that exciting life. I wanted to see tropical seas, rainforests, mountains. I wanted to see people that weren't us.' Dalton believed the life he saw at the movies to be out of his grasp, until he attended a production of Macbeth in Nottingham for his English O-level. 'That was the crystallising moment when I knew I could actually become an actor,' he says.

'I realised that it's not the movies, it's not abstract, it's not the shadows on screens, but real people in a room with me. You realise it's possible - it's not likely for a boy from the Manchester suburbs, but it's possible.' Dalton, resolving to pursue his dream, began acting with the National Youth Theatre. He was offered places at various universities to study science, but decided to take up the offer of a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, believing himself to be the luckiest boy in the whole of the Manchester area. He hated it.

'You start off with your eyes wide open and you think it's brilliant,' he says. 'Then they try to flatten you, to rebuild you, which is utter rubbish.

I was this boy from a coeducational school in Manchester with a Northern accent.

But you are what you are - what you can bring, your uniqueness.

Every single person is special. There's nobody else like you on the planet. You shouldn't try to destroy someone's individuality. That's where I lost my accent, and it took me years to rediscover a voice. How you talk, your rhythms, are a product of your upbringing. Knocking what is you is just wrong. I hated RADA. Drama school is not how you get to be those people that you saw on screen as a kid - it's not how you get to be the people you know to be the great shining lights of the theatre: the Oliviers, the Richardsons, the Redgraves, the Guinnesses, the Gielguds.' Dalton becomes animated when he rages against RADA and speaks of such acting legends.

He concedes that perhaps his defensiveness, his refusal to expand upon his personal self was born, in part, from the bashing his confidence-took at RADA. It also, though, hardened his resolve, spawning his pigheaded determination to succeed. 'I'm actually always very nervous about things,' he says with uncharacteristic candour. 'RADA didn't break me, but it did shatter my confidence for a bit. But then, it's almost as if you know you're at the bottom, but you're determined to keep trying to see how far you can get, and there isn't a specific moment when you know you've actually reached that place.' Dalton left drama school without finishing his course to take up his first job at the Birmingham Rep.

On his way to his audition, he crashed his bike, smashed his leg and needed treatment in hospital, but he still made it, albeit eight hours late, and secured the job. By the time he was 20 he was playing opposite Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in his first film role as the crafty King of France in The Lion In Winter. The leading ladies who followed included Mae West, Ava Gardner, Joan Collins, Glenda Jackson and, notably, Vanessa Redgrave.

'I've never talked about my relationship with Vanessa before,' he says. 'We have known each other for a long time. We worked on a movie called Mary Queen Of Scots and became friends. I don't feel it was because I thought her world was more colourful, and I wasn't ever caught up in it. Everyone seemed perfectly normal. I know her. I know her family. I met her mum and dad.

'I subscribed a long time ago to the notion that you can pass on information and it's okay to ask. I remember doing a part that Sir John Gielgud had once done in a NoIl Coward play and went to see him about it.

'He was delightful and charming and wonderful, and I asked him if he had any tips. He didn't even remember doing the play. It was the same with Sir Michael Redgrave [Vanessa's father]. He'd done a famous Hotspur in Henry IV and I was about to play the part, but he didn't remember either. He said, "I think I played it with a Northern accent."' Today, Dalton's own accent is a placeless transatlantic mix of received pronunciation and Californian. When he speaks about his native Manchester, though, the Northern accent starts to creep back. Somehow, I wonder if he's more comfortable with this. He tells me he supports Manchester City, always has, since he was six years old.

He bought a house in Los Angeles in the early-1990s, simply because that's where the work was, but would love to work more in the UK.

Does he like LA? He pauses. 'Ummm,' he says. 'I've been there for a long time, but I like to come backwards and forwards. I'm English.

'But Alexander's in school in the U.S. at the moment. I'd have no problem sending him to an English school, but I wouldn't want to rip him away from where he is now. He comes here all the time and is always on set with me.'

Would he encourage Alexander to act? 'No, definitely not. You've got to be so lucky to make a living. I wouldn't stop him, but I wouldn't encourage him either. I've always been working generally, but there are still long periods when you don't work. That's part of the deal. I cook, I read, I listen to music, I go fishing, I talk to my friends - I wonder where the next job is going to come from.' Suddenly, there's a certain wistfulness about Dalton.

Has his life been colourfully blessed? 'I wouldn't say so,' he says. 'I still feel like I did when I was 30 or 40 or 25, but wiser.

'Is there anything I'd change? No. That's when you start getting old: when you start worrying about mistakes. That's history.

Acknowledge them. Carry them with you, get wise, but don't regret them.'

He pauses before adding, 'Everybody should have an accident very early on. A kid makes your life complete.' Hot Fuzz is in cinemas now.