No matter how you feel about Timothy Dalton as James Bond, he was actually the most sought out actor to play Bond during most of the franchise’s history. Some Bond fans dismiss him as a Shakespearean actor who got lucky by being available at the right time. In reality he was asked to play the suave British spy five separate times.
Dalton was asked as a 22 year old stage actor to play Bond in the movie On Her Majesty Secret Service. At the time he was receiving rave revues for his portrayal of King Phillip II in the movie The Lion In The Winter. The James Bond producer Albert Broccoli thought he was great in the role and would make a great replacement for Sean Connery since Connery decided not to play Bond again after the movie You Only Live Twice. Dalton turned down the role because he thought he was to young to play James Bond in a movie. The honor eventually went to George Lazenby, an underwear model and martial arts expert who played Bond for one movie, On Your Majesty Secret Service.
Dalton was asked two more times to play Bond in the movies, For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy (1983). Years later, after some intense negotiations, Dalton finally felt that he looked mature enough to play Bond in 1986 and was offered a three picture deal. His first movie Living Daylights (1987) was a huge success while his second movie License To Kill (1989) made almost as much money as the first even with limited advertisements and promotions because of the last minute name change (originally named License Revoked).
Timothy Dalton was scheduled to play in the third installment as Bond in the reportedly named “The Property Of A Lady” when the film was canceled during pre-production due to legal wrangling between EON and MGM. After five years, Dalton’s contract obligation for a third film was over. He was asked one more time to play Bond for the movie GoldenEye but turned it down to do the television mini-series Scarlett and decided not to return to the franchise afterwards. To date, no one was ever asked to play Bond without a contract more than twice.