From legendary secret agent to swashbuckling villain to thespian toy porcupine to the pixie lord of winter, Timothy Dalton is an actor for all seasons.
The rich, dulcet tones of Dalton’s voice, which famously delivered some of 007’s signature lines during his stint as the cinematic spy James Bond in the late 80s and early 90s, are on display once again in a new film adventure starring an equally iconic but considerably more kid-friendly character in “Tinker Bell in the Secret of the Wings” (on Blu-Ray Oct. 23). The actor looks back on the legacy of James Bond as the franchise celebrates 50 years on film, lending his smooth vocals to various wonderful worlds of Disney.
People have been taking joy in the James Bond movies for a stunning 50 years now. What’s your perspective on being a central part of that rich cinematic legacy?
Obviously, I've been thinking about this because it is the 50th anniversary, and the thing that strikes me most immediately is how short the history of cinema has been. I mean, if you think about modern films, modern, talking films, they probably started in the 1920s which means that the Bond franchise, these Bond movies have actually existed for longer than half the entire history of modern cinema, which is an incredible feat.
It's quite remarkable, and I'm very proud to be a part of that. I think it's astonishing. And I'm really proud to have known and worked with the producer, ’Cubby’ Broccoli who with Harry Saltzman, started these and then he took over on his own and with his family. And now Barbara Broccoli, his daughter who I sort of started with. She wasn't a producer when I made my movies, but she was moving up towards a producer. This family has shepherded these films over the very longest time. And they take great pride in these films, and they work very hard to try and make sure each film is a wonderful film, and better than the last one.
Have you ever sat down with other gentlemen in your elite fraternity and shared your feelings about being part of the big James Bond picture?
I've actually met all of them except Daniel Craig, oddly enough. But, no, we don't sit down and talk about it. [Laughs] We just say hello and just have a chat, you know.
You've got a number of other classic properties on your resume – everything from Shakespeare to ‘Flash Gordon,’ ‘’Brenda Starr,’ The Rocketeer,’ and now working on Disney’s ‘Secret of the Wings,' a story starring Peter Pan’s pixie Tinker Bell. As an actor what is the allure and the joy of taking these well-known things and trying to breathe new life into them?
Well, I think enjoying my work. I had a friend who was going to do a job he didn't really want to do but had to do it because he needed to get paid. And everyone faces stuff like that in their lives from time to time, and the answer is, you don't go to work feeling miserable or bitter or disappointed. You go to work wanting to give it the very best you can, wanting to be proud of your own work. You've got to take joy in your work, and I take joy in all the work I do. Simple as that, and when you're working on something good with a lot of good people, it's very easy to take joy in your work.
You've worked with the Disney company on animated films before, like “Toy Story 3.” What is the fulfilling, fun aspect of doing this kind of acting work for these kinds of projects?
There's great fun in doing these, but I've also got enormous respect and admiration for the people that I've worked with, and that is very exciting. ‘Toy Story 3’ – six years in the making. Tinker Bell – I think, four years in the making, maybe a little more. For Disney, Pixar, you're always working with people who are dedicated to excellence.
What’s the process like for you?
When you're in a recording room with the creative people making the movies, well, it's strange. It's obviously very different from being on a movie set because time is limited. It's our job as actors to create the character from the script and to realize it in front of the camera. Here, it's completely different: the creative team have made those decisions. They've created the character; they've drawn the character; they’ve worked out what its relationship to other characters in the script are; and we don't know these things when we turn up. We turn up and go into a booth with a microphone, and the director explains these things to us.
Now, there's always room for great miscommunication when people talk to each other, but we have freedom. We have time. We're not like, ‘We've got to get this in five takes,’ or ‘This scene's got to be finished before lunch.’ We can go to work and we can play. You can try whatever you want. You listen to what the directors say. You try your best to fulfill it. You can say, ‘What about this way? Will that work? Is there anything in this notion?’ And it's between you, the director, the air, and the microphone. That makes a great liberating experience as one tries to really find what's best for it and fulfill that.
When did you first realize that there was something about your voice and the way you were able to control it that was something you could do something with creatively?
I’m not sure, actually, that I do realize that, to tell you the truth. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, what a great voice you've got.’ But I actually don't hear it. It's like probably the first time you heard your voice when it was recorded on tape or something – you must have been very shocked! You didn’t think you sounded like that. Well, I don't think I sound like I sound either [laughs].
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Will we hear your voice as Mr. Pricklepants in more of these shorts that have been so great with the ‘Toy Story’ characters?
I think you will, because I've just finished another one. I just did one a couple of weeks ago. All that I need is to be asked because I love doing them – ‘Toy Story’ was a great movie. It wasn't just a kid's movie. It was a fabulous movie for all adults, any parent, and I think, obviously, the reviews made that very clear. And 'Secret of the Wings,’ too, is – you’re not going to think ‘I’ve got to run out see Tinker Bell, the story about fairies,’ but when you see it, all those reservations are swept away. It's a joyous experience. It's a joyous movie. It's an adventurous film. It's a funny film. It's a very moving film about young women and families and sisters trying to come together. Essentially they’re for kids, of course, but what better than introducing our children to wonderful movies and sharing that with them?