Website last updated: 18-5-2017

Review of Becoming Bond - a Hulu documentary on George Lazenby

By: Mark Cerulli
Published:
2017-05-18
Becoming Bond (2017) – A review for FSWL from the LA premiere by Mark Cerulli

Being a James Bond fan for over 40 (!) years, I thought I knew everything there was to know about George Lazenby, the Australian male model who, against all odds, won the coveted role of 007 (and had the hardest job of any James Bond actor as he had to follow Sean Connery) only to walk away after just one film, a mistake he probably regrets, right? Well, not so fast…

WHAT A LIFE!

Lazenby’s story is remarkable, unique and totally George… Josh’s Greenbaum’s highly entertaining documentary, Becoming Bond features sit down interviews with Lazenby combined with recreations of key moments from his amazing life and career. Starting from his childhood, we see George as a prankster with a true rebel streak, which is central to his personality – George does what George wants to do, consequences be damned. Blessed with good looks, height and charm, Lazenby didn’t have to chase opportunities, they came to him – modeling deals, women (LOTS of women) and then, the opportunity of a lifetime – when Sean Connery relinquished the role after 1967’s You Only Live Twice, every actor in London was testing for it. As Greenbaum’s artful recreations show, Lazenby styled his hair like Connery, obtained a suit from his personal tailor and literally snuck into the casting director’s office. The rest is, as they say, history: Lazenby made On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), his first major film, which became an immediate box office hit. The world was his. Money and offers poured in… until he said “No.” As Lazenby puts it, “I went from having all this clout to not being able to get a table reservation.”



The documentary delves into his life-altering decision and we learn that behind the brash, confident exterior is a sensitive, emotional and highly independent man who realized the intense limelight that comes with portraying the screen’s coolest spy just wasn’t for him. Surprisingly, Becoming Bond is also a love story – yes, George Lazenby, suave spy and serial womanizer, fell in love with a lovely upper class Australian lass who he won, lost, won back and ultimately had to let go; something he regrets much more than turning his back on film superstardom.

After the screening at Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles, the cast, crew and Lazenby himself talked about making the film which came about over a series of lunches in LA. The director, Josh Greenbaum called George, “One of the best storytellers I’d ever met.” George’s attraction to the project? “I kinda liked these guys after 4 or 5 free lunches.” (That got a big laugh from the sold-out crowd.)

George Lazenby in Becoming Bond
George Lazenby in Becoming Bond
Young George was played by up and coming Australian actor, Josh Lawson who intentionally didn’t meet Lazenby until after the shoot was over. “The director didn’t want that to influence the storytelling,” he said. Lovely Kassandra Clementi who played Belinda, George’s true love, admitted the real Belinda looked nothing like her. Lazenby, ever the lady’s man, said “I could use my imagination!” Ms. Clementi admitted she had never seen George’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which followed the Q&A. After the screening, she commented “I thought OHMSS was absolutely timeless. I loved the film and can understand why it’s such a classic.” Clementi also gushed about Lazenby’s turn as Bond, finding him “just as captivating and charming as he is today.” Even at 77, Lazenby is still rocking the house!

Greenbaum’s cast also included Dana Carvey channeling Johnny Carson and Jeff Garlin as a blustery Harry Saltzman (legendary James Bond producer). Ever-lovely Bond girl Jane Seymour (Solitaire in Live and Let Die 1973) is wonderful as London talent agent Maggie Abbott who pushed George to audition for the role that made him famous.

At one point, the moderator asked Lazenby if, after seeing the film and reliving his life, he wished he hadn’t walked away from Bond. Without missing a beat George said “No, because it wasn’t who I am.” Director Josh Greenbaum echoed that by adding, “You chose the right path for you.”

Yes he did. There are six James Bonds, but only ONE George Lazenby!

Editor's Note:
Becoming Bond, which had its World premiere (followed by a standing ovation!) at SXSW in Austin on 11th March 2017, is available to watch online at Hulu from 20th May. >Watch Becoming Bond on Hulu

Other rave reviews of Becoming Bond includes one published in Variety.

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