Additionally Lazenby not only served in the military but actually was in the Australian Army's Special Forces, leaving as a Sergeant. He taught hand to hand combat to other trainees while he was there. Thus ironically making him the only Bond actor who actually did have a background in SpecOps matter (and the only person trained in real life espionage along with Christopher Lee in the whole franchise).
Cast the Expert: Grunter's actor was a wrestler and a stuntman who gained the part as compensation for having his nose broken by George Lazenby in his audition.
Similarly, Lazenby was a trained martial artist and had served in the Special Forces of the military, the only Bond actor to do so.
Cast the Runner-Up: In the DVD Commentary, George Baker (Sir Hillary Bray) explains that Ian Fleming had put him forward as his choice to play James Bond when he was trying to drum up interest for a film series, before Saltzman and Broccoli got involved. In that light, Baker noted it gave him an odd feeling to be in the studio dubbing Lazenby's dialogue for when Bond was impersonating Bray. He would later maintain (only half-jokingly) that he recorded enough of Bond's dialogue that he should have been credited as Bond, too!
On The Secret Service of Her Majesty (Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France & West Germany).
To Serve Her Majesty (Italy).
007 On Her Majesty's Service (Brazil & Portugal).
007 On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Spain).
To Her Majesty's Secret Service (Denmark).
007 Seized The Snow Mountain Castle (China & Norway).
Creator Backlash: While George Lazenby doesn't hate the film itself by a long shot, he was really annoyed when he found out that his dialogue was redubbed by George Baker in the scenes where Bond was pretending to be Sir Hillary Bray note And it's even more justified considering that this dubbing gave viewers the impression that Lazenby was so bad, he had to have someone dubbing in his lines when in reality, it was there to establish Bond as a Voice Changeling without hiring someone who can both act well and perfectly imitate George Baker. Baker himself admitted to finding it an odd creative choice, noting that Blofeld would probably have found out that Bond didn't look anything like Sir Hillary long before noticing that Bond didn't sound like him.
It was reported by the press at the time that George Lazenby and Diana Rigg didn't get on. However, according to director Peter R. Hunt, these rumors are untrue and there were barely any difficulties, and the only real ones were minor. For example, during one lunch break before a kissing scene, Rigg jokingly shouted across the cafeteria, "Hey George, I'm having garlic for lunch. I hope you are!" and the press reported it as "Diana ate garlic before she kissed 007" to imply they weren't getting along. Rigg later admitted that she found Lazenby immature, but expressed sympathy for his situation.
Lazenby claimed that he got on with everybody - except director Peter R. Hunt. He claimed that he didn't receive any coaching despite his inexperience and that Hunt asked the rest of the crew to keep a distance from him, as "Peter thought the more I was alone, the better I would be as James Bond". Their relationship got off to a bad start when on the first day when Lazenby was asked by a crewmember to clear the set with a loudspeaker. Those ushered off the set were friends of Hunt. A furious Hunt said, "Don't forget who got you this job! Never speak to me again. Just speak to the first assistant". Hunt even left his own birthday party when he saw Lazenby there.
One time, we were on location at an ice rink and Diana and Peter were drinking champagne inside. Of course I wasn't invited as Peter was there. I could see them through the window, but the crew were all outside stomping around on the ice trying to keep warm. So, when she got in the car, I went for her. She couldn't drive the car properly and I got in to her about her drinking and things like that. Then she jumped out and started shouting 'he's attacking me in the car!' I called her a so-and-so for not considering the crew who were freezing their butts off outside. And it wasn't that at all in the end, as she was sick that night, and I was at fault for getting in to her about it. I think everyone gets upset at one time.
Harry Saltzman made the mistake of telling Lazenby, "You're a star now, so act like one". This caused his ego to swell significantly and soured his relationship with the producers. Albert R. Broccoli joked that "he acted like the superstar he wasn't". For his part, Lazenby said:
The producers made me feel like I was mindless. They disregarded everything I suggested simply because I hadn't been in the film business like them for about a thousand years.
According to Bernard Horsfall (Campbell), the film's stunt co-ordinator had to be restrained from physically attacking Lazenby after he was so rude to a barmaid that he made her cry.
Stuntman George Leech recalled:
He was a bit of a flash character. He got into a bit of trouble with Cubby because he bought himself a gun in Switzerland and also drove around on this motorcycle which was thought to be a bit of a hazardous endeavour. Cubby had to put a block on that.
For her part, Rigg said that Lazenby "was just difficult. He kind of thought he was a film star immediately". Following the film's completion, she said:
I can no longer cater for his obsession with himself. He is utterly, unbelievably...bloody impossible.
Rigg wrote a letter to Lazenby around 1970, calling him out on incidents including his dresser threatening to hand in his notice, three chauffeurs leaving him within a week and an outburst he released on a barmaid, before accusing him of concocting the Garlic story. She even bought up a time where Lazenby apparently threatened to bash her face in as she failed to reverse a car on an icy road. Lazenby wrote back, accepting responsibility for his dresser and some outbursts, but denying that three chauffeurs left him, as one was his guest in Portugal, the second drove "like a lunatic" and the third arrived late after a party, and George took some frustration out on him after being heckled by a gang of fishermen. A later interview had him say that the press made up the garlic tale and not him. According to Tom Mankiewicz, on Rigg's last day of shooting, she kept asking if it was the last take and when she filmed her last scene, spat at Lazenby and walked off the set.
Desmond Llewelyn also didn't care for Lazenby, citing him as not an actor and claiming that he "acted like an idiot on set".
[He] came down to one of the sessions. He stood at the back and listened to the score for one of the scenes. Then he came up to me and said," It fits!" as if it was the greatest compliment I could ever have hoped for. I thought, "Christ, we've got a real brain going here. What do you think I do for a living?
Broccoli's wife Dana suggested suggested that the producers throw a party to cheer everyone up. With just a day to put it together, Broccoli arranged for food to be brought over from nearby hotels and placed a notice about the party on the morning's call sheet. With everyone having a good time, Lazenby showed up late and stood sulking in the corner. Broccoli went over to him and asked what was wrong. Lazenby was replied that he should have had an invitation to the party, as he was the star of the film. Broccoli explained to him that nobody had an invite, it was a spur of the moment thing. He told him that "You're not a star until the public makes you one" and walked off.
The final straw came when Lazenby disobyed Broccoli's instructions and showed up to the premier with shoulder-length hair and a beard ("It was my way of saying - I'm myself, I'm not James Bond"). Following his decision to leave the series after just one film, Lazenby claimed that Broccoli told people that he was difficult, resulting in him being blacklisted. In 1978, Broccoli described casting Lazenby as "my biggest mistake in 16 years. He just couldn't deal with success. He was so arrogant. There was the stature and looks of a Bond but Lazenby couldn't get along with the other performers and technicians".
Averted with Terry Mountain (Raphael), who loved every moment of working with Lazenby, saying in an interview later that he was an amazing actor who raised his own acting game.
Lazenby later claimed that he was given very bad advice by his agent, who convinced him that with New Hollywood and the counter-culture, James Bond would be archaic in The '70s. As a result, he turned down a seven picture contract. The fact he always said in later interviews that this was one of the worst decisions he ever made but that he also fired his agent just a couple of years later really does not come as a surprise if this in fact is true.
Magnum Opus Dissonance: Despite being one of the most obscure Bond films amongst the general populace, often inaccurately thought to be a financial failure, the producers and EON have gone on the record saying that if they had to choose one Bond movie to preserve for future generations, it would be OHMSS. Many Bond fans, though split on what they think of the film overall, largely agree that if the only thing different about it were Connery playing the role, it would unquestionably be considered the greatest film in the entire series, even today.
George Lazenby told the press that he was looking forward to playing Bond "for the birds and the bread".
Diana Rigg recalled why she accepted the role of Tracy:
They wanted an experienced lady with a certain degree of glamour to help along a totally inexperienced actor. Fine. It was much like being a coach. And it was well-paid. £50,000. Can't complain.
Multiple Languages, Same Voice Actor: Ilse Steppat, Irma Bunt's actress, dubbed herself in the German version of the film. Makes sense since in the original, she was playing a German-speaking character who could also speak English. However, since she died not long after the film released, the new scenes added in the Blu-Ray edition had her dubbed by Joseline Gassen instead.
No Stunt Double: Blofeld getting snared with a tree was performed at the studio by Telly Savalas himself, after the attempt to do this by the stuntman on location came out wrong.
Irma Bunt was Ilse Steppat's only English language role. She died shortly after the film came out.
Peter Hunt drifted away from the franchise after this film. In an interview, he explained that Broccoli and Saltzman asked him to return for Diamonds Are Forever and subsequent films, but he was always busy with other projects at the time and sooner or later they stopped asking.
Lazenby's story of being the only actor to have played James Bond only once in the EON film series is well-known.
Orphaned Reference: While in Switzerland, Campbell pretends to read a newspaper with the headline "19 People Killed in Rush Hour Train Crash". This is the remnant of a deleted chase scene where Bond kills a SPECTRE agent posing as an assistant at the College of Arms by knocking him in front of a mail train after a lengthy footchase. The train crash was a cover story so Blofeld wouldn't realise MI6 are onto him.
Telly Savalas replaced Donald Pleasence as Blofeld. This is a holdover from the original book, where Blofeld had plastic surgery to alter his appearance to make him harder to identify. It still doesn't explain why he fails to recognize Bond.
The Other Marty: According to Terry Mountain (Draco's henchman, Raphael), Takis Emmanuel (Draco's henchman, Kleff) had a few rehearsals for the beach fight in the opening sequence, but he and George Leech were not happy with the result, so he was replaced by stuntman and high fall and trampoline expert Bill Morgan. Because the wedding scenes were filmed before the beach scenes, Emmanuel can be seen a few times in the movie, meaning both men technically played the same character in the same movie, an unintentional first considering no plot points revolve around it.
Playing Against Type: While Telly Savalas had played villains prior to this, he usually played unsophisticated gangster types rather than this suave and debonair version of Blofeld.
Romance on the Set: Averted. Diana Rigg told George Lazenby that at the start of the shoot, "You know if you don't fool around with the other girls, maybe something can happen. We'd had a little bit of a kiss and cuddle one night, that's as far as it got". She later caught him with a production secretary in the stunt tent. He also hired a helicopter to fly him to Geneva for trysts with local girls.
Stunt Double: Stuntman George Leech doubled for George Lazenby in the scenes in which Bond clings to the thick metal cable suspending the mountainside railway cars. The grease on the cable caused him to lose his grip and, as his body twisted around his remaining gripping hand, he dislocated his arm and fell on the boxes prepared for such an eventuality. Stuntmen Chris Webb and Richard Graydon' completed the shots.
Vic Armstrong doubled for Lazenby for the scene where Bond nearly skis off a cliff while escaping Piz Gloria.
Bond saying "This never happened to the other fella!" at the start of the movie was inspired by George Lazenby constantly joking "This never happened to Sean Connery!" during his more difficult stunts. Peter Hunt worked it into the film to break the ice.
The fight scene inside the shed with bells was written in last minute, as Peter Hunt discovered the barn while scouring a village for deciding scene locations and figured that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Bond's sliding along the ice whilst firing a machine gun in the attack on Piz Gloria was a spur-of-the-moment idea from director Peter R. Hunt.
The St. Bernard rolling in front of Bond was totally unexpected, and Lazenby reacted accordingly ("Never mind that! Go and get the brandy, huh?").
Troubled Production: The film had a few stuntmen accidents and George Lazenby had conflicts with the director and the producers. On top of that, the press had a field day with the production and created huge stories out of the most innocuous events; lead actress Diana Rigg's off-hand quip about eating garlic prior to a scene resulted in stories that the two leads could barely even stand to work together (which, to be fair, wasn't completely untrue), while the news that George Baker would be overdubbing some of Lazenby's lines — specifically the ones where Bond was impersonating Baker's character, Sir Hillary Bray — ended up being interpreted as Lazenby having proven to be such a terrible actor that the producers had been forced to have Baker overdub his entire performance. These stories naturally made the already-strained mood on the set even worse, and played a part in Lazenby's decision not to return to the role.
The bobsled scene ran into several problems during its production. According to John Glen, the fact that the canton of Bern was experiencing its mildest weather in years meant that the bobsled run that was built for the film risked melting away, so they had to use ice blocks to stop the heavy bobsleds bursting through walls on turns. It also intertwined with public domain including footpaths and ski trails, and a small child on a wooden sled came speeding round a corner and crashed into the film team during preparation. There was also issues with Blofeld's bobsled outrunning the cameraman due to the combined weight of Bond and Blofeld on it causing it to go faster.
Write What You Know: In the 1930s, Ian Fleming often visited Kitzbühel in Austria to ski; he once deliberately set off down a slope that had been closed because of the danger of an avalanche. The snow cracked behind him and an avalanche came down, catching him at its end: Fleming remembered the incident and it was used for Bond's escape from Piz Gloria. He would occasionally stay at the sports club of Schloss Mittersill in the Austrian Alps; in 1940 the Nazis closed down the club and turned it into a research establishment examining the Asiatic races. It was this pseudo-scientific research centre that inspired Blofeld's own centre of Piz Gloria