The set visit was fantastic: the show looked amazing, John Logan was charming, enthusiastic, incredibly generous with his time, and gave me a full personal tour of the sets and an exclusive Bond 24 interview which contained precisely no scoops. There was just one problem: I didn't meet Timothy Dalton. He was there, and I saw him, several times - in fact at one point he was as close to me as you are to that guy next to you - but we didn't actually exchange any words. This was mainly because he was working on an incredibly tense scene, and frankly I was mildly terrified. Dalton has enormous presence: when he walks into the room, you notice, and I noticed that he was way too busy being a ruddy amazing actor to speak to me. So I satisfied myself with some longing gazes and the knowledge that I'd breathed the same air as him, and went about my business.
Deep down, though, I knew that I hadn't really MET Timothy Dalton. In order to tick him off my list with a clear conscience, I had to talk to him. 'Seeing' plus 'talking to' equals 'meeting' in anyone's book, surely, even if those two elements occur weeks apart.
Insanely, no matter how long you stare at this photo,
it does not constitute a meeting.
it does not constitute a meeting.
Now magazine articles are rarely built from the transcript of just one interview, and so it was inevitable that I would need to talk to some of the Penny Dreadful cast at some point, even if it was just on the phone. And when I say "some of the Penny Dreadful cast", I mean "one of the Penny Dreadful cast". And when I say "one of the Penny Dreadful cast", obviously I mean Timothy flipping Dalton.
And so, just over two weeks later, I found myself sitting at home in front of my computer with no fewer than two voice recorders pointed purposefully at the telephone. It was 4.20pm on a Friday afternoon, and in ten minutes' time Timothy Dalton was due to call me from his home in Los Angeles. I repeat: Timothy Dalton was about to phone me, at my house, for a chat. I was trying extremely hard not to die of disbelief.
4.30 came and went, and the phone had not rung. 5.00 came and went, and still my phone remained frustratingly silent. I started to panic. Was the phone actually working? Had I given the right number to Dalton's people? Had I made some catastrophic miscalculation with the time difference? I checked and re-checked all possible opportunities of a balls-up but found none. At 6.00, still nothing. I needed a wee, but there was no way I was leaving the phone. My wife was due home at 6.30, so I decided I would make her my PA when she got in, instructing her to take any calls while I nipped to the bathroom. However, at 6.20 I could wait no longer. I was bursting. Reasoning that if Timothy Dalton hadn't phoned in the last 110 minutes, he was pretty unlikely to in the next two, I abandoned my post and took the much-needed comfort break.
Obviously, as I was mid-wazz, the phone rang. Unbelievable. James Bond was trying to get hold of me and I was urgently squirting out a torrential jet of piss that showed no signs of slowing down in the next few minutes. Somehow I clenched every relevant muscle, probably causing internal injuries to my bladder and personal waste disposal system, put everything back where it belonged and dashed back to the phone, answering it just before it was due to go to voicemail.
"HELLO!" The voice was unmistakable. Booming, but with a gentle Welsh lilt, Timothy Dalton's tones sang out to me from across the Atlantic Ocean. We were about to exchange our first words; to finally meet. How would we begin our relationship?
"IS THAT NICK?"
At this point I should make it clear to readers who don't know: my name isn't Nick, although in the heat of the moment I considered changing it to Nick by Deed Poll so that I wouldn't have to correct Timothy Dalton.
"Uh... it's Neil. Is that Timothy?"
"NEIL! SORRY! TIM DALTON HERE!"
Anyway it pleases me to report that Dalton is charming. I had been concerned that the fiercely intense man I'd seen on set would be equally as terrifying on the phone, but he was quite the opposite: ebullient, effusive and erudite. At one point he used a Latin phrase, which I like to think means "you are my favourite blogger". When I told him I'd seen him in action on the Penny Dreadful set, he demanded to know why I hadn't come and said hello; I told him he seemed heavily involved in what he was doing and, with sly self-awareness, he replied "well that makes a certain sense".
I spent the next hour or so in a daze. I don't want to sound like I'd had a visitation from the holy ghost, but I did have a nice chinwag with a man largely responsible for bringing an enormous amount of pleasure to my Bond-nerd existence, and that felt pretty ruddy special. It pained me to wash the hands that had held the phone that was connected to the phone that was held by Timothy Dalton, but they had dried wee on them so, sadly, I kind of had to.
So there we are: four down, two to go. I know that both Sean Connery and George Lazenby are keen readers of The Incredible Suit, so it can only be a matter of time before one or both of them get in touch to arrange a meeting. In preparation for their call I'm off to stock up on incontinence pants.
You can read the fruits of my conversation with Timothy Dalton in Issue 300 of Empire Magazine, out now in all good newsagents and some newsagents who charge 80p for a packet of Tooty Frooties, the daylight robbing bastards.