Born on March 21, 1946 in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, Timothy Dalton was born into a military family. His father was stationed in Wales during World War II at the time of his birth, but eventually moved to Belper Derbyshire (an upper-class neighborhood just south of Manchester) when Timothy was 4 years old. While his father was a military man, Dalton still had a performance background in his family, as both of his grandfathers were vaudeville actors, and his grandmother played in English music halls alongside Charlie Chaplin.
It was after seeing a production of Macbeth at the age of 16 when he decided he wanted to be an actor. While in school, he joined the Dramatic Society, where he would play the role of Sergius in Shaw's Arms and the Man. He eventually graduated school, and joined the National Youth Theatre for three years. It was here where he starred in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus at London’s Queens Theatre. He also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two years, and eventually went on to join the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1966.
Dalton's motion picture debut was as the King of France in The Lion in Winter with Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn. It was O'Toole who recommended Dalton for the role, and it became Dalton's big break.
In 1968, Dalton was offered the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but he declined as he felt he was too young, and a person would have to be "off their head" to take over for Sean Connery in the role. He would go on to star in such films as Wuthering Heights, Mary, Queen of Scots, Antony and Cleopatra, and Florence Nightingale. Dalton's first American television appearence was in 1978, playing Oliver Seccombe in Centennial. He also appeared in a 1976 episode of Charlie's Angels, entitled "Fallen Angel", playing Damien Roth.
By 1983, rumors were circulating that Roger Moore was talking about ending his run in the role of James Bond, and Dalton was again approached to fill the role. Unfortunately, Dalton's schedule was filled with other roles, so he was forced to decline the part yet again. As it turned out, Moore continued as Commander Bond, and starred in Octopussy in 1983, and A View to a Kill in 1985.
By 1986, however, Moore was finished with the role, and Dalton was approached a third time to play Bond, and he declined the role a third time due to scheduling problems. The role was then offered to Pierce Brosnan, but he too was unable to take the role as he could not get out of his Remington Steele contract. Thus, the offer was steered right back to Timothy Dalton. He was about to decline the role a fourth time, but he finally agreed to the part and was rushed in as the last-minute replacement to star in The Living Daylights in 1987. Dalton's Bond was regarded as the closest resemblence to the James Bond from the books by Ian Fleming, portraying a darker, grittier Bond than that of Roger Moore. Two years later, he would again star as Commander Bond in Licence to Kill. (Strangely, the title resembles one of Dalton's earlier films entitled Permission to Kill.)
While License to Kill was his last Bond movie before the role was given to Pierce Brosnan, it wasn't his last appearance in film. He appeared in Disney's The Rocketeer in 1991, Naked in New York in 1994, The Beautician and the Beast in 1997, and most recently, American Outlaws in 2001.
Outside of film and theatre, Dalton enjoys jazz, fishing, auctions, and opera. He is currently married to Oksana Grigorieva, and has a son named Alexander.