“Seldom has Hollywood built someone up and then thrown him aside more quickly than Klinton Spilsbury. This is a tough town, but he got a kind of instant dose of just how cruel it can be. Must’ve been incredibly difficult. If I’d been in his shoes, I might’ve stopped acting, too.”
There is really nobody to compare Spilsbury to. George Lazenby, like Spilsbury, got only one shot at an iconic lead role in a big-budget film. But Lazenby merely screwed up his chance at international superstardom. He was a successful actor before and after his turn as 007. Spilsbury, in contrast, was completely unknown when he was cast – and never worked again. To make matters worse, his voice never appeared in the film at all. The filmmakers were so disappointed with his line readings that they hired James Keach to dub the entire role.
The only kinda-sorta comparable person I can think of is Kurt Thomas, the gymnast who tried to become an actor. He got the lead in Gymkata, then faded back into the athletic world. But two significant things make him different from Spilsbury:
(1) he was an athlete trying to act and failing. Spilsbury was an actor trying to act and failing.
(2) Gymkata was not a high-profile film, and Thomas’s role was not one that was coveted by all of Hollywood.