To celebrate the 20th anniversary of "A View To A Kill", MI6 goes back to 1985 with Lee Goldberg's interview with Roger Moore about his last outing as James Bond 007

Lee Goldberg's Interview With Roger Moore
27th May 2005

"I'm encouraged to impersonate myself when I play James Bond," says Roger Moore, who is playing 007 for the seventh time. "The only thing is I don't carry a Walther PPK in private life."

But he does carry with him much of Bond's charms. Somewhere along the line, while honing his skills portraying on playing smooth-talking gambler Beau Maverick, globe-trotting adventurer Simon "The Saint" Templar, and notorious playboy Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders, the roles and the actor who plays them became one.

When Moore replaced Sean Connery as James Bond, he didn't just continue the role as George Lazenby did. Moore absorbed it. James Bond became yet another extension of Moore himself. Beginning with Live and Let Die, he imbued James Bond with the same playful, coy charm that typified his TV characters, radically transforming the style of the series and making 007 undeniably his own.

Over the last eleven years as Bond, he's weathered lackluster box-office (Man with the Golden Gun), enormous success (Spy Who Loved Me), critical failure (Moonraker), pressure to toughen his character (For Your Eyes Only), and faced a new incarnation of Sean Connery's "original" James Bond (Never Say Never Again). And, despite it all, he's hasn't grown tired of being a superspy. He's back again in A View to A Kill.


Above: Roger Moore as Simon Templar in The Saint.

"Actually, I'm playing James Bond again because I feel sorry for Cubby (producer Albert R. Broccoli)"

"Actually, I'm playing James Bond again because I feel sorry for Cubby (producer Albert R. Broccoli)," Moore says, his playful grin never waning. "He'll have a terrible job finding anybody else who will work as cheap as I do. Actually, I enjoy the work. I'm glad people are still misguided enough to employ me."

The only time he regrets playing 007 is when the inevitable explosions start. "And I don't mean the explosions when I go in and discuss money," he says. "I mean the explosions on the set when everything around me blows up. I've been injured several times. I don't like loud noises. I'm quite quiet, peace-loving and well-balanced. I'm not cut out for this sort of thing."

He grins. "That shows what a good actor I am. I look as if I'm enjoying it." Actually, he's enjoying it more now than ever before. And not only because the money keeps getting better.

"I think after Man With the Golden Gun we started letting a little more of my humor creep in. The first two Bonds I did were a little experimental, but with The Spy Who Loved Me, I think we found the right ingredients, the right level of humor, the right approach."

He attributes that to a change in directors. "Guy Hamilton, who was sticking to his formula Bond, left and Lewis Gilbert, who is much freer and shares my sense of humor, came on," Moore says. "I think we reached a peak with Octopussy, which was very outrageous. What we're saying to the audience is 'look, you've been seeing these things for 22 years and they are intended to be fun and we want you to laugh with us, not at us.'

"The Bond situations to me are so ridiculous, so outrageous. I mean, this man who is supposed to be a spy and yet everybody knows he's a spy," Moore adds. "Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken and not stirred. What kind serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It's outrageous. So, I think you have to treat the humor outrageously as well."

That is sharp contrast to the Bond style set by Sean Connery, a contrast that diehard Bond fans never stop debating. "The comparisons between me and Sean stopped until Never Say Never Again and the British paper had the headline 'The Battle of the Bonds,' which was picked up everywhere," Moore says. "I never saw Never Say Never Again. We weren't having a battle, we're friends. I was even approached to be in it. They had an idea I might walk through a scene. Sean would say to somebody that he was getting tired and didn't want to be a spy anymore and I'd walk past and wink at him. But, it was a rival production."

As far as fans are concerned, Connery and Moore are still rivals where Bond is concerned. "Sure, people are going to still compare," Moore says. "Christ all mighty, though, 4000 actors have played Hamlet. chaque on a son gout."

Moore fights against efforts to toughen him up in Connery's likeness and prefers his own, light approach. "Well, in Live and Let Die, I didn't do any of that because that was what Sean would do. My personality is entirely different than his," Moore says. "I'm not that cold- blooded killer Sean can do so well. Which is why I play it for laughs."

The violence of the Bond films doesn't clash with Moore's light approach.

"We have very little brutality in Bond. As Cubby once said, we are sadism for the family."

"We don't have slow motion blood spurting out of people. In fact, we rarely see any blood in a Bond film at all," Moore says, "except when I miss-time my stunts and put my hand through a plate-glass window, as I did in A View to a Kill. Then there's blood all over the place."

That's just one of the dangers of playing a sexy superspy. Another is boredom. Sometimes playing Bond can be "a drag. Some days they are fun to do and some days they aren't."

"Sometimes I get fed up hanging around for scenes when I have relatively little to do. I've pass the time with Time's cross word puzzle, Scrabble or Backgammon games with Cubby," he says. "The days I enjoy most are the days when I have something to do. If you read the scripts, you'll find that I have very little to say. Lots of action but not much dialogue."

When he's not making a movie, he returns home to Gstaad Switzerland, where he lives with his third wife Luisa Mattioli, whom he has been with for over twenty years, and their three children Deborah 21, Geoffrey 18, and Christian 11.

Moore was born in the South London suburb of Stockwell. His father was a policeman and amatuer magician, talents Moore would later incorporate, albeit to an exaggerated degree, in Simon Templar and James Bond. His first job was as a cartoonist, "though I wasn't very good." He was right. Moore was fired and found work as a extra in films. Eventually, Moore got into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and graduated with a degree "and an Equity card that said I was an actor. I still don't believe it -- and nobody else does either."

After toiling, largely unnoticed, in films like Caesar and Cleopatra, The King's Thief and Diane, he migrated to America and was put to work on the television production line. He became a familiar guest-star in several Warner Brothers' series before landing starring roles in such series as The Alaskans, Ivanhoe, and Maverick.

Everyone knows Moore for his later heroic characterizations but few remember him as Beau Maverick, the British conman who rode the west for one season in the classic series Maverick. When James Garner left his Bret Maverick role in a contract dispute, Moore replaced him.

"The original story of Beau Maverick was told very briefly but would have been a great, funny episode. It would all be about how he ended up sounding English," Moore recalls. "He was a prisoner in the Civil War and was playing poker with the General who captured him. So, Maverick is sitting there playing with the General and the other staff officers when, just at the moment that the General throws his cards down and says 'I give up, Maverick,' the good guys burst into the tent. So, the army thinks Beau has captured these guys. Beau becomes a hero and that is a disgraceful thing for a Maverick to do so Pappy ships him off to England."

Moore left the popular series after only one season. "I was not served well, I'm afraid, with the Maverick scripts when I was on the show. They were tired scripts by the time I got them. They blurred in my mind while I was doing them. I was suspended by Warners because I refused to do them. Jack Warner called me in for a meeting. I sent word back that I was sick and in Las Vegas doing therapy for my fingers at the crap tables."

"Eventually, I went in to talk. I didn't think my scripts were any good. So, so they promised that they would tailor them the way I felt they should be," he continues. "They didn't, so I left. If I had scripts like Marion Hargrove (he did Gunshy, the episode that spoofed Gunsmoke, among others) used to write for the show, I would have stuck around."

Instead, he went off to England and starred in The Saint, a television series based on Leslie Charteris' internationally successful books chronicling the adventures of a rogue hero. After saving hundreds of lives during his years as The Saint and a few more, with co-star Tony Curtis' help, on The Persuaders he graduated to James Bond and saved the world six times.

In A View to a Kill, Bond once again battles a megalomaniac bent on a scheme that will kill millions and fatten his checking account. Even after seven films with a similar plot, Moore hasn't grown weary of the familiar plot, nor does he think audiences have. "How else could you do it differently? That is the formula. Bond has to combat something," Moore says. "The more evil the villains are the better it is, the more the audience roots for 007."

Though, Moore admits, he'd like to play the villain for a change. "They are the best parts."

He has no doubt Bond will continue if, and when, he leaves it. "And that actor will have his own interpretation." Will someone else be getting that chance soon?

"I always say this is going to be the final one. Why should I change my dialogue now?" Moore replies.

"I think my wife, Luisa, would like me to hand in my license to kill and move on to something more dramatic. I'm sure she'd like to see me win an Oscar. She obviously has ideas above my station. This isn't to imply that Bond isn't serious stuff -- with a $30 million budget, how much more serious can you get?

Above : Lee Goldberg, who interviewed Roger Moore about his last 007 adventure back in 1985.

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MI6 "A View to a Kill" Coverage

Interview republished courtesy of Lee Goldberg, images courtesy of Amazon associates and