MI6 caught up with Lynn Holly Johnson to talk about
her varied career and her role as Bibi Dahl in the
1981 film "For You Eyes Only"
Lynn Holly Johnson Interview
14th August 2007
MI6 caught up with Lynn Holly Johnson recently to talk about
her career and her role as Bibi Dahl in the 1981 James Bond film
"For Your Eyes Only"...
How did you get started in the acting world?
Were you inspired by any actresses, and if so who?
I had a lucky start and it was before I had the chance to be influenced by
an actor or actress. I was a Chicago model as a kid. I did numerous commercials
and industrial films and by age 12 I was more involved in skating – I
became a competitive figure skater. I ended up missing auditions and skating
really became my focus.
So I put acting aside until I was on tour with the ‘Ice-Capades’.
After my competitive figure skating career I was contacted
by Columbia Pictures about this movie they wanted to do
about a skater. It was kind of my lucky break because I
had everything that this character had: I was from the
Mid West and I was a competitive figure skater. The director
badly wanted me for the role and constantly fought with
the studios, who wanted to hire a well known actress, then
have the figure skating dubbed in. So the director got
me the role and one movie led to another and I ended up
being lucky enough to work with Roger Moore.
That only happened because Cubby
Broccoli had seen ‘Ice Castles’ and
really like me in it. So, once again, I was very lucky because
he decided to write this character in for James Bond to go after.
The role of Bibi Dahl was not an Ian Fleming character. So that’s
really how I fell into the business before I got a chance to
be moved by a single actor or actress.
Before you made your feature debut in your first film, you were
a medal wining figure skater and accomplished skier, how did
this help your transition from athlete to actress?
Well, the acting I did as a kid – I never really thought about. I was having
so much fun doing it. As a kid you never really think about it or that much of
the future. So I never really thought about when my mum would pick me up from
school and I would go to a modeling job or an acting job in some little independent
movie or industrial film and I never really thought I going to do this when I
grew up. It never really crossed my mind. I was just a kid and it was a day-to-day
When I was about 12 and skating became
much more of the focus – even though I was skating
form age 5 on, I still never really thought, ‘what
do I want to do or be when I grow up?’ Oh, I never
really thought ‘oh! I’m quitting one career
and starting another.’ All that stuff doesn’t
cross your mind as a little kid. You’re like, ‘we’ll
just have fun today and just have fun tomorrow and beyond
that I don’t know what.’
So I was training very hard to be a competitive figure
skater and doing very well – I was second in the
country in 1974. The following year I broke my leg and
I was out for the entire year. That’s when I moved
to California and started training with John Nicks in Santa
Monica. He was world famous as a coach. It was at that
rink the director and the producer from Columbia Pictures
were looking at skaters, and figuring out how they were
going to do the movie. That’s how my name came up
because I had trained at that rink and it was really, really
lucky because if I hadn’t moved out here from Chicago,
my name probably wouldn’t have been in the running
for that picture.
The funny thing about it, which always surprised me, is that
when I graduated from eighth-grade, before high school, they
each kid with a school yearbook. The people that were putting
pieces of the year book together about whose most likely to
what will they do and in the future. I don’t ever remember
having any thoughts about that, but I do remember reading in the
yearbook it said that, ‘Lynn Holly Johnson will be doing
a movie on the ice’. I thought that that was so funny that
they just kind of combined my two passions in eighth-grade and
then there it was, by the time I was 17, that’s exactly
what I was doing.
"For Your Eyes Only" featured
some great skiing sequences. Can you tell us about how these
where filmed? How much of your
athletic skills did you use in shooting the film?
I was lucky in that my parents were very athletic and they always had us out
skiing from when we were really little – and other sports. I did know how
to ski very well and that made Cubby Broccoli happy. We had a ball working in
Cortina, doing the skiing sequences. I was in Cortina on location for around
5 or 6 weeks and on the days that I wasn’t working, my sister and I were
up on the Dolomites, just skiing the day away with a fine Italian ski instructor
who was quite handsome. We just had great fun skiing, four days a week.
Because I wasn’t working all that much
in Cortina I would go and practice skating – for a while
there, they had a lack of snow even though I believe it was February.
would be times when there wasn’t any snow down low and
there was only snow way up high. European resorts are not like
the American resorts, where everything is well organised and
very simple. Skiing in Europe is much more rugged, much more
exciting, a much greater challenge and really fun. Anyway, they
don't have it all spelled out for you when they run out of snow
at the bottom of the slope and they don’t have a chair
to get you up or down all the way.
So I would hop on the back of Roger's stunt
double, Wolfe Junginger, and we'd ski down through the
grass, where the
snow had already melted. He was such a phenomenal skier – I
would just be holding on for dear life while he went down
on the grass, in and out of the trees, it was really quite
a thrill. They were amazing people to work with: Willy Bogner
and his whole team, shooting the entire second unit skiing,
tatoboggan and motorcycles sequences. They were a blast.
Do you have any other special memories
of your role in “For
Your Eyes Only”?
One of the best parts is that many years later I still get to talk about Bond
and at the time of the role I had no idea it would go on and on and on. I mean
Bond really does live forever and it's wonderful to still be able to talk about
this. Every time I do an interview it brings up certain memories that I am just
so fond of and I wish I could remember every single day on location, with all
those terrific people.
So many of the crew have worked together on the previous Bonds
and it makes for a really wonderful team because they know how
to make the picture right. They know what works, they know how
to work with each other and it makes it really special, it's
a family and I've never had that feeling working on the a set
Working with Roger is a wonderful memory he was so fun and genuine
and such a charismatic wonderful guy. He wasn't arrogant. He
was having a ball – he was so fun playing Bond and getting
on with everybody. My sister was with me the whole time as my
chaperone and he treated the both of us like gold. He was a wonderful
The Royal Premiere is a great memory to standing there with
Roger, Topol and Cubby, meeting Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
That was quite an evening. It was really a ball.
Roger was always playing practical jokes
on set. Can you share a few of them?
There's a few lascivious jokes that I'd rather not repeat. Just let you know
that he is hysterical and unbelievably clever. You just never know what he
was going to say. I can't repeat some of the things. I'll just have to leave
it at that – he’s a ball to work with.
I always thought it was
funny, the little bits of frustration that would build up between the writer
and the director and the producer because it would always take Roger five
takes before he would say the scripted line. He always
had something clever or fun
When we did the scene when I was in Roger's bed, it was
shot right before Christmas. My parents had come over to
England to spend Christmas with my sister and I. It worked
out perfect because I would not normally consider taking
my parents to the set – it's a huge no, no. How do
you concentrate on what you're doing?
This was integral to my performance because I was supposed to
be this character who decided on getting into James Bond's bed
and inviting him in. The character is meant to be completely
childish and silly and you know having my parents there just
made me giggle, and Roger kept saying things like ‘I would
jump in the sack but your parents are here’ with my parents
there. So it was a riotous day, I have to say.
What was it like working with the director John Glen?
fantastic to work with a director who had already been an editor
on some of the previous Bond's. It was neat to watch his face
while directing, because
you could see in his eyes that he was already cutting it together.
He knew exactly how it needed to be. It's like working backwards,
having been the editor and now being the director.
So he was doing this puzzle in his mind and it was really interesting
to watch. He knew exactly what shots angles he needed. I've never
worked with a director who’s been an editor already, on
the same type of movie. So that was really quite an experience – and
his personality, he is a lovely fellow. I would have worked with
him every day. He was brilliant! He was very kind and an excellent
director. He really kind of set me right on the path I was supposed
to be on.
You were 22 years old
when you got the role, not that much younger then latest
bond girl Eva Green.
What were your impressions of the James Bond phenomenon?
Well it's funny you know, when I was cast as a 20-year-old I kind of played more
of a 16-year-old. Isn't that funny how the times have changed? I was cast as
a very, very young Bond girl and that was kind of the whole deal, is he going
to get involved with this girl so much younger?
Here we are 25 years later and girls that Bond does go
after are exactly the same age that I was. So you know
times have changed definitely. But the world is changing
and it's completely accepted. I think the Bond is played
younger and so it's not such a disparity in age. I'm not
saying that Roger was old when I worked with him but certainly
everyone knew he was playing an older character, which
made the difference in age very interesting.
I would love to have seen Roger go on and on and on – he
was terrific. So many people that I talk to realise I was in ‘For
Your Eyes Only’ and rave about Roger, and just want to
know how he's doing. Just seems like Roger should have been still
working in the Bonds today, working as someone such as M or Q
or someone like
that. People sensed that he was fun.
In 1979 you were nominated for a Golden
Globe, “New Star
of the Year” award, how did it feel being nominated for
such a prestigious award?
Your last film was “The Criminal Mind” in 1996,
do you still intend to pursue your acting career? Can you tell
us if we will be seeing you in anything in the near future?
I was in England at that time working
with Betty Davies in ‘Watcher
in the Woods’. So it would have been different if I were
in the US and being nominated, because there's always all the
more hullabaloo have that kind of stuff here in L.A. It was very
cool! I just couldn't believe it – you know,
to be up against Bette Middler who was quite a name already,
it was a thrill. I flew home just for the event. The Golden Globe
is a different set to the Oscars because it's a dinner party
and you are seated at tables with 8 or 10 others. I sat there
at a table with Jane Fonda and Marsha Mason and Neil Simon and
it was quite an unbelievable evening. The public is more in tune
to the Golden Globe now. It was very fun I didn't care at all
whether I won or lost, it was just about the event itself and
being there. I'd don't believe my life would have been any different
today if had I won.
I’m working with a production company right now where
I'm directing independent shorts. I'm trying to hone my skills
as a director on these little short movies and I'm having a ball.
They're letting the rights so I'm kind of dabbling in the business
on a very small scale. But that's fine, because I have a family
and they are the priority and I get to do these little projects.
It's very fun.
Being a mum I love doing all of this, creating
a home for this family, but I kind of miss out on the creativity
of the acting
business. So in the past couple of months I've started working
with these people and it's been very interesting. I've spent
the last three years sailboat racing and have been two-time national
champion, so I've been very busy. Right now
I’m being creative with film. I've been teaching some acting
classes and have been a guest speaker at acting seminars.
Your Eyes Only
Thanks to Lynn Holly Johnson.