By Heaven Above Me
25th June 2018
Authors Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury discuss the new MI6 Confidential special 'Remembering Roger Moore'
By MI6 Staff
As James Bond historians how did you want to celebrate Sir Roger's Moore's tenure as 007 when asked to curate this special edition of MI6 Confidential?
Matthew: As James Bond journalists Ajay and I are always looking to present enduring and original material to fans. We hit upon the idea of commemorating Sir Roger Moore’s journey as 007 through the voices of as many actors as we could possibly find who had shared screen time with him.
Ajay: When Matthew and I wrote Some Kind of Hero we drew from a vast archive of interviews, broadcast and print material, so we knew a lot of the stories out there. What we hoped to do was delve a little deeper and tap tales never before told about Roger’s tenure as Bond, his technical and acting craft and his off-set antics. We believe the memories and anecdotes collected here present a moving and entertaining account of Sir Roger’s wonderful ambassadorship of Bond.
You have uncovered an amazing selection of individuals. Tell us about your research journey...
Matthew: Roger Moore was universally adored so nearly everyone we approached was enthused to share their memories with us. We were delighted that Christopher Walken shared his memories of spending Christmas 1984 with Roger and Grace Jones enjoyed reliving the x-rated prank she played on him!! Nadim Sawalha, (Fekkesh, The Spy Who Loved Me) recollected that Roger recited Shakespeare under the velvety Egyptian sky one night whilst Alkis Kritkos (Santos, For Your Eyes Only) amusingly recalled a hilarious gag that Roger played on Jill Bennett on the set of For Your Eyes Only. Many of these actors have long since retired so were very hard to find. We discovered Kubi Chaza – the Oh Cult voodoo shop girl from Live And Let Die - running a cosmetics company in Zimbabwe!
Ajay: We discovered that even those who only had minor roles brought an anecdote or an insight which presented a different side of Sir Roger that we had not considered before. Particularly revealing was Bob Dix (Hamilton, Live And Let Die), who regaled us with stories of his time with Roger as a Hollywood contract player early in their respective careers. Moore’s kindness and skill shown to then-upcoming actor, Charles Dance, (Claus, For Your Eyes Only) or Daniel Benzali’s (Mr Howe, A View To A Kill) tale of dinner at the Savoy with Roger and Billy Wilder were also enlightening.
What were your favourite and most surprising interviews?
Matthew: Yaphet Kotto (Kananga/Mr Big, Live And Let Die) paid tribute to Roger’s awareness of social issues. Julian Glover (Kristatos, For Your Eyes Only) remarked that beneath the humour, when it came time to shoot, Roger expected his co-stars to be fully prepared and did not tolerate unprofessionalism. Kabir Bedi (Gobinda, Octopussy) remembered Roger as a very deep and philosophical man with a social conscience which was evident in his UNICEF work later on.
Ajay: Sir Roger’s kindness and humility to the Bond women was heart-warming to hear, especially in the #MeToo climate. Tula (For Your Eyes Only) spoke of Roger’s sincere concern during the firestorm of press after it was revealed she was a transsexual. He would fetch coffee every morning for the Octopussy Swedes: Mary Stavin, Maud Adams, and Kristina Wayborn. Carole Ashby, (Dominique, A View to A Kill), remembered he helped her secure work in the US and Alison Doody, (Jenny Flex, A View To A Kill) was grateful for Roger giving her family advice. All of these memories painted a picture of a kind and good co-star.
How will fans remember Roger Moore’s tenure as James Bond?
Matthew: In a post-Daniel Craig era he will be remembered as the suave and debonair 007 with a solid dose of charm. However, there are scenes peppered amongst all seven of his Bonders, which showcase the skill of Roger Moore the actor. Note the intense moment when Mr Big reveals himself to be Dr Kananga in Live And Let Die or the drama in The Spy Who Loved Me when Bond informs Anya he killed her lover on the ski slopes in Austria. Moore showed a caring and gentle side in For Your Eyes Only where Bond persuades Melina not to seek revenge by killing Gonzales as they take a sleigh through the streets of Cortina, Italy. He meant business when dealing with General Orlov aboard Octopussy’s train and Moore’s performance in A View To A Kill when Zorin frames Bond for the murder of city hall worker, Mr Howe, is truly gritty. What about the moment 007 pulls himself from the centrifuge in Moonraker, hardly able to walk, a look of death on his face? None of these scenes were played with a raised eyebrow.
Ajay: Roger Moore had the unenviable task of following probably the most popular film characterisation in cinema history: Sean Connery as James Bond. Moore, a hugely underrated thespian, reinterpreted 007 as if it was a classic role. The Stockwell-born son of a policeman made his Bond very English, kept the ruthless streak but added the old-Etonian veneer and schoolboy charm. Live And Let Die carefully avoided some Connery-isms (Martinis, shaken not stirred, briefings in M’s office, demonstrations by Desmond Llewelyn’s Q, black tie), instead, it quickly established Roger’s own quirks as 007. He smoked cigars, was a fastidious and fashionable dresser, spoke fluent Italian (he met his then-wife, Luisa, in Rome), was domestically sophisticated and more sexually benign. Guy Hamilton, who directed both actors, insisted on that Bond walk, the movement of a jungle cat: watch 007 introduce himself, traversing Mr. Big’s office like a panther on the prowl.
How do you personally remember Sir Roger Moore?
Matthew: I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time in 2000 at an afternoon reception following a memorial service for Desmond Llewelyn. I remember standing in line as he exchanged stories with fellow Bond veteran Geoffrey Keen. Moore was exactly how I hoped my hero would be in person.
Ajay: He was some kind of hero for me: as a 6-year-old, it was my viewing of The Spy Who Loved Me which made me a Bond fan. His time as Bond and also his other adventure films (Shout At The Devil, The Wild Geese, The Sea Wolves etc.) represented my childhood years so it was unexpectedly moving to work on this piece with Matthew. In bringing his co-stars’ stories alive again, I felt that Sir Roger’s time as 007 will live with us forever and a day.
'Remembering Roger Moore' is now shipping worldwide. Click here to order from MI6 Confidential.
Matthew Field & Ajay Chowdhury are the authors of SOME KIND OF HERO: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films updated to include The Road To Bond 25 and a tribute to Sir Roger Moore to be published by The History Press in July 2018
Get Bond in Your Inbox
Sign up for occasional email updates from MI6. Get notified of breaking Bond news, and digests of recently releases features: