MI6 uncovers a rarely seen interview with one-time
James Bond actor George Lazenby and director Peter
Hunt discussing "On Her Majesty's
The Forgotten Bond
20th September 2007
Broadcast on Dutch television in November 2002,
a special edition of "Andere Tijden" interviewed director
Peter Hunt and one-time James Bond actor George Lazenby about the
1969 outing "On
Her Majesty's Secret Service". Filmed shortly before he
passed away in August 2002, Peter Hunt responds to the long running
stories surrounding the production, whilst George Lazenby puts
his account of events on the record.
A Change of Direction
Hunt: I went through this film with a copy of the paperback book
in my left hand the whole time, and I continually referred
back to the book. I'm pleased that a number of people have
since said 'that's what's so great about it, you followed the
book'. And I did. Mainly because it's such a good story, and
such a good book. That's why it's the best Bond film [laughs].
Fleming wrote the books in the 1950s and the war had only
been over for a short number of years. We were just getting
over rationing, so we were coming out of that era and the
young people of the day were beginning to wear suits with
nice ties and nice shirts. All the young people going to
work on the train, or coming home, read books in order
to give themselves some imaginative release.
I wanted to make something that was a
very good story with relationships, and wasn't just chases
and - what we have come to know as - James Bond tricks.
I wanted a central relationship, and O.H.M.S.S. had that.
Above: Director Peter Hunt in 2002
The New Bond.
The Different 007
Hunt: George was a commercial artist and he'd done a very popular
Big Fry's chocolate advert, carrying a big box of chocolate,
but he looked very good.
Above: George Lazenby in 2002
Lazenby: I was an Australian rascal, running
around London having a good time. I decided to stay because
I broke in
to the modeling business by selling a car to a photographer
when I was a car salesman. He took some pictures of me,
and by chance, a very good photographer picked up on them
and gave me a job and I was famous overnight.
Hunt: We wanted someone with the sexual power or prominence
of Sean. A very presentable young man. Of course, we would
never get another Sean Connery because there is only one,
but we could get near it.
Lazenby: I went to a barber that Sean Connery went to, and I
said 'cut my hair like Sean Connery'. Then I found out where
he had his suits made, so I went there and found one he hadn't
picked up. I had slightly longer arms, but I had the suit, the
watch, the haircut!
Hunt: We saw hundreds of young actors of possible
stature and background for the part, as if you were casting for
part. Then we tested those who we thought might work. It was
the only way to do it.
Lazenby: There was all sorts of physical stuff for the screentest...
Rolling around in the grass with Patsy, doing a love scene, swimming
in a pool. I was a great swimmer so I dived in one end and came
up the other - then they said 'for god sake stay above the water
so we can see you!' So I swam up and down and then he had me
jumping fences like a high jump at school. They wanted me to
ride a horse, so I did it bear-back until the horse ran out of
steam. It was no big deal.
Hunt: I did a total of two or three weeks
of testing with George. Then I personally cut together
the scenes I had
shot with him - some with girls, some with fights, all
sorts - to see how he worked on screen. When it came
down to looking at all the various people, he was the number
one choice in the end.
Lazenby: I was very surprised because I had never acted
before, or spoken in front of a camera in my life. I had
a very Australian accent and I had never tried to change
it, and so I talked like a lad from the bush.
Hunt: Well that was one of the problems. It was a difficulty.
So we sent him to a wonderful speech trainer.
Lazenby: It took me a while to get it, but she had me laying
on the floor with a match in my mouth to hold it open while
she put her foot on my stomach to get the right accent. It
was quite fun!
Hunt: What are the strong points of George
in the role? Well I think it's that he's a good straight-up
guy... he was very handsome. He moved very well. When he
walks in to that casino, he moves extremely well and your
eye is drawn straight to him.
Bonding With The Leading Lady
Lazenby: I was quite happy with Diana Rigg as my co-star. She was a great actress
and beautiful and I thought it was wonderful to be working with an experienced
actress. I was dumb enough not to be intimidated by her classical training.
I was arrogant enough that I felt that I was as good as they were.
Hunt: She was the one who made it all work, especially in the
barn scene and the proposal. She was able to make him comfortable
and bring his performance out. She was a true professional and
her stage craft made that whole thing believable. She was wonderful.
Lazenby: The script told me that at the end
it shows he was in love. Now how can a man who is not sensitive
fall in love? With
all due respect, Connery's Bond used women as shields, or just
to satisfy himself - love 'em and leave 'em. I had to get hooked
by a women. So to go from a cold Connery-type to being Bond in
love was tough. I thought I'd start out being a little more open,
a bit more emotional, and that would make it easier for the character
to fall in love later in the film.
Hunt: At the end of one day location scouting, after having looked around, we
were having a drink at the bar and my production manager came over to me and
said, 'I've just been on the phone to a friend of mine who's in Murren and
they're building this great ski resort'. It sounded like just what we were
for. I couldn't believe it. We were going to be elsewhere that dau so I sent
him to look at it and told him to call us if it seemed like it might work.
came when we found Piz Gloria. It was written by Fleming such that it was almost
like that place had been specially built for us.
Frissons & Friction
Hunt: Once we started shooting I didn't have a lot of contact with George, just
the normal amount for a film. He got sulky once or twice and used to sit in
his caravan and say 'nobody loves me' and that sort of thing. He got very insecure
at times. There were times when you had to love him and times when you had
to say 'come on George, come on the studio floor and look at what we're doing
because I can't be with you in your caravan when I'm supposed to be here making
this in to a good film'.
Lazenby: Well the working relationship with Peter was
unfortunate. We were on a big set and there was a camera
dolly with lots of wires being moved around, and he had
three of his friends over. Peter wasn't on the set and
his first assistant Frank said 'jeez, these people are
getting in everyone's way'. He asked me to say 'if anyone
who is not needed is on the set, will you please clear
it'. He didn't want to upset Peter so I said it. I didn't
know who I was clearing, so I just said 'anyone who is
not needed on the set please clear'. Next thing I know,
Peter's not talking to me.
Hunt: No, no, that's not true. He never
cleared the set. He couldn't have cleared the set, it wasn't
to do so.
Lazenby: Nobody could get us together. I tried asking
him what was wrong and he said 'mumble mumble, leave me
alone'. From then on, anything that was said between Peter
and I was handed down from his assistant to me. If I threw
a party, he wouldn't come. If he knew I was going to be
somewhere, he wouldn't go there. It lasted until the film
Above: Peter Hunt at Piz Gloria during
location shooting for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
Hunt: No, that couldn't possibly be. How could we work together
if we weren't talking to each other? No, there was never a problem
like that. He has very fanciful ideas, but it's not true. I think
he would have liked for me to be with him a lot more and hold
his hand, but I couldn't, I was too busy doing my film.
Lazenby: One time, we were on location at an ice rink
and Diana and Peter were drinking champagne inside. Of
course I wasn't invited as Peter was there. I could see
them through the window, but the crew were all outside
stomping around on the ice trying to keep warm. So, when
she got in the car, I went for her. She couldn't drive
the car properly and I got in to her about her drinking
and things like that. Then she jumped out and started shouting
'he's attacking me in the car!' I called her a so-and-so
for not considering the crew who were freezing their butts
off outside. And it wasn't that at all in the end, as she
was sick that night, and I was at fault for getting in
to her about it. I think everyone gets upset at one time.
We Have All The Time In The World
Hunt: For the scene when she gets shot, we're
in Portugal on location, and I've got an non-actor who has got
to break down. It worried me
because I wondered how is George ever going to do this. I brought
him out to the set very early on, and I said to him that this
was a very important scene, this is the last scene in the film
and I want you to really think about it. I want you to go through
it in your own mind and I really want you to be here.
Lazenby: He told everyone to keep away from me. He said 'the
more alone he is, the better he is'.
Hunt: And he was wonderful. He was absolutely
wonderful. He did it beautifully. I was delighted, it was
That was an illustration of if you do something a bit mean,
it can make him shine, to his benefit and to the film's
Lazenby: I got two takes at the last scene because for
the first one I cried and tears came out. Then they said,
'no tears, James Bond doesn't cry'. So the second take
wasn't as strong, but he used it.
Hunt: I don't think I did. That's his
version of what happened. I used the first take. But I'm
not so sure that
we wanted James Bond to actually cry. Nowadays, maybe it
would have worked. The second take I did only as a cover
because he was so good in the first take. Now in his mind,
he did think he cried because it showed through. It didn't
have to have pails of water. But it came through. If you
look at that scene you'll see he's very upset and emotional
about it - as he should be. It's wonderful and it's rather
stunning. The only complaints I get are 'why did you want
to end a James Bond film like that?' I wanted to end with
the bullet hole to make an impact, to make a shock, and
to not have it all fun and games.
Lazenby: I don't do anything to do with James Bond without getting paid for it.
I made that decision in my head because I've paid for it. I've had to live
my life as the one-time James Bond after the film, and it's a costly thing.
It's a constant job. I can hear people as I walk past saying 'look', 'who's
that', 'he's that guy that was in Tarzan, no, Star Trek, no, he was that James
Bond guy'. It's just a fuzz throughout life.
Hunt: They tried and put this whole idea out
there that the film wasn't very successful. It's not true at
all. It was
in its day. And of course since then, they've all gone on to
be even more successful. So, it's very difficult to asses, but
it wasn't a dud film.
Her Majesty's Secret Service - Movie Coverage