MI6 uncovers a rarely seen interview with one-time James Bond actor George Lazenby and director Peter Hunt discussing "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"...

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 gimmicks 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 an ordinary 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 awesome looking 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.


Location Hunt
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 looking 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. Luck 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 his prerogative 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 finished.


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 marvelous. 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 benefit.

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, I hope 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.


The Legacy
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 very successful 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.

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