As dry as a Martini, Roger Moore's witty verdict on the latest Bond: 'Daniel's a lean killer. I drank bubbly and had poofy woofy hair'
23:53 GMT, 25 October 2012
The old-fashioned hotel that Sir Roger Moore likes to stay in when in London smells of oak and cigars and could be a set from an Eighties James Bond movie.
Sir Roger appears in his classic navy blazer with gold buttons, the same sort he’s worn for decades, even as Bond. It’s a very different look from the Bond portrayed by Daniel Craig in the new movie Skyfall, out today.
‘I could never have been like Daniel, who has muscles on muscles on muscles,’ says Moore, now 85. His seventh and last outing as Bond was in A View To A Kill when he was 57.
Double agents: Daniel Craig as Bond in Skyfall, left, and Roger Moore, right, in his last Bond film A View To Kill with Tanya Roberts in 1985
Ladies man: Roger Moore, pictured as James Bond in the 1973 film Live And Let Die, didn't ever undertake any diet or fitness regimes to get into shape for his movies
‘I think I was a little overweight because I’d been drinking too much champagne. Once you have led a louche life you are never in good condition. I’ve never had a washboard stomach, I just held it in scene by scene.
‘There was no diet or fitness regime established by the actors who had played Bond before, or not that I know of. It was suggested it wouldn’t hurt if I lost a little weight, and they thought my hair was a bit poofy woofy.
‘While we were filming, I would live my normal life, just try not to eat sweet creamy things. Every morning I would always do 45 minutes of exercise — side bends, twists, sit-ups.’
All very different from Craig’s Bond, he says. ‘I played Bond as a lover. Daniel does it as a killer. He has the best physique of any of us 007s, and he’s the best actor, too. I used to think that Sean Connery was the most obvious choice, but Daniel is better than any of us, and I hope he will reign for many more Bond adventures.’
Still part of the franchise: Sir Roger Moore pictured with a copy of his new book Bond On Bond nearly 30 years after his last film
Moore says he’s happy to leave all that action-man stuff ‘to a younger and fitter man’.
He tells me that he developed a bad back three years ago, and that was only the start of his problems. ‘So I stopping doing sit-ups, and now my knees have packed in,’ he says.
‘I love skiing, but had to retire from it because snowboarders were bumping into me.’
Unique view: Roger Moore gives his own take on the franchise in his new book Bond on Bond: Reflections on 50 Years of James Bond Movies
He still looks great for his age however. ‘I went to see Paul McKenna and he helped me stop eating bread. He asked me what taste I hated most in the world and I said coriander makes me feel ill, so he told me to pinch myself and think of coriander whenever I’m tempted.’
Although it’s nearly 30 years since Moore last played Bond, it’s still part of his life. To coincide with Skyfall and 50 years of Bond on-screen, he’s written a book about the films with a wit as dry as the martinis Bond drinks.
Moore’s Bond never took himself seriously, and was the funniest. ‘That’s because I’m an idiot,’ he says.
He has had a lifelong habit of putting himself down, he says. ‘Years ago, my agent said: “You have to stop saying these things about yourself because people will believe it.” And I said: “Well, it’s bloody true”.’
He had come to Bond after years as TV’s Simon Templar in The Saint and Lord Brett Sinclair with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders. Some actors would have been daunted about taking on the role of Bond after Connery, but he wasn’t.
‘No, I had no insecurities,’ he says. ‘I’d been acting since 1944 and I was an experienced technician.’
Being such a handsome man could also have been a disadvantage as an actor. ‘People are always suspicious, like they are of a pretty girl,’ he agrees.
Of course, Bond girls were gorgeous but it was always said that although they were hired for their looks, they could all act. Moore demurs. ‘One or two, but I wouldn’t go that far.’
The chapter on Bond girls in his book discusses how being one was an accolade. Film producer Cubby Broccoli, founder of the Bond franchise, was always ‘a breast man’, so often they were very well endowed.
Playing Bond as a lover: Roger Moore in A View To A Kill alongside Fiona Fullerton
Muscle man: Roger Moore believes Daniel Craig – pictured in the 2006 movie Casino Royale – has the best physique of all the Bonds
Moore’s Bond Girls have included Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Barbara Bach, Jane Seymour, Grace Jones, Mary Stavin, Fiona Fullerton and Tanya Roberts. There were usually three per movie.
‘The one who goes to bed with Bond in the first two reels is going to die,’ he reflects. ‘The second is usually a villain and is also going to die. The third you are not quite sure what is going to happen to her. If she marries him she dies; otherwise she remains helping Bond to keep the British end up. Poor old Bond, he’s not doing it on Viagra. He doesn’t have to. A new partner always helps.’
Madeline Smith, who played the Italian agent who seduced James Bond in Live And Let Die, and whose dress he unzipped with his magnetic watch, has said Moore’s then wife, Luisa Mattioli, insisted on being on set when he played a bedroom scene.
‘She wasn’t actually there, but she would say: “I know it’s your job. Just don’t enjoy it,”’ he reveals.
Past Bonds: Roger Moore took on the mantel from Sean Connery pictured above in Goldfinger in 1964
‘My darling wife Kristina [they married in 2002] says that now she wants to see the Bond films. She’s never seen them before. In fact she only recently found out I was an actor. I use the word loosely, of course.’
Moore brought charm to Bond, as opposed to brawn, and he took none of it seriously.
You get the impression that in real life he was always naughty but never a bad boy, although he does seem to have had a liking for women with violent tempers.
Legend: Roger Moore in the 1983 film Octopussy
His first wife, ice skater Doorn Van Steyn, threw all his clothes into a bath of hot water. His second, singer Dorothy Squires, who was 13 years his senior, smashed his guitar over his head.
‘Quite rightly so. I was a pain in the backside,’ he says. ‘I refuse to argue and that hacks wives off. I’m a Libran, very well balanced, good looking — and modest.’
His relationship with Squires ended badly, but when she later became ill with cancer, he paid for all her medical treatment. He went on to marry Luisa, with whom he had his three children, Geoffrey, Deborah and Christian before they divorced in 1996.
During his years as Bond he couldn’t pass a bar without being served a dry martini. ‘But my favourite drink is a Sancerre,’ he says raising a toast.
He officially retired from acting two years ago, but still keeps his hand in. ‘My son Geoffrey is involved in film finance and is hoping The Saint will be revived. I will not play the Saint but I will be in it. I might be the father of the Saint or the grandmother!
‘You won’t know whether he’s a hero or a villain. I’m an ambiguous b****r.’
He loved writing his book and remembering old friends, particularly Lois Maxwell, who played Miss Moneypenny. ‘We were in the same class at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and sadly she’s not with us any more,’ he says. ‘And Desmond Llewellyn (Q) was killed in a car smash. Such a lovely, sweet man.’
Sir Roger seems a little choked, coughing on his Sancerre. In the absence of water he downs the rest of the glass, smiles — and toasts once more.
Bond On Bond by Roger Moore, published by Michael O’Mara Books, is out now.