Connery, Craig: Who has been the best Bond?
It’s James Bond Day at the National Motor Museum in Hampshire, southern England. There’s a collection of vehicles from the 007 movies and driving sessions in Aston Martins, but the star attraction is a tanned 84-year-old with glasses, a blue suit and an attentive fourth wife at his shoulder.
Sir Roger Moore now looks like the father of the handsome actor the world remembers grappling with villains and trading come-ons with Bond girls in seven films, including The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Octopussy.
The occasion – the release of 50 years of Bond movies on Blu-ray – proves that if the legs are the first thing to go for ageing boxers, the hair and the wit are the last for veteran actors. So what’s it like for a leading man whose job was seducing every glamorous female who showed up in a scene, turning 80? ”I don’t think I was aware I was turning 80,” Moore says. ”I thought I’d turn 21.”
The inevitable gag gives way to a more thoughtful response: ”The only time you’re reminded you’ve turned 80 is that the knees don’t work quite as fast as they used to; that you look for the handrail going up and down the stairs.
”You don’t attempt to run after a bus – not that I ever did. You just stop and let the rest of the world go by.”
Next to him, Swedish socialite Kristina Tholstrup laughs at the idea her debonair husband has ever chased a bus in his life. It is hard to believe Moore finished playing James Bond more than 25 years ago. He shot seven movies, then stepped aside after looking like being eaten alive by Grace Jones in A View to a Kill.
Better known as a UNICEF ambassador than an actor in recent years, Moore believes there are two reasons the series has endured.
”One is that Bond is rather like a child’s bedtime story,” he says. ”It’s really the same plot – you don’t have to change that.
”The other reason is that the audience always get what they expect. They get the glamour, they get the locations, they get the gadgets, they get the cars [and] the glamorous leading ladies, of course.
”That’s all guaranteed. And I think the producers have never stinted in putting what budget there is up on screen. They show every dollar.”
While being cast as Bond sounds like a dream job for an actor, it also has a downside. ”The best of it is you know you’re going to be well-served, because they’ve got you and you’re their Bond and they’re going to do everything to make you look good,” Moore says. ”The worst is the aches and pains.”
From the stunts? ”No, chasing the girls.”
You wonder whether the role – a British icon who featured so brilliantly in the Olympic opening ceremony when Daniel Craig apparently parachuted into the stadium with the Queen – brings certain responsibilities or requires him to behave in a particular way.
”I’m not inclined to get drunk and fall down in the street or molest people,” Moore says, forgetting the number of times he pawed women in the movies. ”I’m not conscious of anything that I have to be.”
Asked whether any of the later Bond actors came to him for advice – possibly on the correct delivery of a bon mot or the timing of an eyebrow raise – Moore proves adept at self-deprecation.
”You’re joking,” he says with a smile. ”Why come to me? They only have to watch and they know what not to do.”
Moore was the first Bond for many contemporary fans. Arguably only Daniel Craig, who has taken the character into a grittier phase with Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and soon Skyfall, has been as popular since.
Was Moore the best Bond? ”Only in the eyes of my wife,” he bats back.
So what’s his favourite Bond movie?
”I can speak for my own,” he says. ”The Spy Who Loved Me I had the most fun doing. For me, fun is the important thing. Apart from getting paid.”
Does he feel weary talking about Bond after all these years? ”Had I known, I would have asked for more money,” he says. ”It doesn’t worry me at all.”
Does he have any remaining acting ambitions? ”My ambitions,” Moore says royally, ”don’t go beyond hoping that I won’t fall over when I get out of bed.”
Bond 50 is out on Blu-ray now. Skyfall is out on November 22.
Garry Maddox travelled to Britain courtesy of VisitBritain and 20th Century Fox.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.