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Bond and beyond: The top characters played by Sir Roger Moore

British acting legend Sir Roger Moore died on May 23 at the age of 89. While he is best remembered for the James Bond films he starred in, there was much more to Moore. Here is a look at the 12 films that defined his career.

hollywood Updated: May 24, 2017 12:04 IST
Roger Moore
Roger Moore in a scene from Octopussy, parts of which were shot in India.

In his decades-long career as an actor, Sir Roger Moore, who died at 89 on May 23, 2017, appeared in a variety of roles. Most of these were overshadowed by the character of “Bond, James Bond” aka Agent 007, which he played in seven films. Moore’s portrayal of the character was less brawny than that of Sean Connery, almost as suave as that of Pierce Brosnan, and nowhere nearly as grim as that of Daniel Craig. Like every other actor who played Bond, Moore brought something unique to the role — in his case, it may be described as a natural wit and a kind of man-about-town panache.

While few remember what he did before and after the James Bond series, Moore did play some iconic characters, e.g. he played the master thief Simon Templar or The Saint, in the 1960s television series of the same name, aired in Britain; and the titular role in Sherlock Holmes in New York, a made-for-television 1976 film broadcast in America, with Patrick Macnee playing his friend John Watson.

One of Moore’s most famous non-Bond films was the 1981 cross-country car race movie, The Cannonball Run, panned by some critics but a major commercial success. In the 1983 Curse of the Pink Panther, his excellent comic timing brought alive the character of the inept inspector Jacques Clouseau.

Here is a look at the roles that were significant in Sir Roger Moore’s career.

The Saint (1962-1969)

Roger Moore and Kenneth J. Warren in The Saint.

In this TV series based on the character created by Leslie Charteris, Moore played Simon Templar, a wealthy adventurer and master thief known as The Saint. He travels the world in his white Volvo P1800S. Trivia: Roger Moore said that when filming scenes that were supposed to be in countries where they drove on the other side of the road, the film team would simply flip the film in the camera.

Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore and Jane Seymour in Live and Let Die.

James Bond’s mission is to stop an organised narcotics dealer who turns out to be a brilliant adversary. Trivia: The previous Bond actor, Sean Connery, turned down an offer of $5.5 million to act in this film. Connery later called Moore “an ideal Bond”. Moore wrote a production diary, from the first day to the last, which he titled ‘Roger Moore as James Bond 007: Live and Let Die’. It was published as a paperback novel in 1973.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Roger Moore in the famous boat chase scene.

Bond is led to believe that he is targeted by one of the world’s most expensive assassins. Trivia: In his autobiography, Moore said that when they were filming the boat chase, he fell into the water twice — the first time was on purpose, the second was by accident. At the time of the second fall, Moore opened his eyes under water, and saw what the local undertakers did with the dead bodies of the less privileged.

Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)

Roger Moore and Charlotte Rampling in Sherlock Holmes in New York.

This mystery movie shows Holmes (Roger Moore) pursuing his arch enemy Moriarty to New York. Trivia: In his memoir, Moore mentions that he called up actor Oliver Reed and offered him the role of Moriarty. Reed turned down the role, because many years ago, Moore had made a critical remark about Reed’s acting ability.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Roger Moore and Barbara Bach when shooting for The Spy Who Loved Me.

Bond is sent to investigate the hijacking of British and Russian submarines, which were carrying nuclear warheads. He takes the help of a KGB agent, whose lover he killed. Trivia: By the time this film was made, the James Bond franchise was the most lucrative in the world, and many car manufacturers wanted their products featured. Don McLaughlin, Public Relations Manager of Lotus, turned up at the studio one day, driving a brand new unreleased Lotus Esprit, with all identifying names covered up. He parked it outside the Bond set, knowing that the producers would see it when they broke for lunch. As he had expected, the producers were desperate to discover what the car was and it was later chosen for the film.

The Wild Geese (1978)

Roger Moore as a British mercenary.

This film brought together some heavyweights of Hollywood. Stewart Granger played a British banker who hires a group of mercenaries, played by Moore, Richard Harris and Richard Burton, to rescue the imprisoned president of a Central African state. Trivia: Roger Moore, who played Lt Shawn Fynn, requested to have fewer lines in his scenes with Burton and Harris. This kind of request was almost unheard of from a major star. When inquired about this request, he replied, “You don’t seriously expect me to act against these guys?”

Moonraker (1979)

Roger Moore with Jaws, played by actor Richard Kiel, standing behind him.

Bond goes to space, and is finally saved by Jaws, the villain’s henchman who has a change of heart. Trivia: Jaws is the only time a sidekick villain or henchman has ever returned in a James Bond movie. The character of Jaws first appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me.

The Cannonball Run (1981)

Roger Moore and Lois Hamilton in The Cannonball Run.

A variety of competitors participate in an illegal cross-country road race in this film. Moore played one of the daring drivers along with Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise, Peter Fonda, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and (a young) Jackie Chan. Trivia: Jackie Chan, who played the role of a Subaru driver, made one of his first appearances in an American film in this. Inspired by Hal Needham’s notion of including bloopers during the closing credits, Chan began the tradition of doing the same in most of his films from this point.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

A scene from the film.

Bond hunts for a lost British encryption device and prevents it from falling into enemy hands. Trivia: This is the first and only Bond film not to feature the M character. Bernard Lee, who had played M in the previous 11 films, died of stomach cancer on January 16, 1981, after filming for this movie started but before his scenes could be shot.

Octopussy (1983)

Ace tennis player Vijay Amritraj with Roger Moore in Octopussy.

Bond uncovers an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy. Trivia: This film has a strong India connect, as it was shot in Jaipur, and tennis player Vijay Amritraj played a cabbie who takes Bond through a congested street. It was not a planned part of the Indian cabbie chase sequence when a cyclist rode between the two battling vehicles, providing added suspense.

Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

Roger Moore as the inept Clouseau in the film.

Moore played the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, becoming one of the many major stars to essay this role. Trivia: Moore’s scenes were filmed all in one day outside London at the same time Octopussy was filmed.

A View to a Kill (1985)

Moore in an action sequence.

Bond’s mission is to stop a mad industrialist, who plans to destroys the Silicon Valley and create a microchip monopoly. Trivia: Roger Moore said that this was his least favorite Bond movie, mainly because of the increased violence, but also because he felt he was too old for the part and he felt there was no chemistry between himself and (Bond girl) Tanya Roberts, and a genuine dislike of his co-star Grace Jones.

Trivia text: IMDB

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