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Roger Moore dies: Read the bonkers, behind-the-scenes account of his first time playing Bond

Roger Moore died on Tuesday, but he leaves behind some of the most iconic Bond movies ever made. And this, a rare insight into the minds of a great movie star.

hollywood Updated: May 23, 2017 20:26 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Roger Moore,Daniel Craig,Michael Caine
Roger Moore is very candid on the book based on his film Live And Let Die.

It’s a bit of a miracle that the book Sir Roger Moore wrote about the filming of his 1973 adventure Live and Let Die ever got published. For one, it reads more like an intimate – and often disarmingly honest (and hilarious) – account of the bizarre goings on behind-the-scenes of Moore’s first turn as the iconic British spy than the movie tie-in the Bond producers were actually hoping for.

It has, as they say, everything. Besides the action, the drama, the romance, and the adventure that had become synonymous with the series, it includes Sir Moore casually coming up with JFK conspiracies, moaning about losing his favourite hairdresser, and missing no opportunity to poke fun at his producer – the famously gruff (and cheap) Harry Saltzman.

Roger Moore died on Tuesday, but he leaves behind some of the most iconic Bond movies ever made. And this, a rare insight into the minds of a great movie star.

One morning, recounts Moore, he walked into the crew “brutalizing their eggs and bacon.”

“Harry (Saltzman, the producer) was alarmed to seethey were eating off china plates and asked what happened to the plastic ones like we used in Luisiana.”

In another of his stories, after a game of rummy with Saltzman, Moore noticed him leaving “in a glum mood because he has to pay today’s production costs out of his own pockets.”

“Or perhaps,” he chuckled, “I stirred it up by telling him that whatever our stunt driver, Jerry Comeaux, was being paid for his fifty-foot leaps, it wasn’t enough and I had told Jerry the same and advised him to get an agent.”

Playing gin rummy, it seems, was a favourite pastime of both Sir Moore and Saltzman. “I spent the afternoon in a very expensive fashion playing gin rummy with Harry,” he wrote. “I have a feeling he only asks me to play to get my salary back.”

But as you read more about Moore’s relationship with Harry, you notice that there was, somewhere beneath the volatile back and forth, a friendship. Moore told stories about him how only a friend could. Sean Connery famously feuded with the Saltzman during his tenure as Bond, and George Lazenby (often described as the forgotten Bond, because he only starred in one 007 film), even more famously, turned down the millions he had been offered by the producer to return.

Moore tells the story of how he went out to dinner with Saltzman to a Chinese restaurant once. “Harry has a nasty habit of walking into a restaurant and demanding if the service is quick and, of course, they always say it is. When the soup arrives, he says it is cold and sends it back, so it is advisable to hold onto your soup plate as soon as it arrives or he sends yours back too. Cubby Broccoli (Saltzman’s producing partner) says that if Harry had been at the Last Supper he would have sent that back.”

Moore also shows how progressive he was. While recounting the story of how one day, to his horror, he overheard Saltzman calling a props man the N-word, Moore talks about his co-star Gloria Hendry, “a beautiful black actress.” He says that he was warned that in some circles, scenes of interracial love could turn away audiences. “I personally don’t give a damn and it makes me all the more determined to play the scene,” he writes.

His five weeks filming Bond in Louisiana came to an “interesting” end. He was invited by “Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans, who conducted his own investigation into the assassination of Kennedy.”

After the meeting, Moore says, rather conspiratorially, “I am not at a liberty to disclose what I saw but it left no doubt in my mind that it was not (Lee Harvey) Oswald who fired the fatal shot. Garrison’s assertion is that Oswald was not acting alone but as part of a CIA conspiracy.”

Sir Roger Moore’s talents as a raconteur were perhaps overshadowed by his showmanship, but as James Bond, he performed the character as an antithesis to what we are used to with Daniel Craig’s sultry avatar. He was quick-witted, self-deprecating, suave when he needed to be and proudly un-politically correct.

Unforgettable, Mr Bond.

First Published: May 23, 2017 20:07 IST