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Roger Moore: On Being Bond (And More)
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Roger Moore: On Being Bond (And More)

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Roger Moore: On Being Bond (And More)
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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Andrea Seabrook in Washington. Here are the headlines from some of the stories we're following today here at NPR News. Democrat Mark Begich took an 814 vote lead over incumbent Ted Stevens in the race for Alaska's U.S. Senate seat. That's roughly - there are still roughly 30,000 votes to be counted though. And some of the country's largest banks tried to assure lawmakers today that they're using money from the $700 billion bailout to make more loans and help financially-strapped homeowners avoid foreclosure. You can hear details on these stories and much more, coming up later today on All Things Considered. Tomorrow, it's Science Friday and Ira Flatow will be here for a conversation with Jane Goodall, the famous anthropologist and primatologist.

Plus, how your music playlist could affect your cardiovascular health. That's tomorrow on Science Friday. Now, fast cars, beautiful woman, and a vodka martini shaken not stirred. In seven James Bond movies, Roger Moore played the dashing tuxedoed British agent 007 who saves the world, gets the girl, and looks fabulous doing it. In his new memoir, Roger Moore writes about his life. From a young boy growing up in London during World War II to how he landed the title role of Simon Templar in "The Saint," a role that paved the way for his being cast as James Bond when Sean Connery retired. Roger Moore joins us now. If you want to talk with him about his life or his acting career as "The Saint," as Bond, that's James Bond, give us a call. 800-989-8255, email is talk@npr.org. Roger Moore is at our New York bureau. Welcome Sir.

Sir ROGER MOORE (Actor): Thank you. Thank you, Andrea.

SEABROOK: We're going to hear a lot of stories this hour about your days as James Bond. But I'd like to go back a little bit to ask you about the role of Simon Templar in the TV show "The Saint." When you accepted that part, you thought it would only be one season, maybe two. You had no idea how successful it would become.

Sir MOORE: No. I was even told it's only going to be half hour series and there contract actually was drawn up when I saw it's 39 half hours when it's for 39 hours. And (unintelligible) who was the head of ATV and ITC was making the press announcement and saying, we're going to do 39 hours, and I said half hours and the two producers of the show at that time dragged me to one of sides and said it's an hour. And I said, well, I must say I read the script and thought it was awfully long for half an hour.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir MOORE: But there we are. The agent who drew up that contract saw my agent for very long.

SEABROOK: I see. You're writing your book, though and we should say the title of the book is "My Word Is My Bond: A Memoir." You write in your book that those were very happy days for you on "The Saint."

Sir MOORE: I - well, actually all my days working have been happy. I just like working. I love the atmosphere of being in the studio or in the theater. I like being with actors, and I like being with technicians.

SEABROOK: Hmm. And you write that after Sean Connery left the Bond series, you were on the short list. But the part went to George Lazenby.

Sir MOORE: Yes. They'd actually asked after about the fourth when or the fifth when Sean was getting anxious and make a move. And I'd been approached, and there was a script being prepared and locations are being searched out in Cambodia. And then all hell broke loose in Cambodia and the film was shelved. By that time, I had moved on to other things. And so George came, George Lazenby came in and did one. And Sean came back and then Harris (unintelligible) Broccolli approached me.

SEABROOK: Hmm. Let's listen to this scene from the "Spy Who Loved Me." You've just met beautiful Russian agent Triple X, played by Barbara Bach.

(Soundbite of movie "The Spy Who Loved Me")

Sir MOORE: (As James Bond) The lady will have a Bacardi on the rocks.

Ms. BARBARA BACH: (As Triple X) For the gentleman, Vodka Martini shaken not stirred.

Sir MOORE: (As James Bond) Touche.

Ms. BACH: (As Triple X) Commander James Bond. Recruited to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy, licensed to kill, and has done so on numerous occasions, many lady friends but married only once. Wife killed...

Sir MOORE: (As James Bond) All right, you've made your point.

Ms. BACH: (As Triple X) You're sensitive, Mr. Bond.

Sir MOORE: (As James Bond) About certain things, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: So Roger Moore, you say that is your favorite Bond movie. Of the seven you made, why is that your favorite?

Sir MOORE: Well, the director Lewis Gilbert was first film I'd made with him. And he was such a funny man. Identical sense of humor to mine, completely off the wall, mad as a hatter. We just had so many laughs making the film. We also had wonderful occasions. We spent the first month shooting inside or rehearsing in Sardinia. I was learning to ride a wet bike, a jet bike that never been seen on the screen before. And honestly, to get paid just to sit in the sun and eat pasta and drink Italian wine. It's not bad.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: Not a bad life, its sounds like there. The first film you made though of the Bond series was "Live and Let Die", an apt title. You had serious accident during the shooting that sent you to the hospital. What happened?

Sir MOORE: Well I - you always had accidents on Bond Films. And so - we're rehearsing or practicing driving a jet boat. Now a jet boat, you know it does 40, 50 miles an hour, 55 or something. And steering is completely controlled by the power. So if you put over to the left the power, you'll make a left - sharp left turn and the more power you put on shorter and quicker to turn. The trouble is once the power goes, the boat will remain going in the direction you were going when the engine cut out which is what happened. And somebody didn't inconvenient left a boat house on the edge of the bayou when I supposed to be negotiating, and I went straight into it.

SEABROOK: Oh my goodness.

Sir MOORE: Which - it was actually lucky that it happened during that sequence because for the first 10 days, I was hobbling around on a stick but as we were shooting in a boat, we just hobbled into the boat and sat down.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: This question about "Live and Let Die" from Clayton in Palo Alto, California. Go ahead.

CLAYTON (Caller): Hi, I was just wondering like what was your favorite part of shooting "Live and Let Die" because there's a lot of really cool boat chases.

Sir MOORE: Well - well thank you, Clayton. The boat chases were great fun to do up to the time that I smashed my teeth and my knee. But I have a lot of louse and particularly, I have some very good friends in David Hedison who played Felix Leiter and Clifton James who - there were some great characters around in that film.

SEABROOK: That's great. I understand that you - in the love scenes of course, there were many of them. The love scenes with Jane Seymour who played Solitaire in the movie. You both had your socks on back there?

Sir MOORE: Well, when you've been filming in Jamaica in sort of a 120 degrees of no shade, and you come back to a cold English stage in the middle of the winter and the doors are being opened on the stage and then you have to climb in the cold bed, no electric blankets, no hot water bottle, just the two of you freezing to death underneath the sheet. Trying to look cool, you need something on your feet to keep them warm.

SEABROOK: Somehow, I can't - I don't understand the glamor of James Bond with the socks on in bed. But let's go to David in Saint Louis, Missouri. Hi, David.

DAVID (Caller): Hi, Mr. Moore. So, (unintelligible) it's really, really a pleasure to talk to you.

Sir MOORE: I'm sorry I didn't hear that.

DAVID: I was saying it's a pleasure talking to you, sir.

Sir MOORE: Oh, thank you. Thank you, Mr. David.

DAVID: I am - I grew up in Kenya in Africa. And I'd been a lover of the James Bond movies. And what I particularly remember when I was 12 years old, I remember going to the store. My mother has sent me to the store. But I decided - I saw that the Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only" was showing that day and I decided instead of buying whatever my mother had sent me, I would walk in and just watch the movie. And when I went back home, I had to explain where the money went to and I had probably the worst whooping my mother ever gave me for all my life. But to this day, I still don't regret it, you know? It's one of that.

Sir MOORE: Well, I'm very sorry you got a whooping for that. I was - actually I was in Kenya about three months ago in Nairobi and then the Masai Mara. But in Nairobi I was visiting some UNICEF projects and also some - a wonderful place a home for abandoned babies run by the Feed The Children Organization in America. I found that part of the trip very, very interesting. The rest, Masai Mara, you know, fascinating with the hippos and the lion and the tiger and all and the ostriches. Yeah, I had a good time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: Roger Moore, it's so much fun to hear that people all over the world know your work. I wonder what it's like to be - to have had a career with a breathe, you did lot of things. But to be defined by the seven movies you made, I mean you are James Bond everywhere you go.

Sir MOORE: Well, I'm James Bond except for the people that haven't seen a Bond Film before and the first film they see is with Daniel Craig. And they going - he is going to be the definitive Bond and many, many, many people just a little older than I am who - there can't be many of those around I tell you. But you know who - for them Sean Connery was the definitive Bond and then there's a whole generation of - grew up with Timothy Dalton and with Pierce Brosnan. So, it's - and I - to be known for something as successful as that after so many years is very gratifying. I have been very happy about it.

SEABRROOK: Let's take a quick question from Scott in Cazenovia, New York. Scott?

SCOTT (Caller): That's right, Cazenovia, New York. Sir Roger, just a pleasure to talk with you and allow me to say that for 35 years. Since the very early '70s, my family, taken - my brother and I, my parents, my brother and I, at this this very early age, we go to see the James Bond movies and we've gone to see every James Bond movie in the theaters. It's always a family event. And I have to say that you and Sean Connery have defined what it is for - who James Bond is.

And I will always compare all the future James Bonds to Sir Roger Moore and Sean Connery and we're going to go see "Quantum of Solace" this Friday. We're going to see the new one that's out and I can't wait to tell my mom, my dad and my brother and his new family that I got to say that to Sir Roger Moore today. So, thank you. You've done a wonderful job portraying James Bond and helped define who he is in our minds.

Sir MOORE: Well, thank you very much. Thank you. That was very kind of you. Somebody - yesterday in a radio interview said that they compared going to a Bond to be a father and son bonding and that the boy really came of age when his father said to him come on son, I'll take you to see a Bond movie. It never occurred to me before but it's sounds like a very good selling point for my book. You have a bond, bond, bond with Bond and by your son or by your dad Bond's book.

SEABROOK: My guest is Sir Roger Moore. You're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's go to Curtis in Oklahoma City. You have a family tradition as well?

CURTIS (Caller): Yes, we do. As a matter of fact Sir Roger the first one of yours that I remember fully seeing all the way through the kid was the first - was your first on "Live and Let Die." And I've always been a big fan of that one.

Sir MOORE: Thank you.

CURTIS: I had a question, I don't know if the story is true or apocryphal, but I remember reading years ago that your son was asking you if you could - if you were tougher than James Bond and when you said, well, I am James Bond. He goes no, no the real James Bond is Sean Connery.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir MOORE: Yeah. That's true and it was...

SEABROOK: That's got to hurt.

Sir MOORE: My son was eight years old. I took him for lunch at the White Elephant in London and he sat and looked around the room and he said, dad, could you beat - beat up anybody in here? And I looked around, they were fairly older, and I said yeah, sure I could. He said what about if James Bond came and I said, but I'm going to be James Bond. He said no, I mean the real one, Sean Connery. Now, that son of mine, he has never grown beyond three foot six. I don't know why.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir MOORE: No. He's a nice boy.

SEABROOK: I see, I see. How about this call from Ted in Boise, Idaho? Ted, go ahead.

TED (Caller): Hi. Mr. Roger, it's such a pleasure to talk to you.

Sir MOORE: Thank you.

TED: I have a question. I wanted to know if either - if you and Sean Connery and George Lazenby and all the other men who played James Bond ever got together to discuss James Bond and who he was and yeah, have been - that's sort of things.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: It's a small club, but a good one, huh. You guys get together?

Sir MOORE: No. I see Sean from time to time when he's in London. He lives in the Bahamas. I speak to George Lazenby, and in fact I saw him a few months ago. He's a hell of a nice guy and Timothy Dalton, I see in California and Pierce I haven't seen for a while, and Daniel Craig, I actually met for the first time a month ago, we were at the London Palladium celebrating the 100 anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming, and that was the first time I met Daniel Craig, and we were sharing a dressing room. He's one hell of a nice guy.

SEABROOK: What do you think of his movies?

Sir MOORE: Well, I saw "Casino Royale." I had to buy the DVD. They didn't give me a discount.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir MOORE: But, I'm only joking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir MOORE: It was - but, I thought he was absolutely terrific, and I would have been dead after the first five minutes shooting a film with that magnitude of gymnastics that he went through, he's jumping, he's running, and it's only - he was terrific.

SEABROOK: I've read and we've gotten some emails from listeners. This one from Nathan in Salem, Oregon that you are disappointed in the turn the Bond series has taken of late to presumably to "Bond's" increasingly violent style?

Sir MOORE: No. This has been sort of a misquote. I was asked by a journalist the other day, was it true that I've been upset by the violence of such and such a film which was my last Bond which was "A View to A Kill." And I had got rather lazy and not seen all the dailys as you know the work we did the day before. And so, I missed some of the stuff where there were - I saw the machine guns and people falling down dead and blood all over the place. And so, when I saw the first rough assembly of the film, I was rather shocked that it taken that turn for violence.

But I don't think I'm disturbed by the violence of "Casino Royale" or what the - probably from what I've seen the "Quantum of Solace." No, I think that is with the times, you know, there's "Bourne Identity" time with movies and this is what people are looking for, the nitty-gritty and realistic approach and I'm sure it's the right one and I'm quite - I was just looking now at the Hollywood Reporter - I'm looking at the figures from the first weekend opening outside America.

SEABROOK: Mm hmm.

Sir MOORE: Whether - I think like notched up $180 million dollars. So, I think people around the world are accepting it and liking it.

SEABROOK: Have you seen - you haven't seen "Quantum of Solace" yet?

Sir MOORE: No, no. Unfortunately, we'd just gone to Paris when it opened in London. My book was being released in Paris where it's not called, "My Word Is my Bond" as we call it here. (Unintelligible) which was the title of the series I did "The Persuaders" with Tony Curtis.

SEABROOK: Oh, I see another clever name there? Sir Roger Moore, he joined us from our bureau in New York his memoir is called "My Word is Bond" and let me say, if I maybe so bold, you sound just as dashing now as you ever did, sir.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: Thank you very much for joining us.

Sir MOORE: Thank you, Andrea. Thank you very much.

SEABROOK: And before we sign off. Today, we say goodbye to producer Ashley Grashaw, her work has graced this program for almost two years. We wish her well as she returns home to Los Angeles where she can wear flip flops year around. Her energy and enthusiasm will be missed. This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

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