Roger Moore: The Man With The Golden Life Sir Roger Moore has played James Bond more than any other actor; his new memoir, One Lucky Bastard, chronicles a life spent working and laughing with stars — and learning how to kiss from Lana Turner.
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Roger Moore: The Man With The Golden Life

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Roger Moore: The Man With The Golden Life

Roger Moore: The Man With The Golden Life

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Sir Roger Moore has been the Saint, one of the Persuaders and of course 007, but he calls himself "One Lucky Bastard." That's the title of his memoir about a life spent working and laughing alongside the likes of Tony Curtis, Michael Caine, Frank Sinatra, Diana Dors, David Niven - I could go on, but let's let Sir Roger Moore do that himself. He joins us from the studios of Riviera Radio in Monaco.

Sir Roger, thanks so much for being with us.

SIR ROGER MOORE: Not at all. It's very nice to talk to you.

SIMON: Lana Turner taught you how to kiss?

MOORE: Yes. She taught me how to kiss with a lot of passion but without too much pressure. That happened because we were making a film called "Diane," the story of Diane de Poitiers, who was the sometime mistress of Francois I of France. And so she takes the young Prince Henri in hand - that was me and Lana Turner was Diane - and when the king dies, I approach her and turn her gently towards me and I say, you've made me a prince, now make me a king. And I dived at her beautiful lips and she choked and coughed and came up for air and said, Roger, Roger. I said, what have I done - what have I done wrong? And she said, well, darling, when a lady gets over 35, she has to watch the neck so if you could kiss me with equal passion but a lot less pressure, I'd be much happier (laughter). So I learned to kiss passionately without too much pressure.

SIMON: A life's lesson, I'm sure. Going through this book, the constellation of names - so let me try and ask a theoretical question. If you were having lunch with, let's say, some of your old pals - Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris and Peter Finch, who would leave the table last?

MOORE: I think probably Burton. I've sat at the table with him and we've had to move away together and him being sort of fairly legless.

SIMON: Fairly legless means that he...

MOORE: He had consumed more than enough.

SIMON: It's amazing how much good work they did and yet, did they remember much of it?

MOORE: I really don't know sort of how much they remembered. I know that there's no better feeling in the world than waking up in the morning and knowing what you had for dinner last night and where you were. You know, the important things in life (laughter) and having a good memory. And I think it's very sad when actors - I've worked with a few in the theater - it's rather painful for other actors when you stand there waiting for a line and it never comes. You see this terrible far-away look on their face and then they usually accuse you of giving the wrong line.

SIMON: You have an impressive list in this memoir of actors who've died on stage.

MOORE: It's terrible, you know, as I start off in the book and say that, you know, that my attitude about death is going into the next room and it's a room the rest of us can't go into because we don't have the key, but when we do get the key we'll go in there and we'll see one another again in some shape or form, or whatever. It's not the end. This is my logic of life, on life after death.

The reason these thoughts came into my mind was that years and years ago, I'd been offered a television play and the script was absolutely appalling so I declined, but one of the lines in the play that stayed with me was, you know, death is going into the next room and none of the rest of us, we can't go in there until we too get the key to that room. That is my comforting thought for myself, whether I'm right or wrong I don't know and nobody can prove it otherwise.

SIMON: I have to ask one James Bond question, OK?

MOORE: Yeah, I'm ready. I'm reaching for my Walther PPK.

SIMON: Oh, well, all right - you are ready. Well, you say you think Daniel Craig is a terrific James Bond...

MOORE: I do, indeed.

SIMON: ...Because he looks like he could actually kill someone. Whereas you...

MOORE: Yeah?

SIMON: Well, I want you to finish that sentence.

MOORE: Oh - Well, I look as though I'd squeeze them to death with love and lust.

SIMON: (Laughter). And those enormously pliant and flexible lips that you developed, thanks to Lana Turner.

MOORE: Oh yes, exactly. No, I look like a comedic lover and Sean in particular and Daniel Craig now, they are killers, they look like killers. I wouldn't like to meet Daniel Craig on a dark night if I'd said anything bad about him.

SIMON: Do James Bonds ever have a reunion? You and Sean Connery and Daniel Craig? Like, a Timothy Dalton - and George Lazenby would be the one, you know, the hard get, I guess.

MOORE: Actually, George, Timothy and Pierce, we've been together, the four of us. But Sean - Sean's really sort of not that enamored of being confused with James Bond all the time. Sean - a damn good actor, but he felt that he was only being remembered for "Bond." I personally don't give a damn. I just want to be remembered as somebody who paid his debts.

SIMON: Sir Roger, you've been a pleasure. We'll wait for your next memoir.

MOORE: I hope I live long enough to write it (laughter). Thank you.

SIMON: Sir Roger Moore. His new memoir, "One Lucky Bastard: Tales From Tinseltown."

Take care of yourself. So good to speak with you.

MOORE: Thank you, nice to talk to you. Thank you.

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. You know what's coming now. I'm Scott Simon.

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