Interviews With Cast And Crew

CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent
edited January 29 in The James Bond Films

This interview was published in the Cinefantastique magazine Vol 4 Issue 1:

CHRIS KNIGHT INTERVIEWS CHRISTOPHER LEE

The most interesting, and some might say the only interesting aspect of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. the newest picture in the James Bond series, is Christopher Lee’s performance as Scaramanga. a million-dollar hit man who kills with a golden bullet. I visited Lee at Pinewood studios last July while work on the film was in progress. He looked fit after a strenuous stint of location shooting in the far east, and in good spirits. We discussed in his dressing room his work on the film and the recent good fortune his career has enjoyed. Lee was offered the part of Scaramanga by director Guy Hamilton over lunch at London’s White Elephant and accepted after reading the script that same afternoon. He calls the character a ’’contre-Bond,” an anti-hero of great stature able to deal with the famous secret agent on an equal footing. Lee admitted laughing¬ ly: "It's amusing to me that finally I shall be playing in a James Bond film due to the fact that Ian Fleming was my cousin and always said I ought to be in them!’’

CFQ: Were you recognized and accepted as a star in Bangkok and the far east where this film was shot?

LEE: I’ve now, thank God. reached a point in my career where there isn’t a country I can go to where I’m not recognized. They had all seen my films—well, not all of them, fortunately for that, but a great many of them. Everybody knew me, simply because I’ve been in pictures that have been world-wide successes, and it’s getting even more so with pictures like THE THREE MUS¬ KETEERS and this film. It should be even more so with this film because, thank God, for once I do look like myself. I even take off my clothes, which is something I never thought I’d have to do in a film! As you probably know, I have a third nipple. It's in the book.

CFQ: Did you pattern your performance as Scaramanga on the Ian Fleming book?

LEE: No. The character in the book is a great ox of a man. He’s really just a thug. He has no charm at all. He’s extremely unpleasant. He’s just a thug who kills with a golden gun, and there is nothing more to him than that. In fact, it's one of the least well-written characters of all Flem¬ ing’s books. The way the character comes out in the script is infinitely superior, infinitely.

CFQ: What’s it been like to work on a Bond picture?

LEE: The thing that impressed me most on this picture is the tremendous level of production, which is quite staggering. Even after THE THREE MUSKETEERS, which was a super, star-studded, colossal sort of thing. I’ve never seen anything like this. Money is. literally, no object. I have never seen money spent as it has been on this picture. It's because it's the only film that's made today in the cinema which is an absolute, lOOfir certainty before they even make it. They know it's going to make millions, it’s going to make huge profits, so they don’t mind. So it’s wonderful to work in a picture where this occurs because there is never any question of can we afford this, should we spend a bit more time there, and pay for this and pay for that—do it! You have a free hand. It’s carte blanche .

That has got to come over on the screen, be¬ cause of the exotic backgrounds, the incredible sets, plus the fact that, for probably the first time in a Bond film, the people in this picture are peo¬ ple and not card-board cut-outs or caricatures. They may be a bit bizarre, but at least they are believable.

The other thing that impressed me is the won¬ derful good humor of Roger Bond, as I call him, or Roger Moore. He’s tremendous fun to work with. It’s twenty-six years since I worked with Roger in a film. I did IVANHOE with him, one of the television shows, but twenty -six years ago I did TROTTIE TRUE in the gardens of this studio and he and I were stage-door Johnnies with one line each.

And the director, whom I’ve known for many, many years. I’ve never worked for as an actor, but Guy Hamilton got something out of me in this picture which I’ve never been able to show on the screen. In his own words, he got the spook out of me. He got the Dracula out of me. Because, ob¬ viously. I can become very menacing, rather heavy, if I’m not careful, even with ordinary lines, because I’ve done it so often. And he’s get¬ ting me to do this picture in such a light way that you can hardly believe this man is as lethal as he is. He's getting me to smile. He’s getting me to laugh, which I must admit. I don’t find very easy to do as an actor. But he's getting the lightness of performance out of me. the contrasts. This man isn't just a straight, down - the - middle, conven¬ tional heavy. He's got things out of me that no other director has ever either had to get or want¬ ed to get. or even tried to get.

CFQ: Are there any of the other Bond villains you would have liked to have played?

LEE: Oh yes, the first one. The first one was modeled on Fu Manchu. I know that because the author told me. I would have liked to have played Dr. No. but I think if I had played it, having seen that a very fine actor could make nothing out of it by virtue of the story, the direction, or whatever, it’s probably just as well I didn't. Dr. No is a conventional, emotionless, straight-faced heavy. Wiseman was a marvelous actor. He wasn't able to do anything because he wasn't required to.

The best Bond heavy, of course, unquestionab¬ ly, is Goldfinger. Not only because it was a very well-written part, and a very interesting and en¬ tertaining role, but because Gert Frobe played it beautifully.

If the producers decide that Scaramanga is too good a character to loose, they'll bring him back. It's always possible to bring people back, as I know only too well, to my sorrow.

CFQ: Do you feel this film is going to be a peak in your career?

LEE: No. Certainly not. I think it’s going to do something immensely important in my career. What is the peak of your career? Is it the best picture you’ve ever been in? Is it the best part you've ever played? Is it the most successful pic¬ ture or is it the best performance you ever give? The peak of your career could be your last film, after which you just quietly fade away at the age of eighty or ninety. That could be your peak. It’s something you can’t possibly fortell.

I would say it's certainly the film, with the exception of THE THREE MUSKETEERS, in which 1 will get the greatest exposure. In terms of changing what is laughably called an image, which really isn’t an accurate one, it will be of immense value to me. I did the last Dracula two years ago and as you know I don't intend to do it again. I’ve done no horror pictures since then, not really. HORROR EXPRESS is not a horror film, certainly not for me. Since then I’ve done THE WICKER MAN, which is superior in many respects. THE THREE MUSKETEERS, a huge, big picture, which is going to make a vast amount of money, and now this.

You could say that the beginning of a new ca¬ reer for me as an actor began with THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, and steadily that particular diversification broadened out from that point. This means that because of the level at which I am established as an actor, and the ex¬ posure I'm getting from films that are certainly going to make a lot of money. I’m obviously going to be offered an enormous amount of pictures now of a different type. I'll always be the villain. I'll always be the heavy. This doesn’t bother me one bit as I’ve said many times because they’re al¬ ways the best parts, the most interesting, the ones you remember, and the greatest fun to play.

It’s not a question of being a success like Kar¬ loff or Lugosi or Chaney, although I don't neces¬ sarily put myself in that category. It would be more important to be a success like a Rathbone. or Rains, or Veidt. which I’m now doing. I think I'm combining in the kind of parts that I’m play¬ ing the two areas in which these great actors worked. Not just a graveyard epic, but a thriller as well as an action adventure type of picture in which one may well be playing the villain of the piece. It doesn’t mean to say that I will never do another horror film. It does mean to say that hopefully they will all be good if I am going to do them, and that I won’t do any more indifferent ones. If I do get offered a horror picture, it's got to be a damned good picture and a damned good part.

That Lee's interest in horror films is still keen is evidenced by the fact that a co-production arrangement is now (lending between Hammer Films and his own Charlemagne company to film Dennis Wheatley’s TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER in which he would star. Lee owns the screen rights to all of the occult novels of Dennis Wheatley and feels that the chemistry which worked superbly well in "the great days of Hammer" can work well again. "They need some successful films." he pointed out. referring to financial problems at the once thriving horror film studio. But while the sun may be setting on the career of Hammer Films. Christopher Lee’s star is newly rising. His performance as Scaramanga in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is among the best work he has done: stylish screen villainy.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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Comments

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,981MI6 Agent
    edited December 2023

    Thanks, #CoolHandBond

    Interesting to read Lee's view at the time on the likely significance for his career of playing Scaramanga. In retrospect it's difficult to agree with him that TMWTGG was a film breaking new ground for the Bond series by presenting characters as rounded people, but he was certainly right to describe them as bizarre. Publicity plugs tend to recur in cycles: filmmakers and fans of CR06 or NTTD lay similar claims to more realistic characterisation in the Craig era Bonds (also: GE and TWINE, among the Brosnan Bonds; or FYEO, in the 80s) but such claims are arguable and these are debates for other threads.

    I must give 'The Thee Musketeers' another look. It's probably a film whose star has waned over time, yet Lee was rating it as a big budget booster to his career alongside TMWTGG.

    Lee's other point about deciding to be picky before doing horror again (really?) may explain why he later made a choice which he subsequently said was a big mistake, career-wise: he turned down the part of Loomis in John Carpenter's low-budget but iconic and influential 'Halloween' - a role picked up by another Bond villain alumni, Donald Pleasence.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    You’re welcome @Shady Tree I’m not a period costume movie fan so have never seen the Musketeers films - I like how CL compares previous villains and how he enjoyed acting with Roger.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 600MI6 Agent

    The Three Musketeers is excellent and is still the best film adaptation of the Dumas novel. The same goes for The Four Musketeers, which is not so much a sequel as the second part of a single story.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,879Chief of Staff

    And at least some of the cast were furious about that, since they had signed up to do only one movie. This led to changes in contracts in the future.

    There's also "The Return Of The Musketeers" with much the same people which isn't quite as good. I found it amusing that

    Christopher Lee was back despite having been killed in the previous movie

    but then for him that isn't unusual. 😁

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 600MI6 Agent

    Yes, Return of the Musketeers was a bit of a letdown. It's based on Twenty Years After, Dumas' underrated sequel to The Three Musketeers, but lacks the feeling and vivacity of the book and makes some questionable choices in adaptation. I don't think Richard Lester's heart was in the film.

    The best film of the last Musketeers tale, The Man in the Iron Mask, is the splendid Douglas Fairbanks silent feature, which throws out much of the very long and boring book. Fairbanks was the first and best of action movie stars, and was certainly an influence on Bond--Fleming says so in YOLT.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    That is a brilliant find @Revelator and a splendid interview. Lee is very honest with his career assessment, very flat about the success he has or hasn't had. I think he is probably correct in that his career peak probably came at this time, certainly in terms of the roles her procured and the performances he gave. Odd that he mentions fading away at 80 or 90 - how old was he when he did the Star Wars and Tolkien movies? And he still convinced as a monstrous villain in both franchises; just shows that he had nailed that kind of part down to a T. Was it Charles Grey who said in the early seventies "There are only three actors alive today able to play decent, credible villains: me, Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasance." Lee and Moore are very good against each other in TMWTGG, the idea of polar moral opposites is what works best in an otherwise dumbed-down script. Lee was a more sinister, yet charming wraith in The Three Musketeers, the best of the Dumas adaptations by a long long chalk. It is a little forgotten now. Good to see also he mentioned To the Devil a Daughter, one of the under-sung Hammer films in which he is absolutely terrific. I had no idea he owned the film rights to Wheatley's novels: was that why he bagged the hero's role in The Devil Rides Out? [Charles Grey, of course, was the purring, monstrous villain in that one]. The interviewer's assertion that Lee in TMWTGG offers 2stylish screen villainy" is spot on.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    I’ve found some more vintage interviews from Bond alumni, so instead of creating a new thread for each one I’m going to change the title of this one to Interviews With Cast And Crew.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,879Chief of Staff

    That's an interesting idea. Sounds very promising.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent
    edited January 29

    This interview with “Cubby” Broccoli was published in Cinefantastique in Summer 1979.


    When he was asked in a television interview if he earned much money from the James Bond films, co-producer Harry Saltzman answered with a smile, “More than I deserve.” No trace of such a cynical attitude is apparent in Albert Broccoli, who produced eight Bond features with Saltzman, and who now runs this multi-million dollar enterprise by himself (and sidesteps the circumstances around Saltzman’s exit). However paradoxical it may seem from a man who controls one of the biggest filmmaking machines in the world. Broccoli is an idealist, who talks about his films from a moralistic point of view. As a matter of fact, were it not for the huge Rolls Royce which, among the continental compact cars in the parking lot at Epinay Studios in Paris, shouts that the producer is on the lot. Broccoli walks on the set almost anonymously, answering questions with a politeness unexpected from one of the last tycoons. The Rolls may be less a tribute from Broccoli to Broccoli than an expensive byproduct of James Bond and his wonderland.

    CF; You did not buy the rights to Fleming's stories alone, but with Harry Saltzman. It's rather difficult to imagine how two different producers can work together on such large endeavors?

    ARB; Saltzman did not buy them. He had an option, and he was not able to put a deal together, and he only had twenty-eight days left on this option. I had tried to option the books, but he had the option, so I made an arrangement with him: if I made the deal, we would become partners. So I put a deal together with United Artists, and he became my partner. Now, I own the rights myself. Harry has nothing to do with this anymore.

    CF; And the James Bond myth is still alive seventeen years later. But it has undergone many changes: the character, for example, is much more humorous.

    ARB; Yes-what’s wrong with that?

    CF; Nothing. But could you anticipate that the books you were interested in would develop into such a popular creation?

    ARB; It’s the public. You must realise that the series started close to eighteen years ago. And during that time, changes have taken place in the world, in the United States, in France, in England. This change is necessary. As we prolonged the series, we saw the change was that nowadays people want to laugh. We are not making a comedy, but a fantasy. It’s a fantasy with a lot of realistic elements. Many things have happened in the early Bond pictures that have really ultimately happened. That fantasy is like H. G. Wells; a lot of Wells' fantasies came to life. People were put on the moon, as he had predicted. So nothing really changes too seriously except that towards the trend, we find that we have to put more humor in our “fantasies,” a little more action, and we make the films a lot bigger. And we go into space, like MOONRAKER.

    CF; What is the basic element that makes your films so successful?

    ARB; The basic element is in prolonging a series of films until we have built-up a huge fan organisation , a great audience, in all countries, except Russia, its satellite countries, and China.

    CG; James Bond is not familiar to the Soviets?

    ARB; Their explanation is that their audiences are not ready for it yet, but they have approached us in discussions of possibly making a film financed there, or perhaps with China. But the point is that we are different from other films: we have a built-in audience, out there, willing to see Bond, every eighteen months, and up to now that has been a success. You see the requirements for that audience on the screen: we put in a lot of production, a lot of value, and our films keep getting bigger, hopefully better. And a change took place from Scan Connery to George Lazcnby, a good change, and now Roger Moore, who is the most popular one of all, as THE SPY WHO LOVED ME did twice the business of any other Bond film.

    Cf; How did you manage to stick to this sort of ideal, and bring something new to each new film ?

    ARB; It’s hard work to get different stories, ideas, and work with these plots. Times have changed since Fleming wrote his books.

    CF; What is your exact role in making the film ?

    ARB; The people that know me know that I am always there, from the beginning, from the film’s conception. I work with the writers and the director. I don’t think that I am better than other producers, but I think my contribution is creative to the story and characters. The technicians' contribution is larger than mine, but I stay with the picture all the way through, until I go to the opening. Then I start all over again, very shortly thereafter. I don’t know why, but I’m driven to it!

    CF; What will you do after MOONRAKER?

    ARB; There will be another James Bond film, hopefully. But I really don’t know which one yet. If the audience wants it, there will be another. And we'll know if they want it, just by their reaction, which I hope will be a very good reaction, because MOONRAKER is something we are all working on very hard. Our own reaction to the film is very’ good at this stage.

    CF; Do you produce movies other than the Bond's?

    ARB; I don’t have time! I used to produce other films with Irwin Allen. He had an independent production company in London. Years ago, we used to produce five films a year. But we’re doing bigger films now, and it’s difficult for me to produce anything other than James Bond films.

    CF; What are your feelings toward the Bond character?

    ARB; He's a character that has motivated the industry into a lot of action. Some people have tried to make pictures similar to ours, and probably someday they’ll make them a lot better than we do. I find it flattering, very flattering to be copied.

    CF; Do you think the cinema has helped mankind progress?

    ARB; We have had crises, problems in our business, but motion pictures are still the best form of entertainment, and always will be as long as we make good films. The camera is quite an actor; it really shows all the good things and bad things we do on the screen. That eye of the camera is magic. It stuns people or it entertains people all over the world. It brings tragedy to the screen, it brings hope, and it brings a lot of criticism, too, of us. I think in some ways the cinema has progressed mankind. I think in some ways we haven’t been too good, either. We could have been a little more cautious. I can’t give you a specific example, however many there are, but in order to excite our viewers, sometimes we may be a little careless. But I know at least we try to make parentally guided pictures. So far we have had no criticism from the parents, and I hope we don't.

    CF; You pay much attention to children, don't you?

    ARB; Yes, we do. It’s because of the youngsters that we brought “Jaws” into the new film. They wanted it, so we brought back Richard Kiel. We do listen.

    END OF INTERVIEW

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 26,999Chief of Staff

    Makes for interesting reading all these years on…I probably had that magazine, but didn’t get round to reading them 🤗 I used to collect them, skim through them, them put them away…so thank you 🍸

    YNWA 97
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    A great little interview - and worth it to read Cubby saying he doesn't have time to produce anything other than James Bond films - drop a hint to anyone ? Incidentally, apologies to @CoolHandBond who started this thread as I mistakenly attributed it to @Revelator - so thanks Cool Hand !

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    Thank you, gentlemen. No problem @chrisno1 and anyone who hadn’t read @Revelator ’s brilliant Interviews With Ian Fleming thread on the James Bond Literature forum should go there now!

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,879Chief of Staff

    Thanks CHB, as said that was a great interview and well worth reading.

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 600MI6 Agent

    Yes, thank you CHB! It's always good to have vintage interviews with the movers and shakers behind the series.

    Cubby's assertion that TSWLM did twice the business of any other Bond film would only be true if nothing was adjusted for inflation, but he was rightfully proud of resurrecting the series with a big success. It's easy to forget what a fraught period there was after the under-performance of TMWTGG and Saltzman's departure.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    This interview with Lewis Gilbert appeared in the same issue as above…


    At first, one can’t help being surprised at the way director Lewis Gilbert seems to reduce everything in the MOONRAKER script to a very human dimension. The Ken Adam set for the space station is so carefully designed and so lavishly made that, when inside the set, if you’d only manage to be oblivious of the profoundly bored look of the extras, and of the sound and fury of electricians, woodworkers and other mechanics, you could almost believe you were in a real space station. .Almost. Because one little detail tells you that this is no real space station. Sitting in a corner, disregarding all the agitation around him, director Gilbert is quietly sipping his tea. However international the atmosphere on the set, he does not forget that he is English. His work on the Bond films, including THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, is all but dwarfed by the technology of Adam’s production design, with its reliance on exotic gadgets and massive sets, yet Gilbert manages to focus on the human drama and not the fantastic situations. And this human view is confirmed by a real politeness: though he had not been informed that somebody wanted to interview him, I did not have to wait more than fifteen minutes until he came to talk to me. He had finished his tea, though.

    CF: When you are directing James Bond pictures, aren't the high technology and special effects a double-edged sword? I remember Terence Young, after doing THUNDERBALL, had complained that he was asked to do the job of a super-engineer much more than that of a film director.

    LG: I don’t think that is true for me. If you saw THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, the big thing about that was, I think, that the characters, like “Jaws,” and the girl, were still characters in spite of being in a very large, fantastic production. And I think that I am able to tie those two things together.

    CF: You've had the chance to direct both Sean Connery and Roger Moore as James Bond.

    LG: I think that probably Roger is nearer to the Ian Fleming concept of Bond. Sean wasn't much like the Bond of the Fleming books. But he made it in his own image, as it were, which was quite right, because the films were very successful. So he was acceptable as James Bond to a lot of people who hadn’t read the books. But Roger Moore is closer to Fleming, except that now the films with Roger have more humor, much more comedy in them than the original stories and films do. Also, the women’s role is very different, because in the last seventeen years women’s liberation has taken place in a big way. Therefore, in a modern James Bond film, the women do not faint at the sight of James Bond as they did in the originals. They have a more demanding role in society, and all that has changed in the last ten years-post-Terence Young, you could say. If you look at the early films, and at the way they are now, you'll notice a tremendous difference. The James Bond of Roger Moore is a very different James Bond from Sean Connery's.

    CF: Do you participate in writing the scripts?

    LG: Well, again, these plots have to change, because Fleming's novels were written twenty years ago. If you take a film like MOONRAKER, and you read the book on which it was based, it has nothing whatsoever to do with space; and Fleming knew nothing about space at the time; they had not even launched a man into orbit. The films now are going to be very, very' different from the books, whereas when Terence Young was making the early films, Fleming was still alive, and the books were comparatively recently written. We don’t use the books at all, really, for they have no possible value in today’s society. We try to make space as it is today. I mean, we are not trying to compete with STAR WARS. We are saying if the U.S. government wanted to, this is what they could do. They could put a space station like this into space. It’s not fantasy, it’s not fiction. It is what could happen. I’m not saying that it would happen, but it could happen.

    CF: Would you call this a realistic film ?

    LG: It's not likely to happen, because it would be difficult for an individual to construct a space station, but physically , and in terms of technology, all the things in this film are feasible. That’s what makes it different from a film like STAR WARS or 2001 or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OK THE THIRD KIND—they are all science fiction fantasy: it could happen, but there is no documentary evidence that it could or will happen. In MOONRAKER, everything that happens was documented: we know there is a space probe, we know it goes into orbit, we know you can build space stations, we know a person can live in space. All that is possible to do, and I think that is the difference between this film and something like STAR WARS. Nobody is dealing with the reality of space today.

    CF: Do you think that one of the major reasons for the success of the James Bond films is that they are at the same time realistic and incredible?

    LG: That’s right. We got big cooperation from NASA, who told us every thing that is possible to do in space. How people can be trained to live in space; how, at the space station, you don’t have to be weightless because, by rotating the station around Earth, you can simulate gravity.

    CF: How long did it take to prepare all that research?

    LG: About a year.

    CF How were you contacted for your first James Bond film. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE?

    LG: I’d just made a film called ALFIE, which was a big success, and Cubby [Broccoli) and Harry Saltzman approached me and said, ‘would you like to do the next James Bond film?' I said I didn’t think so, because after all there had been four films already; why would I want the fifth? Then Cubby said something to me that was fascinating: "You can’t turn it down, because you have the world's biggest audience waiting to see what kind of a mess you make of it." And it’s true, really. For very few films do you know that a very large audience is going to sec it, good or bad.

    CF: So it is a challenge for you.

    LG: MOONRAKER was a challenge in as much as the last film, THE SPY WHO LOVE ME was the biggest success of all the Bond’s. So when they asked me to direct the new one, I had to decide, 'could I top the last one?’ and there is the challenge.

    CF: What is the basic element in the James Bond films that draws the crowds?

    LG: I think it’s the feeling that they are watching some form of reality, and yet you still have to look at it with disbelief. It is fantasy, and yet it is reality, and I don’t think any other film has that mixture. If you watch STAR WARS, it is fantasy, and that’s that. But when you see a James Bond film, you are asked to look at things which are taking place in the real world: he drives a car, he's got girlfriends, he is doing things which everybody in the world can do. But he is thrown into incredible adventures which could happen, though it's not likely to happen to you or I.

    CF So the identification is easy ?

    LG: Yes. And I think now, as the girls have bigger roles, women identify too, because they would like to be alongside James Bond, to go through these incredible adventures, and live in those sumptuous apartments. It is a kind of dream-life, isn’t it, which we're all allowed to participate in. We know he's not going to be killed; he's going to come out alright in the end.

    (CHB: History will tell a different story!!)

    CF: Since you are talking about the characters. I am surprised you are talking about the women, but not much about Bond. What do you think of this guy?

    LG: As I said: over the years, the character has changed. And he’s still an enormously attractive man, funny, witty, somebody that every girl would like to date, or would like going along with. And because there have been ten pictures, we don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining who James Bond is. Immediately the film starts, and he is kissing a girl, and everybody laughs - that old James Bond, he’s still up to his tricks. In another film, you have to spend a lot of time and dialogue saying who is this man and who is doing these things. The character of Bond is set. You can’t change him because, as I said, they don’t want to suddenly see him crying because he shoots somebody, or…

    CF: …but James Bond in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was different from the previous ones, and particularly because I think you made him more human than he was before.

    LG: Yes, if I have made a contribution to Bond, it is that. And in that film with Sean, I tried to make him show a little compassion when the girl dies. In a way, that’s a good thing over the years to show because, as the years go by, people want to see Bond more as a man than as a superman. James Bond must be rooted in reality, and reality is that even Hiller used to go around kissing children. So you must have a hero with some redeeming features. He can’t be killing people all the time in a film which is now a family film. In the early sixties, they weren’t family films. Now, children love these films. Everybody goes to see them, peasants in the middle of South America or Hong Kong, sophisticates in London, Paris or New York; and it’s interesting that there is a huge spectrum of society going to see them - from five year-old children to ninety year-olds.

    CF: So what is your treatment of violence in these films?

    LG: There is violence, but you don’t believe it. You never see blood in a modem James Bond. You might see him kissing a girl, and if you know what's going on, you assume that he’s been to bed with the girl, but we don't show anything like that because we have a very enormous audience of young people. I have never had so much satisfaction, in making films, as in working on a Bond film. It's wonderful to see an audience enjoying themselves, seeing a family all enjoying the same thing. There is no message in a Bond film, no deep psychological thought, that’s not what the film is all about. If you want to see that sort of thing, then you go and see TIIE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, which is a realistic spy film. We are in a different league, which we should not really, step out of, because obviously the films have been very successful.

    CF: How much control do you have on your films apart from the actual shooting?

    LG: I’m there from beginning to end. That's why I like working with somebody like Cubby. Normally I don't work with the producer, but I like working with Cubby. We discuss things, editing, music, everything, but basically we see the film eye-to-eye. Sometimes he wins, sometimes I win. But we respect each other. We are doing it for the good of the film.

    CF: Will you do another James Rond film?

    LG: I don’t know. I've done two on end. I'd like to do a love story, a smaller kind of film.

    END OF INTERVIEW

    I think this is a brilliant interview, seeing as it was “off-the-cuff”, even more so. Some good things to discuss here…

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 26,999Chief of Staff

    Some interesting bits in there…but he doesn’t really answer the Do you participate in writing the scripts? question 🤣

    And interesting to read that both he & Cubby would bounce ideas around whilst filming 🤔

    YNWA 97
  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 600MI6 Agent
    edited February 2

    Gilbert is very much towing the company line when he talks about Moonraker being science fact not fantasy (NASA probably had a different opinion, especially of the laser gun battle) and Roger being nearer to Fleming's Bond (very arguable--I can't imagine Roger battling a giant squid). I also snickered at the interviewer going on about MR's "very human dimension." But these interviews are valuable precisely for showing us how the crew chose to discuss and promote the product.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,963MI6 Agent

    "Celebrity true or false: Dolph Lundgren". He talks about his career, including AVTAK and Roger Moore.


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    I enjoyed that. Like @Revelator I have never been convinced that Sir Roger is closer to Fleming's vision of Bond - he is no blunt instrument! I liked his take on fantasy / reality which chimes a little with me. MR is wildly optimistic about what can be achieved in space in 1979 or even 2029 I'd suggest even if the science is valid. YOLT on the other hand has a rocket that operationly resembles something from Tintin or Thunderbirds and has never been proved to be possible.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,363MI6 Agent

    I guess - though the concept of the hidden rocket in YOLT is remarkably similar to the idle speculation by Germophobe Fleming that at some point in a Bavarian forest there may be some V2-style missile built and hidden, to take out London. Maybe he used that for Moonraker the novel to some extent.

    Digressing more - those tyre slashers in Goldfinger. They could never, ever work, could they. I mean, how could you operate something from your dashboard that is in a moving wheel. Can't happen.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    This interview with Ken Adam was the third and final MR interview in the Summer 1979 issue of Cinefantastique.

    Creation is the business of production designer Ken Adam. His work in the cinema is definitely not restricted to Bondland. He is proud to have received both the British and American Academy Awards for such divergent films as THE IPCRESS FILE and BARRY LYNDON. His contribution to MOONRAKER, the vast and unusual sets commonly associated with James Bond features, are the highlight of this expensive production. The sense of wonder involved in appreciating Adam’s work on this film all contributes to the impression that it all, as Lewis Gilbert put it, “could hap¬ pen, even though it perhaps would not happen. Something we might call a well-designed madness.”

    CF: You are credited as 'production designer . ’ Are you satisfied with the term? Does it define your work properly?

    KA: The term is a relatively new one, which came about after the War. Until then the term in use was “art director.’’ But I make a difference between these two terms; now I have art directors working for me who deal with more practical aspects, which gives me more time to deal with the complete visual aspects of a film, not only the sets. And I don't have to worry possibly as much about the everyday type of organization or finishes on the set. I leave that to my art directors. I still supervise it all, but it gives me a little more freedom to deal with the visual design of the film. It was difficult for me to work in the French studios on MOONRAKER, purely from the point of view of space limitations. But much to my surprise, we found some excellent craftsmen, people who had been brought up in the old school of cinema in terms of set construction. And even when I came here with new ideas such as the space station, they took up the challenge admirably well, and in terms of set finishes they were superb. But the big problem was that we had to work, because of this lack of space, in three small studios. I had to design my sets to fit the space, which was a limitation; but at the same time, I think it came off alright.

    CF: Do you mean that the space station made in Epinay Studios would have been larger in another studio?

    KA: It might have been somewhat larger, but even if it had been, you would have needed even more room to film it. But Epinay was the largest stage in Paris, and in a way the trapeze shape of the stage fitted the concept of my design.

    CF: How do you feel about being able to say. I want a space station built ,' and then get a space station built?

    KA: In Bond movies, the spectacle value of the decor and the action sequences have proved to be very important. So the producer and the director give me a free hand, which is very nice. At the same time, I often find that as a designer you can go overboard. And it is therefore very important that you have somebody else, like the director, who has an objective approach, to attend, and just reassure you that what you are doing is correct and not completely mad.

    CF: So you don't agree , for example, with the critic who declared that, in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, the real director of the film was production designer Ken Adam?

    KA: I don’t agree with that. On a Bond film, my contribution is possibly more important than on other films, because once we had stopped using the original Fleming books and stories, the plot aspect of the film seemed to have become less important—it’s now always the villain-who-wants-to-destroy-the-world and so on. One has become more interested in the visual elements, the spectacle value. Obviously, that is more in my field, but that does not mean I direct the film. The director is very essential to a Bond film. He has to be very professional, because it’s become so complicated, there are so many units filming all over the world. Without that professional director, it could be an absolute disaster. It has become a very big logistics problem, because I find now that my department may have to serve up to five units throughout the world. Everything has to be worked out carefully beforehand.

    CF: How did you get involved with the Bond series?

    KA: I did the first Bond film, DR. NO. Both Saltzman and Broccoli knew me—I’d designed a film for “Cubby,” THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE, with Peter Finch. DR. NO was a very lowbudget film, it cost about one million dollars, and my sets came to $20,000! I was very reluctant to do it; the script did not appeal to me; I thought I should not be involved with this sort of film. But then it seemed to give me an opportunity to let myself go, to release myself completely from the rigidity of previous films I had done. But here, the loose story gave me the chance to go a little wild, slightly larger than life, and likely ahead of lime, and I enjoyed it. Then Kubrick had seen my work on DR. NO, and asked me to design DR. STRANGELOVE. And one of my assistants did FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Afterwards, I did GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. But I normally find that in between Bonds I do four or five other films. So I did not do ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, although I set-up the locations for it initially. I didn’t do THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN or LIVE AND LET DIE. For me it’s important to do other films, like SLEUTH, BARRY LYNDON or SALON KITTY. It’s almost like therapy for me, and then to come back to Bond.

    CF: But now you don't have to just go wild, you have to go wilder and wilder. So the madness should be complemented by some reasoning?

    KA: Making James Bond films, at least lately, has become a sort of fair, democratic debating society, where even the prop man might come up with a great idea. Of course, as we now normally start off from a location shoot; the writer is present, the director and the producer, and myself too. A lot of decisions are made then: you see something like the Carioca in Rio De Janeiro, and you think, wouldn’t it be nice to use that setting in a chase sequence? So the first contribution is made by this team going out on location. But ideas keep getting changed, and the good thing about a Bond movie is that anybody is allowed an opportunity to express their opinion.

    CF: Is your presence necessary during the shooting, for I assume that everything is very carefully planned and set up?

    KA: Yes, it is carefully planned, but it still needs a certain amount of supervision. I don’t ever like to walk away, even when shooting a relatively unimportant set, because it may well be that the unimportant element takes up three minutes of screen time. And if it's bad, I squirm in my seat, blaming myself for not having paid more attention to that.

    CF: How many different sets are used for MOONRAKER ?

    KA: With studio and location interiors, we had something like fifty-two sets. We had to make more use of location interiors on this picture, because of the limitation of studio space. We used the Chateau of Vaux-le- Vicomte, we also used Guermantes , another chateau. In Venice, we shot quite a lot of interiors, and I also shot at the Beaubourg Centre in Paris, which impresses me tremendously ; I felt it was like a Bond set. It’s the first Bond I have been involved with where we have used so many location interiors. At Pinewood I have eighteen stages, but here I was forced to use location interiors, which I could not have had the time or space to build in the F rench studios.

    CF: What is your impression of the Bond features?

    KA: I think that the important thing is if you can keep an audience continuously entertained, whether by action sequences—I don't think there’s any literary oeuvre so far!—or stunts, or background and setting. And the character of Bond is obviously the main catalyst of it all, the common denominator.

    CF: Do you know what you will do after MOONRAKER ?

    KA: I have been offered many science fiction scripts which, at the moment, I haven’t been all that interested in. One gets a little more choosy, the older one gets! I would like to get involved in the producing end of filmmaking. I’m no businessman. I'm not interested in making deals, but I am strongly interested in the creative production aspect, that is, casting, script, direction, etc. I might possibly do that sort of tiling in the future. □

    END OF INTERVIEW

    I was staggered to learn that his budget for DN was only 20k - the sets he produced for that were amazing.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 600MI6 Agent

    The real stars of Moonraker are Ken Adam and John Barry.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,879Chief of Staff

    Thanks, @Revelator, and I second that opinion.

  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 26,999Chief of Staff

    Thanks for reproducing that interview @CoolHandBond, it’s really interesting to hear someone’s insights and input into these films 🍸

    YNWA 97
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    Thanks for that @CoolHandBond and may I third the sentiments about MR.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    John Brosnan interviews special effects technician Derek Meddings in Starburst #12 (1979)

    Moonraker is different from all other Bond films in that for the first time the interiors weren't being shot at Pinewood but at a studio in France — only Meddings and his team of effects men were based at the English studio. The reasons for shooting Moonraker in France apparently revolves around the subject of tax - due to the increasing harshness of the British tax laws producer Albert R. Broccoli had to move both himself and his company out of the country. However, filming a Bond epic in France has created a number of problems, mainly because the Paris studio concerned has never had to handle a production of this size before and as a result of the various teething troubles costs have risen rather higher than expected. In the long run it may turn out that it would have been cheaper to make the film in England, tax problems and all. I asked Meddings if moving the main Bond unit to France had caused him any particular problems;

    "There's always a problem when you're separated from the main unit because then you've got to keep in contact by phone and that's not as easy as one thinks. When you get through to the French studios you either don't understand what they’re saying or they don't understand you. Then when you get someone who knows what you're talking about you can find that the director is on another stage or at a different studio and by the time he gets to the phone and rings you back you've forgotten what you were going to ask him in the first place. I'm exaggerating, of course, but it is difficult to explain what you have in mind for a special effects show over the phone because so often you need to draw what you want to do to communicate the idea quickly and simply. Someone can so easily misinterpret what you're trying to describe over the phone . . ."

    I asked if, in that case, it would have been easier for Meddings to do the effects in France as well : "I wouldn't do the effects over there, he said, "Because Pinewood is a fantastic studio and I know everybody here. I not only have my own crew here who know how I work and who I can totally rely upon but I have a lot of studio personnel as well who are also excellent — riggers, carpenters, electricians, etc who I've known over the years and who I like working with . . . it's like working with a bunch of friends. I don't say this makes your problems easier but at least it makes solving them a little more pleasant because you know that everyone is trying their best to assist you in getting what you want. At Pinewood I have this enthusiasm behind me which I wouldn't get elsewhere, and of course there's the problem of communication when you're working abroad. I know because I've done it . . . I had a foreign crew on Zero Population and though some of them could speak English you still get misinterpretations ... I mean this happens when you're speaking to people who are English."

    I gazed at the storyboard that surrounded us and asked Meddings if he was obliged to follow it drawing by drawing. "No, not really," he replied, "I'm bound to it as much as I want to be. I give the artist a free hand to be as elaborate as he wants . . . because if I was the producer of a picture on which I was also doing the special effects I'd probably design them so simply on the storyboard they'd be terrible. While I was doing the storyboard I'd probably say to myself, well I won't put that in because it would be a terrific effects problem so I'll do a simple alternative. So it's good to let someone have a free hand and have them put in whatever they think should be on the storyboard, no matter how difficult it might be to shoot. If he draws a spaceship doing something complicated I don't want him to say, no, we can't do that shot so I won't draw it ... he can draw whatever he wants. And over the weeks as one stands and looks at these storyboards you think of ideas of how to overcome the problems involved in each shot ... hopefully."

    But what happens if there is no way of reproducing a particular drawing on film because it is too difficult or whatever — have you carte blanche to change the storyboard, I asked him?

    "As long as it doesn't alter the story and I don't kill Bond off by mistake I can change the way we're going to do it, but l always consult the director first otherwise he would get a surprise. I just can't tear a few pages out of the script or tear up the storyboard saying I can't do that scene — that's admitting defeat . . . there's always a way of doing it somehow."

    The storyboard was dominated by spaceships and other space-age technology and I asked how his methods for shooting this type of material differed from those used by the Star Wars people.

    "Well, from what I can gather John Dykstra in Star Wars did his flying sequences in a totally different way ... his models were suspended in front of a blue screen on a rod covered in the same blue material and the camera did all the actual moving. But blue screen worries me as I think it worries most people. You do part of a shot and then several weeks later they start putting in the background and if you don't get the right balance in the lighting either the background or the foreground model seems to be brighter or darker and it doesn't match. And of course if it's not done in controlled conditions you can get shrinkage so that you end up with a dark image around the spaceship. You certainly wouldn't notice it if the spaceship was flying against a space background but if it passes in front of a planet or another spacecraft you get this fringing around it.

    "It's worrying because it can be several months before you see the shot, depending on how much you put into the laboratory to be combined, and realize that it's terrible. I don't think anything can beat being able to see the finished shot the day after you've done it, so I like to be able to film as many of the image components as possible at the same time."

    I mentioned the large spindle-shaped drum painted to represent the Earth that I had seen in the studio. Presumably this enabled Meddings to film his models against an Earth background all in one shot whereas in Star Wars the background would have been added later. I asked if the drum was his own invention.

    "I don't know. It's hard to say. I've certainly never seen it being used anywhere else. I used the method first when I did Doppelganger. It seemed to me, after weeks of struggling trying to think how I could get the Earth to revolve that this was the only way to do it . . . unless you made a huge monster of a sphere. It's just like a cylinder really. Ours is quite large because we're trying to put things in front of it but you can make them any size you want depending on the shot you want. I used this system on Superman too."

    I asked how a model would be filmed in relation to the dummy Earth. Was it simply filmed in front of the drum?

    "Well, on lots of occasions we do just that. We have to get it running really smoothly so that we can shoot 16 frames a second — if we can get the depth of focus and the amount of light we need we can run at high speeds. We have to do a certain amount of cheating the same as I think anyone who is using blue screen would do. And there are some shots where you can't avoid using blue screen. “

    Whereas the models in Star Wars were stationary while the camera provided the illusion of movement, Meddings' models actually have to move. How is this achieved?

    "Well, we use all sorts of methods. We fly them on wires but not always. Sometimes we put them on rods but if you're shooting against certain backgrounds you have to use wires, or you can attach the model to a sheet of glass. Every shot has its own set of problems."

    Was there any pressure on Meddings to top the effects in Star Wars?

    "Not really because the difference is that our picture is going to be factual in its space scenes whereas Star Wars was a space fantasy. By the time Moonraker comes out the Americans will have launched their space shuttle — well, I hope they will but they're having problems at the moment — and I think people will be able to compare the shots in our film with the shots of the real shuttle craft. We have an adviser from NASA here at the studio so he sees everything we do and tells us if we're doing it wrong. So I'm confident that what you'll see on the screen in Moonraker will be factual as far as the space shuttle is concerned.”

    I asked if it was more dififcult having to be factual in the space scenes than being able to let loose as in Start Wars?

    "Yes, I think it is. Although I must admit that we are going to add sound effects to the space stuff which, of course, isn't factual. I don't know at this stage if we're going to put on the sound of motors as the space shuttle goes by or whether it's just going to be music or some weird electronic effects but it certainly adds to the shots. In our rushes we compare the same shots mute and then with sound and it really becomes a totally different shot."

    And what does the NASA adviser think of that?

    "Well he agrees that we should put the sound on because now it's more or less expected by audiences. Of course, having said it's going to be factual, if we add sound that will destroy the authenticity, but visually it's going to be factual. Anyway the sound part is all up to the director , , . he may eventually decide to leave the sound off."

    I made the observation that the set of problems facing him on this picture were totally different from those on The Spy Who Loved Me.

    "Yes, because a tanker is something that everyone in the audience has had the opportunity to see, either on newsreels or in real life when they've been on holiday. Now when it comes to space, people have seen documentary footage of American spacecraft but it's always a bit confusing because you never see the space ships cruising past the camera as you would, say, in 2001 or Star Wars. Instead you see close-ups of parts of them or whatever because usually the footage is being taken by a man who is in the thing. But what you invariably see in this type of footage are shots of the Earth and that's what we're trying to simulate in Moonraker . . . we're trying to get the Earth to look real. Because if you can get the audience to accept that it's the real Earth on the screen then you can hang anything in front of it and they will accept that too."

    I asked about the space shuttle. How big was the actual model?

    "We've got varying size models. Our largest is about six feet long and we've got them right down to little tiny things, like dinky toys, for some shots. We even had to shoot the space shuttle being launched which was quite exciting. We showed it being launched from the ground which is how the Americans will do it. A lot of people seem to think it's going to be launched from the back of a 747 but that has only been done for test flights within the atmosphere. When the thing actually goes into space it will be launched standing on its tail like any other rocket. The only difference is that some of our launching sequences will take place in an underground chamber but we are going to do one launch from the surface of a desert somewhere.

    "The space shuttle we use is completely authentic. AIMS, the company that has been building the real shuttle for NASA, invited us to their base in California and they were most helpful. They gave us all the photographs they could lay their hands on and all the information available. We also saw the space shuttle itself because they were actually building two while we were there and one was nearly completed. I think it was the one they were going to do all their final atmospheric tests with because they were attaching all these glass tiles to it which will protect it during re-entry.” (These same tiles caused problems during the subsequent test flights and are one of the reasons why the actual launch has been postponed, so it seems the Moonraker's shuttle will beat the real one into space.)

    "There were no problems at all in getting information because it's not a secret operation or a military project. So our interiors are going to be the exact replica of the real thing. And from the way they described their proposed launching system I believe ours will be exactly the same. Certainly the NASA man with us, Eric Burgess, is thrilled to bits with what we've shot so far."

    I indicated the section of the storyboard dealing with the villain's huge space station. How authentic wouid that be?

    "Well, it's supposed to be a thousand foot in diameter so it's obviously quite large but not an impossibility. All the Americans need is the money and they can fill the whole heavens with stuff like that."

    I commented that the model of the station was presumably quite large. Surely it was too big to film in front of the revolving Earth cylinder so how did Meddings go about getting both it and the Earth in the same shot? "Yes, it is a large model , . . about sixteen feet across . . . and we've also got a number of sections of it, some full-scale. We would have to matte that against the Earth, but not with a blue screen. We'll do It either with front or back projection. We hang the model before a front projection screen which will project a plate of the revolving drum that we've already shot. I don't mind those type of matting shots because you can see the results the following day.

    "I'm shooting the space station in the giant 007 Stage where we did the interior of the tanker in The Spy Who Loved Me ... I need enough room to be able to get the station and the other models in together and be able to wander around them with the camera. We're also going to build a rather large full-scale section of the space shuttle in the 007 Stage too.”

    In an interview producer Albert Broccoli announced that the climax of Moonraker would consist of a "20 minute battle in outer space". I asked Meddings about this and he gave a wan smile, saying: "I hope he's right ... it will be the big effects sequence in the film and it really is going to be a problem. I don't know if it will last 20 minutes on the screen, that will depend on the director and the editor.

    "Scenes in space, like underwater scenes, can sometimes be a bit slow and there have to be some quick cuts to speed things up ... so it will probably be a shorter sequence in the finished film. Shorter but hopefully a fantastic one. But as you talk to me now I'm dreading it because I know the problems we're going to get involved in. They're not insurmountable problems, it's really the problem with time. Every day that goes by you look at the storyboard and you feel that you've done a lot, then you look at another corner of the room and there are all the other sequences that you haven't even started. We've already been shooting for three months and there's still a hell of a lot to do. But I suppose like every other picture we'll get it done in the end."

    Well, by now we all know the answer to that one. And from what I've seen of the finished special effects in Moonraker at the time or writing Derek Meddings and his team can claim another triumph.

    END OF INTERVIEW

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,879Chief of Staff

    This is great reading, thanks for starting the thread CHB.

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 600MI6 Agent

    Yes, thank you @CoolHandBond !

    I got a big chuckle out of Medding's reaction to Cubby promising a "20 minute battle in outer space".

    "Wan smile," followed by "I hope he's right...it will probably be a shorter sequence in the finished film."

    As it was, thank goodness. And superbly done.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    A great interview, which neatly compliments the professional film reviews on the other thread @CoolHandBond

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,591MI6 Agent

    Interview with Desmond Llewellyn From Cinefantastique December 1999 by David Giammarco.

    You may not know his name, but you certainly know his letter: Q. AKA Major Boothroyd, head of MI6’s "Q" Branch, the British Secret Service department responsible for supplying James Bond with his dazzling array of uniquely lethal gadgets and wildly modified sports cars, 86-year-old Desmond Llewelyn remains the last thread throughout the entire Bond series.

    "Bond is the most famous fictional character in the world and I suppose I'm the most famous small-part actor," laughed Llewelyn on the Pinewood Studios set of THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH. "I've only had tiny parts in the films, and yet I'm known all over the world.

    Even though he's played cinema's most brilliant inventor, Llewelyn lamented that not only is he technologically illiterate in real-life, but he admits he's absolutely hopeless. "I can't even fix the toaster," he sighed. " I know nothing about gadgets. I've had to learn all my lines over the years like a parrot! If I'm in the London underground and my train ticket doesn’t work going through the turnstile, somebody will inevitably Say, 'You're Q - I thought you ought to be able to at least do that!,,,

    He noted people are always surprised to see him traveling London's public transport system, "but I'm a pensioner, and to travel up to London by car or taxi is too expensive," he explained.

    Llewelyn, the distinguished, silver-haired Welsh actor, is marking his 17th appearance in the 007 series with THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, having acted in every official Bond film but DR. NO and LIVE AND LET DIE. For 36 years, the long-suffering Q has had to endure 007's consistent cavalier and reckless handling of his technological wonders. Q has remained the series' most endearing character, constantly scolding Bond to "Pay atten- tion, 007!" and futilely pleading with the reckless agent to "Bring it back in one piece!" And, of course, Bond never does. Llewelyn admitted those ever-frustrating lectures to Bond are still enjoyable.

    Any acting is always fun to me," smiled Llewelyn, who made his film debut in 1939 in the Will Hay comedy ASK A POLICEMAN. Unfortunately, I don't get much of an opportunity to do it these days as I've been so typecast as Q. But I’m lucky, because I've managed to get three days worth of work on this one."

    And for THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, Llewelyn has also gotten a new assistant, named "R." But to the world, R is perhaps better known under his civilian name - John Cleese. The Monty Python funnyman is making the first of what will be regular Bond appearances as a Q-Branch wizard. "John Cleese is extremely good," reported Llewelyn. "He's very funny, and it's been quite enjoyable working with him. Now someone else can share in the grief Bond has given Q” he chuckled.

    Llewelyn say his favorite Bond film still remains 1963's FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, where he not only made his first appearance as the gizmo guru, but got to introduce the now infamous trick briefcase, complete with balanced throwing knife tear-gas disguised as a talcum powder canister, in- frared telescope sight, 40 rounds of ammunition and an AR7 folding rifle.

    " I just think it was an extra-ordinarily good film,' Llewelyn reflected. " I think Sean [Connery] was at his best. Terence Young directed it absolutely brilliantly. And to be honest, I think a lot of the success that the Bonds have had should be attributed to Terence. He was sort of a Bond character himself. I think those first four Bond films are absolute classics, because they were Fleming stories, you see. And brilliantly adapted by Richard Maibaum. I think they showed Bond at his best.

    But I think the others are extremely good too," added Llewelyn, who met Ian Fleming for the first time on the set of 1964's GOLDFINGER.

    ''They've all kept the same essence of Fleming. But, of course, the last one was more adapted for young people. There was terrific action. And I think with any luck, this new one doesn't have quite so much action- it's more going back to what it should be."

    For THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, Llewelyn delivers a new array of high-tech toys to his least-favorite secret agent, including a souped-up speed-boat, new sport car with all the bells and whistles, and even an inflatable coat. "You know, the usual stuff," said Llewelyn matter-of-factly. But after 36 years of every gadget imaginable, Llewelyn say his favorite still remains the Aston Martin DB-5 from GOLDFINGER.

    The fact that Llewelyn is still acting is a feat in itself - one that relatives , the call of the cloth and a world war could not derail. Born in South Wales in 1913, he was the son of a coal-mining engineer and seemed destined for a career in that field. When he failed the eye exam to be come a policeman, he thought about becoming a minister and went on a week-long retreat. "But I knew right away that was definitely not for me." What was left was acting, Llewelyn decided . ' I was accepted to the Royal Academy for the Dramatic Arts," he said, feigning a bit of pomposity before saying “They had about 200 women and 50 men in the academy so I think they were only too glad to take any man who happened to come along."

    But then World War 2 put an end to his plans. In September, 1939, Llewelyn went to Sandhurst and was later commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army. He was assigned to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and went to France in early 1940. In a short time, his regiment was fighting the Germans, and Llewelyn's company was captured. For the next five years, he was a prisoner of war at several camps in Germany.

    After the war Llewellyn returned to London to revive his acting career. 'Then my agent called me one day and said he had a role for me in the new James Bond movie."

    That was 1963, and producer Albert Broccoli was producing his second 007 movie, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, following up on the character's debut in DR. NO the year before. The popularity was building stradily. But did Llewelyn think he would end up becoming part of a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, going on 37 years now? " Oh good God, no! I don't think anybody did," he said. "I thought it would just be a one time thing, really. And then I was thrilled when I was asked to do GOLDFINGER.

    So what does Llewelyn think is the secret to the enduring success of the James Bond films? "I think it's because, as Ian Fleming said, Bond is what every man would like to be” Llewelyn mused. "The films are pure fantasy, you see. Everything is bigger and larger than life. And Cubby Broccoli who was responsible really for the whole set up, followed Fleming's dictum, which was to any thriller add all the advantages of expensive living. Give Bond the right clothes, the right background and the right girls, set your story in the most beautiful place, describe everything in minute detail, and take your story along so fast that nobody notices the idiosyncrasies in it. And Cubby did that, and he also added Hitchcock's thing, which was when you come to a climax, you then have another one and another one."

    How does Llewelyn rank the Bond’s?

    Sean Connery: "He used to fiddle a lot in the scenes, which used to distract me from remembering my lines. Now I'm an old man, and as much as I flub, I don 't really mind. One can always say,'Oh, poor old Desmond. He's so old he can't remember his lines.' Which is reaJly quite true."

    George Lazenby: "An amateur. You can not put a man who has had no experience in the theatre or in films into a part like that. He was a car salesman, and he really didn't know anything about acting.

    Roger Moore: "I think a lot of people underestimated Roger, because he had such a fantastically difficult job following Sean Connery. But he did it brilliantly."

    Timothy Dalton: "Timothy went back to the Bond of Fleming's books. He took the part very seriously- perhaps too seriously, some say. But I think Timothy was a much more real Bond than the others."

    Pierce Brosnan: " He's actually a very good mix of Sean, Roger and Timothy. He makes a sensational Bond- the role fits him like a glove.

    END OF INTERVIEW

    CHB says: Desmond Llewellyn - what a lovely man he was - and no one, but no one, will ever be able to replace him as our beloved Q.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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