Having begun his career in adverts for toothpaste and knitwear, Stockwell-born Sir Roger honed his quipping and firearm-handling in British TV series The Saint before taking the Bond baton from Sean Connery in 1973. For many men, he’s become the definitive 007; licensed to run across conveniently aligned crocodiles and chase Grace Jones up the Eiffel Tower.
ShortList rang the 84-year-old at his home in Monaco to grill him about Skyfall, life after Bond and working with diminutive, ‘sex mad’ henchmen…
How much are you looking forward to seeing Skyfall?
It looks exciting, but then trailers always do. I’m sure it will be [exciting]. I’ve got a feeling about this one…
Daniel Craig gave Bond rippling muscles so that he “looked like he could kill someone”. Do you wish you’d gone to similar lengths?
It didn’t matter what lengths I went to, my buggers would never ripple. The only thing that rolled was my belly.
Skyfall is expected to be one of the darkest Bond films yet. How do you think it will age?
No different to the ageing process of any other Bonds. They’re all interesting from the point of view of the cars and clothes of the period – though the stunts have changed a great deal. For instance, when I drove the motorised gondola down a tight alleyway in Moonraker, the FX boys put Vaseline down the side of it so I could slip through more easily. They use more animation now.
Talking of things that slip down easily, Bond orders a Heineken in Skyfall. A product placement too far?
No, I don’t think so. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a pint of lager. Two pints are even better. Besides, man cannot live on bourbon and champagne alone.
Are you envious that Craig’s Bond is taken seriously by critics?
My envy comes from salaries, which go up year by year.
Is Craig as intense as he seems?
We shared a dressing room at the Palladium for a tribute to Cubby Broccoli. He was pleasant. People aren’t like their on-screen personas. There’s a lot of pressure on him and he was attacked so cruelly [by the papers] before he even started shooting.
Talking of being attacked, what was it like working with Grace Jones?
OK, how about Christopher Lee (Scaramanga) and Hervé Villechaize (Nick Nack)?
I used to tease Christopher mercilessly about his role in Dracula – just before the director yelled “Action!” I would lean over and say “Go on, make your eyes go red!” Dear Hervé was a fun character – and sex mad. I asked him how many girls he’d had while we were in Hong Kong. “Forty-five” he replied. I said, “Ah, it doesn’t count if you paid them.”
Sean Connery is reported to have taken LSD after shooting Goldfinger – how did you blow off steam?
A big cigar.
Bond fans want to see all six Bond actors get together. Will it ever happen?
No. It’s highly unlikely Sean would come. He’s always avoided it. Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby and I were all together with Pierce Brosnan for the 40th anniversary, but Sean… Well for him, he’d done enough Bond. He was too associated with it and tried to get rid of the character.
You seem comfortable as a Bond ambassador, but have you had any unusual encounters with fans?
Having a mammary gland thrust in your face to sign an autograph is a bit strong.
Surely James Bond can handle anything?
But then they call the police. [In a high-pitched voice] “You touched me inappropriately!”
You’re a huge tennis fan. Did you shed a tear when Andy Murray won the US Open?
Oh, it was absolutely great, I was thrilled... Actually, can you hold on one second?
Of course we can, you’re Sir Roger Moore.
[Roger leaves the phone and returns after a pause] Sorry about that, my wife is leaving me forever. I’m very stoic about it. No, she was just writing a message saying she’s going shopping and back at 11.
We wish her well with it. What are your plans for the day – a trip to the casino?
God no, I gave up gambling. A friend of mine who managed a casino in Curzon Street – where I used to go with Cubby and Harry [Saltzman, who co-produced a number of Bond films] – was fed up with seeing me lose. I started chasing my money and wearing a ‘lucky’ tie. One night, the casino manager said, “You don’t have any credit.” I said, “What do you mean?” He gave me £100,000 in chips and said, “You can play with these but you can’t cash them.” I played like a maniac for two nights and realised it was just bloody stupid and boring.
Have you seen the Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge episode where you don’t show up?
I knew about it, but I hadn’t seen it. My father, Sid, was still alive back then  and I went to see him. He said [Moore puts on a stern voice], “Son, that was a very bad thing that happened last night.” I said, “What was that?” He said, “You were supposed to be on this show and never turned up.” I then found out from my secretary what had happened. I said, “Dad, it was a joke!” He didn’t get it. He thought it would make people think I was unprofessional.
Finally, what do you miss most about England?
Pork pies. I don’t know whether they make them any more, but Sainsbury’s veal and ham pie with an egg in the middle… [lets out a cry of delight] Delicious! You don’t get them in Monaco.
Bond On Bond by Roger Moore KBE (Michael O’Mara) is out now
(Image: Rex Features)