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Shooting Bond

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Terry O’Neill has photographed 007 for nearly 50 years. As a new exhibition opens, he talks ShortList through some of his iconic images.

Forget steel-rimmed hats, shaken martinis and suggestively named femme fatales, there is one man who is woven deeper into the fabric of 007 than even the likes of Connery and Moore. That man is decorated British photographer Terry O’Neill, who as well as capturing Sinatra, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones has snapped every Bond there’s been. How did he do it? It’s pure good fortune, apparently.

“It’s just luck really,” he tells ShortList. “When I was a kid, I was sent to shoot Sean Connery with Daniela Bianchi doing a love scene, I think it was in From Russia With Love, and I’ve been doing them ever since.”

And after foraging through the archives (“It was a long trawl – it took two years at least”), O’Neill has dusted down these incredible, behind-the-scenes images of 007 for the ‘All About Bond’ exhibition at Proud Chelsea, London (13 Sep-4 Nov; proud.co.uk) to tie in with the 50th anniversary of the impeccably tailored spy first hitting the big screen in Dr No. We interrogated him over a shark-infested pool (well, made a phone call) to find out his favourite shots...

Unsynchronised swimming, Pinewood (1973)

“This, for Live And Let Die, was quite thrilling. Roger [Moore] did a lot of his own stunts, and they [Moore and Yaphet Kotto AKA Kananga] were there fighting to the death. It was tough shooting it as it was done in a tank through a sheet of glass. Let’s just say it’s lucky I’m not claustrophobic.”

Introducing Moore, London (1973)

“This was the standard shot you did with every Bond. Whenever they announced the new Bond [Live And Let Die was Roger Moore’s first film as 007], you always did the shot with the gun. So this became the classic identifiable picture of a James Bond.”

Connery’s bath time, Pinewood (1971)

“Oh that was in his bath, in Diamonds Are Forever. This was another one that we actually did at Pinewood [Studios], and it led to a scene with Jill St John, who’s not in this picture.”

A quick 18…, Las Vegas (1971)

“Every time Sean wasn’t doing anything [during filming of Diamonds Are Forever], he’d be practising golf somewhere. He was a good golfer, though. I honestly think he could’ve been a professional.”

Goofing around, Las Vegas (1971)

“This is another from Diamonds Are Forever when we had a great time in Vegas. Sean was out every night, and I was losing my money gambling. I lost $2,000 on the first night and it took me the whole three weeks there to get it back.”

The making of an icon, Malta (1964)

“This was on an island called Gozo, just off Malta [during filming of Goldfinger]. Honor Blackman was a stunning-looking woman. I remember the studio wanted pictures of her in a bikini, and it only took me half a day to shoot.”

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