Roger Moore was Bond when Bond was Bond. You follow us? He was the world’s favourite secret agent when he wasn’t dark and brooding, just horny and full of classic one liners. We speak to arguably the most iconic actor to take up the role to discuss his time as 007, as well as his thoughts on vodka martinis and Brexit.
You got all the best lines as Bond: “Sheer magnetism”, “Keeping the British end up, sir”. Did you have a favourite?
In The Man With The Golden Gun when I’m – when Bond – is asking the gunsmith where something or other is. I line up a rifle right at his balls and say: “Speak now, or forever hold your piece.”
What’s the key to delivering a one-liner?
Timing. A great example of that is Jack Benny. The villain says: “Your money or your life?... Well?” “I’m thinking it over!”
You’ve said your favourite of your Bonds is The Spy Who Loved Me. Why?
Obviously the song: Nobody Does It Better. I mean, modesty forbids me…
It was your idea to drop the fish out of the window of the Lotus after you drive out of the sea, wasn’t it?
That’s right. Cubby [Broccoli, Bond producer] said: “Roger, you’re in a car that’s underwater and watertight. How does the fish get in there?” I said: “It’s a movie, Cubby.”
You’re self-deprecating about your acting, but there’s a great scene in that film where you tell Anya you killed her boyfriend, going from charming to ice-cold.
It’s funny you say that, [because] the director Lewis Gilbert always mentioned that scene. Maybe it was lit right! It’s easier to joke about yourself than to go on about having to work hard as an actor. Bullsh*t. Get up, say the line, don’t bump into the furniture. In the Seventies, there was an article criticising Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando for thinking of themselves as ‘great artists’. It said the only actors who made the profession acceptable, through self-deprecating humour, were David Niven and Roger Moore. The next morning there was a letter from Niven with the article attached. Across the top he’d written: “It pays to be a c*nt!”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My first week in theatre, after I came out of the Army, the director said to me: “You’re not very good. Smile when you come on.” So I smiled, and I’ve spent my life smiling.
Forget ‘shaken, not stirred’, how do you really make a perfect vodka martini?
I prefer gin. The way to make a proper gin martini is to take a martini glass and rim it with the zest of a lemon – as much zest as you can get. Then, put it in the deep freeze and take a teaspoon full of vermouth – Noilly Prat – put it in a glass, shake it around and then throw it away. Into that glass you put two jiggers of gin. Take that, and put it in the deep freeze. When the time comes, take the glasses out and pour the liquid into the martini glass. There should be a slight film on it, like oil. Drink with three olives on the side.
That sounds quite time consuming.
If a drink’s worth having it’s worth doing properly. If you’re going to have vodka, by the way, have Grey Goose.
Are you on commission?
No. Jesus, I wish I were. With gin, I like Gordon’s.
You’re a British icon – the famous spy with the Union Jack parachute – but since Brexit we have become a country struggling to figure out who we are. How do you see Britain’s place in the world?
I hope we continue to be important contributors to alleviating the effects of poverty. I don’t like the newspaper campaigns taking the government to task for the amount of money it gives other countries.
Should the UK be taking in more refugees?
I drive around England quite a lot. We have an awful lot of space, we really do. It’s because we’re a fortunate society that people want to come here. If they’re coming here for non-economic reasons then that’s all the more reason to take them. If they’re coming for economic reasons and have something to contribute, then I don’t blame the poor bastards for getting out. They’re doing exactly what the British did 400 years ago.
You recently turned 89 – what’s the secret of your longevity?
How would you like to be remembered?
“He never left a bill unpaid.”
Image credit: Rex/Getty