Getting the coveted role of suave superspy James Bond is a double standard — a blessing and a curse. Once you become successful as Ian Fleming’s dashing 007, you’re a marked man — literally in Hollywood. However, it was still shaken and stirred for actor Roger Moore, in his new book, My Word Is My Bond.
Moore’s career, which spanned over four decades, includes his international breakthrough role as modern-day Robin Hood crimefighter Simon Templar in the small-screen adaptation of Leslie Charteris’ The Saint (1962-69).
He was set on replacing on Sean Connery as James Bond the first time with 1969’s Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but Moore was still under contract for The Saint, so George Lazenby accepted the role. Moore got a second chance in 1973 with Live and Let Die.
The book recounts the 80-year-old’s tough days of portraying the legendary secret agent — starting with his first Bond vehicle.
“Jimmy Bond had a big jet boat chase in ‘Live and Let Die'” Moore writes. “I did quite a few run-throughs to practice and whilst banking on one such run, the engine cut out. I had no steering! I therefore continued in a straight line … directly into a wooden boat house.
“There I was, as a fearless 007, hobbling on a cane to my boat and then pretending to be indestructible for the cameras. Who says I can’t act?”
My Word Is My Bond also accounts the new Bond bumped into a young Steven Spielberg at a hotel in Paris.
“He was a huge Bond fan and said that he would love to direct one of the films” Moore continues. “He’d recently had great success with ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters’ and was considered a very hot property. I was rather excited at this news and went looking for (film producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli) to tell him.
“[But] It’s always been policy that no Bond director ever got a slice of the box office profits. So, Spielberg went off and made ‘Indiana Jones’ who I reckon to be a period of James Bond.”
Moore was the second actor to play Bond — but was the longest. He continued the role in six more films throughout the 70s and the mid-80s, with 1985’s A View To A Kill as his final Bond picture when Moore was reaching 60. Though still having a license to kill, his Bond was more light-hearted and bit of a ladies’ man.
After retiring from Bond, Moore went on to do occasional guest spots on episodic television such as Alias, and feature films like 1997’s Spiceworld with — you guessed it — the Spice Girls. The actor received his star on the Hollywood Walk of the Fame last year just shy of his 80th birthday.
Off-screen, Moore is active in charities, and has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 1991. His work with UNICEF led him to be honored as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003.
“I was proud”, he said when accepting the citation, “because I received it on behalf of UNICEF as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years.”
My Word is My Bond will due in bookstores on November 4.