Bond, James Bond PT8: Roger Moore

21 Apr

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“When ever a Bond film I was in opened, I never read my bad reviews.”

Sir Roger George Moore was on October 14, 1927, in a bourough of London. He is an English actor, perhaps best known for playing British secret agent James Bond in the official film series for seven films between 1973 and 1985, and Simon Templar in The Saint from 1962 to 1969. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the children’s charity UNICEF.

Worldwide fame arrived after Lew Grade cast Moore as Simon Templar in a new adaptation of The Saint, based on the novels by Leslie Charteris. Moore said in an interview, during 1963, that he wanted to buy the rights of Leslie Charteris’s character and the trademarks. He also joked that the role was supposed to have been meant for Sean Connery who was unavailable. The television series was made in the UK with an eye on the American market, and its success there (and in other countries) made Moore a household name – and in spring 1967 he eventually had reached the level of an international top star. It also established his suave, quipping style which he would carry forward to James Bond. Moore would also go on to direct several episodes of the later series, which moved into colour in 1967.

The Saint ran from 1962 for six seasons and 118 episodes, making it (in a tie with The Avengers) the longest-running series of its kind on British television. However, Moore grew increasingly tired of the role, and was keen to branch out. He made two films immediately after the series had ended: Crossplot, a lightweight ‘spy caper’ movie, and the more challenging The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). Directed by Basil Dearden, it gave Moore the opportunity to demonstrate a wider versatility than the role of Simon Templar had allowed, although reviews at the time were lukewarm, and both did little business at the box office.

Because of his commitment to several television shows, in particular the long-lasting series The Saint, Roger Moore was unavailable for the James Bond franchise for a considerable time. His participation in The Saint was not only as actor, but also as a producer and director, and he also became involved in developing the series The Persuaders!. Moore stated in his autobiography My Word Is My Bond (2008) that he had neither been approached to play James Bond in Dr. No, nor does he feel that he had ever been considered. It was only after Sean Connery had declared in 1966 that he would not play Bond any longer that Moore became aware that he might be a contender for the role. But after George Lazenby was cast in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and then Connery played Bond again in Diamonds Are Forever, Moore didn’t consider the possibility until it seemed abundantly clear that Connery had in fact stepped down as Bond for good. At that point Moore was approached, and he accepted producer Albert Broccoli’s offer in August 1972. Moore says in his autobiography that he had to cut his hair and lose weight, but although he resented that, he was finally cast as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973).

Moore played Bond in Live and Let Die (1973); The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); The Spy Who Loved Me (1977); Moonraker (1979); For Your Eyes Only (1981); Octopussy (1983); and A View to a Kill (1985).

Moore is the longest-serving James Bond actor, having spent 12 years in the role (from his debut in 1973, to his retirement from the role in 1985), and having made seven official films in a row. Moore is the oldest actor to have played Bond – he was 45 in Live and Let Die (1973), and 58 when he announced his retirement on 3 December 1985.

Moore’s Bond was very different than the character created by Ian Fleming. Screenwriters like George MacDonald Fraser provided scenarios in which 007 was a kind of seasoned, debonair playboy who would always have a trick or gadget in stock when he needed it. This was designed to serve the contemporary taste in the 1970s.

In 2004 Moore was voted ‘Best Bond’ in an Academy Awards poll, and he won with 62% of votes in another poll in 2008. In 1987 he hosted Happy Anniversary 007: 25 Years of James Bond.

During Moore’s Bond period he starred in 13 other films, including the thriller Gold (1974), an unorthodox action film The Wild Geese, and played a millionaire so obsessed with Roger Moore that he had had plastic surgery to look like his hero in Cannonball Run (1981). He even made a cameo as Chief Inspector Clouseau, posing as a famous movie star, in Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) (for which he was credited as “Turk Thrust II”). However, most of these films were not critically acclaimed or commercially successful. Moore was widely criticised for making three movies in South Africa under the Apartheid regime during the 1970s. Moore was shocked by the poverty he saw when filming Octopussy, his sixth film as James Bond, in India in 1983. His friend Audrey Hepburn had impressed him with her work for UNICEF, and consequently he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991. He was the voice of ‘Santa’ in the 2004 UNICEF cartoon The Fly Who Loved Me.

Moore was involved in the production of a video for PETA that protests against the production and wholesale of foie gras. Moore narrates the video. His assistance in this situation, and being a strong spokesman against foie gras, has led to the department store Selfridges agreeing to remove foie gras from their shelves.

In 1999, Moore was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on 14 June 2003. The citation on the knighthood was for Moore’s charity work, which has dominated his public life for more than a decade. Moore said that the citation “meant far more to me than if I had got it for acting… I was proud because I received it on behalf of UNICEF as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years”.

On 11 October 2007, three days before he turned 80, Moore was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work on television and in film. Attending the ceremony were family, friends, and Richard Kiel, with whom he had acted in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Moore’s star was the 2,350th star installed, and is appropriately located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.

In 2008, the French government appointed Moore a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

On 21 November 2012, Moore was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from the University of Hertfordshire, for his outstanding contribution to the UK film and television industry for over 50 years, in particular film and television production in the County of Hertfordshire.

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