The following interview was taken from "The Incredible World of 007" by Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa.
Q: Is it true that you were originally considered for the role of James Bond by Ian Fleming?
A: I have no idea. I never
met Ian Fleming, but I remember when the search for Bond was
going on. I really wasn't aware of Bond until then. I
was doing The Saint and The Daily Express was
conducting a search for Bond. However since I was involved
with The Saint I would not have been available, although
Cubby told me later I had been on "the short list."
Q: You were asked, however to play the rolde on subsequent occasions.
A: Yes, before George Lazenby took
over. At that time they were talking about going to
Cambodia, and all hell broke loose and things got
postponed. Lew Grade decided to sell a series Tony Curtis
and I did- The Persuaders- which sort of precluded me from
doing Bond. They then had the search and came up with
Q: Although that was an excellent series, it wasn't a hit in the U.S. Is that why you were unexpectantly free to play Bond in Live and Let Die?
A: Well, the show was an enormous hit in
Europe and is still quite popular there. However, its
cancellation did allow me to do the Bond film.
Q: Did you have any reservations about following in Connery's footsteps?
A: I didn't have any reservations,
because, as I said at the time, four or five thousand actors have
played Hamlet! Everyone had their own interpretation.
The only time I had any nervousness about what was going to
happen occurred after I had finished the film. I was in a
car heading to London for our first big press conference prior to
the opening, and the nerves lasted about three minutes. I
realized it was rather like being on the way to a delivery room,
and that kid's going to come out one way or another!
Q: Did you consciously try to give the character your own individual style, as opposed to Lazenby, who adopted Connery's methods?
A: Well, Lazenby had a big disadvantage in
that he hadn't been an actor before, but he was a model. He
did look good, and that is how he came into the role. I was
already fairly established, so I didn't have that
disadvantage. For OHMSS, I think Peter Hunt did an
excellent job. I think the film was a very good episode in
the Bond series. Guy Hamilton learned from the experiences
on that film, however, and later said we would avoid doing
anything that would result in my being directly compared with
Sean. I never said anything like "A martini - shaken,
Q: Is it true you "ad-libbed" much of your dialogue?
A: They were well rehearsed
"ad-libs"! They were particularly prevalent on
the films Lewis Gilbert directed. We used to have a great
fun with Desmond Llewelyn, although I later had the co-operation
of John Glen. For example, Desmond always hated wearing
shorts! I would always allow him to overhear me say that
the script should call for Desmond to wear shorts. It used
to drive him mad! Most of the ad-libs were discussed in
advance with the writer, the director and Cubby. We
would sometimes shoot two or three versions, and whichever one
worked, we would use. One of the best one-liners was
written by Tom Mankiewicz for Diamonds are Forever.
Sean meets Lana Wood at a craps table in Las Vegas, and she says
"My name is O'Toole - Plenty O'Toole." Sean
replies "After your father perhaps?" Mankiewicz
gave me a great line, which I loved as well, in Man with the
Golden Gun. When I hold the sights of the rifle down on
the gunmaker and say "Speak now or forever hold your
Q: We understand there was always a spirit of cooperation among everyone on the set.
A: Yes, the series could not have gone on
for this length of time without that cooperation. A lot of
the original team have stayed with the series all the way
through. For instance, Cubby was always very avuncular, and
absolutely lovely to have around. He would always have the
backgammon board ready. We had a running game going from my
first film to my last.
Q: When you first signed on as 007, did you envision you would be playing the role through seven films over a period of 12 years?
A: I didn't think I would go beyond
two! I figured the films would have run their course.
As it went on, people would ask me "How does it keep
running?" Well, it was like a fairy tale for kids -
basically the same story, and it must never change. People
know what to expect when they go to see a Bond film. They
pay their money, and get their money's worth. The set are
beautiful, the locations are glamorous, the ladies are lovely,
the action is there -tongue in cheek, and very spectacular.
Q: Can you recall any stunts that placed you in personal danger?
A: All of them - like getting up out of a
chair! In fact, in The Spy Who Loved Me a stunt
involving a chair left me with 3 holes in my backside where most
people only have one! Originally, I was supposed to be
behind the chair, which was protected with steel lining. An
explosion was to go on in front of it. I said there really
wasn't any suspense, and it would be much more effective if I was
sitting down. So I did. The explosion went off just a
bit too soon, and now I need 3 toilets! It was painful and
embarrassing. I had to go twice a day down to the studio nurse
and have the dressings changed on my backside!
Q: Were you an admirer of the series prior to taking over the role of Bond?
A: I hadn't seen all of them. Cubby
and Harry were friends of mine. We used to sit around the
(gambling) tables like real life James Bonds, and that's how we
met. They would sometimes show me the films in the Audley
Square screening room. I think Sean was terrific.
Years later when we were both doing our Bond films
simultaneously, we would see each other and commiserate with the
discomfort of it all - you know, what they were doing to him and
what they were doing to me in terms of stunts, and all
that. Sean and I are now trying to find a film in which
Michael Caine could be involved. I think it would be a
mistake for Sean and I to play up "The Two James
Q: Do you have an opinion of Timothy Dalton's interpretation of 007?
A: I must tell you the truth - I have not
seen them, and for a very good reason. Knowing that I would
et asked questions like that, I'm always desperately
honest. If I didn't like the performance, I don't know how
I would answer. I do know Timothy, and he is a very, very
pleasant chap and a good actor.
Q: Do you have a personal favorite among the films in the series?
A: Among the ones I did, The Spy Who Loved Me was the one I enjoyed best. I think it was the one where all the elements worked. It had the right balance of locations and humor. I also enjoyed working with Lewis Gilbert tremendously.