George Lazenby: Interview
SwindonWeb meets up with the former 007 here in Swindon
When you hear them, you probably think of the dulcet (often impersonated) Scottish tones of Sean Connery, or the soft Irish accent of Pierce Brosnan.
You may even picture the camp raised eyebrow of Roger Moore.
But I'll bet you don't think of Timothy Dalton. Who was he?
But if you're a true Bond fan, and someone who appreciates Ian Fleming's 007 character for what he should be - a hard hitting, hard-nosed, no compromise charmer who oozes sex appeal - then George Lazenby has to be the best ever to utter the immortal phrase.
It was he who won the role as James Bond purely on muscle and good looks. He literally smashed and grabbed his way to becoming the world's most famous screen spy when no one gave him a chance.
He beat over 400 other hopefuls to the part that surely meant instant fame, fortune and the career that every aspiring actor dreams of. The 'big one'.
But ultimately, in his own parlance, he made a very un-Bond-like error of judgement and 'blew it'.
As we asked him, in an extremely rare interview Lazenby gave SwindonWeb during a guest appearance at the Infinitely Better store in Swindon, the star of 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' [OHMSS] spoke candidly about his lengthy, often frustrating, 'interview' for the role; what really clinched it for him; why it wasn't the dream ticket he thought it was going to be; and why he decided to turn down a seven picture deal to unexpectedly quit the role after only doing one film.
Interview: 10 June 2005
SwindonWeb [SW]; George Lazenby [GL]
[SW]: The fight scenes, George, during your screen test for James Bond. That was the big thing that impressed the producers, Broccolli and Saltzman, wasn't it?
[SW]: So they really kept you on tenderhooks. You really didn't know you were going to get the role?
[GL]: Yeah, absolutely! I got to the stage where it was "Tell me, or f**k off!". That's where I was at. I can remember saying "It's about time" when they told me. And they said "What?". I said, "Thank you very much!".
Watch OHMSS Clip
courtesy of YouTube
Lazenby Final Scene
[SW]: So, what was the time between you being confirmed as James Bond, and filming actually starting.
[GL]: It was just a couple of weeks. Two or three weeks. They told me to "go and get lost" and not to talk to the press. They had a deal with LIFE magazine and if we lose that deal we probably won't go with you. So hide yourself away. There's a travel agent there and you can go anywhere you want. The funny part there was that we had the cover of LIFE magazine and just before I was announced, the Pope banned the Pill [laughs], so he got the cover! We got four pages on the inside.
[SW]: So, is it true that on your first day of filming OHMSS, the security guard at Pinewood Studios didn't recognise you and wouldn't let you in?
[GL]: Yes [laughs].
[SW]: And did you arrive in an Aston [Martin] or on a motorbike?
[GL]: A motorbike.
[SW]: So they gave you a car after that? What did they say - "You can't be coming here on a motorbike" or something?
[GL]: No, what happened was, Harry Saltzman asked to have lunch with me. And he asked me what it would take to "get me off the motorcycle". I replied, "I didn't know you wanted me off the motorcycle!". He said, "How about we give you an Aston Martin?". I didn't bargain for it, they offered it to me. I thought, 'Great! I'll have an Aston Martin' and they leased one off the company while we were filming.
[SW]: And I suppose you didn't want to own one after you finished doing the movie? You'd had enough of all that.
[GL]: I already owned one. The air conditioning didn't work [laughs] and a few other things. But I've always thought they were a great car. I knew a lot about them. I used to be a mechanic and a car saleman, so I was still at that stage of my life when I wanted a car underneath me that excited me.
[SW]: Can I now ask you about Peter Hunt, your director on OHMSS. He was a big fan of yours and a key influence on you getting the role. But you sort of semi-fell out with him early on during the film. Did that ruin the whole thing for you?
[GL]: With me - on purpose. He later told some people that, "the longer we stay away from him [George], the meaner he looks! And it works for the film" [laughs]. He told everyone not to talk to me, not to hang out with me. It made me angry and very uptight.
[SW]: So, with all that going on and you being the big star, can I ask you about Ronan O'Reilly? What's the story on that?
[GL]: I don't want to talk about him. It's a sore point. The guy gave me some advice [to quit the part, supposedly at its peak , with films at the time like 'Easy Rider' and the hippy age making James Bond look very dated], which I took. I was wrong.
[GL]: I don't know where my life would have gone if I hadn't have done it. Had I been
so-called 'successful' and continued on I would probably have had three or four Hollywood wives and a drug addition [laughs]. That was me at the time. I just went where the flavour was at the time. I didn't have a mind of my own, which was sad. I would liked to have had the mind I have now at twenty nine.
[SW]: So, after nine months of filming, you've finished it. And then you find the papers are full of your supposed feud with Diana Rigg [his co-star] on the set. How did you feel about that? Or was it just newspaper talk?
[SW]: And can I ask about one particular scene in the movie (see YouTube clip above). The bit where you manage to see-off some big henchman in a particularly violent fight, and then you manage to dopple one of the largest amounts of caviar ever seen on a piece of toast with spilling any! How many takes did that take?
[GL]: [Laughs]. Unfortunately, Peter Hunt isn't here to talk about that. But nearly every scene in the movie was one take. He gave you one take. He would tell me that, and I would do the best that I could. It was another of his ways of increasing the intensity for me.
[SW]: That brings me onto your most famous phrase during the opening sequence of the film, the one when you're coming off the beach and you say to camera "This never happened to the other fella!". Who's idea was that?
[SW]: So, finally, it's well documented that when people look back on OHMSS, they say it was the best Bond movie for the music, the best for the story and the script, and the best for the action. There was also no gadgets. I heard you say earlier that you didn't like modern technology like digital cameras, so were you happy you didn't have to deal with any gadgets on the film and that it was all part of you being the new Bond.
[GL]: To be honest, I had so much going on at the time it didn't occur to me until after the film that they're were no gadgets. People starting saying, "Where were all the gadgets?", because previous films like Dr. No were leading the way in technology. I thought we were pretty current, though.
[SW]: One final question. The producers sent you a cheque for the next Bond movie 'Diamonds are Forever', but you sent it back.
[GL]: I had to.
[SW]: Can I ask how much it was for?
[SW]: Thank you. Mr Lazenby.
[GL]: Thank you. Nice interview.
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