Roger Moore on Why Daniel Craig Is the Best James Bond Ever and What 007 Role He’s Dying to Play

The man who was Bond a record seven times speaks to TIME about how he got the role, all those Bond girls and why he's just changed his mind about his favorite British spy

  • Share
  • Read Later
Sir Roger Moore in 1985s "A View to a Kill"

1962-2012 Danjaq LLC and United Artists Corporation, All Rights.

He’s far more than a raised eyebrow, you know. Sir Roger Moore has played the iconic part of James Bond on seven occasions—more than any other actor. Though not considered as serious as predecessor Sean Connery, Moore had a blast as Bond, with 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me often considered one of the finest of the 23 Bond films to date. With the latest installment of the franchise, Skyfall, in theaters on Nov. 9, TIME spoke with Moore—who recently released a book, Bond on Bond—about how he got the role, all those Bond girls and why he’s just changed his mind about his favorite Bond actor.

(REVIEW: Roger Moore’s Memoir)

TIME: Tell me how the book Bond on Bond came about.

Sir Roger Moore: Just by chance. It happened because it’s the 50th anniversary of Bond and the publishers in England thought it might be a good idea to do this idea of me talking because I’ve never spoken about the other Bonds and I have my opinions. It seemed appropriate, and Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson [co-producers of the Bond films] are two of my best friends so it helps promote the film [Skyfall] and also may promote sales for me!

How did you get the role of Bond?

Before I really knew what Bond was, I knew that the English newspaper, the Daily Express, was running a competition to find a James Bond. I had no idea what it was. I hadn’t read the books. I’d started The Saint but around the same time, I’d developed a nasty habit, or continued a nasty habit, of gambling. I found myself playing at least once a week, across the table, with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. What better way for a potential Bond to meet the producers! They told me about it all and invited me to see Dr. No which, considering the low budget, was a great effort. It was a new style of editing in that genre of film and I thought Sean [Connery] was marvelous.

(MORE: The James Bond Films at 50: A Golden Franchise for the Ages)

How did you go about taking over from an icon like Sean Connery?

You don’t really think about that. How many millions of actors during the last 400 years have played Hamlet? They don’t worry about how the other fella did it—they just get on with doing it their way. And everything I do comes out exactly the same! I always sound like me.

It seems like it was meant to be that you would get the role considering your phone number at the time.

That was the most extraordinary coincidence, wasn’t it? In the old days, when you moved house in England, you’d inherit their phone number. And this was Denham 2007. I don’t think I ever answered “2007.” All I ever say on the phone is “hello!”

After your good self, is Sean Connery still your favorite Bond?

Well, I finished the book three or four months ago, but since then, I went to a screening of Skyfall and I’ve changed my opinion. I think that he [Daniel Craig] is the Bond. He’s quite brilliant. I wrote to Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [Wilson] and said…they’ve guaranteed Bond another 50 years of life.

Presumably you’d seen the other two Daniel Craig Bond movies?

Yes, I thought Casino Royale was tremendous. I thought his action was quite extraordinary—he did more action in the first 30 seconds of the film than I did in 14 years of playing Bond. To me, he looks like a killer. He looks as though he knows what he’s doing. I look as though I might cheat at backgammon.

I think you’re underselling yourself, but I’m sure he’ll be delighted to hear that. It’s really a remarkable franchise, isn’t it? Over half the world has seen at least one James Bond movie, and more people have walked on the moon than played Bond.

I felt a tremendous pride when I saw Daniel Craig and the Queen for the opening sequence of the Olympics. I thought, my lord, what other series of films would be able to get the Queen of England to agree to appear?

(VIDEO: The Sights and Sounds of the Olympics)

You’ve mentioned Daniel Craig and Sean Connery. Any thoughts on the other Bonds?

Different styles of actors. Timothy Dalton was a beautifully trained, classical actor, always gives very interesting performances. Pierce Brosnan is a more popular style of actor. In fact, when I was leaving, I suggested to Cubby that there were three: I said there’s Sam Neill, the Australian, whom I thought would be great, there’s Pierce Brosnan and there’s Timothy Dalton. Those are the three I would have chosen.

I still get such a kick out of the opening sequence to The Sky Who Loved Me, with the skiing and the big reveal at the end with your Union Flag parachute. Do you have a favorite moment?

Well it certainly was that sequence. It was quite extraordinary seeing it with an audience for the first time and hearing that gasp. First of all, it’s an incredibly long fall and then when the Union Flag opens, well, it doesn’t matter what country it’s in, or what language, it always gathered applause. It was the first time I worked with Lewis Gilbert, just a wonderful director. We introduced Jaws, and Barbara Bach isn’t exactly a terrible strain to look at. I thought it was a first class script, great fun to do and had wonderful locations.

(MORE: Every Bond Opening Sequence—Ranked)

And I still think it’s followed by the greatest Bond theme ever, “Nobody Does It Better,” sung by Carly Simon.

Oh it certainly was. Marvin Hamlisch just did a sensational job.

There’s talk that Adele might get an Oscar nomination for her “Skyfall” theme song. Do you think that would be merited?

Yes, I think it’s very close to the feeling of the late John Barry—it’s completely original, and yet it smacks of Bond.

(LIST: How Does Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ Stack Up Against the Best and Worst James Bond Theme Songs?)

Is it true that you don’t like heights, guns or explosions? That seems problematic when it comes to a role such as Bond.

Ah, well that’s where the acting comes in you see! I look incredibly brave, but I’m very, very good at getting people to look like me.

You’ve also said that you wanted to play a Bond villain?

Oh yeah, they’re the best part! Poor old Jim, all he does is stand around and say, “My name is Bond, James Bond,” whereas a villain says “this is the end of the world, this is the end of civilization as you know it, Mr Bond!”

I think they’ve [the Bond villains] all been very, very good. I particularly liked some I worked with such as Michael Lonsdale (Hugo Drax), Curt Jurgens (Karl Stromberg) and Christopher Walken (Max Zorin). Some very, very good actors.

(VIDEO: Best Bond Villains)

And that inevitably leads me to ask about the best Bond Girls—though I’m sure you have a stock answer for this highly original question.

I enjoyed working with Maud Adams—and Britt Ekland.

(PHOTOS: The Best of the Bond Girls)

Some people are saying that the real Bond Girl in Skyfall is Judi Dench’s M because she gets to sink her teeth into the role.

Judi Dench is quite marvelous, and there are surprises in the film, but I won’t ruin it for you. But the villain, my God, now there’s a villain. I think I’ve seen every one of his [Javier Bardem's] performances. He’s a marvelous, marvelous actor. A very different style of villain.

And now that he’s made it to 50 years on the silver screen, do you think Bond will get to a century?

Yes, I’m quite sure of it. For 50 years it’s gone on and people go back because it’s an old friend. Their fathers may have taken them to see it the first time, and then they take their grandfathers. And Christmas never seems to be Christmas without a Bond movie showing on a television screen somewhere.

MORE50 Things You Didn’t Know About James Bond

13 comments
DenzelSmith
DenzelSmith

roger moore was the worst bond and for him to say graig  is the best bond is an insult to all . sean connery will always be the best bond ever. no questions ask. the grace and talent sean has none of these moron has including moore

DavidBConway
DavidBConway

and  just  with  that  list  ,  i  gave  on  her , those,s  are  the  one,s  were  the  last  of  ,mr, q was  in  , 1962  to  2009 , 

DavidBConway
DavidBConway

i  know  that  this  is  my  own  , opinion   on my   list   of  actors  , but  here  is  my  list  , 1 , sean connery   and  george  lazmby  , and  the  3 ,  bronnce  and  danle  grang , 

toronto010
toronto010

craig is serious looking guy...james bond should be charming....craig acting style is very boring

urbanape
urbanape

“The Sky [sic] Who Loved Me”

dreyfus2
dreyfus2

When I was younger, I was interested in that best/worst Bond debate. The longer I know all these movies, the less this debate seems relevant to me. There were better and less good Bond movies, and I think Mr. Moore is spot on: the less good movies mainly suffered from less good villains. Connery was great, but what made Goldfinger one of the best movies ever (not "just" Bond movies) was that absolute landmark performance by Gerd Fröbe, Connery was not better or worse than in any other Bond movie he played in. Moore was definitely the most "British" Bond and he was the right actor to give the figure a more ironic aspect at a time when the old cold war borders (artificial as they were) were falling apart and that whole spy thing became an anachronism. Lazenby and Dalton had the unfortunate task to bridge between generations and did pretty well at that. Brosnan did a marvellous job at turning Bond into an gimmick-supported action figure with some pretty dry humour - a fancy and splendid "die hard" phase.

Craig is for Bond what Bale/Nolan were for Batman... A "back to the roots" and much darker view dealing with today's threats (e.g. terrorism, finance, etc.) that are actually more dangerous than the Soviet Union ever was. And he is absolutely terrific doing that. I have not seen Skyfall yet (as it has not been rolled out where I am), but I consider Casino Royal and Quantum of Solace to be the strongest revivals/re-conceptions of a figure in the history of movies. Just because a figure wasn't dead... does not mean it can't be reinvented.

Big thanks to Roger Moore. Besides being a brilliant actor, he is also a great person. I know quite a few people from his generation who only excel at complaining and ridiculing everything else, especially everything that came "after them". He is greater than that. OK, having said this, I would still kill him for a bed scene with Grace Jones :-)

uhhsam
uhhsam

The former-worst James Bond on why the new worst James Bond is the best James Bond.  Ok, sure.

lewarcher
lewarcher

True class. What a fantastic interview from someone who, at this stage of their life and career, could complain about how things aren't the same as the olden days. If I ever meet Roger Moore, I'm buying him a medium dry martini, shaken but not stirred.

LegendaryCaleb
LegendaryCaleb

Nostalgia is what makes idiots like Rich angry when better more promising and deserving actors get roles and everyone loves them...I get that being a hipster is the new thing but come on...give the guy some credit...this is not only the best bond ever but even Roger Moore thinks so and Craigs bond is easily the closest to the source material from the books which means not only does he have the most popular bond movie out but hes closest to the original bond...he is bond as moore said...

now go watch back and watch your old films and let people like me and the other millions that saw it enjoy the new films without you.

RichBianchi
RichBianchi

Roger Moore just has a crush, Daniel Craig is an abomination to the character of James Bond. Also screw Feminists who think being a ladies man is misogynist. Go crawl back into your caves.

DougScott
DougScott

I hope Craig will be signed on for more Bond films. He is awesome as 007.

DougScott
DougScott

Well said. Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever, but Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, & Shaun Connery are all decent too. I hooe Crx