Sir Roger Moore, the legendary film star who perfected the art of eyebrow acting, played the iconic role of James Bond on the silver screen for 12 years – the longest-serving 007 to date.
Now he’s making a series of appearances at theatres around the UK, including an afternoon session at The Lowry, in which he’ll discuss his life and career with inside stories and anecdotes.
“I’ve only been to Manchester once – to Old Trafford – but I believe The Lowry is a superb theatre so I’m looking forward to appearing there,” Roger says.
Popular because of his jocular, slightly self-deprecating remarks, he never seems to take himself too seriously.
After a series of minor roles in a few blockbusters he was so disenchanted with his performances he’s said to have commentated: “At MGM, RGM ( Roger George Moore) was NBG ( no b****y good!)”
So I want to know exactly when the son of a policeman from Stockwell in London first started being serious about acting?
“Not really until I walked on stage for my audition to enter the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London,” Roger chuckles from his home in Monaco. A far cry from the days when he was a knitwear – model to eke out his finances.
During his time at RADA he met Lois Maxwell, who was to become Miss Moneypenny, although he left before the course ended.
His good looks immediately marked Roger out as a leading man although he first started work as an extra where he met his idol Stewart Granger, with whom he eventually made The Wild Geese.
After moderate success in television – both here and in America – his big break came as The Saint in which he perfected his eye-brow raising and his career was made.
“I’ve enjoyed nearly every job I’ve had – otherwise what’s the point,” Roger jovially asserts.
“The same goes for The Persuaders with Tony Curtis through to the big Hollywood blockbusters,” he insists in spite of rumours that he and Curtis did not get on.
I’m eager to know Roger’s favourite film. “Lawrence of Arabia” is the immediate reply.
I prompted for one of his own films.
“The Man Who Haunted Himself which I made in 1970.”
Eventually we come to the Bond films he made between 1973 and 1985.
“I enjoyed all of them but I suppose Live and Let Die came first because I kept a journal and wrote a book about being Bond in 1973.”
The book includes an acknowledgement to a previous Bond and long-time friend Sean Connery.
When asked how often the two friends meet nowadays the veteran actor charmingly replies: “We’re both a great deal older now and Sean lives in Spain and I live in Monaco. We’re both busy people so unfortunately not as often as we used to these days.”
Reticent about commenting on other actors who’ve played 007, Roger’s gone on record praising Daniel Craig as one of the best Bonds he has seen.
He’s equally discreet about his favourite female co-star. “I loved them all,” is his chivalrous reply.
Married four times, Roger has three children who all followed him into the profession. So what advice did he give them?
“I warned them there’s only one leading man and one leading lady and told them they’ll spend a great deal of time out of work – but that still didn’t stop them.”
Since he said goodbye to Bond, the 86-year-old has devoted his life to working for charities, particularly as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, for which he received a knighthood.
Roger appears prouder of his awards for charity than his screen accolades, which include a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Nowadays home is in Monaco for Roger and his wife, multi-millionairess Kristina ‘Kiki’ Tholstrup, and the couple count European royals among their friends.
The author of several books, with another on the way – they were written with the help of Gareth Owen who worked with Roger on his autobiography, My Word Is My Bond and his latest book Bond On Bond. Gareth will interview Roger at The Lowry followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
And what’s the strangest thing he’s been asked on tour so far?
With his trademark, self-mocking wit Roger chuckles. “I was asked if my teeth were my own and I replied that I’ll pass them round the audience at the end of the show so they could judge for themselves!”
The Lowry, November 3 at 2.30pm Tel: 0843 208 6000 or visit thelowry.com