Michael Lonsdale stars as Hugo Drax in Moonraker in 1979
Following 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the end credits promised that James Bond would return in For Your Eyes Only. However, after the incredible success of Star Wars that year, 007 producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decided to capitalise on the sci-fi boom by adapting Ian Fleming’s Moonraker and taking Roger Moore’s Bond to space.
The 1979 blockbuster, which is on ITV 4 today, ended up costing a then-whopping $34 million. However, this massively paid off when it made over $210.3 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing movie of the franchise until 1995’s GoldenEye. Roger’s Bond girl co-star this time around was Lois Chiles playing Dr Holly Goodhead. Upon the late actor’s death in 2017, she shared memories of acting opposite the national treasure.
The Moonraker leading lady said: “The debonair, suave Bond you saw on screen was all Roger. Off-screen, he was pretty much the same guy. He was elegant, kind and a very dear person, though I think that was partly a defence.” Roger’s 007 was certainly the most lighthearted and camp in tone of all the other incarnations, but it was something he took in his stride.
Lois told Daily Mail: “Bond had its critics, and many had questioned Roger’s acting. But he would joke about that. When honoured by the Friar’s Club in New York, he told them: ‘Say whatever you want about how bad my acting is, it won’t hurt my feelings, because everybody else has said it before.’
“When I joined Moonraker, it was already Roger’s fourth Bond film but he never acted the star. He’d always include me in dinners and drinks with his family after filming. We filmed in glorious locations, in Paris, Venice and Rio de Janeiro, and most of my scenes were with Roger, including a couple of love scenes. Even in those, Roger would be joking to keep the mood light. It was never drudgery with Roger.”
Talking of their zero-gravity sex scenes when 007 “attempted re-entry” into Earth’s atmosphere at the end, the Bond star once said they were the hardest of his career.
Roger recalled: “I was hanging there, with all the blood rushing into my nose and eyes.”
Of course, ever the gentleman, he never complained and always went out of his way to make the cast and crew feel at ease and in good humour.
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