How did you get the part?
An agent called and said I might have a good shot at Bond for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I said, “How could I have? I’m not even an actor – I’ve never spoken in front of a camera in my life.” They said, “I just have a feeling that you’d be right for it. You’re athletic, you’re aggressive, you’re arrogant...”
What did you shoot first?
The scenes around the table with the girls. The boys in the crew were practical jokers and they wanted to have a bit of fun. The scene had me talking to the girls above the table and after a while the camera pans under the table to show one of the girls writing her number on my leg. The guys had this huge German sausage that they’d had in hot water for a while and they said, “Can we tape this to your leg?” I said, “Sure, go ahead.” When the actress went down to write her number on my leg they expected her to scream. But she didn’t bat an eyelid. The guys were scratching their heads but I talked to her afterwards and she said [whispering], “You didn’t have any pants on under that kilt!”
Is it true that you and OHMSS director Peter R Hunt didn’t get along?
Yep. It wasn’t my fault, though. Peter had a bunch of his buddies over. They were getting in the way, so the crew asked me if could get them to leave. Being naïve, I went,”Anyone who’s not needed, clear the set!” Peter arrived and found his friends outside saying I had kicked them off. From that day he didn’t speak to me.
How far into the shoot was that?
About a week. And it was a nine-month shoot.
How did he direct you?
The director of photography would come over and say, “Peter would like you to walk a little straighter,” or, “Peter would like you to show more anger,” and so on.
Was that why you left Bond?
Well, the fact that it wasn’t a happy experience was one thing, but you’ve got to understand that in 1969 the hippies were around, and there I was with short hair, wearing a suit while they were running about in bell-bottoms. I was convinced that Bond was Sean Connery’s gig, not mine, and that its time was up. I thought it would be great to do one, make a name and then go on to do other films. They tried every way possible to get me to do another, but I thought I’d have no trouble doing other films so I turned down every offer. And that changed my life...
In the ’80 it looked as if you were taking jobs to pay the rent.
Yep, I took every job to pay the rent [laughs]. No one chased me.
Have you ever watched any of the other Bond films?
No. Not one since mine. There’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t want to bring up, so I’ve just avoided them...