First of all, could you tell us a little bit
about yourself ?
I was born in Kilkenny, Ireland on September 12, 1942.
I attended National School at a little place called Lisdowney. The
village master in the town thought his little school were the best.
He was a sincere man and stern to view. That was from the age of
6 to 14. Then, I attended the college in Kilkenny City. It was during
this time that I experienced the excitement of watching my first
action movies by a travelling film show in a tent. It was sheer
magic. I went to London in the early 1960’s and attended Mountview
Academy of Theatre Arts. I took a job with Butlins Holiday Camp
in 1963, organising sport and playing in their theatre to gain experience.
I won a Charlton Heston talent contest in 1974 that
took me to Hollywood for the first time. I was already preparing
my skills with boxing, wrestling, fencing, swimming, trampoline
and gym work out, special motorcar and motorcycling driving skills,
parachuting and various other sports in view of becoming an action
stunt man in films. I attended stunt classes to learn the basics
and joined a stunt agency for films and commercials. It was for
commercials that I got my first stunt jobs. The white knight in
Supersoft hairspray and the action man on Cadburys milk tray chocolates
stunts. One was jumping on to a speeding train from a bridge. One
transferring from a car to a helicopter and one were jumping on
to a truck from a cliff edge. These were very daring, action packed,
prestigious and Bondish.
The first film I worked on was "DR WHO". The first big
action film I did as a stuntman was "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE"
in 1966, doing lot of various actions. During the 60’s I also
performed stunts on "ALFRED THE GREA"T. On "WHEN
EIGHT BELLS TOLL" I did a fight with a young Anthony Hopkins.
In the 1970’s I did a stunt show tour in Scandinavia performing
big stunts on a nightly basis on various places in Sweden, Finland,
In 1975 I was selected to be Sir Roger Moore’s number one
stunt double which gave me work on six of his James Bond films -
"THE SPY WHO LOVED ME", "MOONRAKER", "FOR
YOUR EYES ONLY"," OCTOPUSSY" and "A VIEW TO
My films with Sir Roger Moore include "THE WILD GEESE"
(1978), "SEA WOLVES" (1980)," NORTH SEA HIJACK"
(1979) and "THE NAKED FACE" (1984).
Other memorable films that I worked on during the 1970’s,
1980’s to 2000’s include "SUPERMAN" (1978),
"RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK" (1981), "ENEMY MINE"
(1985), HIGH SPIRITS (1988), ERIK THE VIKING (1989), NUNS ON THE
RUN (1990), "A KISS BEFORE DYING" (1991), "ROBIN
HOOD" (1991), "ROBINSON CRUSOE" (1997), "THE
TRUMAN SHOW" (1998), "ANNA AND THE KING" (1999) and
"THE NUMBER 23" (2007).
I have done stunt work on four continents - Europe, Africa, Asia
and America - on land, at sea, in jungles, in deserts, in the Arctic
and in the air. I still enjoy being part of film making and appreciate
seeing great action in movies. I enjoy passing on my knowledge to
help achieve good action and stunts. I enjoy telling interested
people of my experience during my career in stunts. I still enjoy
keeping in shape and training for good life. I still cherish seeing
the Bluebells in the woodland, shimmering and dancing in the breeze.
Oh, how I loved their magic spell, it’s amongst them I wish
to dwell !
How did you become involved in films in the first place?
"YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE" was your first Bond, wasn’t
I remember as a young boy being taken to see my first films at
the movies, mainly Westerns that had a very shaky projector but
I was fascinated by them.
It all began in the early 60’s, I came over from Ireland
to London to try and find what I was looking for. I was very motivated
by sports, joined boxing, weight lifting, wrestling and fencing
clubs to learn those skills. I wished to work in some form of entertainment,
I was so enthused I applied for, and got a job at a holiday resort
(Butlins by the sea) as an entertainer and sports organizer for
one summer season. On returning to London, I joined an acting school
at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, for night classes. I learned
a lot of basics which stood by me in my later career in stunts.
Then, I discovered an action agency that sent me along for action
commercials; one of those was for a Cadbury milk tray chocolate
jumping from a bridge on to a fast moving train to deliver the chocolates.
The second was being lifted from an open sports car and dropped
on to a hotel roof. The third was jumping from a rock face on to
a moving truck, and then jumping from the truck down into a lake
to deliver the goods to the lady on a pleasure boat. These commercial
stunts were very James Bond style prestigious and caught the attention
of Bob Simmons, who then was the big stunt coordinator on the James
In 1966, the opportunity arose; I had my first interview with George
Leech who was Bob’s trusted right-hand man. George seemed
impressed but not as much as I was by his agility and graceful movements.
In fact, George had been an excellent and gifted boxer and it showed!
I now found myself working on one of the most popular action movies
of all time, "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE". Four weeks of extensive
training scaling nets, sliding down ropes and practicing trampoline
explosions for the major action scenes. There I was, a young raw
novice amongst the seasoned professional stunt people learning the
ropes for the future Bonds with Sir Roger Moore.
I did lot of stunt work under the supervision of Bob Simmons in
the gigantic volcano that was specially built for the attack by
the Japanese ninjas
. After our training period, I was ready for any of the everyday
action required. Climbing, sliding down ropes and big explosions
was the order of the day.
I learned a lot more from Bob as he proved he is a master at organizing
massive action scenes with ease. I also had the privilege to work
alongside another legendary and brave stuntman, Joe Powell, and,
for the first time I met a young Vic Armstrong.
Vic has since then progressed to the top of the stunt profession
which has included doubling for five of the official James Bond
actors (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton
and Pierce Brosnan).
From 1966 to 1976, I really learned and honed my trade on many
films and TV shows. One of those films was "ALFRED THE GREAT".
I had the privilege to work with Paul Stader, now departed. Paul
was a top professional American stunt coordinator who thought me
the finer points of accuracy and precision in fights, sword play
and more. Then, I had the privilege of doing a fight scene with
a young Anthony Hopkins in a Scottish graveyard on "WHEN EIGHT
BELLS TOLL" with George Leech and me as thugs.
In 1974, I was offered a contract on a stunt show that toured the
Scandinavia countries Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The show was
a great experience for me and included high falls, car crashes,
motorcycle jumps, fights, musketeers and tunnels of fire. The show
was on six nights a week on long summer days.
After finishing the international stunt show in Scandinavia, the
movie business was a bit down in Europe. I then got a telephone
call from Bob Simmons. He informed me he was doing another Bond
film and would I be interested to work on it...
I was in Ireland at that time and did not take it that seriously,
as I had been told some years before that I was wanted to work on
George Lazenby’s James Bond film - "ON HER MAJESTY’S
SECRET SERVICE" - in Switzerland. Apparently, I had been on
a second-wave list of stunt people for that film, but my call never
came that time, very disappointing.
But Bob did not give up on me and called back a week
later and said: “I want you on a movie as the main stunt double
for Roger Moore”.
I answered: “How soon do you want me.”
He said: “Right now”. I said: “OK, I am on my
way.” The film was "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME"...
I arrived at Pinewood Studios and Bob said: “You are the man
I needed, a stunt man who is willing to perform any physical stunt
I throw at him from day to day, with vigour and without complaint
or excuses, and be prepared for hard knocks.”
Well, I thought this sounded like my language. I was
fully confident from my years of stunt training and preparation,
which was no problem. I was vetted by Mr Cubby Broccoli for his
approval. I still remember him looking me up and down so I guess
I met with his approval.
I am not one to be forceful and up front. I approached
the job as a professional and kept a low profile in the background,
observed what was going on and emerged to carry out the stunts as
required. I was now on the most prestigious of action movies, in
the most coveted position as the stunt double for the leading action
actor, Roger Moore. It was to be a stunt roller coaster for the
next 12 years with locations incl. Sardinia, Egypt, France, Brazil,
Argentina, Guatemala, Greece, Italy, UK, Iceland and the USA. (More
about those later)
Like I said before, my first 007 experience was with Sean Connery
in "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE" that was directed by Lewis Gilbert
in 1966. I did not know then, that 10 years later I would join him
again as he was the director for "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME".
The work I did for "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME", initially
on location in Sardinia, was driving the super Lotus in a chase
scene pursued by villains and Jaws (played by the lovely man, Richard
Kiel). I remember thinking this would be great fun, doing some hairy
driving and sliding on narrow Sardinian country roads.
When you think about stunt car chases, you probably think of much
banging, barging dents and scratching your car, given that freedom.
But, on the morning of the beginning of the chase, the production
assistant (Chris Kenny) came to me and said: “Martin, whatever
the action do not scratch the car as it has to go back to Lotus
in the condition it was delivered in!” I thought that was
pressuring for me ! We were accommodated at a most beautiful hotel,
the Cala di Volpe in the Northeast corner of Sardinia, and it was
a wonderful location.
Then, the big change on to Egypt i.e. "flies, flies and more
flies"... We filmed at Cairo, the Pyramids, Luxor and the Valley
of the Kings. I got the opportunity to learn how to ride and handle
a camel as Sir Roger had to, and did a scene riding in from the
desert to the Bedouin tent of his Arab contact. [Editors note:
“Sheikh Hosein” played by Edward de Souza].
While Sir Roger was doing his acting in the stifling heat of Cairo,
Bob Simmons was preparing a fight scene on the flat roof of block
about 60 feet up, above the dirt strewn streets of Cairo with Milton
Reed (who played the big heavy side kick of “Jaws”),
George Leach, myself and Jackie Cooper (who doubled for Milton as
he falls off the roof after Bond cuts his tie loose whilst tethering
on the edge).
During the shooting in the desert, some crew members were getting
upset because the caterer was unable to get his supply of good quality
food in from England... Rule one on difficult locations is to make
sure the food is extra good, Cubby Broccoli obviously recognized
the problem. The very next day, we arrived over a sand dune to the
catering wagon and there was Cubby, our producer, in the kitchen!
He had made Italian spaghetti for all the crew and served every
one himself! If your producer does that kind of thing, there is
no cause to complain. Cubby showed he was doing his best.
During a shoot at an old temple in Luxor, director Lewis Gilbert
saw some scaffold boards on top of the temple, about 50 feet up.
They were there to carry lighting cables for the luminary night
shows at the temple on the Egyptian archaeological site Abu Simbel.
[Editors note: The temple was built by Ramses II more than 3000
Lewis decided he would like to see “Jaws” appear, walk
across and disappear again. Although I was there as Sir Rogers’s
stunt double, Bob looked at me as he had no one else available and
said: “Martin, you are going to double “Jaws”
up there”. I had in fact been studying Richard Kiel. His stance,
the way he walked and the distinctive way he held his head so I
found him an easy subject to copy.
When I did the first rehearsal, all of the crew members were in
amazement that I had carried it off. Richard even claimed that his
mother would not believe that it was not him up there. Despite being
so tall, he suffered from vertigo; Richard was a very witty man.
To add to the filming of “SPY” by the temples in Egypt
I can tell you we had some shots of falling scaffolding and boulders.
Sir Roger bravely stood in dangerous proximity of them but I stepped
in for the final falling boulders. Even though they were polystyrene
fake rocks, they could still do some damage to the head, one had
to move out of the way extra promptly.
We then returned to Pinewood to complete the submarine base sequence,
which was another elaborate trademark set designed by Sir Ken Adam
in the way that only he could do.
Did you mainly do your stunt work at Pinewood for the Bond
films or did you go on the locations as well ?
I actually did both. I worked on some interesting and wonderful
locations. My answer is usually “from Becton to Rio”.
Becton, being a gas works facility in London with a lingering smell
of old gas and Rio de Janeiro being a place where all women are
beautiful and the atmosphere vibrant with people dancing in the
It was at Becton that I performed my favourite James Bond action
sequence, the helicopter scene for the pre-title sequence of "FOR
YOUR EYES ONLY". Three weeks of exciting action including climbing
out of the helicopter, hanging underneath while the machine does
all kinds of daring manoeuvres to shake Bond off.
Every day was an adrenaline rush, roaring engines first thing each
morning being lifted swiftly above chimney tops to 400 feet above
ground. The chopper would drop like a stone, only to recover and
make dangerous flights down, through rows of pipe works. We had
an excellent pilot in Mark Wolf. An American, the best in movie
making and I had complete trust in his ability. This was exciting
stuff for me ! Except the shooting of the helicopter scene on location
at Becton, I did some work on it back at Pinewood.
In Rio, it was a scene for "MOONRAKER", the fight on
top of the cable car between Bond and Jaws. The fight area on top
was like a large billiard table but becomes even smaller when you
are 1 300 feet from the ground, at the highest point. I usually
say that, despite if it is 50 or 1 300 feet, the height difference
does not matter much, and one must not fall off anyway! Bob Simmons
prepared the fight with Richard Graydon and myself at ground level,
and used the supporting structure on top to hold on to as much as
possible. During the fight, Dorothy Ford came on board to double
Lois Chiles (who played Dr. Holly Goodhead, Bond’s main love
interest in the film) and to make her situation easier, she lay
most of the time on the roof. It is when you are standing up, it
always seems scarier. At the end of the scene, Bond throws a chain
over a cable and slides down fast, with Dr. Goodhead hanging on
and they jump to the ground as Jaws crashes into the control Room.
For the film, I also found myself crashing out the back door of
an ambulance on its way up towards the giant Christ statue, after
Roger had used some cunning moves inside to subdue his captor. Sir
Roger did some shots riding across the pampas in “A Fist Full
of Dollars” style which gave me the chance to do the continuation
ride into an Old Portuguese town called Marianna. I was also lucky
to be able to have some time at Iguaçu Falls before leaving.
Brazil is probably my most favourite location of all the James Bonds.
Film studios used for my work on the Bonds were mainly Pinewood
in the UK but I also worked at places like Epernay, Monte Bianco,
and Boulogne in France.
Of course there were other films with Sir Roger in between the
Bonds in which he was instrumental in having me employed with him.
These were "THE WILD GEESE" in Africa, "SEA WOLVES"
in India, "NORTH SEA HIJACK" in Ireland, "ESCAPE
TO ATHENA" in Rhodes, "THE NAKED FACE" in USA and
"THE MAN WHO WOULDN’T DIE" in Canada.
I believe we trusted each other and developed a bond of professional
respect for each other in our individual roles. I also know that
Bob Simmons had belief and faith in my ability that made us a great
team working together.
Could you let us know under which circumstances you were
seriously injured on the set of "OCTOPUSSY"?
The accident occurred during the filming of "OCTOPUSSY".
We had location work to achieve on a train sequence shot at Peterborough
in the UK. There is a private railway track with an original train
station that was mainly used for enthusiastic holiday day trippers.
I believe it was not maintained by the official British Rail. [Editors
note: British Rail (former British Railways) was privatized in 1997
and the name is no longer used.]
After the opening shootout with Bond and the soldiers, Bond commanders
a car and makes his escape crashing into some barrels. He then takes
the car on two wheels to dodge some bullets and drives over lacerating
grid shreds and the car tires gets on to the railway tracks.
My action was to climb through the sun roof of the car, while travelling,
and make a jump on to the side of the Octopussy train as an Express
Train is approaching fast towards me on the same tracks I was on.
The transfer is made just in time. Over several days, I did shots
climbing on to the top of the train, running on top from carriage
to carriage, climbing down the side of the train, emerging from
underneath the train, climbing back to the top again and doing a
fight on top of the travelling train. It was in fact like second
nature to me, easily and comfortably within my capability. Then,
for additional angle shots, the company hired a helicopter for;
I believe, a few days to do aerial shots of the action I had already
achieved. Bearing in mind that the helicopter was hired per hour
and days are expensive, the first helicopter shooting day was cloudy
and little was achieved. But, on the second day of shooting this
scene it was sunny. As I recall, there was an almighty rush to get
the train going and the chopper in the air, with camera and operator
in order to get some footage shot. As a stunt performer, it was
one of those times that I had to trust in others to control certain
elements. Like a chain reaction, if there is a weak link in the
chain, it may break. Unfortunately, there were weak links that day
and I suffered the penalty of a broken pelvis and lacerated my thigh
muscle right through to the thigh bone…
I started on top of the train, and the helicopter was to move into
position, as we both travelled parallel to each other. I was briefed
for a hand turnover signal, but, for some reason the chopper veered
away without giving the signal and I wondered why. Then it veered
back in and they gave me the turnover hand signal. Everything happened
very quickly and I was concentrating on the action. Others were
controlling the time, the distance travelled and the drivers’
instructions. I climbed down the siding and moved along the side
of the train.
The action required was to look through the train windows, which
meant I could not look ahead as I climbed forward, and I got hit
on the pelvis. Apparently, it was a solid wall built parallel with
the railway track on a fly over bridge. The impact was so lightning
fast that I only realized that I had hit something when I found
I was hanging prone for dear life on the side of the train! At first,
my pelvis area was numb like a gigantic tooth extraction injection.
Adrenalin was pumping through my arms like never before, I felt
I could have hung on to the side for ever, frightened to let go
and drop. I looked down and saw my trousers leg had had been ripped
off and saw my thigh bone through the gash in my thigh muscle. The
train came to a stop, I still hung on miraculously.
I had held on to the siding on impact, otherwise I would have at
least hit the naked ground, possibly in an awkward position with
a broken neck and/or back. Still, it could have been much worse
as part of my body or limbs could have been even more damaged by
the train wheels on the track.
After the train stopped, some person put their arms around my
waist and literally prized me off the train. As I lay on the track
siding, a great pain started to set in. I had never in my life experienced
such pain and I was wreathing in agony. I remember I could hear
someone say: “Can we get him in the helicopter?” Then,
I recognized Mark Wolf’s voice saying: “We cannot fit
him in the helicopter.” Some wonderful St. John ambulance
people were there, they eased me on to a stretcher and got me on
to the train and headed back to the station. I remember asking this
kind St John’s person to give me some tranquilizer but he
refused as they did not know what severe injuries I might have sustained
infernally. Although I am not a smoker, I asked if I could have
I recalled Richard Burton in a war movie. He is shot and mortally
wounded so he asks one of his buddies for a cigarette to deaden
the pain. That was where I was at that moment. The ambulance reached
the station and got me to Peterborough Hospital. The rest is a story
of uncertainty for a long time, lying prone for many months. I was
thinking what would lie ahead, would I ever recover, was I able
to ever perform again, how will it be, what might have been, who
was waiting and knocking on the door to fill my position. I thought,
now would be the best opportunity for them! I literally went instantly
from being super active to being completely inactive and it had
happened in a fraction of a second.
What was Roger Moore's reaction when he learnt what had
happened to you?
I believe he was devastated and very concerned. Immediately after
returning from India, where the main unit was shooting, he came
to visit me and lend his support. This perked me up immensely, knowing
he really cared. And from this I got much more attention in the
hospital as the nurses and staff were always inquiring when he was
coming again. Once I recovered, and got back to work again, he always
made a point of calling me first thing through his secretary Doris
Spriggs, and telling he wanted me on his film projects. Thank you
Sir Roger !
Cubby Broccoli also came to see me on a couple of occasions. As
I said before, he would go to the highest mountain, cook spaghetti
in the desert or visit the hospital for members of his crew.
Bob Simmons was also concerned. I have learnt that, being the stunt
coordinator, it breaks you up if a member of your stunt crew gets
hurt in any way. One feels a genuine responsibility for people.
Richard Graydon was a stalwart of support and always gave sound
logic as he had been through difficult times in his career. There
were others who came with some concern too. Others, who came out
of curiosity or guilt, quickly faded away into oblivion.
Did Roger Moore make any of the stunts himself in the
Bond films ?
Sir Roger did a potentially dangerous piece of action at Pinewood
for "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME", in the scene sitting at a
big table with Curd Jürgens (who was playing “Stromberg”,
the main villain in the film) at the other end. The special effects
people placed an explosive device on the chair seat where Roger
was sitting. At a certain moment, when Jürgens fires a lethal
shot under the table through a funnel, Roger dived aside and the
chair back instantly explodes. Roger did his action superbly but
the problem with explosions is that, when set off, the speed and
acceleration is so great that it catches up with you if set off
slightly prematurely !
Sir Roger must have felt the heat and the sting on his backside
although he continued his action by getting back and firing his
own gun back through the funnel hitting Jürgens in the groin.
Had the device been set off a fraction of a second earlier, it could
have been lethal. Personally, I experienced the impact it can have
in a similar explosion on the film "INCHON" while filming
in Korea. After landing on the ground, my side stung so much from
magnesium penetration through my uniform I was not sure if part
of my side had gone although found I was OK. No matter how agile
and proficient an actor or stunt person is, we are sometimes at
the mercy of others. I am sure Sir Roger remembers this action.
It was a brave effort from him but a bit too close to call.
Did you make any promotional work for the Bond films ?
I did a promotional tour for one Bond film – "A VIEW
TO A KILL" – in 1985. I went to the south of England,
Plymouth and some places in the north talking about the action and
explaining the stunts in the film. How they were prepared and executed,
especially the action on the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Golden
Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Please tell us a bit about the different people that you
met during your Bond films
Cubby Broccoli - He was a proper old-time film producer
who understood movie making and understood how to treat actors and
crews. He was a real human being, very understanding and was prepared
to get to the highest mountain if his crew was there and also to
play back gammon with Sir Roger. I believe he would have gone to
the top of Mount Everest for a game with Roger, and show me a producer
who is prepared to make spaghetti in the desert to keep his crew
Sir Roger Moore - One of the few most genuine actors I have
worked with. He was always a gentleman, courteous and charming to
his colleagues, humorous when situations got tense and a true professional
in his work. He brought suaveness to the role of James Bond and
made his mark as 007.
Richard Kiel - He was a pleasure to have met and worked
with, a gentle giant. A very normal person who enjoyed telling the
stories of his life, how he got into movies and his appreciation
of what the role of Jaws did for him. I shall always treasure his
time and presence on the James Bonds.
Bob Simmons - Bob was the stunt coordinator who chose me
to be Sir Roger's stunt double on the James Bond films along with
him. Bob did the action scenes on the Bond films with Cubby Broccoli/Harry
Saltzman as producers and Terence Young as director. It was an honour
to be chosen by Bob for such a prestigious position as the leading
stuntman with Sir Roger as James Bond. He was great to work with
and had a knack of making fights at close quarters look really great,
like the fight in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE between Sean Connery and
Robert Shaw in the train carriage.
Bob was a master at big action scenes.
Richard Graydon - The most courageous stunt man I have ever
worked with. He treated hanging in the rafters of a volcano 120
feet up, and on top of the cable car in Rio as if he was having
a coffee down at Piccadilly Circus in London! He made what other
stunt men claimed as too dangerous and impossible look like a walk
in the park. Although small in stature, he was head and shoulders
above the rest. Richard’s quick wit and intelligence in the
stunt field is greatly missed.
These guys were the best!
Which is your favourite film among the ones you have worked
My personal favourite, among the films that I have worked on,
is "A VIEW TO A KILL". Mainly because the Bonds were my
favourite action films and they were with my favourite actor playing
James Bond, Sir Roger Moore.
Working on two of the highest and prominent structures in the world;
the Eiffel Tower in Paris and on the Golden Gate Bridge in the USA,
for the same movie in the same year after cheating death (Thank
god I was lucky!) during an action scene for "OCTOPUSSY"
two years before is another reason. Of course, at that time, I was
unaware that this highlight would be Sir Roger’s and my own
swansong on the James Bonds.
When did you meet Roger Moore for the first time ?
I met Sir Roger Moore for the first time when being vetted for
the position as his number one stunt double. This was just before
the start of the James Bond film "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME".
I believe that was in 1975. Bob Simmons had presented me to Cubby
Broccoli for his approval and, as I recall, then being introduced
to Sir Roger.
How did you become Roger Moore's “official”
I became Sir Roger’s stunt double because I had previously
worked on some action films with Bob Simmons. He had the belief
in my ability and capability to execute the various stunts that
were thrown at Bond on a daily basis.
Sir Roger was capable to carry out much of the stunt work himself
but it can be very fatiguing trying to concentrate on the acting
plus throw you about and possibly attain injuries. Sir Roger could
perform a fight scene better than most stunt men. I had watched
the Saint for years and noticed he had a trademark punch to his
opponents jaw, always perfect and convincing.
What was the funniest time on a film set with Roger Moore
knowing he is such a practical joker ?
We were working at night on "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME" at
the Karnac temple in Luxor, Egypt. This particular scene was with
Jaws (Richard Kiel) pursuing Fekkesh (the Arabic spy contact played
by Nadim Sawalha). The scene was with a frightened Fekkesh being
followed by Jaws, and with Bond shadowing both in pursuit they were
not much separated. This took place during the night show at the
Ramses temple, which meant there was a weird soundtrack and lighting
effects that came on as spotlights, and then off into total darkness.
This shot was when Fekkesh was inside this burial tomb, after
locking the tomb metal gate behind him to prevent Jaws from entering.
The lights come on and we see Jaws approach the gates and take the
chain in his mouth, bite through breaking the chain and enters the
tomb as the lights go off. Director Lewis Gilbert then does a shot,
looking toward the tomb gate where Jaws has entered. He says: “Roger,
what I want is you to come past camera, go forward and approach
the tomb gate in pursuit of Jaws, as Bond had not seen Jaws enter,
he must be cautious.” Bearing in mind, Bond will be approaching
the tomb with his back to camera, not the ideal situation for the
leading man having his back to camera and not being seen clearly.
So, upon action, Sir Roger moves gracefully past camera in a cautious
crouched posture with the gun in his hand. As he gets into full
frame, he spins into, and faces the camera and say: "Lead actors
know they must get face exposure on camera as much as possible!"
He then continues to approach the tomb, turning and twisting in
a most beautiful ballroom dance in a bally style series of movements,
turns and twists! It just looked so graceful performed on the desert
I was standing behind Lewis; he had his fingers caressing his
cheeks as the cut was called. He then said to Roger: “Who
is directing this movie? Victor Sylvester?” What was funny
is that Victor Sylvester was a great popular dance band leader at
that time. Sir Roger made it look so smooth and the vapour between
actor and director was like light comedy for the crew, and kept
us all happy during those Arabian nights.
Were you Roger Moore’s stunt double in "THE
WILD GEESE" and which scenes were you involved in ?
I was there to be Sir Roger’s stunt double if needed, but
because of the nature of the film, there were a lot of soldiers
and simbas running and shooting in the bush. All actors had to go
through an assault training course out in the baking African sun
prior to the movie shoot. But I did carry the deposed president
on my back, running through the bush, in one scene. I also ended
up doubling Hardy Kruger and Richard Burton in that same scene as
their usual stunt doubles suddenly developed bad back complaints.
To carry a person on your back, running in the bush and fighting
off the enemy at the same time is not easy. And I did in fact get
shot by Sir Roger at the air strip. I was an East German adviser
who appears in the control tower; Sir Roger was lurking underneath
with a cigar in his mouth. He steps out, shoots up, nails me and
I tumbles off the tower.
I loved the location on this very good action movie with a great
cast such as Sir Roger Moore, Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Hardy
Kruger, Frank Finlay and the great Walsh character actor Kenneth
Griffith. The film was directed by Andrew McLaglen and produced
by Euan Lloyd who also produced "SEA WOLVES", another
film I did with Sir Roger.
Were you Roger Moore’s stunt double in ESCAPE TO
ATHENA and which scenes were you involved in ?
Again, I was there to step in if Sir Roger got injured although
he had to do most of the general action himself. My claim to fame
on this film was a German sniper who is on the highest minaret in
Rhodes, Greece. At the end of the battle, Telly Savalas casually
fires his weapon from the hip and I fall screaming from about 90
feet. Another enjoyable movie and thanks again for having me, Sir
Please tell us about your work on "THE NAKED FACE"
It was not long after recovering from my accident on "OCTOPUSSY"
and wishing to get back into stunt action on big movies again. I
got a call from Doris Spriggs (still Sir Roger’s secretary)
with the good news that Sir Roger requested me to be his stunt double
to be shot in Chicago, and to arrange a major fight scene where
Roger is brutalised by a mafia boss.
I was very excited at the prospect of getting back at the top
again and to prepare a fight for Sir Roger in a much different style
than in his James Bond fight scenes. Here, he was to be punched
around, brutalised and thrown into stacks of oil drums by a jealous
mafia Boss with his henchmen in attendance. It was going to show
him in a very different mood and character. Brian Forbes (the director)
discussed with me how he envisaged the scene. Slow calculated brutality
from calmness to fury and back again. (I put this fight scene as
one of my best creations because of its style, pace and impact).
Sir Roger was involved in that entire fight scene and played the
part so well. I was there dressed and ready, did the big impact
stunt being hurled into a stack of oil drums but mostly watching
and advising Sir Roger and the mafia boss on technique.
Encouragement is a vital element with actors on any action scene.
The mafia boss did wonderfully well, as he had been cast only a
couple of days before the shoot, but did a great scene with Sir
Roger. In addition, I doubled for a local actor falling down stairs
in the city centre and doing a little car driving. It was a real
pleasure to work on this film and I loved Chicago (as Frank Sinatra
once sung “Chicago Chicago, my home town”). On arrival
there, I knew no one except Sir Roger, Elliot Gould and Brian Forbes.
When leaving, I had hundreds of friends among the local people on
the crew and others. Sir Roger kindly treated us to dinners at the
famous Drake Restaurant. Long live the memories of Chicago with
Sir Roger on "THE NAKED FACE", a great period !
How many films have you been involved in except the Bond
films ? (According to IMDb it comes to 62 films and 7 TV series
in total but we don’t know if that is correct?)
The IMDB list has most of the films I have worked on but they
have given me credit for two films that is not correct. These are
the two James Bond films - "LIVE AND LET DIE" and "THE
MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN" made in the early 70’s. I suspect
Sir Roger’s previous stunt double Les Crawford, who has now
passed on, may have done them. The following is a list of additional
films that I have worked on that IMDb have not credited to me, but
they are significant and interesting :
• ALFRED THE GREAT (1969) with David Hemmings, shot in Ireland
• THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU (1969) - Stunt and fencing double
for Oliver Reed in a sword fightwith Curd Jürgens that I later
worked with on THE SPY WHO LOVED ME
• OLIVER TWIST (60’s) – various stunts
• WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL (1971) - stunt fight with Anthony
Hopkins in a Scottish graveyard
• SCROOGE (1970) - Stunt double for Kenneth More and Albert
Finney on which I broke my neck. Had two vertebrae fused, was on
traction for three months and a further four months in full body
cast. What we really go through for the love of movie making!
• TO CATCH A SPY (1971) - incl. stunts with Kirk Douglas
and Patrick Mower.
• CROMWELL (1970) - various stunts
• GREAT CATHERINE (1968) - various stunts
• YELLOW DOG (1973) - various stunts
• BRAZIL (1985) - various stunts
• IZZAT (2005) - Stunt coordinator, shot in Norway. The
film is about Pakistani gangs living in Oslo
• INCHON (1981) – various stunts, shot in Korea and
directed by Terence Young who directed three of the first four James
Bonds with style and flair (DR. NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and THUNDERBALL).
The lead part of General Douglas MacArthur was played by Sir Laurence
Olivier, the great Shakespearean actor.
• THE MIRACLE (1991) - Stunt coordinator, shot in Ireland
and directed by Neil Jordan.
If you include the films above, and that IMDb has not listed, it
brings the number of films that I have worked on to a total of 73.
There were many small films and TV-series with days or perhaps
the odd week that I worked on but have not kept track of. My contracts
have been lost or mislaid due to home moving etc. There were also
many stunt orientated safety films for the industry. The National
Coal Board in the UK and building companies mainly back in the 60s
which formed part of my stunt preparation.
There were two popular BBC TV-series that I worked on and did
many stunts for – THE BORDERERS (1968-1970) and THE ONEDIN
LINE (1971-1980). The latter one had a certain Jane Seymour as a
shipping line owner. As all Bond fans know, Miss Seymour played
the leading lady (Solitaire) in LIVE AND LET DIE 1973. Another Bond
alumni in that series was Michael “Mike” Billington,
he played the sea captain on the ship.
[Editors note: Michael played the part of Sergei in THE SPY
WHO LOVED ME and he could even have been the new James Bond after
Roger Moore as he was one of the actors that Cubby Broccoli screen
tested for the role in the early 80’s.]
Unfortunately Mike passed away in June, 2005 due to illness. We
miss you Mike !
Of all directors you have worked for, which ones do you
like best ?
I loved working for Lewis Gilbert, Steven Spielberg, John Glen,
Wolfgang Peterson and Nils Gaup from Norway (“Sami land”).
In what countries have you been working and which film
studios to you consider to be a ‘second home’ because
of much work based in them ?
Pinewood was the main studio for me and that I considered a “second
“home”. I loved working there and visit it in between
jobs. Other studios I worked at were; Shepperton Studios in the
UK, Ardmore Studios in Ireland, Bavaria Studios in Germany, Oslo
Studios in Norway and Universal Studios in USA. But they were all
second best after Pinewood.
We suppose you became friends with many of the stunt people
you worked with on the Bond films and other films; we understand
Bob Simmons must be one of them ?
Bob Simmons, George Leech, Richard Graydon and Eddy Powell were
of the older school that helped and encouraged me in my earlier
career. "Their attitude was to encourage Cesar and not to bury
him". Normally, I lived a life very separate and simple apart
from my work. Between films I trained and kept in shape for the
action scenes to come, which was the most important thing.
Are you doing any film or other stunt work at this moment
Well, I try to keep my hand, mind and body busy as much as I can.
I am still involved in the stunt business although not at the same
pace as at the height of my career in the 70’s, 80’s
and the 90’s.
In 2007 I did some work in the USA for the Jim Carrey film - THE
NUMBER 23 - with stunts and played the part of a deranged character
who strangles the boy’s mother in a fantasy scene. I have
also been working on two hit TV-series over there, THE MONK and
On request, I do action classes for the Norway Film Board and
help aspiring directors with action and stunts on their pilots and
Last July I completed training and preparation of a sword fight
between Hamlet and Laertes in an outdoor production of Hamlet. The
play is directed by Alex Scherpf and set up at the Agder Theatre
in Grimstad in the southern part of Norway.
Nowadays, the action parts are fights being hit on the head, being
dragged away or falling into a dock and finishing up with my head
underneath a boat. I guess that’s how they envision older
stunt men. Possibly, we look better in the dying scenes? [Laughter].
Although I do not pursue the big films and the high
pressure any more, I enjoy giving my advice and passing on the
knowledge gained during a long career enhanced by experience gained
on the James Bond films with Sir Roger Moore.
Do you have or have you had your own stunt
No, I don’t and I never did.
Would you consider an offer of working
on another Bond film if it came to you ?
The simple answer is I would not be asked ! The
James Bond films that I worked on with Sir Roger Moore, Cubby
Broccoli, Bob Simmons, George Leech and Richard Graydon is a great
part of film making history, never to be repeated. They were wonderful
times in a great cinema era. I have to admit that action and stunts
were my life. I loved the buzz and the adrenalin rush of the big
stunt numbers on occasions in big action sequences. I really miss
the wonderful people from other departments who made my career
fulfilling through their cooperation, help and kindness. We may
have done some great stunts by putting our lives on the line and
have a reservoir of experience, skills and knowledge, but we will
have to move on.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all those
wonderful people whom I worked close with and the fond memories
of those who have passed on. In the end, it is like an old blues
number I heard many years ago. There’s only one way out,
I’m going out that door. I feel that after working and performing
on some of the finest and greatest stunt action films, I can be
proud to go out that door with my head held high.
Finally, on a personal note, have you ever
been filming and/or privately visiting Belgium/Sweden (Scandinavia)?
I have never been to Belgium but it is on my list
of places to visit in the future. As cycling is one of my pastime
sports, I know that a cycling hero hails from there, the great
Eddy Merckx who was a sports role model in his time.
Although I am not of his calibre in cycling, I
donate to, and take part in cycle rides for various charities
and foundations from time to time. I believe in giving something
back to those in need, as I have been so lucky in my time. I wish
to do more for charities and the under privileged in the future.
As I said before, I toured in Sweden in 1974 for
a show - The International Stunt Show - which was all about stunts.
High falls, car rollovers, big car crashes, motorcycle jumps,
tunnels of fire, fight and sword routines and more. I believe
the Swedish promoter was Barry Materson who also was involved
in music promotions.
The concept of the stunt show was the Stars behind
the Stars set up from Norway with the Norwegian stuntman Arne
Berg as the main Star. It also included Richard Graydon from James
Bond fame. We stayed in first class hotels, just like being on
movie locations and were made most welcome by the locals and audience
at each show. The venues were usually at trotting tracks or football
stadiums. Although we did six shows a week on long summer nights,
it was a pleasure to see the fantastic Swedish scenery landscapes,
forests, and lakes in their glory when travelling from venue to
venue in the mornings. I got the opportunity to do many varied
stunts on a day to day basis which stood me well on my future-to-be
role as Sir Roger Moore’s stunt double. But, I was completely
unaware of that back then, of course.
Sweden and the continued tour in Denmark and Finland
hold special memories at a crucial time of my life and career.
Marie-France Vienne (Sir Roger Moore Official Website) & Anders
Frejdh (From Sweden With
Love) - 2009 & 2010