Roger Moore (1927 – 2017)
Being a child of the seventies, Roger Moore was the James Bond that I grew up with. I was acutely aware of my parent’s generations antipathy towards him, as well as the endless and possibly unjust comparisons with Sean Connery. However, the younger fans embraced him so over the course of seven movies, Moore’s Bond broke all previous box office records. Furthermore, as each successive film in the franchise got bigger and became more of a caricature of itself, Moore tempered this with his self-deprecating humour and quips. His trademark cocksure performances and easy going charm was exactly what UK audiences needed. At a time when the country was losing its way in the world, both politically and economically, Roger Moore still effortlessly maintained the image of the suave, cool and droll English gentleman.
Beyond the role of Bond, Roger Moore often found himself playing similar composite characters in big budget action dramas. Rather than complaining about such type casting he embraced it and always delivered what audiences expected. Movies such as Shout at the Devil, The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves all have classic Moore performances. Yet in giving the public what they wanted, Moore was subsequently accused of lacking dramatic range. Moore even went so far as to exploit this misconception, as part of his signature self-effacing humour. “My acting range has always been something between the two extremes of raises left eyebrow and raises right eyebrow” as he famously said. Yet Moore definitely did have hidden depths and could deliver more than expected. In The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) he gave possibly his best performance. North Sea Hijack AKA ffolkes (1980) also saw him play the opposite of Bond. He even showed a flair for comedy, satirising himself and 007 in The Cannonball Run (1981).
Outside of the world of cinema, Moore was a great raconteur and the embodiment of the English gentleman he so often played. He was introduced to the good work of UNICEF through his friendship with Audrey Hepburn and over the course of two decades lent his fame and lobbying power to numerous good causes, raising millions for charity. He was also a good and loyal friend to those that he knew and worked with. When stuntman Martin Grace and long-time double for Roger Moore was seriously injured while filming Octopussy, the actor regularly visited him in Hospital over the course of his recovery, despite still being tied up with ongoing post production for the film. Then of course, there are the anecdotes from fans that reiterate how accessible and considerate Moore was. One has understandably gone viral in the last twenty-four hours and has now reached the mainstream press. Quite rightly so. It is a lovely reminiscence as well as a fitting tribute to an iconic actor and tireless humanitarian. Thank you Roger Moore. For “keeping the British end up”.