There is some very good news for fans of the late Sir Roger Moore’s interpretation of James Bond. The daily diary that he kept while filming his debut 007 adventure Live and Let Die (1973), first published in 1973 but long out of print, is to be republished in 2018.
The loss of Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017) has been keenly felt across the movie world in 2017, especially among his legions of Bond fans, and there is huge enthusiasm and interest in his seven James Bond movies. During his post-007 years, best-selling books by Roger such as his autobiography My Word is My Bond (2008) and his glossy Bond film tribute volume Bond on Bond (2012), gave fans plenty of personal anecdotes about his experiences as 007.
But what is sometimes forgotten is that Roger started writing about his time as James Bond almost from day one. In fact, he kept a detailed day-by-day diary on his debut 007 movie.
Moreover, this diary was published as a paperback by Pan Books in the UK, under the title Roger Moore as James Bond – Roger Moore’s own account of filming Live and Let Die. The 1973 Pan book provided fascinating insights on Roger’s early days as 007, and now the diary is to made available again in a new limited edition paperback in June, 2018, through The History Press, a publishing house in the UK. It’s new title will be The 007 Diaries – Filming Live and Let Die.
New Bond, New Beginnings
After Sean Connery bowed out of the role after Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the big question on everyone’s lips was who would now become the third actor to play 007? Roger’s Moore’s appointment as James Bond was first made ‘official’ on 1st August, 1972, when a press conference was held at the Dorchester Hotel, in central London, where the new James Bond was photographed alongside the EON producers Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
Saltzman, who had pushed strongly for Roger to be offered the role of Bond, had agreed to be the production’s main executive contact (with Broccoli fulfilling the same function on the next Bond film). As Roger’s diary makes clear, the shooting schedule on the new movie was tight: principal photography on Live and Let Die was scheduled to begin in October, 1972, with a release date planned for June, 1973 (in the end, the movie received its Royal premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square, on 5th July, 1973).
According to the diary, when Roger Moore first knew he was going to be Bond, 007 co-producer Harry Saltzman said it must be kept ‘top secret’. The producer was keen for the new man to meet director Guy Hamilton, but well away from the EON office, where they would not be seen. Roger recalled: ‘We met at Scott’s in Mayfair, in true Bond-style, over a dozen oysters and martinis. I confessed to Guy that in reading the script I could only ever hear Sean’s voice saying: “My name is Bond”… Guy said: “Look, Sean was Sean and you are you and that is how it is going to be” ‘.
Roger’s diary also revealed that, on the night before the first day of shooting on Live and Let Die (on location in the USA), Roger had slipped a note under Guy Hamilton’s door saying: ‘Good luck for the following day and do break a leg. If I don’t do what I am told you have my full permission to kick me up the backside’. On the first day of filming, after his early morning work-out, Roger found a little envelope had been pushed under his door in return. It was a note from Hamilton on French Quarter Inn notepaper. It was headed ‘Dawn. D-Day’ and, according to Roger, it read: ‘Into battle and very encouraged by your kind note. Here’s good fortune to us all. As ever, Guy’.
As a set of insights into the sheer daily grind of making a major movie in often challenging conditions on location, Roger’s diary is a must-read book for 007 fans, and it is excellent news that The History Press is making the diary available again, both to long-standing Bond fans and a new generation of 007 aficionados. Welcome back, Sir Roger.
Did You Know?
One thing that emerged strongly in his diary is that Roger’s introduction to the world of James Bond film-making was thoroughly exhausting at times, and something of a baptism of fire. The director Guy Hamilton, a veteran of two previous Bond movies, also recognised how tough it could be, too. Moore told the UK’s Sunday Express in April, 1973: ‘I didn’t realise just how hard it would be. Twenty-two weeks of non-stop action. On the first day of shooting, Guy Hamilton said: “On the last day, you’re going to see a very drunk director”. And I did. He also saw a very drunk actor. We both got paralytic’.