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Why director Edgar Wright loved the ‘wink and twinkle’ of Roger Moore’s James Bond best

English actor Roger Moore in his role as James Bond in Guy Hamilton’s film ‘Live And Let Die’, circa
English actor Roger Moore in his role as James Bond in Guy Hamilton’s film “Live and Let Die,” circa 1973, with costars Gloria Hendry (left) and Jane Seymour.
(Terry O’Neill / Getty Images)

When Roger Moore died earlier this week at age 89, it was something of a multi-generational shock. He was the first James Bond actor to pass on. Across seven films, from 1973’s “Live and Let Die” to 1985’s “A View to a Kill,” Moore brought a charming sense of self-awareness to the role of international super spy, jet-set lover, master fighter and handler of elaborate gadgets. Setting him apart from the self-seriousness of other Bond actors such as Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, Moore had an ability to acknowledge the more outlandish and ridiculous aspects of the storytelling that made his take on Bond something special.

British filmmaker Edgar Wright only met Moore once, but considered himself a big fan and took delight in their occasional interactions on Twitter. (It should perhaps be noted that actors Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, who have both played Bond, have appeared in Wright’s films.) Sitting down for an interview for his upcoming “Baby Driver,” Wright happily reflected on the something extra of Roger Moore:

Somebody said this on the Internet the other day and I totally agree with it: No matter who was your favorite Bond, Roger Moore was the person who had the most fun playing Bond. And I think that’s absolutely true. It’s that thing where regardless of different iterations of that character, that performance of it meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time. And it still does.

Obviously with franchises going in the direction of dark and gritty, we shouldn’t forget that light and fun and self-deprecating and with a wink and a twinkle can also be really great. And actually several of his Bond films are my favorite Bond films. When people say, “What’s your favorite Bond film?” part of my brain is saying “Goldfinger” or “Skyfall,” but in reality it’s “Live and Let Die.” “Live and Let Die” is my favorite Bond film and “The Spy Who Loved Me” is a close second. Both of those are genuinely memorable and great.

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1977: Barbara Bach and Roger Moore, stars of the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” leaning on
1977: Barbara Bach and Roger Moore, stars of the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” leaning on the now-famous “amphibious” Lotus Esprit.
(Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
‘Live and Let Die’ is my favorite Bond film and ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ is a close second. Both of those are genuinely memorable and great.
Edgar Wright

But the other thing about him, and I don’t know him as well as some other people, but I definitely got this impression from all the stories I heard just what a nice guy he was and a humanitarian. He worked for UNICEF for years. And also good in other movies as well. Good in TV, in “The Saint” and “The Persuaders,” but also people think Roger Moore didn’t do anything except Bond, and there are movies like “North Sea Hijack,” which I think in this country is called “Ffolkes,” and he’s great in that. You get a glimmer of him in that movie of how fun he could be as a character actor as well. So it’s a tricky thing with that part. Sean Connery broke out of it in the ’80s, I’m not sure that Roger Moore ever escaped the shadow of Bond, but I don’t know whether he was bothered about that. He seemed perfectly happy with his image, which is a very sweet thing. He didn’t seem like a frustrated actor. He felt like somebody who got this great role and was having the time of his life doing it.

I think that’s the thing, you can only really think of happy memories with Roger Moore because he always seemed quite at peace with himself.

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Mark.Olsen@latimes.com

Follow on Twitter: @IndieFocus

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UPDATES:

11:35 a.m.: This story was updated to correct a quote by Edgar Wright. He said, “a wink and a twinkle can also be really great,” not “a wink and a tickle.”


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