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- August 13, 1979
- Vol. 12
- No. 7
Moonraker Is the Least Sexist, Most Lovable 007, Thanks to Roger Moore, Lois Chiles & Jaws
Agent 007 apparently doesn't get older, just suaver and more commercial—goons, gadgets, girls, excruciating double entendres and all. But inflation, including that of audience expectations, may make Moonraker less profitable than some of its lower-grossing predecessors. The original, Dr. No, was shot for a mere $1 million in 1962. Moonraker cost $30 million. "I once made entire movies for less than the phone bills on this one," moaned producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. In any case, a 12th Bond, For Your Eyes Only, is in the works. "The fantasy, "beams Broccoli, "continues."
The only element that may be aging is Roger Moore, who at 51 has weathered four 007 epics. That levitating love scene in Moonraker was done with wires, and the lady, Lois Chiles, tattles: "Poor Roger was trying to look amorous when in fact he was terribly miserable." Even he admits: "I'm always amazed when I read the obituary column that I'm not mentioned." Roger survived Moonraker with nothing worse than football knee from scrambling atop the Rio funicular with Chiles ("She was very brave—and shortsighted, which helps"). His closest call came in The Man with the Golden Gun, when he and Britt Ekland almost detonated on an island in the Gulf of Siam. "They always record things like that with five cameras," deadpans Moore. "In case you're killed they've got enough for a snuff movie."
With a seven-figure salary plus percentage (he won't be more precise, because "It's vulgar, like discussing your sex life"), Moore can stand the heat. He's grateful, though, that invidious comparisons to predecessor Sean Connery are no longer inevitable. Only his son Christian, 5, is still confused. "That's you, but you've got a mask on," he told his father while watching a videotape of the original 007. (Ironically, Connery, who bowed out fearing typecasting in 1971, is now being sued for trying to shoot a James Bond of his own.) Asked about the difference between them, Moore shrugs: "Some people prefer Olivier's Hamlet, and some Gielgud's."
The only child of a London bobby, Roger was variously a cartoonist, dishwasher, army officer, student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and model. He made his film debut in a Caesar and Cleopatra crowd scene in 1946. Then, after a brief Broadway career (he closed in one night), Moore went to Hollywood as a contract actor. While shooting an "awful" film called The Rape of the Sabines in Italy, Moore (divorced from skater Doom Van Steyn and separated from singer Dorothy Squires) met actress Luisa Mattioli, now 43. She moved in and gave birth to Deborah, now 16, and Jeffrey, 13, before they made it legal eight years later in 1969. Along the way Moore has made 23 movies and a string of TV series, including The Saint.
Roger's Bondage is nonexclusive, and he's mulling Broccoli's next. "Someday I'll be too old," he concedes. Eventually Moore wants to direct, as he often did on The Saint. (A former European exec for Brut Productions, he helped put together A Touch of Class.) Roger paints, plays guitar "rather badly" and keeps up an exercise regimen "every morning—well, most every morning." He used to play roulette, but cracks, "I retired from the tables—shaken, but not stirred."
The Moores pal around with the Gregory Pecks and Kirk Douglases, while jetting between houses in the South of France, Italy and Switzerland. "I'm never quite sure where the bathroom is," he claims. "If I ever settle down, three airlines are going to go broke."
007 faces a foxy feminist: Lois Chiles
Lois Chiles also has no fear of flying. Director Lewis Gilbert recalled her roles with Robert Redford in The Way We Were and The Great Gatsby when he sat next to her on a plane, and later asked her to test for Moonraker. No matter that the likes of Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve and Raquel Welch have spurned offers to play Bond girls. "I needed the work, I needed the money and I needed the experience," says Chiles, 32. And while Bond is as chauvinist as ever, scientist/CIA agent Holly Goodhead ("Can you believe that name?" asks Lois) is his brainiest bedmate to date. "This time they made her more of a partner," she says.
At first that troubled Moore, who harrumphs: "I'm a little older and more experienced, so I think I can push the actresses around a little. The trouble is, they push back, most of them. Bloody women's lib!" Lois was so serious about her part that Roger began calling her "Sarah Bernhardt Chiles."
There was another reason Chiles poured herself into her work: Her younger brother, Clay, was suffering from Hodgkin's disease. Lois shuttled from L.A. to Texas to give him blood until he died two months ago at 25. "Before, I would get in a state over something at the cleaner's," she says. "Those things don't bother me now. If you accept that at any time you could die, it makes each day special."
Daughter of an oilman from Alice, Texas, Lois grew up a "culturally deprived tomboy: I wanted to be a wild black stallion that nobody could ride." After attending the University of Texas (Farrah Fawcett was then "the campus beauty"), Chiles left for New York and fell into modeling when Glamour spotted her in Finch College's cafeteria. Chanel, Revlon and Clairol ads let her study with Sandy Meisner.
A year ago Chiles met Don Henley, 32, the drummer with the Eagles, in her exercise class. "My image of musicians," remembers Lois, "was of groupies, tearing up airplanes and trashing hotels. That was the last thing I wanted to get involved with." But she did. She doesn't tour with the group ("Concerts are interesting the first few times"), though she and her dog, Ursula, guested at his Holmby Hills manse before finding their own cottage last month in Santa Monica. "I love him very much," she says, but has no plans for marriage or children. When they're together Chiles lets Henley cook. "I hate roles in relationships," notes Lois. "I like roles if you're being paid."
Stardom—which she believes "is elevated to undeserved importance"—Chiles can do without. "It's fun to be at the Plaza and whisked off in a limousine, but I'd hate to wake up at 60 and find I'm a dull person."
Richard Kiel: his bite is worse than his bark
According to Broccoli's Law, no starring sex object or villain ever comes back for a second shot in the series. Richard "Jaws" Kiel, 39, wasn't even invited at first to attend the premiere of his Bond debut, The Spy Who Loved Me. But the fans so resoundingly took to the 7'2", 315-pound character that the producer realized a good thing when he was dwarfed by it. This outing, Jaws got a love interest and even speaks for the first time: four words to his lady. There was a price for his expanded role: He could wear the cobalt steel dentures for only three minutes and still would end up sick to his stomach.
"Every actor wants to stand out," drawls Kiel (rhymes with zeal), but being typed into hulking but small parts has troubled him. He longs to play Othello or a "Dustin Hoffman-type role. I'm an intelligent and sensitive person," he protests. "I've had a lot of directors who are surprised I can even walk." Broccoli knows better, calling Richard "an intelligent, gentle man and a very good actor, particularly in Chaplinesque situations."
Born in Michigan, Kiel grew up and up in East Los Angeles, where his father owned an appliance store. Some family members were tall, but "when I was 12 my father got slightly concerned because I started to wear all his clothes. That lasted for about a month," he chuckles. Richard was 6'7" by age 14. "Bashful" in high school, he reports that "the only thing I knew about girls was that they danced backward."
He drifted as a washing machine repairman, cemetery plot salesman ("That was better than studying acting in New York"), radio school teacher and bouncer until 1960, when he picked up $500 as a brawler on TV's Klondike series. Kiel says his debut was "terrible," but he got work as a TV heavy until 1968, when he found he could make more money selling cars and then real estate.
Kiel returned to the screen for 1974's The Longest Yard, where Burt Reynolds, a mentor to so many actors, told him, "Hang in there." On location in Georgia, the divorced Kiel also met high school student Diane Rogers, 16 years younger and 25 inches shorter than he. "It was just boom," he recalls. They were married a year later. "I'm sure that one of the things that attracts her to me is that she feels safe at night."
The Kiels now include Richard George, 4½, Jennifer, 2½, and Bennett, 9 months, and live in Covina, an unchic L.A. suburb. They have a second place: not a Malibu beach house but a mobile home in the desert. "Diane's the kind of gal who could be happy if we lived in a tin shack as long as we could pay the light bill," he says. Their pleasures are cycling, horseback riding, watching TV and vanning. Another Kiel movie, "a spaghetti Star Wars" called The Humanoid, is already out abroad, and he has formed a production company to seek out more serious properties. "My motto," he says, "is 'Think small.' "
Fortunately, though, for Kiel, the Cubby Broccolis of this world never do.
January 28, 2015
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