Jane Seymour on How Roger Moore Put Her at Ease When She Was a Nervous 20-Year-Old 'Newbie' on Live and Let Die
He was just the second man to play James Bond since Sean Connery, and she was a 20-year-old newcomer taking on the mantle of “Bond girl” in her first major role.
“He was very caring to me because I was a newbie,” the actress, 66, tells PEOPLE. “I was 20 years old and had never been anywhere or done anything and was terrified of the whole experience, and he literally made jokes around me, teased me terribly, but at the same time he watched out for me. So if a bad guy showed up or something weird was happening, he’d step in and make sure everything was okay.”
Seymour says she appreciated Moore’s attention, especially considering the weight on his own shoulders. “I was really, really lucky, because he had every reason to be nervous himself,” she explains. “It was his first Bond, no one could conceive of anyone being able to do what Sean [Connery] had done. So I can only imagine how hard it was for him, the pressure. But he took time out to be there for me as well.”
Moore, who played Bond seven times throughout the ’70s and ’80s, died in Switzerland on Tuesday. He was 89. The star’s children broke the news in a statement uploaded to Twitter, noting that Moore passed away after a “short but brave battle with cancer.”
Seymour and Moore had been acquaintances before the production, as they shared a connection through the Attenborough family of filmmakers: Richard is known for his role as John Hammond in Jurassic Park, and his younger brother David is a famed naturalist known for his documentaries and narration of the Planet Earth series.
“We didn’t really know each other, we sort of met one another through the Attenboroughs at a distance, he was very good friends with Richard and he knew their family,” Seymour explains.
“And of course Dickie wrote him this famous note saying, ‘Please look after my daughter-in-law’ in other words, ‘Hands-off,’ ” she adds with a laugh, referencing a letter Richard wrote to Moore before filming.
“And Roger used to say to me, ‘You know, you’re very beautiful, but look, I got this letter.’ And I’d say to him, ‘Yeah, what about Louisa? You’ve got a very beautiful Italian wife there too.’ He was only joking,” she remembers. “People always say, ‘Oh, you’re a Bond girl, you’re a sex symbol.’ I went, ‘Um, not so much. I was playing a virgin.’ She did lose it to Bond and then she lost her security, so then we had a million action sequences. There wasn’t a lot of time for love-making as I recall.”
After Live or Let Die, Seymour says, “We had random connections over the years, but after he passed I was so glad that I had made the effort last summer to find him at this big event. I was so glad that he was actually not feeling great and was sort of hiding out in this house, because I was able to be alone with him almost.
“It was just him and his wife and my boyfriend David and we sat around for a good 40 minutes or so reminiscing and taking photographs together. I have all these photographs of us laughing and giggling together and it was really lovely.”
RELATED: James Bond Star Roger Moore Dead at 89 After ‘Brave Battle with Cancer’
Seymour says she and Moore “talked about a lot of things” that night, and even aired out some old feelings dating back to Live or Let Die.
“He wrote a book, I didn’t read the whole thing but I read the chapter that pertained to me,” she explains. “And he had mentioned in the book that he teased me horribly, which he did. And at one time he teased me so badly on the set that I burst into tears and I was almost inconsolable. And he didn’t realize how much it had hurt my feelings. And so all those years later, he apologized.
“He said, ‘You know, I didn’t realize at the time. I just thought it was funny. But I realize now and I’ve been thinking about it all this time, you know I really shouldn’t have done that. I should have said it’s just a joke to you or something.’ But he said he was sorry he had done that, which I thought was really sweet. We talked about all kinds of stuff that went on in the film. His memory was brilliant, he remembered everything.”
Looking back at what made Moore such a successful Bond, Seymour says, “I think he was very relatable. And at the same time, very suave and very much the character. He wore clothes beautifully, he had an elegance about him. He was the sort of quintessential English gentleman, which is quite funny because he wasn’t actually, he didn’t come from any wealth or anything but he certainly carried it off.”
From PEN: Learn The Process Behind Time Selecting The 100 Most Influential People
Moore also brought a humor to the character, a trait that has waned in Bond’s more recent iterations. “He had a dry wit about him. I think Bond, certainly his Bond, was very witty. I don’t think you ever really felt he’d actually kill anyone, but of course he does,” she explains. “Not like Daniel Craig where you go, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a definite killer.’ But I think the way Bond was originally written by Ian Fleming, you wouldn’t know that he was a secret agent, that’s the whole point. I think it was James’ sense of humor, his wit, his delivery that everyone loved. And it was funny, those were the days when they had funny Bonds.”
Asked how she would describe Roger, Seymour says, “Warmth, loving, funny, just Roger. How do you explain Roger? He never lost that twinkle. And he was a gentleman, always a gentleman, which you had to love. He was definitely a gentleman.”