Welcome to Part II of Universal Exports' exclusive interview with long-time Bond fan, author and publisher, Graham Rye. When we left off, Graham was discussing the evolution of 007 Magazine. Be sure to read Part I first. |
8. You have interviewed many Bond legends and celebrities over the years.
Is there one person or moment (in terms of interviewing) that stands out from the rest?
Terence Young! Without a doubt Terence was the man most responsible for honing and defining the essence of what made Bond work for audiences the world over. And it’s his legacy that has given the Bond movies their incredible longevity in the history of cinema. If Terence hadn’t directed the first two incredibly influential movies, and the most successful (Thunderball), I really believe they wouldn’t be making Casino Royale today. Terence took the young Sean Connery under his wing and really shaped him into the James Bond he later became in Goldfinger and in Thunderball, arguably his best performance as Bond.
Graham with George Lazenby, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn in 1994
Graham Rye and Christopher Lee in the classic pose
I was lucky enough to spend a week of lunches at Pinewood Studios with Terence during the early Nineties, for which he kindly paid. Sometime we were joined by Production Designer Syd Cain, who simply worshipped Terence, and having extensive knowledge of working in Africa was to have worked on Terence’s next project. I don’t think I ever ate a hot forkful of food all week. Terence was a great raconteur and would love to hold court telling many wonderful stories (some of them very tall indeed!) about his adventures with the many incredible ‘names’ he had worked with in the industry down the years.
At that time he was trying to get a film off the ground set in Africa that was to star Burt Lancaster, something to do with elephants, but unfortunately the combination of filming at high altitude and Lancaster’s heart problem finally put paid to the project, and sadly Terence never made another film before he died in 1994. I remember sitting directly behind Sean Connery at Terence’s service of thanksgiving at St Michael’s Church in Chester Square. ‘Big Tam’ wept openly, as did many of us during that service. I think Connery held him in esteem above all others, and very much looked upon him as a ‘father-figure’ who guided him through what must have been a very difficult and stressful transition for him from being basically still very much that Edinburgh tenement lad to the world’s Number One example of everything that was style, sophistication, – and class. It can truly be said of Terence, “They certainly don’t make them like him anymore.”
9. What are your opinions on the selection of Daniel Craig as the new Bond, as well
as your thoughts regarding the latest teaser trailer?
I think Daniel Craig is one of the most exciting actors to come out of England since the 1960’s. He’s a bloody good actor! I’ve seen most of his film and TV work, and he’s been totally believable as every character he’s portrayed. Whether he’ll be a good James Bond is another question altogether, but I don’t think anyone will really be qualified to comment until the film opens. He doesn’t look anything like what everyone has come to expect James Bond to look like so it will be interesting to see what the cinemagoing public worldwide will make of him – and they’re the people who’ll either make or break the film! There’s very little in the teaser trailer from which anyone can honestly derive any real information about the feel of the film. So once again, best to wait until the film opens on November 17th.
Graham Rye and Molly Peters at the 1965 Thunderball preview at the Odeon
10. If you could change one thing about the Bond series, what would it be and why?
This is much too difficult a question to answer easily without it turning into a convoluted essay. But suffice to say that were I running the franchise the films would be taking an entirely different direction at this time. Perhaps reinventing the James Bond films would have featured later on in my schedule after Pierce Brosnan had grown too old for the role. Contrary to what some critics may believe, the man has a lot of ‘juice’ left in him yet. Only time will tell whether the new and daring direction taken by the producers with Casino Royale and Daniel Craig will be the right direction. I certainly hope the film is a big success, as much for Daniel Craig as anyone else.
11. Raymond Benson has written many articles for 007 MAGAZINE over the years. Can you describe your relationship as well as your thoughts on his contributions to the literary and cinematic series?
I’ve always been very grateful, and still am, for the input from Raymond. His interviews with Timothy Dalton and John Gardner were two of the best interviews to ever appear in 007 MAGAZINE. I think there was a time when I hurt his feelings because of something derogatory I’d been quoted as saying in the national press here in the UK about his James Bond novels, for which I’m sorry if it did cause him any personal hurt. Although I feel the person who went out of their way to send him the news cutting probably harboured more personal grievance than I ever have towards Raymond. I certainly would never go out of my way to hurt anyone.
However, I’ve always called it as I’ve seen it. If you have the balls to stand up and be counted, then every now and then someone’s going to take a swipe at you. It took a huge amount of courage to take on the mantle of ‘the Bond author’ after John Gardner, and Raymond rose to the challenge. Whether his Bond novels were my ‘cup of tea’ or not, he established a loyal fan base for his books and fed his family in the bargain. No one can criticise the man for that!
Graham Rye in the Diamonds Are Forever moonbuggy outside Pinewood Studios' 007 Stage
Swiping and griping has happened and continues to happen to anyone who has worked hard and made any kind of ‘name’ for themselves in the world of James Bond fandom. I could care less what people think of me! I have a small circle of very good and supportive friends and family who know the reality of the world I occupy. I wasn’t put on this earth to win a popularity contest, but I have a feeling I was to publish 007 MAGAZINE OnLine!
12. Do you have any Bond-related stories or anecdotes you would like to share with our audience?
There are so many! But I suppose because I was so young at the time, it was so memorable. It was a brief meeting with Sean Connery as he was driven out of Pinewood Studios during the filming of You Only Live Twice.
I would often cycle to the studios from my home (at that time) in Southall, Middlesex, in the hope of perhaps seeing something, catching anything, of a Bond production.
After cycling to the studios many times I struck up a friendly rapport with the commissionaire on the main gatehouse, who would often give me bundles of the used ‘Call Sheets’ hanging in his office for the current productions, including You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the TV series Man In A Suitcase. In those days in the 1960s when the studios were still owned by the Rank Organisation it was very much a classy affair, with uniformed commissionaires (usually ex-servicemen from ‘The Corps of Commissionaires’) in both entrances to the studios.
Graham Rye and Pierce Brosnan in 1994
Graham Rye and Maurice Binder
This particular day I had cycled to the studios as usual and was given a number of ‘Call Sheets’ from You Only Live Twice when a large black limousine approached the security barrier to leave the studios. The commissionaire, recognising the vehicle walked up to the car and spoke to its driver and back seat occupant, whereupon he opened the door, and to my utter amazement out stepped this huge man – Sean Connery! He asked me how far I’d cycled and told me a little about the filming he’d been involved in that day. Apparently it was the sequence where he slides down the metal chute and arrives rather abruptly in Tiger Tanaka’s underground office – and he mentioned, none too happily as he held his back, that a stunt guy would be doing it tomorrow because he’d jolted his back today. He smiled, shook my hand, got back into his car and was gone. And in the two minutes he chatted I don’t think it ever entered my head to ask him for his autograph! The commissionaire laughed out loud, as he could see that I had been completely gobsmacked by the encounter. So he sat me down in his gate office and gave me a cup of tea and some Rich Tea Biscuits. He was a lovely bloke, and someone who I’ve never forgotten because of his kindness to a young, very shy, James Bond fan. Yet I never knew his name.
A word from the interviewer:
I'd like to say a big thank you to Graham Rye for completing this wonderful, in depth interview. I'm sorry it's taken so long to be published, Graham, but it's finally up! Thank you for being so patient.
Furthermore, we recommend you visit Graham's official website, which also happens to be the official site for his magazine '007 MAGAZINE'.
Stayed tuned to our interview section for more exclusive interviews with Bond celebrities. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to visit the MI6 Debriefing Room and put forward your ideas on possible interviewees. Also, guest interviewers are welcome.
Questions written by Adam Farrington-Williams