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The James Bond Files ~
When James Bond Met Edgar Cayce – Q&A with George Lazenby

By Ron Payne

Lazenby and Rigg
In a scene from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), George Lazenby carries an unconscious Diana Rigg.

In September 1999, two distinct things happened in the life of former James Bond star, George Lazenby. First, there was a definitive interview in CineFantastique Magazine which featured Pierce Brosnan on the cover. It was one of George Lazenby’s best-ever interviews and was a great critical success for writer Rich Handley, whom I helped get the gig, as George always likes to say. And, then there was that great moment when George Lazenby flew into Virginia Beach, Virginia – “just for me” – as a special guest of the Association for Research and Enlightenment – the Edgar Cayce Foundation.

George had first discovered Edgar Cayce – “the Sleeping Prophet” – about the time he was doing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. “I was reading all this mind blowing stuff about Cayce, who would go into a trance and tell sick people how to heal themselves. I was reading this in a paperback, between scenes for the Bond film. I was hooked on the guy and wanted to learn more.” So it seemed a natural fit – 007 coming to meet with and do a performance for the folks keeping the legacy of Edgar Cayce alive.

It was a splendid night. Alma Cravatt, who had pushed the whole thing through with the Cayce people, was a delight. If anyone was Miss Moneypenny in Virginia Beach that night, it was Alma. I asked for and received security for George Lazenby. Every precaution was taken for his protection and it paid off, immediately.

When the Cayce group – four guys, plus George and me – arrived at his plush hotel suite, there was already someone in his room. To our amazement, his door was locked from the inside! A group of people had entered off the roof by way of the deck outside. We went instantly to work getting rid of them and moving George to an even plusher and safer suite overlooking the ocean.

Later, George met, privately, with Dr. Charles Thomas Cayce, the son of Edgar Cayce and they seemed to get along quite well. George expressed an interest in portraying Edgar Cayce on the widescreen. It is an idea, some nine years later, that still holds merit for the actor. He would, indeed, make a splendid Cayce, as he has researched all of the 2,000 plus readings the “sleeping prophet” left behind.

Before his arrival, The A.R.E. had run several television commercials announcing “An Evening With George Lazenby,” and the Virginia Beach Pavilion, Virginia Beach’s largest theatrical and entertainment center in the city, used both “An Evening With George Lazenby” and “An Evening With James Bond” on their large marquee. It projected the feeling of real star power as we all rode in the motorcade the night of George’s engagement on stage. It was a very glamorous night.

Below are the questions posed by the audience and George’s very in-depth replies. Even after all these years, these very candid answers should give readers, who weren’t there that night, some very human and insightful glimpses into the very thoughtful George Lazenby.

Q – What was it like playing 007?

I had a great time. Everyone treated me, really, well. The main reason director Peter Hunt and I stopped talking was due to an unfortunate incident, where Peter thought I over-stepped the line and his authority as the director. There were many people coming around the set and someone, I forget who, said to me “Why don’t you close the set? You’re James Bond,” etc. and in my naive way – I was new, you know – I did just that, thinking it perfectly okay. Well, when Peter returned from lunch and found his set closed-closed by me – he was none too pleased. That’s how the “Lazenby is difficult to work with” legend started to circulate. I was very sorry it happened, but it stuck. Peter later told others that he didn’t stop communicating with me – that it would be impossible for a director to direct, if he didn’t, but there was a difference.

I felt the only thing I had to guide me in the interpretation of Bond was Fleming’s novel – the original source material. It was a very long shoot. We started in October 1968 and kept at it for a full ten months. I was doing most of my own stunts, except for the skiing, and for a lot less money than my predecessor. I was exhausted by the end of filming. I was still at an age – I am the youngest actor on record, even after all these years, to portray James Bond – twenty eight – and I wasn’t certain I wanted to be a movie star. I realize now – it comes with maturity – I made a mistake, walking away from Bond.

When I told Cubby I was quitting, we were half-way through the picture. Cubby and Harry wanted me to sign their contract. Cubby, in particular, could not understand anyone walking away from such a deal. He couldn’t fathom my not wanting to be James Bond. Things were not quite the same, after that. When I said I was leaving, they didn’t really know what to do with me. That’s why it says “Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli Present Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007” at the beginning of the picture, rather than “Present George Lazenby as James Bond 007” at the beginning of the film and in the advertising. It was difficult on their merchandising plans, I’m certain, as the new actor’s likeness – me – was to be the new face of 007 to the world.

When I did The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson in Hollywood, Cubby was less than pleased with me when I showed up wearing long hair and a full beard. They wanted James Bond to appear, not the new and different George Lazenby. I will tell you one thing, however. Even in the years that followed, if I rang up, Harry Saltzman always accepted my telephone calls and we would talk. He was always interested and interesting.

Q – Is it true that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service outgrossed Sean Connery’s last James Bond film, Never Say Never Again?


Q – Would you like to portray James Bond again?

Of course. It’s a great gig. Bond is larger than life. I’d love to play James Bond again, if only to show the world I’ve matured and could do it better now. I’ve learned a lot since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service about acting and about life – or I wouldn’t be here tonight.

Q – How do you feel about Mrs. Bond, your co-star, Diana Rigg?

The news people exaggerated that Diana and I hated each other. Not so. She’s a wonderful actress. We haven’t had much contact over the years, though I did bump into her, recently. She’s still beautiful and I consider her a friend. I’m her biggest fan.

Q – What do you think of the James Bond films that came later? How would you rate Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan?

I have great respect for any actor who goes to bat to portray double-0-seven. It’s a tough job. The press follows you everywhere. There’s very little privacy. However, I can’t answer your question. I haven’t seen the films that followed. I’ve only seen Sean’s official films and mine.

Q – What did you do after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service?

I went to Hong Kong. I did several martial arts films. I met with Bruce Lee about doing a film. I raced cars for awhile. And I’ve done other films, including Saint Jack, Never Too Young to Die and The Return of the Man From UNCLE, for television. I’ve remained busy. I’ve just recently completed guest starring on the hit NBC television series, The Pretender. I’m also interested in real estate. I have a ranch. I also did a television series in France. I stay busy.

I would love to do a film biography of Edgar Cayce. It would have to be a serious, well written script. I’d want a good director. I’ve gotten offers to do all kinds of roles, over the years, including plays by Shakespeare. I’ve turned them all down, but a solid film about Cayce I would seriously consider.

Q – Is acting hard work?

Yes. The really great actors know what they are doing. They have to work hard to know what they are doing. I like to relax and play tennis or golf. I play golf as often as I can, because it’s good to be outside and with friends. But, as for the acting, I still take regular acting classes, even after all these years. The younger actors keep you on your toes.