Diana Rigg's private life is often equal to the daring damsels she plays on screen - including Mrs. James Bond!
"Do you fancy George?" I asked Mrs. James Bond (Diana Rigg alias Emma Peel of the "Avengers" fame). In Londonese, to 'fancy' is to like the idea of popping into bed with. George is George Lazenby, the new James Bond, who Diana stars opposite in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
"Well," said Diana, drawing a deep breath back through her pearly white teeth, "I find George very 'fancyable', but to what extent I 'fancy' him is very personal to me. So to that, you won't have an answer."
Diana is thirty years old and a bachelor and a bachelor girl who doesn't believe in marriage "just yet."
According to Diana, "The man I love and live for will always stay in the background and will remain nameless."
Diana had taken this stand because apparently her man was not free to marry her.
(The man in her life is said to be film director Philip Saville.)
Getting back to George, we said, "Do you feel this exciting chemistry about the new James Bond that producers Saltzman and Broccoli talk about."
"The fact that I feel for George is one of the main reasons I'm making this film," she said.
"What is the other?" I asked. "Money?"
(Diana will be getting one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for this movie stint.)
"No, it's the aesthetic satisfaction," said Diana, who recently completed a highbrow movie, Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'."
"There's a certain dichotomy about many things I do," she said.
"Spell it out for me, translate second," I said.
"D-I-C-H-O-T-O-M-Y means a certain duality of purpose. In other words, doing this film will leave the path clear for me to appear in other, not so commercial ventures."
"Does this movie mean that you'll go the way of all flesh and do a nude spread for 'Playboy'?"
"Never!" said Diana.
We wanted to bet Diana that she'd change her mind by the time the movie appears in cinemas throughout the world, but Diana's a lady and you don't argue with a lady.
George has already bared his nearly all appearing in living color for bubble baths for Badedas and jockey shorts for Jeune Viril, a French underwear manufacturer.
Back onto the subject of Mrs. James Bond and marriage. "I've always been wary of marriage," said Diana. "When I was a little younger than I am now, it was difficult for my parents to accept my attitude. Then eventually, without actually understanding, they came to accept my point of view, because they loved me.
"The past year has been rather unsettling," she said. "For one thing my brother was taken to the hospital after his jet plane crashed, but thank goodness he was ok. Hugh is a squadron leader and he was piloting a Kestrel jet on a test flight when it went into a dive. He used the ejector seat to escape and parachuted down as the plane crashed into a field and burst into flames."
Then also, Diana's father died. She commented, "I felt absolutely betrayed because the figurehead of my life had gone. I felt as if I'd lost my identity. Then I realized that for years I'd been living on adolescent emotions.
"In fact, when my father died, I had the strange feeling that I desperately wanted to have a child of my own.
"I still want children," she continued. "But I can't make up my mind about having them outside of marriage. I don't want to be flippant about such a serious subject."
Diana used the same adjective, flippant, a few moments later, when she was discussing the money she earns.
"I can't be flippant about this. We actors and actresses are paid enormous and outrageous sums. I'd prefer to have a token fee and a greater commitment to the film concerned."
George Lazenby, her new movie husband, agreed with her. "I earned four pounds a week when I started working as a motor mechanic. Now I get more than a hundred times that every week. It's practically unfair to those with more serious professions, like medicos."
George and Diana were joined by two of the featured stars of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
Telly Savalas was one. (Diana recently co-starred with Telly in the movie "Assassination Bureau." He'll be playing the part of arch-villain Ernest Blofield in the movie).
The other was German actress Ilse Steppat, who portrays villainess Irma Blunt.
George was joined by an old buddy, pint-sized Australian singer Johnny Durrell, who'd just returned from preparing a TV program with Sammy Davis in Munich. Johnny and George had sold second-hand cars together when they'd first arrived in London. Now, for the benefit of my camera, they staged a Karate display.
Commented Diana, "This reminds me, it'll be a great change for me not to spend half my time in leather, throwing tough-looking men through windows.
"Look at him," said Diana. "George is smooth. Not a wrinkle."
As George landed a rabbit killer on the back of Johnny's neck, he said, "This is easier than the screen test."
Later that evening I saw the screen test and saw what Diana was talking about in saying that George was smooth.
The screen test was a three minute fight scene in which George, with the help of Karate, fought off a ferocious looking stuntman.
It's said that in their work male models have to appear conceited. Perhaps that's why George was so effective in the screen test and will be so successful and "smooth" (quoting Diana Rigg.) in the movie.
At the end of the fight, with the head of the stuntman's head shoved through a fiberglass door. George straightens his jacket and adjusts his tie as he movies across the camera range to go into a clinch, this time with a lovely blonde dolly.
His performance had just the slightest touch of conceit about it. Probably just the the right approach to develop a James Bond image of his own.