Bond girls, or rather Bond women, have come a long way says A View to a Kill star Fiona Fullerton
- Credit: Archant
Bond girls, or rather Bond women, have come a long way and rightly so says A View to a Kill star Fiona Fullerton.
Former actress Fiona Fullerton, famed for her role as a Bond girl, is hosting The Music of Bond at the Ipswich Regent in November - the same month that new movie Spectre launches.
This week she talked to entertainment writer Wayne Savage about being part of such as iconic club and how a brush with death spurred her to leave showbusiness behind.
Fiona prefers to think of herself as a Bond woman rather than a Bond girl.
“I kind of cringe when I’m referred to as a Bond girl because I’m not a girl anymore. I might’ve been when I did A View to a Kill but certainly now I’m very much of the older fraternity so I’m a Bond woman and I always will be,” says Fullerton, as she prepared for her Ipswich date later this year.
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She jokes the only reason they’re not referred to as girls now is because Spectre actress Monica Belluci, playing Lucia Sciarra in the new film, out the same month, is older than Bond actor Daniel Craig.
Fiona says it’s nice older women are featuring in the Bond movies now, adding it’s wrong that while the leading actor gets older their female counterparts have to be incredibly young.
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“In the early days, certainly (in the films) based on Ian Fleming’s original books, the female characters were certainly decorative and not an integral part of the story. Over the decades that has changed quite rightly and reflects society - fact women play a stronger role in business, trade, whatever you like to think of. Particularly since Casino Royale and Daniel Craig coming on board, things have changed quite dramatically.
“The storylines have echoed that there are a lot of very powerful women in the world right now... It’s lovely being part of this rather exclusive club, it’s a great honour. Having somebody like Monica join is really fantastic - it shows you don’t have to be 22 to be a Bond girl.”
Fiona didn’t skip a beat when offered the role of Pola Ivanova in A View to a Kill alongside Sir Roger Moore, which sees a horse-racing scam investigation result in 007 having to stop a mad industrialist creating a worldwide microchip monopoly by destroying California’s Silicon Valley.
Made in 1984 and released the next year, she was thrilled to be asked. While the she admits she didn’t think about the implications of joining such an iconic franchise, her Bond woman tag is relatively new.
“Strangely (I was) never referred to as a Bond girl, that has only been more recently in the last 15-20 years, certainly not in the ensuing 30 years between the making of the movie and now. In the 1980s I did a lot of theatre and after A View to a Kill came out a lot of big television shows so it’s quite strange. I’m very proud to be known as a Bond girl or Bond woman - very proud of it indeed.”
The former actress turned writer and property developer has great memories of filming A View to a Kill. Most of it was shot at Pinewood with a huge section shot in San Francisco. She particularly recalls coming out of the sea in the bay.
“I remember thinking ‘oh my God I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. I’m in wetsuit having a fight with James Bond’. The whole thing was surreal and bizarre. I remember standing on the quayside the following day shivering to death because nobody told me San Francisco was really very cold and the wind that comes in across the bay is earth shatteringly chilly but I had such a ball doing it.”
Her first day on set involved climbing into a Jacuzzi with Moore. It was the first time they’d met.
“That was a bit embarrassing, I had to get in the tub and get on with it you know. I thought ‘oh well here we go I’ll give it both barrels’. It’s a sexy scene so I kissed him properly as opposed to doing those kind of fake showbiz kisses which I hate.
“I think he was slightly taken aback but that’s what makes that scene look so good, the fact we’re really going for it and I thought ‘well, he is Roger Moore you know’,” she laughs. “Thirty years older mind you, which kind of contradicts what we were saying earlier.”
Fiona remembers Moore’s wife was on set that day too, laughing maybe she was there to keep an eye on him. Getting that scene in the can early meant she could relax and enjoy the rest of the shoot.
“It was great fun, it was a lovely light atmosphere and Roger is a great practical joker, he used to love winding up his co-stars and would often play naughty tricks on Grace Jones (who played May Day). He didn’t know me well enough (to do it to me) but I gather Cubby Broccoli would indulg his time wasting antics. Filmmaking is very expensive, time is money; but I understand he used to build into the budget a certain amount of money for Roger to indulge in his little pranks which always went down very well. At the wrap party they’d show a short movie of all the funny things that have gone on on the set.”
She won’t divulge what Moore used to get up to.
“I can’t possibly tell you they were disgusting,” she laughs. “He was very naughty but with enormous wit.”
n The Music of Bond will be leaving audiences shaken and stirred at the Ipswich Regent on November 3. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and guest vocalists will perform songs such as Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, A View to a Kill, Nobody Does is Better and John Barry’s iconic James Bond Theme.
Fiona walked away from showbusiness in 1995, primarily to have her daughter. After being confronted at her home in 1996, the family moved to the countryside and she hasn’t worked as as actress since.
“You’ve obviously read the story, that’s what happened basically,” she says, understandably reluctant to reopen old wounds.
In a 2008 piece for The Sunday Times, Fiona recalled the brief but strange encounter.
Answering the door with her then five-month-old daughter in her arms, she was greeted by a man who asked to take her photo. She politely declined but left him in the open doorway while she fetched her agent’s number for him to call to arrange something.
Thinking nothing of it, she received a letter a few weeks later in which he revealed he’d planned to rape and kill her but couldn’t go through with it when he saw her carrying her baby.
“What’s interesting is I wasn’t harmed, nothing happened that day but I came within a whisker of losing my life. It was only later when I received a letter from this person, who was sent to Rampton high-security mental hospital...”
It wasn’t the first time she’d been threatened. Starring as Cinderella at the London Palladium when she was 20, a woman called Fiona to say she wouldn’t make it off the stage alive; resulting in months of being escorted on and off by police and leaving the theatre via a tunnel.
By 1996, she wrote, she’d become increasingly disenchanted with life in the public eye; becoming unhappier and lonelier by the day. Applause was all fine and well, but something was missing. Persuaded to take part in a small musical revue with a friend in 1997, she was crippled by stage fright and hasn’t performed since; Strictly Come Dancing aside.
“That was an interesting diversion because, as I say, I haven’t been involved in showbusiness since 1995. When they asked me I was slightly shocked and not sure whether I should but my daughter said I would be silly not to,” recalls Fiona, who was partnered with Anton du Beke.
“I’m really glad I did it, it was a ball. It was a lot of hard work but and we had a lot of fun. My goodness, I don’t think I’ve ached so much in my life; it was phenomenal for somebody as unfit as me. But the whole experience was unbelievable, gorgeous.”
She’d already begun buying and selling properties while still acting. In 1994 she got also involved in the buy to let market. That, and her writing, has been her life since quitting the limelight. She must miss it?
“Not at all. I walked away from it because I could and because I don’t miss it - I’m not one of those actresses who has a burning desire to be on the stage all the time. I achieved an enormous amount in my career - I was an actress for 30 years - so I feel I’ve moved on and want to do other things with my life now.”
The Music of Bond will be leaving audiences shaken and stirred at the Ipswich Regent on November 3. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and guest vocalists will perform songs such as Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, A View to a Kill, Nobody Does is Better and the franchise’s iconic James Bond Theme.