George Lazenby, whose sole turn as James Bond in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was blessed with the casting of costar Diana Rigg, dispelled those ancient tales of an on-set feud today, writing, ” Much was made of our supposed differences but that was the Press looking for a news story.”
Rigg, who died this morning at the age of 82, played the doomed Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo in the Peter R. Hunt-directed 007 film, earning her praise as one of the best, if not the best, Bond Girl ever. The character didn’t live long though, getting killed off soon after the Bond wedding.
Longer lasting were rumors of discord between Rigg and Lazenby, notably the anecdote that the actress so disliked the actor that she ate garlic before a big kissing scene.
According to an account of the feud’s history published in The Independent, Rigg wrote an open letter to the press in 1970 denying the garlic stunt and accusing Lazenby of inventing the tale. Way back then, she called the Bond actor “paranoid” and given to “inexcusable and crude” behavior.
“I’m tired of reading those paranoid statements to the press wherein you were solely surrounded by hostile people,” Rigg wrote. “I agree that by the end of the film most of the crew were hostile, but only because of your extreme behaviour. Why else would your dresser threaten to hand in his notice? Why else would three chauffeurs leave you within a week? Why else was one member of the unit restrained from striking you after one inexcusable and crude outburst against one of the girls in the film?…No, George, I did not eat garlic on purpose. No, George, I was not, as you said, guzzling champagne in some warm bar when we had the row.”
In a 1981 interview, Lazenby offered a different take. “We were having lunch just before the love scene, and there were a lot of press around because they were invited that day. Diana Rigg was having lunch about four or five tables away and she yelled quite loudly, ‘I’m having garlic today George, I hope you are.’ You know, it was just a joke. They took it down as if she ate garlic so she could put me off, but I don’t quite remember smelling garlic on her, and it was quite a lot of fun with her and she’s another bright lady.”
Today, in a lengthy statement posted on Instagram and Twitter, Lazenby praised Rigg, saying she “undoubtedly raised my acting game” and that, in fact, they were good friends during the filming. “As my new bride, Tracy Bond, I wept for her loss,” Lazenby writes. “Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana’s death, I weep again.”
Here is Lazenby’s statement in full:
I’m so sad to hear of the death of Diana Rigg. She undoubtedly raised my acting game when we made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service together in 1968-9. I remember the press conference at the Dorchester in London, knowing she was going to play my wife. We had fun together on the set of the movie in Switzerland and Portugal. Her depth of experience really helped me. We were good friends on set. Much was made of our supposed differences but that was the Press looking for a news story. I was sorry to have lost my wife in the film at the end. The death of Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo Draco created a memorable cinema moment over 50 years ago. As my new bride, Tracy Bond, I wept for her loss. Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana’s death, I weep again. My deepest condolences for her family. Love George xx
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