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James Bond star pays tribute to Diana Rigg – the only woman 007 ever married


She was the only woman ever to marry James Bond – and the only one to make the 007 hardman cry.

And now actor George Lazenby has been in tears again at the sad news his leading lady Diana Rigg has passed away.

George, 81, said he and Dame Diana, who died on Thursday aged 82, shared a very special chemistry when they starred together in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

He told the Sunday Mirror: “I think Diana and I created some magic. She was a Shakespearean actress, I wasn’t even an actor. But I think we made it work.”

Australian George only got to play James Bond once, in the 1969 movie, opposite Diana playing villain’s daughter Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo Draco.

In the film she wins the secret agent’s heart and they tie the knot. But Bond’s beautiful bride is assassinated as they drive away from the wedding.

Stars pucker up in film wedding

It was filmed on location in Estoril, Portugal, and Switzerland – where George and Diana spent months on the snow-capped mountain of Schilthorn.

He said: “I think all of us went a bit stir crazy up there, but it was fun skiing with her and shooting on the snow and ice.

“We filmed a stock car chase on the ice and I remember Diana really driving that thing like a race car professional.

“But that was Diana – a professional in every way.”

George Lazenby attends the 50th anniversary screening of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in London last year

He added: “I went back last year to celebrate 50 years of the movie. They have a museum up there dedicated to Diana and me. Diana was nearly going to come, but in the end couldn’t make it.”

Bond fans have made videos of Mr and Mrs 007’s relationship, including one set to the movie’s Louis Armstrong theme tune We Have All The Time In The World.

George said: “There is a montage sequence I’ve seen of me falling in love with Diana…Most guys would have fallen in love with her.”

There are rumours the pair didn’t get on, with Diana reportedly eating garlic just to annoy him in romantic scenes.

But George dismissed them. He said: “Much was made of our supposed differences. We got along fine. You can’t shoot a whole movie for months and not get on.

George Lazenby and Diana Rigg relax on the set of the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969

“I’ve seen interviews with Diana where she commented on my behaviour and inexperience. Well, she was right. But she also said she was proud of the film and the role she played.”

George paid an emotional tribute to his friend on Instagram this week and admitted her passing had moved him to tears.

He told the Sunday Mirror: “Seeing all the tributes to Diana moved me. She certainly did her bit for women in film.

George has fond memories of Diana Rigg

“She was great as Emma Peel in The Avengers – a great Bond Woman audition.” Diana, born Enid Rigg in Doncaster, was a huge star of stage and screen.

Her theatre career saw her working for the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing nude on Broadway and picking up a string of acting awards.

Her breakthrough TV role was as secret agent Emma in 1960s TV series The Avengers, opposite Patrick Macnee as John Steed. She won a Bafta for her part in Mother Love in 1989 and an Emmy for her role as Mrs Danvers in a 1997 adaptation of Daphne De Maurier’s Rebecca.

In 2013 she acted alongside her daughter Rachael Stirling in Doctor Who and gained a whole new fan base when she started playing sharp-tongued Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) United Artists / Cinema Legacy Collection File Reference # 33962-099THA

Her big-screen debut was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

George believes the film may have inspired Daniel Craig’s Bond.

He said: “I’m pleased to have been the only Bond to have married.

“I thought that was a great emotional core to the character – something I think Daniel Craig might have been inspired by. When his movie, No Time To Die comes out, I understand he has an ongoing meaningful relationship with his leading lady. But Diana and I set the example.

“Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana’s death, I weep again. Our film will last for all the time in the world.”

George, who succeeded Sean Connery to play Bond, added: “I’d read the Ian Fleming novel and Tracy was a blonde.

“I’d heard if Sean was doing it, they were going to get Brigitte Bardot to play her.

“But Diana was great for me. We certainly had chemistry.”

When Diana’s character dies in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond weeps: “It’s quite alright, really, she’s having a rest.”

Dame Diana Rigg last year

The iconic moment was at first hammered by critics, but is now championed by fans and directors.

George said: “When she died, I cried. But the director told me ‘James Bond doesn’t cry.’

“Last year, I saw the movie at a show in London’s British Film Institute. Our film got a standing ovation. I heard heavyweights like Chris Nolan, Steven Soderbergh and Edgar Wright love our movie.

007 gives his new wife her ring at film wedding

“I am glad of my choice to make Bond cry. Bond should have cried over the death of his new bride. It was a memorable movie moment.”

Before he played Bond, George’s acting experience was limited to
the Big Fry – a Milk Tray Man-type character created to promote rival chocolate brand Fry’s.

But he says Diana helped him to raise his acting game. George said: “You’ve got to remember, I was a male model at the time.

“But everyone said I had the one thing that could make me think I could take over from Sean Connery – arrogance. And I did!

“I wanted it badly and I worked hard for it. Endless auditions, learning how to walk like Prince Philip, talk like him too, and look and dress like Sean Connery. I threw myself into it and never hesitated.

“I think I’ve gotten better through the years with training and experience. It helped to work alongside great actors like Telly Savalas and, of course, Diana Rigg.” Diana, made a dame in 1994 for services to drama, passed away at home surrounded by her family.

Daughter Rachael said: “She died of cancer diagnosed in March and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words.”

Tributes poured in from the acting world. Playwright Sir Tom Stoppard said: “For half her life Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a trouper.

“She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous.”

Game of Thrones star John Bradley, who played Samwell Tarly, said: “Diana Rigg was just wonderful.

“But you all knew that already. Everybody did.”


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