When you make TV commercials you occasionally film celebrities. Almost all of them are very nice. Charm is one of the things that helps people achieve fame in the first place. When you encounter them while making ads, they are being very well paid which will do wonders for anyone’s mood.
But among all the genial footballers, thespians, comedians, politicians and celebrity chefs I’ve had the good fortune to work with, none remain fonder in the memory than Sir Roger Moore.
The ads we made were for Banks Bitter. The scripts were written by Jon Harrison and Richard Elwell and Sir Roger wanted to film them in Dublin, so off we set for the Emerald Isle. I would normally meet the star before the shoot but the great man arrived quite late the night before and I had gone for my mandatory early night.
The next day we were filming in a pub. The script required Sir Roger to walk into the crowded saloon—in tuxedo and dickie bow naturally—causing everyone in the place to gawp at him in silence as he approached the bar. "The trouble with being a world-famous celebrity," he explains straight to camera, "is you simply can’t go for a quiet pint of Banks Bitter."
When he arrives at the bar an awestruck local stutters "you’re him, aren't you?" to which Roger silkily replies "yes." Then the fella buys him a pint of the delicious beer. "See what I mean?" smirks Roger.
Nervously I went to see our star in make up and he received me with good grace. I explained the scene to him and walked him though it again on set. "I think I can manage that," he drawled. Buoyed by his relaxed confidence, I decided to shoot the rehearsal.
In walks Roger delivering his lines to total perfection before arriving at the bar. "You're him, aren’t you?" says the fella. "Fuck off!" deadpans Roger.
The whole place fell apart. Roger smiled at me guffawing and in that moment I knew this was going to be fun.
Sure enough, he was non-stop hilarious throughout but never to the detriment to the work. In fact he kept deploying his immense experience to help us out whenever we encountered the little snags that are the regular stuff of film shoots.
When we wrapped on the last day I asked him if he would care to join us for a wrap dinner that evening, fully expecting him to politely decline as the biggest names usually do. "I’d love to," he said, "where are we going?"
He met us all an hour later at the Clarence Hotel. The pop group The Corrs, who were hugely successful at the time, were on a table on the other side of the dining room and I pointed them out to Roger, who wasn't acquainted with their music. But a little later when we’d all had a few glasses of wine he suddenly stood up and boomed across the room "you there, give us a song!" The Corrs looked round in absolute astonishment. "Jesus Christ," exclaimed one of them, "it’s James Bond!"
In the end Roger’s charming wife Kristina was able to drag him away despite his protests: "But darling, I’m just having one more Calvados with the boys!"
When he wasn’t telling outrageous anecdotes, the only thing he wanted to talk about was his work as a Unicef ambassador in which he was totally engrossed.
Afterward, he actually sent me a generous thank you letter. But of course the debt of gratitude was, and remains, entirely mine.
—Theo Delaney is a commercial film director and founder of Watchable.