Roger Moore visits Stockholm for a Kipling and UNICEF mission
IF in Stockholm... In September 2007, Sir Roger Moore was on a special Rudyard Kipling and UNICEF mission in Stockholm. We met up with Roger and wrote this exclusive report, originally published on his official website at http://roger-moore.com.
Press conference September 21st, held at the Nobel museum located in the Old Town
Sir Roger Moore arrived with his lovely Swedish wife, Lady Kristina by his side, dressed endearingly in a blue and yellow tie. They entered from behind a curtain on the first floor where representatives of the Swedish press had gathered half an hour before. Interest had been overwhelming according to the museum’s Head of Marketing, Anna Thompson.
The Museum Director Svante Lindqvist welcomed everyone and gave a brief, well researched talk on Sir Roger’s career in films and his enduring commitment to the UNICEF cause. We were told that in 1983, while shooting Octopussy in India and seeing the poverty surrounding him, that Sir Roger really started thinking about what he could do himself to make a better world.
Sir Roger took to the stage and read Rudyard Kipling’s classic 1895 poem ‘If’. Roger read it with passion and belief and spoke the words from the heart.
If by Rudyard Kipling:
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
The audience, who had only experienced Sir Roger’s work on TV and film, were impressed by his oratory, forgetting that the man is a RADA-trained actor who began his career on the London stage.
Sir Roger charmingly opened the proceedings in our native tongue “Goddag, mina damer och herrar, jag är mycket glad över att vara här idag.” - Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here today.
He explained he had chosen this poem because he learnt it himself as a child while living in the south of England where he also discovered Kipling for the first time. He also added he had taught it to his three children; Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian. In a voice that could soothe you like vanilla, Sir Roger said “I’m open for questions”!
I asked Sir Roger what his favorite place in Sweden is: “Well, it must be Karlstad as my wife is from there! Like the famous football manager Sven-Göran Eriksson”. He did point out that he also likes Stockholm and all the restaurants there although jokingly admitting they have had a bad impact on his waistline. About working with Swedish actresses, he thought they were always very professional, appearing on set exactly when they were supposed to be there. In his Bond films, he worked with Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight in The Man With The Golden Gun), Maud Adams (Andrea Anders in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) and Octopussy herself), Kristina Wayborn (Octopussy’s aide, Magda) and Mary Stavin (Commander Kimberley Jones who shares vodka and caviar with 007 in the pre-titles of A View to a Kill). I encouraged the ex-Bond to speculate about the chances of a future James Bond film to be filmed in Sweden: “Well, they have to be quick and film it during the Midsummer period, otherwise it will be too dark…”
Had the world become a better place during the years he had worked for UNICEF? “I wish I could say it has become better. Of course, there are schools in places there hasn’t before. And water in places where it hasn’t. But, there are still many places that haven’t and still many who need to be helped.” What was Sir Roger most proud of from all his work? Sir Roger hesitated a bit before saying it was almost impossible to answer. “I don’t know how much money has been raised in total and all sums, large as well as small, is important … It doesn’t matter if I have affected three or four people, the most important is that I manage to forward the message to someone.”
On the question of author Kipling’s antiquated imperialist undertones, Sir Roger commented “It was the way people spoke; it was the way people thought. We have come along thru two centuries, things have changed. I don't think Kipling today would have been what is considered a racist.” Reading the man’s work makes Sir Roger feel “inadequate”.
Sir Roger loves coming to Stockholm and that he loves Sweden. The first time he ever visited the country was in 1966, for the filming of two episodes for the TV series The Saint, in Sweden entitled Helgonet. Sir Roger has read Swedish author Liza Marklund. Marklund was presented by Sir Roger as a UNICEF ambassador in 2004 at the Sheraton Stockholm (Sir Roger’s residence for this particular three-day visit.)
Although he was only supposed to answer questions about Kipling, UNICEF and his visit to Sweden, Sir Roger did have fun with some of the wider questions: which film was his personal favorite? “Lawrence of Arabia…because I wasn’t in it - I suppose that’s why!” he added in typical self-deprecating style.
Finally, and returning to the Kipling theme, Sir Roger was asked which of the characters from the author’s classic, The Jungle Book, would he have liked to portray in a film. After some consideration, he revealed it would have been the chimpanzee, King Louie. “I don’t know why but I have always liked chimpanzees.” Being asked to comment on Kipling’s
Nobel Prize he said: “Something I will never get!” (In November 2006 at the British Library, Sir Roger revealed, "I have always loved Kipling mainly because I can understand him. I also admire him because of the way he turned down most of the honors offered to him - even a knighthood. I was very happy to accept mine." Coincidentally, both Kipling and Fleming have had excellent biographies written about them by English writer, Andrew Lycett.)
Sir Roger’s performance “On Kipling…” September 22nd, held on the 3rd floor at the museum in The Swedish Academy’s Grand Hall
At 14:05, Sir Roger was introduced by museum director Svante Lindqvist who in his prepared speech welcomed everyone including “[Her] Royal Highness” (referring to Sir Roger’s friend Princess Lilian of Sweden who was originally due to attend but unfortunately had to cancel in the last minute). However, Countess Jill Bernadotte was present and other Swedish personalities such as actress Lena Endre with her husband, film director Richard Hobert and the Executive Director of The Nobel Foundation, Michael Sohlman.
The British knight of the realm then strode onto the stage, taking his place behind the rostrum for a precisely 90-minute talk on Rudyard Kipling. The British writer had won Nobel Prize in literature 1907 and the event celebrated that centenary. The expectant audience of around 450 people had paid 100 Swedish kronor each to attend. All sums were donated to UNICEF with extra boxes displayed around the museum for people to give more money if they wanted. As Sir Roger commented to the press the day before: “100 kronor is cheap, it should have been 14 000!”
His powerful rendition of “If” stirred the audience and the soul. The words reverberated around the venue, sage-like and resonant with a century of wisdom locked with in line. Sir Roger spoke with fire and ice and dynamite – a confident performance.
He continued his talk by talking about Kipling and his life and in-between quoting texts from Kipling’s work in the following order: “The Conundrum of the workshops”, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”, “The Female of the Species”, “The Ladies”, “The Mary Gloster” which Sir Roger noted was a masterpiece, “Recessional”, “Danny Deever”, “Tommy”, “The Children” and finally “Epithaphs of the war”. Before reading the lines on Actors from “Epithaphs of the War” Sir Roger seemed to make a funny face…
“We counterfeited once for your disport
Men’s joy and sorrow: but our day has passed.
We pray you pardon all where we fell short
Seeing we were your servants to this last.”
Sir Roger left the rostrum after being thanked by Svante Lindqvist, went to his wife, Lady Kristina, who kissed him proudly. Sir Roger took her hand and they left the stage to a huge applause from an elated audience. Sir Roger commented afterwards that they had had a very pleasant trip to Stockholm as they also had time to see some of their friends. James Bond would return, but would Sir Roger grace Stockholm again?
Sir Roger Moore is the most popular incarnation of 007 in Sweden. He is a fine and popular actor and I was first introduced to his work via the James Bond films. However, having had the privilege of meeting Sir Roger on a number of occasions (Vue Sur 007 in Quebec in February 2006), my appreciation of the actor has matured into admiration of the man. Sir Roger has used his worldwide celebrity and fame to draw the media eye to the heartbreaking conditions of the more unfortunate children of the world. He has educated me and made my heart sing for those souls saveable yet unsaved. I urge you to donate to UNICEF now at this address www.unicef.org
Sir Roger is a great man. But I’ve a feeling, in this life, it’s an awful lot harder to be good. Sir Roger is undoubtedly both.
Special thanks to Anna Thompson (The Nobel Museum), Ingeborg Ekblom (UNICEF) and the excellent photographer Marie Regmert.
If you want to read anything of Rudyard Kipling’s work look out for two of his most famous titles; The Jungle Book and The Man Who Would Be King – the film version of which, co-starring Michael Caine and directed by Casino Royale 1967’s John Huston happens to be the personal favorite of Sir Sean Connery, he revealed at the 2006 Edinburgh International Film Festival last year.
Also, look out for the superb biography on Rudyard Kipling by Andrew Lycett.
Article written by Anders Frejdh in October 2007