Written by / 9/11/2014 / 1 Comment / , , , , , ,

RICHARD KIEL BITES INTO THE SPY WHO LOVED ME

Richard Kiel 1939-2014
RICHARD KIEL played the classic villain Jaws in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, arguably the best Roger Moore James Bond film... With a stature well over seven feet, and silver teeth that can chomp through anything, especially human necks, this character is a fan favorite and remains an icon to this day...   

Here the late Richard Kiel, in a 2010 written interview, details two key scenes: destroying a truck and fighting with Bond in a train compartment...

My most outstanding memories of the truck scene would be where Barbara Bach is supposed to throw me off the van by changing gears from forward to reverse and back again...

By accelerating quickly in first gear then slamming on the brakes, shifting quickly to reverse, accelerating quickly in reverse then slamming on the brakes again she would be successful in using these forces to throw me off the van, an English Ford product that required "Double clutching" to change from forward to reverse gear or vice-versa.

Commercial truck drivers would be familiar with the fact that you have to push the clutch in twice in order to synch the gearbox and change direction. Obviously Barbara Bach wasn't familiar with this although she could drive a stick-shift car (they don't require double clutching).

Richard Kiel lifts
When she tried to go from forward to reverse without "double clutching" the gears ground miserably making a very loud gear grinding noise. Roger Moore being a most accommodating person was outside the passenger window standing on the running board next to the camera in order to give Barbara a person to look at for her lines and facial reactions.

When the gears ground loudly Barbara was totally frustrated by the loud and sharp grinding sound and this was obvious by the look on her face. Roger shot her an ad-lib line through the open window, saying: "You want me to drive?" This was not in the script that lovely Barbara had memorized and his ad-lib quip took her completely by surprise and the stunned look on her face was priceless.

Barbara told the director she was sorry but Lewis Gilbert said, "No, Barbara, it was fine!" He had ideas of his own at that point on how to use this in a humorous way. "Let's try it again" he said. Barbara did the scene again and the gears made that sharp metallic grinding noise again and this time Roger said, "Women drivers!" Barbara reacted again even more surprised to this second unscripted ad-lib by Roger and Lewis said, "Cut. Print!" with a big smile on his face.

And lifts and lifts
Lewis then proceeded to get close-up shots of Roger Moore saying these lines inside the car so he could cut the scene together with both of those funny lines from Roger. Both lines and Barbara shocked reaction ended up in the movie.

All the time this was going on I was ripping the roof off the van; then started ripping the side panels off. Lewis got one of the transportation people to show Barbara how to double-clutch and they shot the scene again. This time I was standing on the back bumper of the van and Barbara was supposed to slam the van gently against the curb in front of the wall, which would throw me off the back of the van.

Richard Kiel keeps truckin
When she accelerated in reverse after successfully double-clutching, the gears were going so fast that when the van's real wheels hit the curb, I was thrown off so hard that I ripped the metal ladder that I was holding onto right off the van. Thank God the van didn't go up over the curb or Jaws wouldn't have been able to do another Bond film as I would be dead or at least maimed.

After I am tossed off the back of the van James Bond and Anya drive quickly off to make their get-away. Frustrated, I pick up a 2,000 pound stone block and try and throw it at them in a feeble attempt to stop them. In the close up of me lifting the massive heavy block you can see me grunting and groaning as I struggled to get it over my head so I could throw it at the van.

Early on in my career I had been told by directors to pick up heavy objects like they were nothing and when I saw the movie on the big screen it looked like the huge boulder I was picking up weighed nothing and it looked like I was picking up what it was a light-weight Styrofoam boulder. Knowing this I used my acting talents to make the huge Styrofoam block look like the real thing as I grimaced and struggled to raise the block over my head making it look like it really weighed a ton. This was a rehearsal so I decided to show the director, Lewis Gilbert, that I too was capable of injecting humor into a scene.

Richard Kiel's Jaws gets crunched
Struggling to get the "heavy" block over my head, you can see by the look on my face that the van is simply too far away for me to land the huge block on it, and, frustrated, I just let it fall to the ground. Then from the look on my face and the gasp of pain everyone watching knew that the "heavy" block had dropped on my foot and as I hopped around in pain people were calling out, "call for an ambulance," or "Get the nurse, quick."

Lewis was practically falling down on the ground in laughter as he knew full well that the "heavy" block I dropped on my foot was lightweight Styrofoam and weighed practically nothing.

Lewis came over to me and said, "That was hilarious, let's shoot one like that." I said, "Sure, but let's also shoot one a bit more subtle.” We shot it both ways and the final edit used the more subtle one where I look down with a slightly painful look on my face as I realize that I have dropped this two-thousand pound block on my foot. Audiences throughout the world roared with laughter as they watched the van scene.

RICHARD KIEL ON THE TRAIN COMPARTMENT FIGHT
Filming in England is quite different then filming in the U.S. Stunts are usually rehearsed with the actors and choreographed on the day...

Which usually causes a two to three hour delay as the stunt coordinator lays out the scene for the director, the camera man and the lighting director. In England they build a mock-up of the train set and when you are not acting in a scene they have you rehearsing with the stunt coordinator and the stunt men involved.

Bond Vs Jaws
At first this seemed like overkill and an unnecessary drudge but as I worked out the scene with the stunt men I realized how much better this was going to make the scene.

They used a mini-trampoline for Roger Moore to bounce up in the air as I picked him up seemingly with little effort and attached him to a cable so I could bang him against the ceiling of the train. They even had an articulated dummy (its arms and legs and writs and ankles had joints, which moved making it look like a real person flailing about, whom I could slam against the train ceiling even more easily).

What started out as boring became much more interesting and fun as we all came up with ideas to make the train fight scene better. I had an idea: my hands are the biggest thing about me and I knew that and used them in photos to make it look like was crushing someone’s head like a ping pong ball. I showed the stunt coordinator, Bob Simmons, what this would look like if I grabbed James Bond's face in my huge hands and shoved his head and whole body up the wall of the train compartment… Bob Simmons loved it!

With Roger Moore
Unfortunately as they began to dress the mock train set out they put a luggage rack on the very wall we were using for me to push Roger Moore up against. Bob made them move the luggage rack to the corner so we could still do the visual gag. After dressing the set they found that Roger wasn’t going to be able to reach the lamp so he could break the light bulb and stick the metal filaments to my steel teeth shocking the living hell out of me.

Bob had them move the shelf so the lamp could be reached by Roger as I was shoving his head and body up the wall. Come day of shooting, this scene was so well rehearsed that it went like clockwork! I slammed Roger Moore against the ceiling of the train compartment like a rag doll. Of course he was either on a cable or I was slamming an articulated dummy dressed in his clothes. As I grabbed his seemingly little head in my huge hands Roger lifted himself up using his feet to make it look like I was pushing his whole head and body up the wall.

Moore Vs Kiel
We rehearsed this for about 15 minutes while the director, the cameraman and the lighting director watched to see how they would photograph and light this scene. Forty-five minutes later the camera was in place the train compartment lighted and we began to film. The scene really “cooked” as we say in the movies.

At the end Jaws is supposed to be thrown out the train window by Bond. I wondered how they were going to do that as I knew one thing for sure they weren't going to throw me through a glass window to the ground below.

To make this even scarier the people who make candy glass (glass made out of sugar) so it wouldn’t break into shards and cut you, well, they were on strike. This meant no candy glass but rather real glass. In spite of this challenge and the scene had to be shot and there was only one stunt man in England that had the balls to do it and that was the stunt coordinator Bob Simmons. He was only about 5' 9' or 5' 10" at the most and I am 7' 2" so I doubted if it could look like me going out the window.

Good Eating
They dressed him identical but smaller matching wardrobe and he proceeded to use the minitram to run and jump ad hitting the minitram just right he flew right through that real glass window.

RIP Richard "Jaws" Kiel
The only cuts he sustained were when he landed on the mattresses below as some shards of glass had made there way ahead of him but they were just superficial cuts... Bob was a brave man and I was sad to hear a number of years ago that he had passed away. He died not from doing a dangerous stunt but from excessive drink as I understand. He was a wonderful guy and a true friend. He certainly made yours truly look good and helped turn me into a James Bond icon.
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