The arrival of Sir Roger Moore, a movie star who played the role of British intelligence agent James Bond, provoked mixed reactions at Wat Phnom on Thursday. While many voiced recognition and surprised enthusiasm at the mention of James Bond’s name, others were left blank-faced.
“I want to see him,” said Kim Borey Rath, 18, a waitress at the nearby Suki Soup Restaurant. “I want to know how handsome he is.”
James Bond’s appeal is simple, she said. “He’s good-looking, he’s good at shooting, and he’s a nice guy.” Although she has never seen a Bond movie, she said she is familiar with the genre from magazines and television.
Arriving in Phnom Penh Wednesday evening, Sir Roger said he did not know if his fame would had reached as far as Cambodia.
Reclining in the cyclo with which he makes a living at the foot of Wat Phnom, Chan Heng, 44, said Thursday that he has never heard of James Bond. “I never watch international movies,” he said, puffing on a cigarette wrapped in leaves. “I never go to the cinema.”
Em Joy, 16, a shoeshiner, was surprised to hear of the visit. “I never knew he was coming to Cambodia,” he said, eyes widening. Em Joy saw a Bond film once at a cafe in Svay Rieng province.
“It had fighting and shooting, and it was a seriously good performance.” He was slightly taken aback of a photograph of Sir Roger taken earlier this week. “I’ve seen James Bond, but he didn’t look as old as this.”
Sir Roger appeared as James Bond, or “007,” in seven films between 1973 and 1985. He said his first Bond movie was to have been filmed in Cambodia, but it was axed—partly due to political tensions, and partly due to the actor’s schedule.
“They approached me in , after Sean [Connery] had done four or five [Bond movies] and had decided he didn’t want to do one again,” Sir Roger said in an interview Thursday. “By the time they got around to asking me again, I was busy, and George Lazenby did it instead.”
The movie was “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” which, in the end, was not filmed in Cambodia because of the civil war.
The chances of Sir Roger filming again, here or elsewhere, appear slim. New movies “are always being discussed” Sir Roger said. “But movies are like peace treaties—there’s a lot of talk and then nothing seems to happen.”
Southy Kann, 32, chief of administration at a video firm, said it is too late to shoot a Bond movie in Cambodia. “There are too many mines,” he lamented.
He said he hopes that Sir Roger’s visit will boost Cambodia’s image abroad.
“He will show the international community that Cambodia has security,” Southy Kann said, before referring to the recent high-profile shootings in Phnom Penh.