Honor Blackman oozes elegance as she arrives at Dukes Bar in Mayfair. At 83, the ex-Avengers star, who played quintessential Bond girl Pussy Galore, still has the good looks and husky voice that made her a pin-up in her heyday – she has recently filmed Reuniting the Rubins and is releasing a single, The Star Who Fell from Grace. Over a suitably 007-inspired cocktail, the twice- divorced mother of two tells hello! about her public and personal life… and her sexiest-ever co-star.
Do you come here often, Honor?
A I very rarely go to bars. When I was young I used to half live in bars but not now.
Q You live by yourself, don’t you?
A Yes. It’s extraordinary the way people think you’d want to live with somebody else – I’d die before I did that. One gets wonderfully selfish, one does what one wants to do when one wants to do it.
Q Is there a question you always get asked?
A ‘What was it like working with Sean Connery?’. It was great, as you’d expect. He was such a sexy gentleman…
Q Was he the male co-star with whom you had the most on-screen chemistry?
A Without a doubt. He had a beautiful body, a lovely accent and the wickedest twinkle.
Q Are you still in touch with him?
A No. I’ve only met him once since. One doesn’t in this business, unless you work with someone. And somebody like Sean doesn’t go to Pizza Express.
Q The industry must have changed a lot since your acting career began in the 1940s…
A Oh, hugely. When I first started in the theatre, everyone was referred to as Mr or Miss and people were treated with huge respect. Nobody wanted to be the boy or girl next door, they all wanted to be something mysterious. Nowadays, everybody wants to know what you eat for breakfast. The more you’re like them, the better it’s meant to be. I can’t see the point. To be like the person next door isn’t anything I hanker after.
Q What do you see when you look in the mirror?
A I see somebody who’s lived a fair amount of time and is lucky to be happy. There are days when you look in the mirror and think, ‘Oh God’, but generally I’m happy.
Do you ever feel pressure to look good?
A For a huge part of my life I could eat anything without putting on weight. At this stage, one does put weight on one’s tummy if one’s not careful – so I don’t stuff myself with cakes and I ride my bike and do Pilates. I have done four one-woman shows and when you know you’ve got to get on stage in a slinky dress it makes you concentrate.
Q Have you ever had Botox?
A No. Botox is rather alarming if you’re an actor. What would you do with your face? A few wrinkles is much better than looking like a po-faced statue.
Q Is it true you never watch yourself on screen?
A I haven’t got a copy of any film I’ve done.
I only watched Goldfinger at the premiere and at an event last year. If you watch yourself, you think, ‘Oh I wish I’d done so and so’ and you’re always picking yourself to pieces, which isn’t very encouraging.
Q You still have a strong work ethic…
A I think every actor does. What’s essential if you’re not working is to keep up with your practice, exercise and discipline, or you’ll be caught out by someone saying, ‘You have to start on Monday…’
Q Do you have any regrets?
A I wish at least one of my marriages had worked, for the children’s sake. I’m very happy as I am, but it hits the children badly. Also, people ask if I was wise not to continue with The Avengers, and I suppose if I’d continued I would have earned a lot of money, but two years is long enough to play one part.
Q Do you have any vices?
A I’m very bossy. Last night a taxi driver asked me: ‘Have you ever been a taxi driver?’ because I was giving him non-stop instructions.
Q What makes you happiest?
A My grandchildren. I have four aged six and under, and they’re lovely. There isn’t anything I don’t know about dinosaurs.
Q Why are you releasing a single?
A You might well ask! I was asked to record with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and, because I’m a silly lemon, I thought, ‘I haven’t been to Prague and would love to go.’ Of course, the conductor went to Prague and I went to a crummy studio in Islington. I’ve sung lots before, so it wasn’t a startling digression.
Q Are there pros and cons to being a Bond girl?
A Pussy Galore was a great character but so many of them were bimbos. They were used and thrown away. Something of a misogynist, Ian Fleming. Even when this record comes out, I’ll be referred to as the actress who played Pussy Galore. Acres of work that one is much more pleased with has gone between that, but this is all they remember. A lot of men find you attractive because they fell in
love with you when they were 12. It’s funny.
Where we drank
Dukes Bar, Dukes Hotel, St James’s Palace, London
Why? This bar inspired James Bond author Ian Fleming to have his hero order a shaken-not-stirred martini. Who else goes there?
Former 007s Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan enjoyed martinis here to celebrate winning the iconic role. Eva Green, who played Vesper Lynd in Casino Royal, is another famous former guest.
What we drank
Premium-brand vodka such as Stolichnaya A pinch of saffron (the best is from Abruzzo) A few drops of Martini Extra Dry vermouth 75ml/3fl oz Chopin potato vodka
Strip of orange peel, pith removed
Infuse the bottle of vodka with saffron. Leave at room temperature for six days then place in the freezer. Take a frozen Martini glass, pour in a few drops of Martini, add 10ml of the saffron vodka and
top up with Chopin vodka. Twist the orange peel over to spritz and arrange in the glass.