Bond star still a big hit with fans

Richard Kiel

Richard Kiel

THE most common question asked of American actor Richard Kiel is: "how did you get your break in the movies?".

"I used to make a fist and swing my arms and say I just broke right in," laughed the man, who standing at an impressive 218 centimetres [seven foot two inches in the old scale], may or may not have actually been joking.

Kiel is best known for bringing to life one of the most iconic villains in screen history, Jaws, from the James Bond film series.

So popular was his character, complete with a set of shiny steel teeth, that after appearing in The Spy Who Loved Me [1977] he was called back for the next film, Moonraker.

"It has been said that I became an icon, almost as big as Bond itself," Kiel said. "I didn't expect that, but people like the character.

"I tried to give the character some human characteristics like vulnerability and frustration and determination and it worked, people liked it . . . they kind of felt that he was just doing his job."

Kiel will be one of the featured guests at this weekend's Supanova Pop Culture Expo and Sydney Olympic Park.

He said that he enjoyed meeting the fans and understood the passion folk felt for the Bond films, admitting he was a fan before becoming part of the franchise.

He says the success of the Bond films is due to the dedication of all who worked on them.

"It is because the producer Albert Broccoli was there on the set every day," Kiel said. "He was out there with us promoting the films and he really always wanted to do bigger and better and that's not true of all producers. They just want to raise the money and let somebody else make the movie.

"But he was a hands-on guy and he really cared and you can see that and the same thing is happening with his his stepson Michael Wilson and his daughter Barbara . . . they are following in their father's footsteps and are very much like him.

"I've always been a fan of the films from Dr No on. My favourites were Goldfinger and Thunderball. I like all of the beautiful women in skimpy bathing suits, just like every red-blooded American boy, and the gadgets and the fact that the films would take you to places that you couldn't afford to go and I enjoyed that."

Kiel's time on the Bond sets of course did take him far and wide and he has fond memories of shooting in locations including France — his middle son was born in Paris while he was shooting Moonraker.

"It took me and my family all over the world and we quite enjoyed it," he said.

While there was only one set of the famous steel teeth made for the films, which now rest in a British museum, Kiel joked he has his own replica pair.

"Yes I do and all of my children have a replica copy and so do my grand children as well," he said.

Of course Jaws is one of many roles Kiel has played in an acting career that started in the late '50s.

Another of his noted appearances was as alien Kanamit in the classic episode of The Twilight Zone original series, To Serve Man.

Not surprisingly, it is a role his fans enjoy speaking about at conferences like Supanova.

"The episode I did is kind of a classic," Kiel said. "It is considered one of the two best ones. I think I tie pretty much with William Shatner and the little gremlin character on the wing of the airplane.

"The Twilight Zone is something that is still very popular and it is one of my big selling photos that I sign. I put on the photo your name and 'it's a cook book'. I like to have fun."

Supanova Pop Culture Expo will be held at Sydney Olympic Park June 13 to 15.

Featured guests include:  

From the big and small screen:

■ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau [Game Of Thrones]

■ John Barrowman [Arrow]

■ George Lazenby [James Bond]

■ Richard Kiel [James Bond]

■ Jon Heder [Napoleon Dynamite]

■ Rose McGowan [Charmed]

■ Katie Cassidy [Arrow]

■ Erin Gray [Buck Rogers]

■ Laurie Holden [The Walking Dead]

■ Michael Rosenbaum [Smallville]  

From the comics/animation realm; authors:

■ Stan Lee [Marvel Universe]

■ Chris Ryall [IDW Publishing]

■ Ted Adams [IDW Publishing]

■ Robin Hodd [Farseer Trilogy]

■ Maile Flanagan [Voice of Naruto]

■ Yuri Lowenthal [Voice of Ben 10]

■ Paul Ryan [The Phantom daily strip]

■ Martin Abel [Pin-up artist]

■ Colin Wilson [Judge Dredd]

■ Olivia Olsen [Voice in Adventure Time]  

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