Thursday, 21 July 2016

Roger Moore as a Bond villain

If you've ever wondered what Roger Moore might be like as a Bond villain, then you need look no further than an episode of Alias, the television series created by J J Abrams and starring Jennifer Garner, in which Roger Moore played a member of a nefarious organisation. His performance also demonstrates that he can play more serious roles if demanded.

Alias ran from 2001 to 2006 for five series. Jennifer Garner plays Sydney Bristow, who, when not studying at college, is a double-agent working for the CIA within a criminal organisation known as SD-6. This organisation is part of a wider network called the Alliance of Twelve, which, rather like SPECTRE, trades in weapons and intelligence.

The show inevitably contains nods to the James Bond films. It features, for example, a pre-titles sequence in each episode, a Q-like character in SD-6, and some natty gadgets, such as a lock-picking tool hidden in the heel of Sydney's shoe, and a 360-degree camera disguised as a lipstick. It seems only fitting that Roger Moore should take a guest role, though ironically as a minor villain.

Roger Moore appears in 'The Prophesy', episode 16 of the first series. His character, Edward Poole, is a rich and cultured man who is a member of the Alliance and in communication with Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin), the head of SD-6. When Sloane suspects another member of being a traitor, he asks for Edward Poole's help in exposing the man. Instead, Edward Poole frames a fourth member, who Sloane is compelled to assassinate, even though the two are close friends.

Roger Moore plays it straight, and is not a little chilling in his measured, urbane manner, which masks duplicitous intent. At a crucial point of the episode, he and fellow Alliance members sit round a boardroom table onboard a yacht on the Thames outside the Houses of Parliament and make a fateful decision. The scene could have been taken from Spectre or Thunderball. Indeed, the set design itself looks like it was inspired by the work of Ken Adam. All that's missing is the white cat. 

A scene from Alias. Roger Moore is on the right.
Roger Moore is best known for light comedy, and his Bond films are the most comedic of the series. Yet, he has played roles with a hard edge worthy of Sean Connery and Daniel Craig (as an example, just look at Gold), and his performance in Alias shows he can play serious villains too. If Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson are wondering who to cast as the next Bond villain, it might just be worth giving Roger Moore a call.

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