Months before he died, Moore gave a glittering and typically witty audience at London’s Southbank Centre. During the retrospective of his life and career, he shared Bond anecdotes and droll commentaries on some of his co-stars. He pulled no punches when he spoke of his time with Nick Nack actor Villechaize while they were filming 1973’s The Man With The Golden Gun, revealing his revulsion when his co-star touched him.
Villechaize was also a talented artist who had exhibited at the Museum of Paris at just 18. He moved to Hollywood to pursue dreams of being an actor but had been living in his car and working as a rat-catcher in Los Angeles before he landed the part of Scaramanga’s servant.
Christopher Lee, who played the main villain, later said that the period while they were filming was the happiest time in Villechaize’s life. Apart from the boost to his career, it may also have been due to the other less savoury opportunities the film and his subsequent fame gave him.
In a staggering evocation of the bygone days of promiscuity and sexism, Moore added that he asked Villechaize how many women he had slept during the film shoot in the Far East.
Moore said: “He (Villevchaize) told me 35. I told him that did not count as he paid for them, but he said, ‘Sometimes when I pay they refuse.'”
Sadly Villechaize did not enjoy a long and prosperous life full of anecdotes like Roger Moore. After almost two decades in the limelight his life had a tragic ending.
The French actor of English and Filipino descent shot to fame after the release of the 1974 Bond film, in which he played the villain Nick Nack. The classic Ian Fleming spy film also starred Maud Adams and Britt Ekland.
He found a second round of success when he starred alongside Ricardo Montalban as Mr Roarke’s assistant, Tattoo, in the television series Fantasy Island from 1978.
He was fired in 1984 after repeatedly clashing with the show’s producers over his pay demands and unwelcome propositioning of female cast members and crew.
Villechaize’s life came to a tragic end when he shot himself in the garden of his Hollywood home in 1993, aged 50. He left a suicide note which read: “I love everybody. Nobody is to blame for this.”
It was not his first attempt and his girlfriend Kathy Self revealed that he had been suffering from constant chronic pain due to the stresses his normal-sized organs were putting on his diminutive body.
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN IS ON ITV4 AT 4.25PM