The phrase “end of an era” is overused to the point of cliche. But when it comes to Sir Roger Moore, who died Tuesday in Switzerland at the age of 89, it actually applies.
Moore was the consummate British gentleman of a certain era, with all the good and the bad that implies.
He dressed impeccably, preppy enough to make a J Crew designer weep.
His hair seemed tailor-made for the Brylcreemed pompadour style of the 1950s and 1960s. His jawline could cut glass. Not for nothing did he make his debut as a knitwear model before he became an actor.
Moore’s acting style could best be described as perpetual bemusement. In understated performance after understated performance, he showcased a wit that was as dry as James Bond’s favourite martinis.
The flip side of all this charm was a strong sense of something that today we call privilege – and it’s the main reason why we’ll probably never see his likes again.
Sean Connery didn’t exactly hide his working-class Scottish origins in his portrayal of Bond, which is why it has passed the test of time; there was always the rough layer of a real bruiser under his suave exterior.
Daniel Craig has much the same quality in the role.
But Roger Moore looked like he was born in a tuxedo, even though he wasn’t (his dad was a London policeman, not a patrician).
He did all the things an upwardly mobile kid was supposed to do in the heart of the British Empire: went to grammar school, got conscripted, became a captain in the army. Somewhere along the line, all his rough edges were buffed away.
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