June 03, 2006
Not just anybody: how the fit and fabulous stay that way
Interview by Rosie Millard
Samantha Bond, 44, is a former Miss Moneypenny with a guilty secret - she can't stub out the fags
You're a former Bond girl now treading the boards in Donkey's Years, yet you still suffer stage fright. How do you cope?
I have to force myself to walk on stage. It used to be appalling. It abated when I had my daughter, Molly, 14 years ago, because something more important arrived in my life. Film sets aren't nerve-racking at all because there is no audience but I'm still very frightened of being on stage. Then again, I'm frightened of lots of things.
Is that it?
Actually, I hate anything with wings: birds, beetles, wasps and daddy-longlegs. I can just about cope with ladybirds but I have had to get the neighbour to help me at times when a stag beetle has been beside the front door of our house.
Ever resort to popping pills while in the air?
I'm afraid I cope on flights by taking all the drugs prescribed by my doctor - they stave off the impending feeling of disaster, as well as stopping me from crying all the time.
You were a very slinky Miss Moneypenny who radiated cool. Was that natural poise?
I trained as a ballet dancer from the age of 4 to 16 and, fortunately, it has given me a good basis of fitness for the rest of my life, and great posture, too. Also I have strong back muscles. Ballet is not so good for your knees though and I have dreadfully overdeveloped calves. And when I first became an actress I had to concentrate on not walking around like a duck, the way that all dancers do.
Why did you hang up your pointes. Was it discovering boys?
I grew too big. Too tall. And I got breasts.
And has Miss Moneypenny retired, too?
I always said I would do it as long as Pierce Brosnan did it but, frankly, without him it would feel like being unfaithful.
You don't have your sights set on Hollywood then?
I would really like to do some more films. But the reality is that it is probably not where my journey's going. I'm content. I have respect for that word. The world looks on content with scorn - and it shouldn't.
Strive for the body beautiful?
I have done Pilates in the past but I am too busy for that now.
No personal trainer on location?
If I was very grand I might have one, I suppose, but, if I did it, I would be laughed out of Equity.
So how do you stay svelte?
I have never done a sedentary play. The cardiovascular element of live drama does it all for me. When I was playing Lady Macbeth I had to pretend to have an actual fit on stage. I became very thin because the role was physically exhausting.
Was the role as unlucky as some claim?
When we were performing at Richmond Theatre I once came running off stage and discovered they hadn't finished building the set. I flew about 5ft (1.5m) in the air past Sean Bean, who was playing Macbeth. He had to go on stage not knowing if he was going to have a wife to play opposite after the interval. Fortunately, I just ended up with cuts and bruises.
Would you treat that sort of thing with arnica or are you an antibiotics fan?
We do both in our house. I have a huge respect for a lot of types of alternative medicine, including acupuncture. Also I have a very sporty family - my husband ran the London Marathon this year - so we often go to our local osteopath for physical check-ups.
Any special dietary requirements?
I will eat pretty much anything, but I do draw the line at offal. I love mussels but they hate me. Tragically, I'm allergic to shellfish.
How do you chill out?
I do something called "autogenics", which has been described as the Western mode of meditation. You talk yourself through a list of instructions and take yourself down to an autogenic state. It's the equivalent to a 45-minute sleep. I can do it in about 11 minutes.
You're into ascending the astral ladder?
I believe in creative visualisation, which for me is the equivalent of prayer.
Sins of the flesh?
I enjoy social drinking, particularly with friends over lunch on a Sunday. And I'm appalled to say I also indulge in social smoking. If I want to stop the ghastly fags, I suspect that willpower is the only solution.
What's your mantra?
It is a quotation that was found scrawled on a make-up mirror at Pinewood Studios. "The past is history. The future is a mystery. But this moment is a gift. Which is why it's called the present."
Donkey's Years is being performed at the Comedy Theatre, London SW1, until July 29. For tickets phone 0870 0606637
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.