An Interview with Actor Richard KielThursday, January 31, 2008
Best known for his role as Jaws in the James Bond franchise, Richard Kiel has always been a favorite of Sideshow Collectibles. Born in Detroit, Michigan on September 13th 1939, Richard Kiel is most certainly one of the largest men to ever fill a motion picture screen. At 7’2″ and 340 pounds, he managed to fill the small screen for many years as well. Kiel was a staple on 1950′s and 1960′s television, appearing in nearly 100 television shows, from his role as Voltaire in The Wild, Wild West, to the alien Kanamit in The Twilight Zone episode ‘To Serve Man.’
Off screen, Kiel lives with his 5’1″ wife Diane in his California home just outside of Yosemite National park where the couple raised their four children. In recent years, Kiel has tried life on the other side of the camera winning the ‘Film Advisory Board’s – Family Film Award of Excellence’ for co-writing and producing The Giant of Thunder Mountain.
You can learn more about Richard Kiel’s life and films at his official website RichardKiel.com
The director’s secretary had seen me on British television in the American TV series, The Barbary Coast with William Shatner & Doug Mc Clure. She suggested to the director that I be considered for the role. Cubby Broccolli was going to Los Angeles and decided to interview me while he was there. I met with him at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel where we discussed the role. Mr. Broccolli invited me to come to his house that evening after work (I was working on The Silver Streak movie) to meet his family and one of the writers. Apparently, everyone approved of me in the role.
Q. Did you enjoy working with Roger Moore?
Roger is a very kind man. In England they do things a little differently then in the States. For example, we say “speed,” then “action” to indicate that it is time for the actors to start the scene. In England they say “motor” then call the name of the actor that starts the scene. After 17 years of doing it the American way I found myself saying “yes” when they called my name out of sheer habit, and Roger suggested to the director that they say “action” instead as he had worked on many American productions and was used to that as well, and this was my first British production. Roger also joked around quite a bit which took the pressure off and made things more fun.
Q. The Bond Villain role is usually very physically demanding. Did you do some of your own stunts?
I did all of my own stunts except the most dangerous ones, such as really jumping out of the airplane or on top of the real cable car 1,000′s of feet up in the air in Rio. I did the close up fighting. For example, I did all of the stunts in the train sequence except when Jaws is pushed out of the window by Bond. This is when Bob Simmons doubled me.
Q. Sideshow Collectibles made a 12-Inch Figure of your Jaws character. How does it feel to have a collectible made of you?
It is quite a thrill after 25 years to be remembered with a figure of the Jaws character with my likeness. It is so well done it brings back a lot of pleasant memories. When I got the package with the Jaws figures my four year old grandson was over, and he got real excited and wanted to play with the figure Sideshow sent to me. I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t a toy, but rather a collector’s item to which he promptly responded, “I’ll ask Grandma Maureen to get me a “Poppa Toy” for Christmas. Because he was so taken with it my wife Diane said, “you better get him one for Christmas.”
Q. You have recently done some work for the project: James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. Can you tell us more about that?
Like with the Jaws figure Electronic Arts used my likeness for their new Bond game “Everything or Nothing” which was what EON Productions was derived from. I have been to Dallas, Texas, Tokyo, Japan, and Stockholm, Sweden promoting the new game which comes out around February next year. The graphics are terrific and it’s done in the third person so you see yourself in the battles rather than just the site at the end of a gun.
Q. You also appeared with Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore. Did you enjoy your experience working in a film comedy? Can you tell us any behind the scenes events?
Of course it was a blast working with Adam Sandler. I thought it was cool that Bob Barker did his own stunts as he certainly wasn’t expected to at his age. My character, Mr. Larson is a favorite with young people as they know my line when “Shooter” says to me, “Oh, you can count!” and I say, “Yeah, and you can count on me waiting for you in the parking lot!”
Q. Throughout your career your projects have ranged from drama to horror, action to comedy. Which do you like the best?
I like entertaining audiences whether it’s making them laugh or scaring them or touching them emotionally.
Q. Fans can often be intense in their adoration. Any places that we can tell your fans that are off limits to follow you?
Unfortunately it takes fans a while to summon up the courage to approach me for an autograph and by that time they are delivering the main course. I wish they would wait until dinner is over so I can enjoy my steak while it is still warm but that isn’t always possible. My wife, Diane keeps me humble by reminding me that when nobody wanted my autograph we weren’t doing so well.