EXCLUSIVE: When it comes to Sean Connery, Barbara Carrera isn’t afraid to kiss and tell.
The actress, who starred alongside the late Scottish actor in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again,” told Fox News she has fond memories sharing the screen with Connery – especially when it came to filming their kissing scene.
“He was absolutely a great kisser,” the 74-year-old chuckled. “Everything that has been said about him is true.”
“But he was also a gentleman,” she continued. “And you knew his wife was on set at all moments. He was very vigilant. So the idea of stealing kisses did not occur to us. But the scene was so sacred, so pure. It was so special to me.”
However, locking lips with James Bond wasn’t always so simple.
“I remember were filming our kissing scene,” recalled Carrera. “We looked up and there was [his wife] Micheline staring right back at us. It took us right out of the scene. So, Sean had her taken off the set. We laughed about that a lot after filming was long over. Micheline had a great sense of humor about the whole thing.”
Carrera said she was initially offered to star 1983’s “Octopussy,” which featured Roger Moore as 007. However, when she heard that Connery was poised to appear in an upcoming film about the suave secret agent, she turned down the part, even if it meant taking on a smaller role.
Connery initially promised to never play Bond again as he was eager to take on different roles. However, he was lured back by an offbeat script about a middle-aged 007. Connery took the role and helped produced the film. The result was “Never Say Never Again,” a title suggested by his wife, Micheline Roquebrune.
“The minute I learned Sean Connery was coming back to do another Bond film, I just knew I had to do it,” said Carrera. “It was a film that everyone really wanted to see. So I agreed to it without thinking twice, without ever seeing a script. I just wanted to work with my hero. He was my Bond. He was the one I grew up with. So it was too incredible of an opportunity for me to turn down.”
“Sean Connery is Bond,” she continued. “He had a magnetism about him that just drew you in. He was a man’s man. He was the kind of person that men wanted to emulate. And women wanted to be dominated by him. He was the quintessential James Bond. I think all the other Bonds have tried to capture that certain magic he had, but it’s just something that can’t be duplicated. It belongs to him and only him alone.”
In “Never Say Never Again,” the former Playboy cover girl starred as professional assassin Fatima Blush. But despite her hard-as-nails persona, Carrera said it was difficult not to melt at the sight of Connery when he first walked on set.
“When I looked in his eyes, I saw Bond,” she recalled. “It was hard to separate the man from the character. But as I got to know him, I saw things about him that were not totally Bondish. He was a very sensitive man. He appreciated music when we weren’t filming. And even though I was very nervous, he was always patient and kind to me. I never forgot how he made me feel. It was magical.”
According to Carrera, there was one thing that she wasn’t expecting from her idol while filming “Never Say Never Again.”
“He was afraid of the deep ocean,” she shared. “He and I had a scene where we had to scuba dive in the ocean. I had never done that before and neither had Sean, I found out. We were supposed to do this when we were in the South of France that first month of shooting, but we kept making excuses on why we couldn’t get together with the instructor. We eventually found ourselves in Bermuda where we were supposed to do that water scene. Neither of us had gotten the nerve to go in the water as it was shown to us by the instructor.”
“I remember we were in our scuba gear and every time I would look at Sean, his lips were so blue,” she recalled. “I kept saying to myself, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to have a heart attack.’ I tried joking with him, but he wasn’t having it. I realized he was petrified. I don’t know how he did it, but we went underwater and did the scene. But it was amazing to see this man show such vulnerability where you knew he was afraid.”
Carrera said that she and Connery stayed in touch over the years.
“Whenever he was in town, we would get together,” she said. “The last time I saw him and his wife was in Los Angeles at the Four Seasons hotel. He was running away from some women chasing him. It’s been 10 years since I last spoke to him. You know how it is with these things. You don’t see a friend for a decade and then when you get together it’s as if time stood still. That was our kind of friendship over the years.”
Connery passed away on Oct. 31 at age 90. His wife and two sons said he “died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family” in the Bahamas, where he lived. Son Jason Connery said his father had been “unwell for some time.”
Connery is survived by his wife, brother Neil and sons Jason and Stefan. His publicist, Nancy Seltzer, said there would be a private ceremony followed by a memorial service once the coronavirus pandemic has ended.
“I think his role as Bond will live on forever,” said Carrera. “He had this special quality on-screen. You never knew if he was going to kiss you or kill you. It was the greatest thrill of my life. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with such a great actor and a great person like Sean. He’s going to be missed. I know I will always miss him.”
Barbara Carrera is expected to appear at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in August 2021. The Associated Pressed contributed to this report.