THE passing of actor Richard Kiel, best known to filmgoers as the steel-incisored villain “Jaws” in two 1970s James Bond films, has prompted a resident from the Bushy Park area of Ennis to recall his days on film sets with the Detroit -born 7’2″ colossus.
David Coley, who spent his working life on film sets all over the world, met the late 74-year-old actor while working on the Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).
David began his early career in construction before landing a job making sets and props at Pinewood Studios. He worked his way up the career ladder working on the film ‘stage’ and then going on location to build the sets and any props that were needed, before progressing to working with the camera crew as a stand-by ‘chippy’.
“If they wanted a the camera on a roof it was your job to get it up there safely,” David explained
David’s first picture at Pinewood was The Spy Who Loved Me, the tenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star Roger Moore as the fictional secret agent James Bond. Curd Jürgens and Barbara Bach co-starred ion the film.
It was shot on location in Egypt and Italy, with underwater scenes filmed at the Bahamas, and a new soundstage was built at Pinewood Studios for a massive set which depicted the interior of a supertanker. David also worked on Superman in Pinewood at the same time where he met German-born art director and NASA designer Harry Lange and he then worked for Harry in Moonraker.
“When I first met Richard he was on The Spy Who Loved Me. I had just started so you wouldn’t be involved too much but when we got on to Moonraker we met him a lot because we were in Paris for about three months, where most of the sets were built. They used to drive Richard around between the three studios in Paris in a Ford Cortina Estate with the front passenger seat taken out because he was so big. He sat in the back seat. I think when he was in Pinewood the chippies there made him a special bed that he slept in.”
“You’d be chatting away to Richard. He was grand, a gentle giant,” recalls David, who tried Richard’s jacket on one day and it was on the floor. He was a lovely, lovely man.”
Richard’s most famous scene is one where he bites through a cable with his steel teeth and David was on the set when he was shooting the scene in Moonraker. He reveals that Richard didn’t mind reshooting the scene as the cable was made from liquorice.
Richard also went along in a supporting role when the English and French studio staff squared off for a charity football match.
David left Pinewood Studios after four years to work as a freelance and worked withy huge movie stars such as James Cagney, had lunch with Ursula Andress, Marlon Brando, Christopher Reeve, who used to give him a wave if he met him out of the studio and Sir Lawrence Olivier – who all proved to be very nice, ordinary people on and off the set, but he has always retained a soft spot for Richard Kiel and was sorry to hear about his death.
“I was sad to see that Richard had died.”
Kiel’s height and features were a result of a hormonal condition known as acromegaly and he suffered from acrophobia (fear of heights). During the cable car stunt scenes in Moonraker, a stunt double was used because Kiel refused to be filmed on the top of a cable car at over 2000 feet (607m) high.