Double 0 Aficionado was in Québec City this past weekend, from Friday September 15th to Sunday September 17th 2017. I can proudly write that it was the blog’s first mission in the field, codename ‘Operation Frontenac’, thusly baptized in honour of the famous hotel Château Frontenac that overlooks the St-Laurence River in the province of Québec.
What does Québec City have to do with Bond? Usually not much, save in the case of the 2017 Festival de Cinéma de la Ville de Québec. For starters, Becoming Bond had a screening at the Palais Montcalm, an impressively ornate venue fit for 007. Americans readers wondering why that means anything should be informed that Hulu, the streaming service offering Becoming Bond, is unavailable in Canada. Okay, big deal, some Canadians, French Canadians no less, get to see a movie that premiered on Hulu 4 months ago. How is that particularly relevant?
Because James Bond was there.
Yes, George Lazenby, everybody’s favourite one-time 007 was present to introduce the film on Saturday afternoon, indulge in a Q&A session after the film and even take a photo and offer an autograph. What’s more, just outside the Palais Montcalm there was a public venue playing films for free. OHMSS was screened (in English with French subtitles) and Lazenby was there as well for a quick 10-minute interview with one of the festival programmers. It was certainly a weekend to remember. I even got to meet some fellow Bond maniacs, which was a fun experience because none of my acquaintances are as fond of 007 as I am.
Lazenby was ever the storyteller, amusingly answering questions with quips or inside scoops about his personal life and experience with Bond. Unsurprisingly, the ‘I wasn’t an actor!’ line and explanation was given, which is nothing new to Bond fans, and while there weren’t many OHMSS surprises, Lazenby was quite candid about other projects and about one of the great loves of his life, Belinda (a prominent figure in Becoming Bond). One of the Bond fans I got to meet afterwards inquired about his relationship with Bruce Lee given that the two had begun preparatory work on a film together. What followed was a great story involving a broke Lazenby, a handsome advanced pay, a typhoon, and the unfortunate, untimely passing of the legend Lee. He also shared some funny tidbits about how he and Connery would interact with one another whenever they’d cross paths. Although he admitted to having met all the other 007’s, he really only talked about how much he liked and got along with Connery and Moore. I would have liked to have known what his interactions with Dalton were like, two people that sound as if they could not be more different.
Yours truly did raise his hand a few times, but was not selected. For the curious, I was actually really interested in knowing what the working relationship, if any, was like between him and actor Josh Lawson, who plays Lazenby in the Becoming Bond re-enactments.
I was able to sneak a few pictures on the old IPad before the screening, as did several others people of course, but we were quickly signalled to cease, so unfortunately my pictures of Lazenby on stage are the extent of what I was able to get during his pre-film intro and Q&A.
The post Q&A photo session was more controlled than I had anticipated. In hindsight, I should have known better. It’s George Lazenby; everybody wanted to meet him. Coupled with that factor was that he really, really likes to talk, so had everyone in line been given ‘a few minutes’ to ask more questions, I suspect we would have been there until dawn Sunday, which I doubt the festival organizers wanted (I would have waited hours to get 10 minutes, honestly). As such, it was a painfully quick 60 seconds with George (obviously I’m on a first name basis with him at this point). I shook his hand, mumbled something about it being an honour and a privilege to meet him, that Becoming Bond was magnificent (review to come) and that OHMSS is a banger of a film and one of my favourites. Camera flash…and that was it.
All that being said, who am I to complain? I shook hands with George Lazenby. That alone is pretty cool. Take into account that Bond events notoriously don’t happen often outside of Britain. Furthermore, Bond events in Canada are even more rare, especially in a French Canadian city. Honestly, the odds of me ever meeting any of the Bonds was as close to zero as possible, and yet I’ve been lucky enough to do just that.
I chatted outside with two other die hard fans, which was phenomenal. One of them actually stayed Saturday night in Québec City, so we went for some drinks and went absolutely supra fanboy with 007 banter and commentary, something I never get to do with any of my friends, even the cinephiles among them.
As a first Double 0 Aficionado field mission, ‘Operation Frontenac’ was a success. A very attractive city (that has a few streets that could work in a Bond film), OHMSS for free outside under the stars and with the star himself, finally seeing Becoming Bond, and meeting Lazenby.
Oh, and I absolutely spent most of the weekend walking around Québec City with that Lazenby swagger he has in OHMSS.