Sir Roger Moore 'would have been dead' from playing James Bond like Daniel Craig

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Sir Roger Moore not only maintained the role over 12 years and seven movies, he says he remains as big a James Bond fan as anyone.

"I think Daniel Craig is a wonderful actor," the British star also well-known as television's original "Saint" tells Zap2it from his home in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. "When I read that he was going to do it right at the beginning, I thought, 'This is going to be interesting.' I had just seen him in [the Steven Spielberg-directed drama] 'Munich' and a couple of films before that, and I thought ' Casino Royale' was absolutely superb.

"He's a beautiful actor and a nice guy," Moore adds, "and his gymnastics are quite extraordinary. I would have been dead after the first movie." Craig returns as Bond next November in "Skyfall," four years after "Quantum of Solace," and the delay between 007 capers hasn't surprised Moore: "It was purely because of the [financial] upset with MGM and the rights."

Many Bond purists point to "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) as Moore's high mark in the part, and he confirms, "It was my favorite one to do. I had the best fun, and Lewis Gilbert (with whom Moore also made 'Moonraker') is just a dream director to work with. He'd come on the set and say, 'What are you going to say today, dear?' We just had laugh after laugh."

Syfy will show several of Moore's Bond efforts Friday, Nov. 25, as part of a two-day festival of the adventures. Quite some time after also making the series "Maverick" and "The Persuaders!," he returns to television as an emotionally reserved duke who welcomes young relatives to his castle in the Hallmark Channel movie "A Princess for Christmas" Saturday, Dec. 3.

"When you're doing a television series," Moore reasons, "you're doing a series of films, and you invariably have mostly the same crew. I certainly had the same hairdresser and the same makeup and wardrobe people, and the same camera crew, so I was surrounded by my friends. It was a great experience. I was very lucky."

Also one of UNICEF's most prominent ambassadors for the past 20 years -- guided into that role by his friend Audrey Hepburn -- Moore published the memoir "My Word Is My Bond" in 2008. He has another volume slated for next year, what he describes as "a giant coffee-table book with lots and lots of pictures" to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 007 movie franchise.

Reflecting on his well-traveled life and times, the famously self-effacing Moore borrows the stance of another celebrity. "There was a wonderful jazz musician [ Eubie Blake] who lived to 102, and he said, 'If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.'"

Photo/Video credit: Hallmark Channel