In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with James Bond author Ian Fleming from the December 1964 issue.
“I don’t think that he is necessarily a good guy or a bad guy. Who is? He’s got his vices and very few perceptible virtues except patriotism and courage, which are probably not virtues anyway. He’s certainly got little in the way of politics, but I should think what politics he has are just a little bit left of center. And he’s got little culture. He’s a man of action, and he reads books on golf, and so on—when he reads anything. I quite agree that he’s not a person of much social attractiveness. But then, I didn’t intend for him to be a particularly likable person. He’s a cipher, a blunt instrument in the hands of government.”
“Bond is a highly romanticized version of anybody, but certainly not I, and I certainly couldn’t keep up with him; I couldn’t have even at his age, which is, and has always been, in the middle thirties. He’s a sort of amalgam of romantic tough guys, dressed up in 20th Century clothes, using 20th Century language. I think he’s slightly more true to the type of modern hero, to the commandos of the last War, and so on, and to some of the secret-service men I’ve met, than to any of the rather cardboardy heroes of the ancient thrillers.”
“Whatever it is that enables a good killer to function also seems to defeat him in the end. The killer’s spirit begins to fail, he gets the seed of death within himself.”
“The double-0 prefix is not so entirely invented as all that. I pinched the idea from the fact that, in the Admiralty, at the beginning of the War, all top-secret signals had the double-0 prefix. This was changed subsequently for the usual security reasons, but it stuck in my mind and I borrowed it for Bond and he got stuck with it.”
“Strangely enough, many politicians seem to like my books, I think perhaps because politicians like solutions, with everything properly tied up at the end. Politicians always hope for neat solutions, you know, but so rarely can they find them.”
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