How Diamonds are Forever star Bruce Glover went in for the kill as the villainous Mr. Wint
1971's Diamonds Are Forever may not be the greatest James Bond movie, but Sean Connery's sixth outing as 007 is a fun and, at times, memorably weird outing. Among the movie's odder, and less-PC, aspects is the presence of two gay assassins named Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Mr. Kidd is played by jazz bassist Putter Smith who director Guy Hamilton cast after he and co-screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz saw him play a show with Thelonious Monk at Shelly's Manne-Hole jazz club in Los Angeles. "He had never acted before in his life," Mankiewicz is quoted as saying in 2020's James Bond oral history Nobody Does It Better. "He was just this wonderful, walrus-looking guy." The much more experienced actor Bruce Glover portrayed Mr. Wint, who Connery's spy dispatches at the film's conclusion by pulling the killer's arms between Kidd's legs, depositing a bomb in his hands, and throwing him off a ship into the ocean below. "Diamonds is definitely one of the great experiences, because Guy Hamilton let me bring my ideas to it," says the actor, the father of Back to the Future star Crispin Glover. "All the big laughs in that film are mine, they're all my ideas. Guy Hamilton would always go, 'Alright, show me!' And it would always be included in the film. The final moment of that film, I told Guy Hamilton, 'This could be a big laugh.' I said, And it is. Roger Moore said it's the funniest Bond moment in all of the films and I think it is. I'm not very humble about that."
Below, Glover talks more about playing the murderous Mr. Wint, working with Putter Smith, and why a scorpion can be an actor's best friend.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you prepare for the role of Mr. Wint?
BRUCE GLOVER: I was very careful how I was going to do this role. Guy Hamilton said, "Is there anything I can do for you, Bruce?" And I went, "Well, Guy, don't tell me which [of the killers] I'm going to play." I didn't want to be thinking ahead of how to do [the character]. I am really a very talented actor and I think differently from most actors. So there I was on the set outside of Vegas in the desert, and we were going to be shooting in about two hours, and we were doing our make-up and wardrobe, and I still didn't know which role I was going to play. [Laughs] I suddenly realized that I didn't know what I was going to do with the part, and I was going to be probably on the set with Sean Connery pretty soon, and I thought, oh my god, I'm going to be terrible. [Laughs] I thought, I'm going to get fired and they're going to bring in a good actor. I am an acting teacher, and I looked at myself and I said, you're my acting teacher, and asked myself for advice. And my advice to myself was, you're stuck in this circle of failure, you're saying to yourself, I'm going to fail, I'm going to fail, I'm going to fail. The first step for any actor is you have to get out of worrying about how you're going to do it and just connect with something live. So I started looking and the sky and around and seeing things and finally, at about seven in the morning, I took in a breath of air from the desert and it was cool and wonderful and I felt great.
Now here's a gift that sometimes happens. Another actor can be so lucky for you that it provides you with so much. I looked at Putter Smith and he was happy and walking around. He didn't know how hard acting was. I had already done a hundred plays and about thirty films and television shows already. I looked at him and he's happy walking around slapping hands and I went, I love this guy, he's hilarious. He is like a giant toy. He's my toy. And that was the relationship all the way through the film. It wasn't sex. It was, he's my toy.
As you said, you had a lot of acting experience prior to appearing in Diamonds Are Forever while Putter Smith was a complete beginner. What was the dynamic like between the two of you?
Putter was just great, because he was real. Great directors bring on people who have never acted before because they have a reality. If you can get them to just be real, they're terrific. My son Crispin did it in a film that we've kind of finally finished where I play four characters, he plays four characters, but he hired people who had never acted before either. An actor who knows what he's doing, like myself, and a non-actor like Putter Smith can have equal value in a film. He was a fantastic gift to the film because of the simple reality of who he was. He had no idea. We told him and he went, "Huh?" [Laughs]
You had to handle a scorpion in the film. What was that like?
A guy came over and said, "I'm the property master, come over and pick out your scorpion." I went, oh my god, I don't want to be touching a scorpion. I went, wait a minute, you're a show-off actor, you want to get a lot of attention, you're going to be the only guy on the set with a scorpion! And that was the second event. I have a scorpion! I'm the only one with a scorpion! I have a trick that nobody else has! He's my toy and I've got a trick! That was the character. And an hour later, I was on the set and I was terrific. [Laughs]
Watch the trailer fo Diamonds are Forever above.
Read more from EW's 25 Days of Bond, a celebration of all things 007 ahead of the release of No Time to Die.