Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(March 31, 1922–October 21, 1987): Top British stunt coordinator and stuntman who not only doubled Sean Connery and Roger Moore but was also responsible for the action sequences in many James Bond films. In a sense, Simmons put the fists into producer Cubby Broccoli’s two-fisted approach to Ian Fleming’s secret agent. From the very beginning, the stunt sequences in the James Bond series were hard hitting, fast moving, and surprisingly realistic. With Simmons coordinating the action and Sean Connery throwing the punches, it was no surprise that the films appealed to action-hungry moviegoers, especially in America. And thanks to editor Peter Hunt cutting the action sequences to a razor’s sharpness, there was no fat in Simmons’s fights.

Simmons’s first assignment for Cubby Broccoli was on Paratrooper (1953), a.k.a. The Red Beret. The stuntman told Richard Schenkman of Bondage magazine in 1980, “After doing one third of the picture, Cubby told me he’d employ me on all of his pictures. They used to bring over a stunt arranger from America, but after I’d worked on The Red Beret, they didn’t bring him over any more. I got the job.”[1]

According to director Terence Young, the handsome Simmons was actually considered as a candidate to play James Bond in Dr. No. When Connery won the role, Simmons, appropriately, became his stunt double and Dr. No’s stunt arranger. And in key fight sequences throughout the series, it’s often Simmons versus Connery in the key fights—including the fight with Mr. Jones (Reggie Carter), the chauffeur in Dr. No, and the vicious clash with Jacques Bouvar in the Thunderball pre-credits teaser. In the climactic fight with Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) in the reactor room, Simmons doubled Connery, while George Leech doubled Wiseman. In From Russia with Love, Simmons doubled Connery in the train compartment fight. In Goldfinger, Simmons doubled actor Michael Mellinger, who, as Kisch, is thrown off the top of Fort Knox by Oddjob (Harold Sakata). And for the assassination of Count Lippe (Guy Doleman) by Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) in Thunderball, Simmons drove Lippe’s car when it was struck by rockets from Volpe’s motorcycle.

Remembered Simmons, “I was always looking for a better way. . . . I admired the American way of working. It’s terribly professional, and that’s what I’ve always tried to push into the people who work for me. I knew damn well if it hadn’t been for the Americans we wouldn’t be in the film industry today. I used to see people doing fight sequences in bars and they could never do it in one take because it wasn’t rehearsed. I started choreographing fight sequences so you could repeat every movement. You could tell the director where to put the camera, because you knew where the action was going to be. I used to work with Sean very carefully. Sean used to say, ‘What do I do and what do you do for me?’ Generally, I used to do a master shot. I’d have the whole fight planned. We’d go right through it and film it with a double. We would then shoot Sean for the necessary inserts. But we’d do the whole thing as a master shot first, with doubles, because as [director] Raoul Walsh always said to me when I was a kid, ‘If the action’s good enough, it can be a monkey in top hat and spats.’ As the film was progressing, I’d say to Sean, ‘I want you to come and look at this sequence; I’ll show you something.’ He’d come out and say, ‘Okay, let’s work on it.’ Sean would be in the studio sometimes until ten o’clock at night; we’d stay there on the set with just the house lights on, when everybody else had gone—just the night watchman was there. Sean was so keen, so good.”[2]

Born in Fulham, London, Simmons made his stunt debut on Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn (1939). He and fellow 007 stuntman George Leech both rode war horses in the jousting matches featured in Ivanhoe (1952). Simmons’s additional stunt credits in the James Bond series include You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and A View to a Kill. He was also featured in the iconic gun-barrel title graphic for the first three Bond films. When Thunderball was shot in Cinemascope and the title graphic had to be redone, Sean Connery replaced him in the sequence.

[1] Bob Simmons, interview by Richard Schenkman, Bondage 9 (1980).

[2] Ibid.


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