- - Sunday, May 28, 2017

Remember “Thunderbirds,” the classic Gerry Anderson space-themed marionette (not puppet) kid’s show? Of course you do. The 32 episodes originally ran in the late 1960s but have been shown in syndication around the world ever since. Shame Rimmer recalls that show quite fondly as he was the voice of Scott Tracey for the entire run.

Away from that he appeared in not one, not two, but three James Bond films: “Diamonds Are Forever,” “You Only Live Twice” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” And he even appeared in the original “Star Wars,” but only briefly. One helluva career in this business of show.

Mr. Rimmer discussed his time with “Thunderbirds,” Bond and traveling beyond the stars.

Question: What is the reaction from the fans when they meet you?

Answer: Lovely. I don’t do this year-round, so when I do, it’s nice to meet people. I was surprised by the number of “Thunderbirds” devotees around here. In America, “Thunderbirds” was in syndication but not ever on network. So I think, “Well, it’s not going to have much of an audience. Not many folks have seen it.” Yet it did. The folks I meet know more about the series than I do. (Laughs)

Q: It was one of those shows that ran here for years in syndication and several generations of TV fans discovered and rediscovered it.

A: The same thing happened back in the U.K. They would run it, the 32 episodes, and then let it rest for maybe six months. Then they would bring it back again. Each time they did that, it got bigger and bigger.

It’s had a great history. I think Gerry Anderson hit his peak with “Thunderbirds” Everything just came together.

Q: What was the creative process of making the show like?

A: About once a month we would get together with a script done. You got to form everything to relate to what the picture says. We did the sound recording first, which made it an awful lot easier and gave us freedom that we could just do it. Just act it.

The other way you are half-concentrating on getting all the sync in and the other half on getting a decent interpretation.

Q: Do you find voiceover easier than on-camera acting?

A: The benefit is you got to know the character and situation so well. We did 32 [episodes], so playing the characters became almost second nature. And we were easier on each other. Gerry always insisted that we record in a circle with one big central mic. He said, “You’re out in space, for God’s sake. You don’t have all the conveniences. Act like it!”

I think that worked. Usually in situations like that you have individual cubicles. Somebody does their bit in cubicle A, somebody else in B, another in cubicle C. This was all together.

Q: You also hold the distinction of being in three different James Bond films.

A: That was crazy. I have no idea how it happened. It just happened [producer] Barbara Broccoli was doing most of the casting as [Bond producer Albert] “Cubby” [Broccoli] was gently falling ill.

I did “Diamonds Are Forever” first. It wasn’t much. I just came on and got into a bit of a “slanging” match with Sean Connery, who slangs very well. Then I did “You Only Live Twice.” They got rid of me up in space in that one. The third (“The Spy Who Loved Me”) one was a good one all around. It was Roger’s (Moore) favorite of all the ones he did.

You just get a kind of intuitive thing about [a movie]. It worked very well.

Q: So of the three, which was your favorite?

A: For my own selfish reason, I have to say “The Spy Who Loved Me.” I thought it was the best one I worked on in terms of script and production.

Q: You were also in “Star Wars”?

A: That was a bit brief. It was very interesting to see how a big, really big, operation worked. They had a working crew up on the top level of the studio. They were doing one phase of the picture up there with a small unit while the main unit was downstairs doing the main action. It never stopped. [George] Lucas was a kind of a genius that he could keep all this sort of thing in hand. I don’t know how he did it. It was an amazing amount of work to juggle. And there are some tricky things going on in these pictures.

Q: When you look back on your career, what are you most proud of?

A: I think the Bond thing has to be one of them. Some of the things that I really liked doing were smaller efforts where I had a chance to move into a part and really give it a full blast. Not compromise with anything or have anything else intrude on that work you’re doing. “Nightmare Years” was an hour drama miniseries that went on for eight episodes.

It’s gotta have a good script. That’s the thing it always gets back to. Those two properties did.

Q: Are you still working?

A: This is work here! (Laughs) I do a lot of voice work. You find out that the more you do, the more you do better. You get at ease with the words on the page. The effort goes out of it, which solves a lot of problems.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide