"When one gets to a certain age, you don't know what's going to happen, if you're going to be here, and you would like to leave your family reunited. I could understand the character very well."
Honor Blackman, still a striking presence on screen at 83 is reflecting on her latest role, that of Gran Rubin in Reuniting The Rubins, a gentle family comedy-drama set around one middle-aged man's attempts to both escape and reunite his family. At its heart is Timothy Spall - who is, according to Ms Blackman, "just wonderful and the reason I did the film".
This is high praise indeed for Spall, as Ms Blackman can list an impressive roll call of co-stars in more than sixty years on the screen. With pale blue eyes and the voice of a thousand jazz club cigarettes, she's gobbled up the screen as Bond Girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Avenger Catherine Gale. What's been her favourite of all?
"Well, of course, I suppose one has to mention that working with Sean (Mr Connery to us) was pretty sexy," she chuckles. "And I had great fun with Patrick (McNee). They even wrote an episode for me riding a motorbike, because they knew I rode one in real life (something she reprises with neat aplomb in Reuniting the Rubins). Unfortunately, they employed a man to ride next to me who'd only tried one out the day before, and fibbed about being able to do it. He nearly killed us all (more chuckles)."
"But strangely my actual favourite was a wonderful production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, which went on tour and broke lots of box-office records. That part just fit me like a glove."
Of course, Ms Blackman is no stranger to the stage either, despite her one lasting regret that she listened to her agent when she was a young girl and didn't do more Shakespeare - she calls herself now "an absolute idiot, an innocent abroad". She's making up for it now, though, about to embark on her fifth one-woman show, a walk down memory lane, even though she sounds genuinely bemused by the thought of writing a memoir:
"I don't know if I'll ever write an autobiography. There always seem to be loads of good bits in the ones I've read, and it doesn't seem to be really your life if you leave out the harder times, vaguely untruthful. But a show is more like a conversation... even if it's a bit one-sided. At least I know they've paid to come, so they must be quite interested."
This self-effacing manner seems a million miles away from the self-promoting young starlets of today, so does Ms Blackman mind when she is going about her daily business, but stopped every single day by people eager to voice their appreciation for this very British doyenne?
In general, I get lots of thanks for pleasure I've given which is very nice. Although, just yesterday in fact, I was just about to cross the zebra crossing, when a man attacked me with an autograph album in the middle of Charing Cross Road, and I thought he might kill us both... but generally I can escape to my place in Spain and be with my family, so it really is the best of both worlds. I'm very lucky."
Reuniting the Rubins is now on release in selected cinemas
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