Irka Bochenko is composer, text author and singer known as Iren Bo. As actress she played in ‘Moonraker’ and had many roles in French TV series.
– Piotr Zajac and Irka Bochenko
Piotr Zajac (bondlocations): At first I would like to ask how did it happened that you got to the ‘Moonraker’?
Irka Bochenko: I started as a model when I was 14. I was modeling when my agent told me about audition for ‘Moonraker’. At first I wanted to get big part, to play Dr. Holly Goodhead. Margot Capelier, who was responsible for casting, told me that I was to young to play leading or even supporting role. I was very upset, but she promised me that it would be very beautiful role and that I should do it. She convinced me.
Was it something special for you to play in James Bond film?
At the time when I was playing in ‘Moonraker’ nobody new that James Bond franchise would last that long. I even forgot that I was a Bond girl. I became author and composer in France. I’ve changed my artistic name to Iren Bo.
Did you know James Bond before you got the part?
Yes, I new the franchise but at that time mostly men were fans of James Bond. He was popular but not as much as currently.
Your first appearance on the screen was in the scene filmed in Venini Glass shop at Saint Mark’s square in Venice. Am I right that there were lots of tourist around while you were filming?
Yes, there were a lots of tourists. It was very strange and very funny, but also very special with all these people around.
Was it filmed as your first scene?
No. It was the last one. At first I went to Argentina, Guatemala, and Paris. I think that Venice was the last one.
What are your memories from Venice?
I remember that Roger was in gondola and I was taking pictures of him. He just stopped in front of me saying: ‘Come with me. We are going to have picture together’. There was nobody around so I just took pictures of him. I still have these photos. It is a beautiful memory. When he was riding in gondola on a square he was laughing all the time.
Was it true that there was a sound signal in that gondola on wheels to warn people who were just turists and didn’t know about filming?
Yes, that is true.
Later in the film we could see you in the sequence with Roger Moore walking at waterfall. It was filmed in different locations?
Yes. It was in Argentina and Guatemala. I remember that we were wet because it was very hot. Hairdresser had to work all the time, makeup had to be corrected.
The place called the Great Chamber where you led Bond was filmed in a studio?
Yes. It was in the Les Studios d’Épinay in Paris.
I’ve read that Roger Moore recalled how you were surprised with the change in the studio when space station was replaced with the great chamber set.
Yes, that was me (laugs). It was funny to see how it was changed.
In that scene you were working with Michael Lonsdale who played Hugo Drax.
Yes, I met him many times in the studio. What is funny, I met him ten years ago in a hotel in Marseille. We were talking about the film.
Culmination of the film was the sequence in the space station. How did you film no gravity?
Before filming that scene we were trained how to move very slowly to pretend that there was no gravity.
How do you remember working with Roger Moore?
It was fantastic. He was exactly the same person in his life as in movies. He was very kind to everybody. It was really great to work with him. He was very nice and had a lot of humor. He was fantastic. He is my favourite James Bond. 7 years ago I recorded a duet with him. I was invited to London to sign autographs. It was the first time, because in my life I focused on music and really forgot about James Bond. When I was there I was told that next year there would be a 50th anniversary of James Bond. I realized that they didn’t forget anybody involved in the James Bond franchise. I felt like being part of big 007 family. I said to myself that I should do something for the 50th anniversary. I was author and composer in France, I wrote a lot of songs for various famous artists i.e. Garou, so I wrote a song called ‘Happy Birthday Mr Bond’. I’ve sent an e-mail to Sir Roger Moore’s agent and the same day I got an answer that he would do a duet with me. It was beautiful experience for me. Now I am working on two new versions of that song. We were going to release them in April with the premiere of new Bond film, but it was postponed. We are planning to release them in November unless the film premiere will be postponed again. New versions will not be called ‘Happy Birthday Mr Bond’, but ‘Love You Forever Mr Bond’. Roger was asking me all the time when the recording would be released. My answer was still: ‘Come on, wait a little bit longer. I want to do more versions’, but he passed away and we are going to miss him so much.
And how do you remember the producer Cubby Broccoli?
He was great person. When I was in Venice we had a drink together and he proposed me to go to London to work as an actress. He told me that I could be a big star. I was young and I was scared. I said ‘yes’ at first but finally I didn’t go there.
Do you remember any story with the director Lewis Gilbert?
When I arrived to Brasil he came with his wife to pick me up from the airport and took to the hotel. He was very nice. I felt almost like his daughter. He was asking me all the time if I was OK.
Thank you for the meeting and for sharing stories from ‘Moonraker’.
Online interview, May 7th 2020