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13 October 1968: Sunday Express

Money Depresses Me, Says Miss Rigg

I took Diana Rigg to lunch at the Ritz, thinking she might enjoy it. But she didn't. Not much. It was all a it too opulent, she felt.

However, the Ritz enjoyed her.

There's a sort of antiseptic sex-appeal about Miss Rigg which makes her equally acceptable to all ages.

To the school boy she is the epitome of Diana of the Fifth, with that hockey-captain stride and breezy, no-nonsense hello. To his father, she is a damn fine looking woman: thoroughly decent, of course; as much at home in the shires as in the stalls.

If there was ever a girl for all reasons it's Miss Rigg.

Having proved herself one of the most photogenic actresses ever to strut the small screen, a real Alpha Centauri among television stars, Miss Rigg expects soon to be camped atop a Swiss mountain playing the role of Mrs James Bond in the new Saltzman-Broccoli film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

So it seemed as good a time as any to talk to her.

Not Anxious

But Miss Rigg, nearing 30, is no gushing actress, enxious to dissect herself in print. She does not easily volunteer information. She thinks perhaps author Nabokov was on to something when he insisted on getting questions in advance of an interview, writing down his considered answers, and then reading them off.

She is very serious, Miss Rigg. And in private she rations Emma Peel's winning smiles quite severely.

Anyway, there she sat, dressed in black, auburn hair framing her round, candid face, smoking a lot.

"There were times," she said, "when I adored working on The Avengers. Pat (Macnee) and I had a tremendous rapport, which made everything move well. Usually we decided between ourselves how a scene should be played. Quite often it meant that we had to rewrite bits of scenes. Sometimes we'd be doing this at 8:30 in the morning.

"It was hard work. And they don't yet know how to treat actors and actresses in television series. Without going to the extremes of film-star cosseting, they could accord them a little more consideration.

"They are not shire horses, after all. They're creatures with needs. It would be nice to have someone say, just occasionally: 'Are you tired?' Nobody once asked me that during the entire series. And I was often exhausted. I needed pills to sleep and pills to wake up."

She stubbed out her cigarette.

"Unfortunately I seem to have emerged from The Avengers with a reputation as a highly mercenary creature saying: 'Now I'm worth X-thousand pounds.' As though my only way of evaluating myself was in terms of money. That's just not true.

Bad Taste

"The fact that one's agent says one will get such-and-such a sum for this-or-that part deeply depresses me, as a matter of fact. That sort of thing can only distort one's judgement.

"I don't say this because I'm rich. I'm not. Or because I was brought up not to discuss money. It was talked about. We were rich, and then we were poor. No, it's because money embarrasses me. I consider it bad taste to discuss it."

A toss of the head, then thoughtfully:

"I left the series at the right time. And as an antidote to the feeling I hadn't progressed for two years, I merged myself into Peter Hall's Company, filming A Midsummer Night's Dream. Having for so long dictated my own performances on television, I then quite happily did exactly as I was told, without argument and without offering alternative suggestions." A small smile. "But having seen the film, that's something I won't ever do again."

Another pause. The waiter there with more wine. The sole meuniere pushed aside. Another cigarette.

"It's been a very unsettling year for me," she said, slowly. "My father died and I felt absolutely betrayed. The figurehead of my life went, and I suffered an immediate and overwhelming loss of identity. I realised I'd been living for years on adolescent emotions, and I was absolutely lost. It was completely shattering to realize how much I had loved, and that the object of that love was gone.

"I think if you, as an only daughter, have a proper relationship with your father, it's one of the strongest impulses in life. Your whole capacity for love is based on it.

"I had such a relationship with my father. Without realising it, everything I had ever done had been based on earning his approval. Now that he's gone, I have an absolute awareness that no one will ever cap that.

"It took me a long time to readjust. But, finally, I had to face the fact of his death and when I did I was able partially to overcome it.

So Chary

"Strange. When my father died I found I desperately wanted to have a child. It was an extraordinary emotion. For me, at any rate. (Miss Rigg, who is unmarried, has been in love with the same man for some years.)

"I've always been chary of marriage," she said, after awhile. "It was hard on my parents when I was younger. Then, gradually, without necessarily understanding, they came to accept my point of view, because they love me.

My own feeling is that I wish women were more aware that today their choice is much wider than our social structure at first suggests. I want them to value themselves more as individuals; not as creatures who only exist when they're side-by-side with some man."

I walked with her, through Berkeley Square, back to her car. (A Lotus, for those interested; though not her own. She had borrowed it. Miss Rigg drives a Mini-Moke.)

"You know what I hate," she said. "People saying that I'm professional. To me that means turning up and delivering an acceptable performance and then leaving. I take acting more seriously than that. To be honest, sometimes it depresses me that what I've perpetuated in The Avengers is such a load of old codswallop."


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