Miss Rigg needs very tall leading men
London - The only thing that can keep Diana Rigg from becoming an international film star is the shortage of tall leading men. She insists that she is just 5 feet 8 and a half inches, but anyone who has seen her television series, The Avengers, will note that wearing sandals she is eye-to-eye with her co-star, Patrick Macnee.
And Macnee is 6 feet 1.
Miss Rigg has heard all the usual horror stories tall girls are told when Hollywood makes its offers: How Ingrid Bergman (5 feet 10) had to stand in a hole in the ground for love scenes with one famous star and how another name celebrated on motion picture theatre marquees climbed on a box to kiss her tenderly in another film.
If an actor can't stand on his own two feet to kiss Miss Rigg they are either going to have to get another actor or cut out the love scenes. In her early career as a Shakespearean actress ("I was the tallest Cordelia in the world") she had all the sloping about with bent knees she is ever going to do. From now on she is going to look the world right in the eye -- and a tall world it will have to be.
Miss Rigg was talking off the set of 'The Avengers' in which she plays the widowed Mrs. Emma Peel who, for reasons never revealed by the scriptwriters, joins John Steed (Macnee) in his bizarre adventures. Although she leaves the show at the end of the present filming in August, she was pleased by news from the United States that ABC-TV has signed it into next year.
Macnee, who claims descent from the original Robin Hood, speculated that perhaps before the final fadeout this summer, the scriptwriters also will decide for whom he works. And more important, his exact relationship with Mrs. Peel.
"I'm a special agent of sorts working presumably for some department of the government," he said, "but they've never felt it necessary to make it more specific that that or even to give me a background. I gather I'm a wealthy bachelor. But the show's a great success as it is, so perhaps it will end some day without my ever knowing."
Miss Rigg said it was surprising how few people remarked on the lack of romance in the series. She and Macnee maintain a friendly formality. He never calls her Emma, always Mrs. Peel. For that matter, she never calls him John, always Steed or Mr. Steed. In one episode they were in a hotel room together but, to quote the royal motto, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" - "Evil to him who evil thinks".
"Nothing was supposed to have happened," Miss Rigg said. "It's left up to the audience to decide whether we were intimate in the past or might be in the future. Right now I simply get patted from time to time like a good horse."
Recently Miss Rigg signed for her first starring film role, the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Midsummer Night's Dream. She will be playing opposite David Warner who is a safe and comfortable 6 feet 3. She is considering, among other offers, a Hollywood contract that would earn her a total of $1 million for seven years.
Her agent thinks she can do better. Her fan mail from the United States on The Avengers swamped her British studio and for a while she was driving around in her little car with sacks of letters in the back seat. She answers a few with the aid of her family, but the sheer volume has defeated her.
Miss Rigg studied at the Royal School of Dramatic Art and won a contract with the Royal Shakespeare Company when she was only 20 after a brief career as a model. "I turned up on a rainy day in a shapeless raincoat and Wellingtons (gumboots) and that was that as a model." Since tall comediennes don't happen very often in show business, Miss Rigg soon found herself with leading roles in King Lear, Midsummer Night's Dream and The Comedy of Errors and toured the United States and Russia.
Miss Rigg never discusses her private life. Obviously a gay and beautiful girl of 28 who likes Champagne, gambling and the company of swinging people must have boy friends. Miss Rigg admits to one serious romance but says she does not believe she will ever marry the man.
She does not think her attitude at all unusual. But then she's the kind of girl who forgets door keys from time to time and has to smash her front window with a milk bottle to get inside. She doesn't think that's unusual either.
From: The Toronto Telegraph, Canada, June 9th 1967.
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