The younger sister of late actress Natalie Wood had starred in several projects and appeared in Playboy before she was cast as Bond girl Plenty O’Toole alongside Sean Connery in 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever.”
“I knew Sean,” said the 75-year-old. “I had met him years ago. My boyfriend at the time was [film producer] Jerome Hellman who was friends with Sean. We were invited to dinner at his house and I remember him being fun. He was very magnetic. He was very charismatic and we just had a terrific evening. I felt so comfortable with him. I was completely at ease. So when I saw Sean walking through the lobby on the first day on set, I was delighted. I was a nervous wreck so I felt like I at least had one friend.”
According to Wood, Connery was no-nonsense when it came to filming as he yearned to dedicate his free time to golf. By then, Connery had grown weary of playing the British secret agent and feared he wasn’t being taken seriously despite his dramatic performances in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” and Sidney Lumet’s “The Hill.”
“He had such a dedication to golf,” she said. “I mean, I knew he liked it, but every day?”
But their on-screen chemistry proved to be the real deal, said Wood who claimed they had a brief, private fling. She chuckled when told how fellow Bond girl Barbara Carrera gushed to Fox News in 2020 about Connery being “an absolutely great kisser” on the set of 1983’s “Never Say Never Again.”
“Kissing wasn’t way up there on the list,” Wood chuckled.
Despite her attraction to Connery, Wood claimed it was she who ended their affair.
“At the time I had a really lovely relationship with Leslie Bricusse,” she recalled. “Leslie had gone back to London. And I just felt that I really had to tell Sean that this relationship would not continue because I was very much in love with Leslie Bricusse. I thought Sean was absolutely wonderful, but I couldn’t see him anymore. I had to tell him. So when I told him, he said, ‘I understand completely.’ And that was it. We were in the hallway leading to the casino getting ready to shoot. And I walked away. I finished the take and then went back to hair and makeup.”
“I just needed him to know,” Wood continued. “And then many years later, all of a sudden, it dawned on me. He probably thought, ‘What a silly girl! Of course, we weren’t going to have a relationship.’ I just thought it was funny that I had to say something to him. But I had to be honest with him.”
Despite the film’s iconic status, Wood admitted that she felt typecast after playing O’Toole.
“Very much so,” she explained. “I was always just the sexy bad girl. So I was delighted to play an Irish indentured servant on a Disney film. That was lovely.”
In 1972, Wood appeared in “Justin Morgan Had a Horse,” which was based on a children’s historical novel. It starred Don Murray, R.G. Armstrong, Whit Bissel and Gary Crosby among others.
“Everybody used to ask me at the time that I was filming, ‘Do they know you were in Playboy magazine?’ Do they know you were a Bond girl?’ It didn’t matter. I was thrilled to do it because it was another character to play.”
Despite her success as an actress, Wood’s life wasn’t easy in recent years. In April 2017, Inside Edition reported she was homeless and staying in a motel room outside of Los Angeles with her daughter Evan, her son-in-law, three grandchildren, and two dogs. At the time, Wood said the family’s growing medical bills were to blame for their financial woes.
Her friend set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising funds for the star, and fans pitched in a whopping $ 29,635, totally overshooting the page’s initial $ 10,000 goal.
But then in July of that year, Evan died suddenly at age 42 after suffering a massive heart attack.
Wood said she continues to take each day at a time.
“We’re just an average family and we always do the best we can,” she said. “I have a little house with dogs and cats. Everybody’s good.”
When asked if growing up, she ever felt overshadowed by her famous sibling, Wood replied that the answer wasn’t so simple.
Natalie passed away in 1981 at age 43.
“I looked at Natalie’s life and she was always concerned about where she was going, how she looked, who she was going to be with,” said Wood. “There’s this party, this premiere and this press agent. And boy, I didn’t want that… It isn’t that my mother compared us vocally. It’s just that she was very involved with Natalie and not with me. But looking back, I must say it may have been a very good thing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.