Bond girl Lana Wood reflects on new ‘Dog Boy’ movie after surviving homelessness: ‘I’m extremely grateful’
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Lana Wood has plenty of reasons to celebrate these days.
The actress, who starred as Bond girl Plenty O’Toole in 1971’s « Diamonds Are Forever, » now stars in Flixwest’s « Dog Boy. » She plays Vera Summers, a self-absorbed Hollywood movie star who is on the verge of financial ruin. But a chance encounter with a Navajo taxi driver (Jeff Yazzie) takes her life on a completely different path.
« It touched so many parts of me, » the 76-year-old told Fox News Digital. « I identified with so many things the character was going through or had been through. There were times when it could have been me. It fascinated me. It scared me. But it was really great to TO DO. »
« I remember when she said she was going to lose her house, » Wood explained. « We asked him, ‘What did you do with all your money when you were working all the time?’ And she said, « I just spent it. I thought the money would always come. And it didn’t work out. Then she found herself in a position where she was going to lose her house. That really resonated with me. It was kind of sad at times. what a wonderful experience. »
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Summers’ struggles hit close to home. As of 2017, Wood was living in a motel with her daughter, Evan Taylor Maldonado, her son-in-law, three grandchildren and two dogs. Rising medical bills made finances tight and they were unable to pay the rent on their California home, forcing them to relocate.
A friend created a GoFundMe that raised almost $40,000 of its initial goal of $10,000.
But that same year, Evan died of heart failure. She was 42 years old. Wood said the support from concerned fans kept him going.
« It meant the world to me, it really did, » Wood said. « I never imagined people would help. I’m so grateful. They got my heart. Losing [my daughter] was an incredible trauma for the children. But I still take care of my grandchildren who live with me. They have always been with me. We have a small house, we have our dogs and our cats. We got along. We argue about cooking and meals. One of the kids is homeschooled and I’m there with him trying to figure out algebra. But I’m very happy. »
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Wood also shared that she was embraced with open arms on set.
« [Eric Roberts] is just awesome, » she exclaimed of the actor. « He’s very precise and wants to get things done quickly, easily. But he is very nice and a very generous actor. And he brings great cookies, which is always a plus. »
« It was scary and a bit overwhelming to walk on set for the first time, » Wood continued. « It’s a small independent film with a huge crew. But it felt like coming home. I made friends with everyone. I got over my nerves. »
Wood admitted there were times early on when she wondered if she was supposed to have a career in Hollywood.
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« After I had my daughter, I was still playing, and I remember going back and forth, just worried about her, » she explained. « People think cinema is glamorous and easy. It really isn’t. There are long hours that take you away. And when you’re done, you leave for something else. And I had reached a point where I was just very disillusioned. I wasn’t getting enough roles to support myself and my young daughter. I remembered that I quit acting and got a development director position, behind the camera. I really loved it. I always like to tell the right story [on screen]. But there were many times when I wished I was on a beach somewhere studying marine biology. »
Fans still best remember Wood as the Bond girl who appeared alongside Sean Connery. She called the role the honor of a lifetime.
« You can call me Bond girl anytime you want, » Wood chuckled. « Initially they wanted me to be Tiffany Case. But then I got a call from my agent and he said, ‘You’ve got the job, but there’s a problem – they want to know if you would play Plenty O’Toole, which is a smaller part and not what you originally wanted. Would you do that? » Honestly, I didn’t care. I was just thrilled to be a part of the movie. I liked it. I played sweet and innocent, an ordinary girl. And I loved it. »
But Wood has one regret – turning down the chance to appear in 1969’s « Easy Rider » alongside Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. The role went to Karen Black.
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« Dennis Hopper never let me forget that, » Wood explained. « He said, ‘We wrote this for you. I was offered this other film which was shot at MGM studios. It was « For Singles Only » with Milton Berle and Mary Ann Mobley. I remember my agent saying, « You can do ‘Easy Rider’, but they won’t confirm any hotel or motel stay. They don’t have any of that planned. You you’re going to be outside. You’re going to be driving – it’s a motorcycle movie. We understand there’s drugs on set.
« I remember he was just sounding so terrible. I thought, ‘Take me to MGM Studios. So I refused. And every time I met Dennis, he reminded me of him. He just couldn’t believe I had done this to them. Looking back, I couldn’t believe it either.
Wood is hungry for what the future holds. And his late sister, Natalie Wood, remained on his mind. In 2021, Wood wrote a book called « Little Sister » about the star, who died in 1981 at age 43.
Today, Wood feels optimistic about telling stories on screen, in his own way.
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« [‘Dog Boy’] was made with so much love, » she said. « Usually when a movie ends, everyone scatters. But everyone here was so involved and really worked really hard to tell a great story. And it’s an interesting take on someone’s life, a former celebrity getting to know himself…it’s a story of hope. There is hope out there and you never know who will come to the rescue. »
“Dog Boy” premieres September 8 on Flixwest.