Whenever Stephen and Brigitte Bardot met, it generated headlines. They had starred together in Roger Vadim’s beautifully directed “The Night Heaven Fell”, filmed in Spain in 1957. Bardot had specifically chosen Boyd to be her co-star (impressed with his work in “The Man Who Never Was”.) The two became good friends and would meet periodically in Europe. In February of 1968, Stephen Boyd joined Brigitte Bardot once again in Spain (Almeria) for the filming of the Sean Connery western ‘Shalako’. At the time, Brigitte was married to German mogul Gunther Sachs, but had been carrying on an affair with singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. The pair had just finished recording the famously scandalous song “Je t’aime…moi non plus”, which Bardot’s husband immediately suppressed from being released. Bardot parted with Gainsbourg and headed to Spain – alone. In Bardot’ s autobiography “Initials B.B.”, she expressed her thrill at meeting Boyd again– as he was a friendly face in an ocean of strangers.
“Enfin un visage, une présense presque familiere parmi tous ces étrangers!”
Then, the photograph.
“Ce jour-là, j’avais une scène avec Stephen Boyd. Sentant ma détresse il me prit tendrement dans ses bras et me murmura des paroles apaisantes que je compris mal. qu’importe, il avait eu envers moi un geste de réconfort dont j’avais tant besoin. je ne le quittai plus, trouvant en sa présence une espèce de protection. Je lui tenais la main, me jetais à son cou, recherchais sa compagnie, comme un chien perdu s’accroche à un maître illusoire mais bienfaisant.”
Bardot had been struggling with the filming of ‘Shalako’ She was arriving late on set, and the director, Edward Dmytryk, was very hard on her. She was feeling nervous and unsure of herself as the filming went on. In one particular scene, Boyd sensed Bardot’s distress and gathered her up in an embrace and murmured something soothing. Bardot grabbed Boyd around the neck–and of course a photographer was on hand to capture the embrace. Their close affection for each other soon blossomed into a tabloid/media sensation as it was assumed Bardot was cheating on her current husband Gunther Sachs and her previous lover Serge Gainsbourg. Gainsbourg was so heartbroken by the photo that he wrote a beautiful farewell song to Bardot called Initials B.B. In the song, the last line is ‘Almeria’ – a reference where Bardot was filming “Shalako”.
For her part, Bardot would say in her autobiography that Boyd was not a lover, but a close and caring friend. The two would stay in touch throughout 1968 an onwards, going to two premiere’s together for ‘Shalako’- one in Munich, the other in London. For his part, this is what Boyd had to say about his friend Bardot in the mid-70’s.
“I didn’t find Bardot sexy at all”, said Stephen. “I found her a frail, highly comical, deeply talented human being and completely misused for all her life. I think she’s beginning to be happier now than she’s ever been. She’s found that there’s a little more to life than what she was originally hoping for. She’s enormously attractive but not, in my eyes at least, a sexpot.”
This Italian magazine is an example of the hype during 1968. The lower picture shows Bardot sitting on Boyd’s lap (only his hand his visible) while watching a Spanish guitar show.