Whenever Stephen and Brigitte Bardot met, it generated headlines. They had first starred together in Roger Vadim’s sensually 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!”
“Finally a face, an almost familiar presence among all these strangers!”
Then, the photograph.
“That day, I had a scene with Stephen Boyd. Feeling my distress, he took me tenderly in his arms and murmured to me soothing words that I misunderstood. He had given me a gesture of consolation which I needed so much. I did not want to leave him, finding in his presence a kind of protection. I held his hand, threw myself around his neck, looked for his company, like a lost dog clinging to an illusionary but beneficent master.”
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”.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPOYtC1n5bE&sns=tw via @youtube)
So, did Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot ever have an affair, either in 1957 or 1968? For her part, Bardot would say in her autobiography that Boyd was not a lover, but a close and caring friend. ( “Stephen n’ayant jamais été mon amant, mais uniquement un ami tendre et attentionné!” Bardot, Brigitte. Initials B.B., 1995)
But who’s to say what really happened between them and how far their intimacy went. 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. Brigitte would call Stephen frequently and talk to him for hours. One such all was even mentioned in the newspapers in late 1968.
“L’amour toujours etc: Screen-star Stephen Boyd’s beauty sleep at the Fairmont was interrupted by a phone call from Brigitte Bardot in Paris, who bear his ear for 70 minutes, not collect. I tried to get the gist of the conversation but the F’mont’s operators are incorruptible” (Herb Caen, Akron Beacon Journal, Nov 25, 1968)
Boyd essentially became a part of her entourage, and she would insist Boyd would appear with her at the premiere’s of Shalako.
Stephen and Brigitte would continue to be good friends until Stephen’s untimely death in 1977.
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.” (Photoplay, 1976 )
The below Photoplay article from 1968 on the set of Shalako gives some great insight into Boyd’s state of mind about Bardot. The author was convinced that something was afoot between the two actors and tries to probe for answers. Boyd describes Bardot as “fascinating” and “marvelous”, and simply gushes about her womanly attributes. He also seems protective about her as well.
“But it is impossible not to see her also as a woman – she’s everything. There’s a great deal of the child-woman in her, but she is also a very exotic woman. She is her own woman – in every way.
“To me, she is a fascinating human being. I love being with her and welcome every single opportunity – unfortunately, it doesn’t come often enough.
“Mind you, there was a lot of nonsense spread around about our association on this picture. But what else are they doing to say? They see any kind of a man with Bardot and they say ‘Wooo!’ But it’s not always true.”
As for Bardot, she had this to say in 1964 from Cinemonde Magazine about her friend Stephen Boyd.